Call for Papers in Inaugural Issue

Critical Studies in Writing Programs and Pedagogy

¡Fiesta de lanzamiento de SKRIB!

SKRIB Launch Party!

Soirée de lancement SKRIB !

SKRIB-Launch-Party!

Introducing SKRIB, an international peer-reviewed, open access journal that facilitates intercultural dialogue around the development of writing programming and pedagogy in post-secondary institutions of higher learning around the world.

Developed by an international group of founding editors in response to the largely unidirectional flow of writing centre & composition program models outward from the United States, SKRIB calls for examinations of:

  • in-country development and operation of writing programs and pedagogy;
  • writing programs & pedagogy as cultural artifacts; cultural framings & histories of writing, rhetoric and their teaching;
  • the past, present, and future of Western (especially US) linguistic, epistemic, institutional hegemonic forces;
  • English as a commodity and colonizing force.  

SKRIB invites critical approaches to scholarship that foreground relevant issues of colonialism, globalism, capitalism and neoliberalism, racism, ableism, as well as issues relating to patriarchy and gender inequality.

SKRIB is now accepting submissions to its inaugural issue, which will be published on a continuous basis over the course of 2022.

As an inaugural issue, we are looking to SKRIB’s mission as a guide for submissions as well as explorations of different understandings of critical sustainability in writing programmes and writing centres.

Critical sustainability is an emerging interdisciplinary concept that brings environment, ecology, politics, and sociality into conversation. According to Rose and Cacheline (2018) socio- cultural approaches to critical sustainability call for system reformation through praxis that “undermines, subverts, and offers alternatives to existing systems” (p. 519). Ferreira (2017) centres critical consciousness development in this work, encouraging practices that acknowledge authoritarian socio-cultural tendencies and underpinnings. We invite authors to engage with this interdisciplinary concept to take a critical approach to the study of writing programmes and writing centres in local, transnational, and global contexts.

Please review author guidelines for information about journal sections as well as house style.

Join the SKRIB community! Serve as a peer reviewer and/or translator. We are looking to build a multilingual and international list of peer reviewers and translators, so please spread this invitation far and wide!

Interested translators, reviewers, and contributors can contact the journal editors at skribjournal@gmail.com.

In eager anticipation of your submissions,

Stevie Bell and Brian Hotson,

SKRIB Co-editors-in-Chief

On behalf of the SKRIB Editorial Board:

Co-editor-in-Chief

Stevie Bell,

Associate Professor, York University, Canada

Co-editor-in-Chief

Brian Hotson,

Independent scholar, Canada

Violeta Molina-Natera,

Directora de departamento, Departamento de Comunicación y Lenguaje, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana – Cali, Colombia

Lawrence Cleary,

Director, Regional Writing Centre, University of Limerick, Ireland

Pamela Nichols,

Associate Professor, Wits University, South Africa

Rose Richards,

Faculty, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Christiane Donahue,

Faculty, Dartmouth (Université de Lille, France), US

Pam Bromley,

Writing Associate, Scripps College, US   

Reflecting on the digital transformation: a praxeological perspective on writing center work during COVID-19

Doris Pany-Habsa

Writing Center of the University of Graz, Austria

This year’s EATAW conference opened up a wonderful opportunity to revisit the foundations of teaching academic writing in the light of the pandemic. The conference organizers invited us to think about a series of apparently simple but in effect far-reaching questions. When I read the call for submissions there was one question that in particular appealed to me. It was: “What has changed recently?” This question was an eye-opener for me, because it made me realize that, in our writing center at the University of Graz (Austria), we were so busy adapting to the new situation caused by the pandemic that we had not managed to make time to think about the implications and the significance of the transformations under way. So I decided to take the chance the EATAW conference 2021 offered, and I started to think about the meaning of the changes we had gone through during the pandemic. For the conference, I put down some first and of course very approximate thoughts and ideas. When I presented them at the EATAW conference, the panelists seemed to receive them with interest, and therefore, I would like to share these ideas with the EWCA community here.

My blog post begins by briefly describing the situation in our writing center when the pandemic reached Austria. It will, then, go on to outline the innovations we introduced due to the pandemic. Finally, it concentrates on one central aspect of our digital transformation and suggests an interpretation for that aspect that draws on the so-called practice theory or praxeology.  

The pandemic reached our writing center

The pandemic reached Austria more or less at the beginning of the summer term 2020. We still had most of the scheduled workshops ahead of us. I remember that we perceived the situation as very ambiguous. On the one hand, we felt a strong urge to assist students in this difficult situation. We wished to stay in contact with the students, and we wanted to continue the dialogue with them because we always conceived direct interaction with our tutees particularly crucial. For that reason, we considered simply moving online with our workshops and counseling sessions. On the other hand, we had almost no experience with the online tools we would need to achieve this.  We were also totally aware that there was a fundamental difference between holding workshops online and holding them in a face-to-face setting. In brief, we realized that we were an extremely ‘analogue’ writing center before COVID-19 and that it would take us some time to familiarize ourselves with the digital mode. 

Therefore, we finally decided to take a step back and to cancel our workshops in the summer term. Instead, we developed digital resources students could use asynchronously. We created a series of learning videos explaining writing techniques for the different stages of the writing process, e.g. for developing a research question, for structuring the paper, etc. Whenever we completed a video, we published it on the writing center’s website so that students could access it as quickly and easily as possible. That was the main thing we did during the first semester of the pandemic. For the second semester of the pandemic, the winter term 2020/21, we designed online workshops for relatively small groups of participants (max. of 15), which we delivered through Big Blue Button – so we were able to have group work in breakout sessions – and into which we integrated the learning videos. Since then we have continued doing this.

The praxeological perspective

As I mentioned above, my first ideas about the significance of the changes triggered by the pandemic are inspired by practice theory or praxeology. For all those who are not familiar with this theoretical approach, we can briefly say that it is a loose but nevertheless definable movement of social thought that has taken shape since the 1990s and was advocated by theorists like Theodore Schatzki in the US and Andreas Reckwitz in Germany. The various proponents of praxeology share the conviction – here I quote Schatzki – that “the social is a field of embodied, materially interwoven practices centrally organized around shared practical understandings” (Schatzki, 2001, 3). The important point here is that, when we analyze practices, we do not look at people’s intentions or knowledge, but we look at things people do under certain material conditions, conditions that embrace spatial arrangements, artefacts and media. By analyzing what people do, practice theorists try to discover the shared practical understandings that underlie people’s actions. In this regard, a central praxeological assumption is that those practical understandings do not have the status of explicit knowledge but are rather implicit and not fully transparent to the subjects who perform the practice.

We used to be a very ‘analogue’ writing center

Without doubt, we formed and performed new practices of writing center work during the pandemic without being fully aware of the meaning and the significance inherent to them. By now taking a closer look at some micro-practices that we developed around our new learning videos, I try to get a little closer to the implicit significance of our digital transformation.  

At this point, it is necessary to emphasize once more that we used to be a very ‘analogue’ writing center before the pandemic. Actually, we made very little use of digital media. Of course, we used Power Point presentations in our workshops, and we had a digital course management system, but in our core activities, we always tried to have a very direct and conversation-based contact to our tutees. Perhaps the best way to make this clear is by describing the following setting: Before the pandemic none of our materials were available online for download. Instead, our material used to be accessible to tutees in a rotating shelf that we put in front of our office, which can be seen in the photos.

Figure: Photos of the entrance to our writing center and the rotating shelf with our material (Photo: Doris Pany-Habsa)

When someone came to the writing center to take some material, it was possible for us to hear that person from the office and, whenever possible, we stood up to welcome them and started a little conversation to find out what kind of support or material could be useful for them. A practice theorist would probably say that we created a spatial arrangement that required physical co-presence between writing tutor and writer. We created this setting, the practice theorist would continue, out of the underlying conviction that the best way to support writers is by talking to them. Or in other words: Our practice of writing center work was logo-centrically oriented in a very strong way.

The digital transformation of our writing center work

In the pandemic, we were forced to leave this old-fashioned logo-centric practice, and we had to jump right into a digital-based practice. As I mentioned, we developed learning videos that we made available on our website. By doing this we created a situation that was right the opposite of the old one: Our material was now accessible to potentially everybody in the whole world. In theory, that was wonderful and made us very proud, but in practice, we did not hear or see any of the people interested in our material, and we could not talk to them at all. That changed when we started with our online workshops. The workshops always included a theoretical part, where we provided information using our learning videos, and a practical part, where the students did group work in breakout rooms. While our on-campus workshops were held by one or at most two tutors, the first online workshop was held by all of the four tutors who work in our writing center.

That may seem exaggerated, but we all were very curious about the new setting and wanted to be involved in the new experience. Actually, we continued to keep that configuration of four tutors; although, it is not very efficient in terms of deployment of human resources. The main reason why we liked to participate in the workshops all together was probably that, by doing this, we could closely accompany the group work in the breakout rooms. And by taking part in the breakout rooms, we could see and hear the students, and we could finally talk to them again. So it seems that, within the new digital arrangement, we wanted to rebuild a logo-centric nucleus that should somehow manage to preserve our underlying core conviction that it is best to support writers by talking to them.

But where does this imperturbable conviction of ours come from? Let me close by sharing the suspicion I have: Generally, we can say that the average European public university funds a writing center because it hopes that the writing center will help students to pursue and complete their studies quickly and efficiently. So from an institutional perspective, we can say that writing centers are made possible by an instrumental logic of efficiency. This, however, is not the logic we would like to see as the basic principle and motivation for our work. I would even dare to say that this applies not only to our writing center but to very many of them. Instead, we like to think of our work as a practice that empowers people not just in an instrumental sense. Apart from efficient writing habits, we hope that our students will develop insight into the social situatedness of writing, into the agency and the ethic responsibility that writing skills bring about. We could say that it is somehow our hidden agenda to make our students aware of these aspects of writing. And since our university certainly would not let us publish a learning video or a manifesto that explains the above mentioned social and ethical dimensions of writing, it seems that we have to hold on to creating logo-centric spaces in which we can transmit these dimensions in personal face-to-face conversations.  

This blog post is based on a presentation held on July 7, 2021 at the EATAW Conference.

References

Reckwitz, Andreas (2003). Grundelemente einer Theorie sozialer Praktiken. In: Zeitschrift für Soziologie 32 (4), 282–301.

Schatzki, Theodore R. (2001). Introduction: practice theory. In: Schatzki, Theodore R. et al. (eds.): The practice turn in contemporary theory. London/NY: Routledge, 1–14.

Author

Doris Pany-Habsa is the director of the Writing Center at the University of Graz, Austria. Originally trained in Literature and Cultural Studies, she holds a PhD in Romance Studies. Her research interests are interdisciplinary writing research, writing pedagogy and writing center work. Latest publications: Knaller, Susanne; Pany-Habsa, Doris; Scholger, Martina (eds.) (2020). Schreibforschung interdisziplinär. Praxis – Prozess – Produkt. Transcript; Pany-Habsa, Doris (2021): „,Wir Schreibbewegten sind ja frohgemut, daß wir Gutes bewirken‘. Zum kreativen Schreiben der Schreibbewegung“. In: JoSch 22 (02/2021), in press.

Lots happening with EATAW!

Firstly, their website was down and a new website is now up. You are being encouraged to renew your membership as the database was lost when the website went down. Go here to renew your membership: https://www.eataw.eu/

Secondly, their call for papers has been extended to February 7th. The theme is THE RESIDENCE OF WRITING SUPPORT (AND RELATED RESEARCH). Visit their conference site for details: https://www.eataw.eu/

Spider Ghost Town

Dr. Joseph Essid, Writing Center Director, University of Richmond posts student essays about how the COVID-19 pandemic changed their lives on his Spider Ghost Town blog.

Students of Joe’s class undergraduate Writing Consultants training class “describe the hopes and trauma of what has probably been the most unsettling event in our scholastic lives. There’s a lot of good advice there for writings centers, as well as a record of a semester badly interrupted and a world changed.”

Find the link here. Enjoy the read.

2020 EWCA Conference Postponed


Dear EWCA Community:

Our Board met recently to talk about whether we should cancel or postpone the conference or whether we should try to hold an online conference. After a long and serious deliberation, the EWCA Board has made the difficult decision to postpone the Conference 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.  The date of the conference is too close, and we still cannot assure that it can go forward. Also, it is difficult to have a synchronous online conference as participants and members are from all over the world.

We feel very sorry, and we are also sad. We’ve been very much looking forward to  welcoming all of you to Graz and to create a space for our community to come together, to talk, to discuss and to celebrate.

We are planning on holding the conference in Graz in 2022. We considered holding the conference in 2021, but with everything so up in the air, it is not possible to predict whether everyone concerned would be in a position to travel by summer 2021. We intend to keep the same topic as was announced for the 2020 conference, so everybody who already had an abstract accepted is welcome to join us and to deliver their presentations, workshops or roundtables in 2022, exact dates to be confirmed. Others who were unable to submit for various reasons will have the chance to answer a call for papers that will be forthcoming by the end of 2021.

How to keep in touch?

We are a community of practice, and our community is very international. I fondly remember all the beautiful conferences and meeting people from all over the world. Meeting friends and sharing our knowledge, ideas and questions.

We have not met for a long time, so we are thinking about how we can keep in touch until we meet again.

We have the listserv, and we will soon open a new the Facebook group and we have our blog https://www.ewcacircular.eu/.  These are our digital instruments for keeping in touch.

We would like to share our stories and publish the stories in our blog: https://www.ewcacircular.eu/

We would like to invite everybody to present their writing center and to tell us a bit about your writing center and the challenges you are facing during the coronavirus pandemic. Please write a text for our blog, videos and pictures are also welcome to hand in. We will publish you story on our blog.

Please write to the board if you are interested in sharing a story: board@writingcenters.eu

Finally, the postponement of the conference poses another issue that we would like to address in this announcement. As you all may know, the election of the board traditionally happens every two years at the EWCA Conference. However, because we have not met since 2016 at the conference in Łodz, our Board and our Chair have are already been in office for four years . As we are unable to hold elections for the EWCA Board and EWCA Chair until 2022, we decided to work without a Chair, working as a unit instead as an ad interim committee (Lawrence Cleary, Franziska Liebetanz and Doris Pany) and we are also thankful to have Elif Demirel and Annemieke Meijer with us.

Warm regards, Franziska Liebetanz, Doris Pany an Lawrence Cleary

Special Edition of WLN: A Journal of Writing Center Scholarship

Stories and Reflections on the Impact of Covid-19 on Writing Center Work

The editors of WLN would like to create a space to gather and record your reflections and impressions on how Covid-19 has impacted your writing centers. We recognize the devastating impact that the virus has caused to writing centers as staff fall ill, budgets are cut, positions are furloughed. We do not yet know when or how this pandemic will end or what lessons we will learn, both in the short and the long term. But we are certain that writing center professionals will want to reflect upon, learn from, and understand how we experienced this moment and its impact on our services, users, and our futures. We also know that writing centers will prevail and in some situations emerge stronger with renewed clarity of purpose or strengthened value to the campus community.  For this special issue, then, we are interested in capturing your reflections on any potential positive outcomes that have or may emerge from the impact of Covid-19 plus new solutions, approaches, and/or strategies that have worked for you.

 We are inviting short submissions of 500-750 words from directors, tutors, and even frequent writing center users. Please submit them through the WLN website: wlnjournal.org, by August 1, 2020, and choose “other” as the type of submission.

 Here are some possible prompts:

  • How has your care for tutors and writers changed since COVID 19 emerged? What long-term effects of this care do you predict will last in your writing center?
  • What new methods, processes, or tools have you adopted that you would not have if COVID 19 did not occur? How has this changed the way your writing center now operates? How does this change impact the ways you will offer tutoring in the future?
  • What is the best outcome you have experienced from COVID 19? How has this changed you, your center, your tutors?
  • How has COVID 19 changed the way you educate tutors? Will these changes be temporary or long-term pedagogical shifts?
  • How has COVID 19, or thinking in terms of infection control procedures more generally, impacted your relationship to the physical space of your writing center?
  • When your writing center returns to its physical space, what will you change, add, or revise after experiencing being online as the only way to interact with writers? For example, will you add or continue to have online accessibility?

•     What has been your experience with online technology, and what would you recommend and why?

•     What tutoring adaptations have you and your tutors made when tutoring online? Why?

  • For writing center users: how has your experience with the writing center been enhanced through online interaction? Or how has the writing center helped you through the shift to online learning as a consequence of Covid-19?
  • If you have tested or used multiple platforms, such as Zoom, GoToMeeting, Skype, FaceTime, etc., what are the various advantages and/or disadvantages?

———————–

Muriel Harris

Professor Emerita of English
• Writing Lab Director (retired)
• WLN: A Journal of Writing Center Scholarship, Editor-in-Chief
harrism@purdue.edu

The EWCA board is happy to invite you to the 2020 EWCA Conference on July 8 – 11 at the University of Graz, Austria. 

Keep these dates!!!

Conference

Our preparations are still in the early stages, but we already decided on our topic and shaped our ideas into a little abstract:

EWCA Conference 2020

Writing Centers as Spaces of Empowerment

Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz (Austria), July 8 – 11, 2020

Higher education is widely perceived as a promise of empowerment:

It is assumed that access to new fields of knowledge and new social and cultural practices will empower students in higher education to successfully acculturate into and participate in their chosen discipline-specific communities of practice. In higher education institutes without dedicated writing programs, ensuring that promise of empowerment often falls to Writing Centers and various other kinds of student development centers.

Writing centers have to ask themselves what kind of center they want to be: Do they want to interface in live or virtual spaces? Do they want to uncritically teach established formal conventions or invite students to explore the social and political motivations behind those forms? Do they wish to pursue a deficit model? Or do they want to promote a more critical analysis of situated, disciplinary writing practices in third-level education? An Academic Literacies approach requires that writing centers address how teachers and student writers are positioned by the inherently hierarchical social relationships that motivate, even dictate literacy practices in any given disciplinary or institutional context. 

Considering these aspects we want to focus the following question at our EWCA Conference 2020:

What can Writing Centers do to make the academic promise of empowerment come true?

We hope that this crucial question will be appealing and appropriate to generate a lot of interesting answers that we can discuss during our EWCA conference next year.  A more detailed Call for Papers will follow at the end of summer.  

Kind regards,

The EWCA board

Dr. Doris Pany, Director of the Writing Center at the University of Graz, Austria has generously volunteered to host the conference. Visit Doris here: https://schreibzentrum.uni-graz.at/de/schreibzentrum/

To stay up to date, visit: http://europeanwritingcenters.eu/conference.html

Critical Transitions: Writing and the Question of Transfer

Chris announced the recent publication on Facebook: “Hard copies! Thanks to all the great contributors (some not on my FB–pls. tag), fabulous co-editor Jessie Moore, and the always-supportive Mike Palmquist, Sue McCleod, and Dave Blakesley.”

Critical Transitions

You can get a look at the new addition on the WAC Clearinghouse website at https://wac.colostate.edu/books/ansonmoore/

Copying in the blurb below from the WAC Clearinghouse just to get you salivating a bit about what awaits you:

Edited by Chris M. Anson and Jessie L. Moore
Copy edited by Don Donahue. Designed by Mike Palmquist.

In Critical Transitions: Writing and the Question of Transfer, Chris Anson and Jessie Moore offer an important new collection about prior learning and transfer theories that asks what writing knowledge should transfer, how we might recognize that transfer, and what the significance is—from a global perspective—of understanding knowledge transformation related to writing. The contributors examine strategies for supporting writers’ transfer at key critical transitions, including transitions from high-school to college, from first-year writing to writing in the major and in the disciplines, between self-sponsored and academic writing, and between languages. The collection concludes with an epilogue offering next steps in studying and designing for writing transfer.

About the Editors

Chris Anson is Distinguished University Professor and Director of the Campus Writing and Speaking Program at North Carolina State University. He has published fifteen books and more than 120 articles and book chapters relating to writing and has spoken widely across the U.S. and in 28 other countries.

Jessie L. Moore is Associate Drector of the Center for Engaged Learning and Associate Professor of English: Professional Writing & Rhetoric at Elon University. Her recent research examines transfer of writing knowledge and practices, multi-institutional research and collaborative inquiry, writing residencies for faculty writers, the writing lives of university students, and high-impact pedagogies.

Publication Information: Anson, Chris M., & Moore, Jessie L. (Eds.). (2016). Critical Transitions: Writing and the Question of Transfer. Perspectives on Writing. Fort Collins, Colorado: The WAC Clearinghouse and University Press of Colorado. Available at https://wac.colostate.edu/books/ansonmoore/

Online Publication Date: June 19, 2016.
Print Publication Date: March 1, 2017.

Contact Information:
Chris M. Anson: chris_anson@ncsu.edu
Jessie L. Moore: jmoore28@elon.edu

How I Write, Ireland: Video Lesson-plans

Lawrence Cleary is a Co-Director of the Regional Writing Centre at the University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland. He is a newly-elected member of the EWCA board.

Since 2011, at the Regional Writing Centre (RWC) at the University of Limerick, Ireland, I have been interviewing prolific writers, both academic and creative, about their writing processes, how they assess their writing situations and their strategies for negotiating the process in a given situation. The RWC’s series was inspired by Hilton Obenzinger’s How I Write Series at Stanford’s Hume Writing Center. Though Stanford’s series is much better funded than my meagre attempt at the University of Limerick, the effect is nevertheless the same: to make the process of writing more visible. We can watch fishermen tie a knot on YouTube or watch how a Ferrari is manufactured on TV, but when was the last time a prolific writer’s writing process was documented on time-lapse video for all to watch?

sarabauminterview
How I Write, Ireland interview with Sara Baume, author of Spill Simmer Falter Wither

The RWC calls its series How I Write, Ireland, and as they do in Stanford, we video record and transcribe the interviews with prolific writers, posting the video and transcripts on the Regional Writing Centre’s website, accessible to everyone on Earth who has internet access and are curious about how good writers write. We also include written lesson plans that identify things the writers have said and present them as prompts for in-class or at-home free-writes and discussions, getting novice writers and teachers alike to be more conscious of what they do, what they think, what they feel and how they incorporate others into their process when they write.

For some time, it has been in my mind to extract those portions of the interview that inspired those prompts from the video and present them as self-contained ten to fifteen-minute video lesson plans. Not long ago, I received a bit of money from the t1Step programme, an Irish education programme that is promoting the use of technology for learning. That small amount was enough to motivate me to get two video lessons up and running. These videos are listed as Video Lessons on our website, and as one can see when they click on the link, the first speaks about the role of cultural capital in the making of a good writer, and the second interview focuses on the role of deadlines in the writer’s process.

 

StephenKinsellainterview
How I Write, Ireland interview with Stephen Kinsella, Senior Lecturer in Economics at the Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick

 

These short video lessons are true testaments to the individuality of the writing process. The videos compare two writer’s opinions about a particular issue. Revealed is that despite having diametrically opposing positions on the matter being discussed, they both end up in the same place: lauded writers with publications that go around the block and back again.

We hope that students and teachers alike will delve into our growing bank of interviews and use them to learn how good writers go about the process of writing, how they contend with obstacles to their writing goals and how they analyse the situations into which they write. It is our hope that these writers’ revelations about their own processes will offer novice writers ideas about how they might better negotiate their own process and better assess the writing situations that confront them. It is our hope that these videos and video lessons will instigate and perpetuate a conversation on writing that began long before we came along, but that the RWC, nevertheless, made a primary mission when we established our ethos ten years ago this coming April.

The Regional Writing Centre asks users that find the resource valuable to help us with our research on this resource by answering the appropriate questionnaire on our How to Participate page.  One survey is for those using the resource as a teaching tool and the other for those who use the videos as a learning tool. Any feedback or information that you can give about how you used our resource would be gratefully received as the information will assist us in future funding applications for this resource. Enjoy.