Spring 2018 Issue

The world of imagination, invention and joy captured in Shaun Tan's The Lost Thing
The world of imagination, invention and joy captured in Shaun Tan’s The Lost Thing

Call for Submissions: Spring 2018

The Dangling Modifier
Spring 2018
Volume 24:2

Hosted by Michigan State University

Culture & Language: Student Sovereignty in Expression and Identity

Language as a form of expression is an undeniable right, and it becomes increasingly relevant to use language and the written word as a means of sharing our cultures and backgrounds, expressing our beliefs, and calling others to action. As writing tutors, we understand that language and culture are closely entwined, and how we express ourselves says a lot about who we are and where we come from. In the writing center, an issue that often comes up is how to encourage students to use their own unique voice in their writing while also helping them meet their academic goals as well as academic standards set by the institution.

Historically, there have some been some voices uplifted more than others because of the inequitable distribution of privileges, rights, and opportunities to various social identities. The Dangling Modifier wants to know about your experiences helping students incorporate culture and identity into their writing to help develop their voice. What challenges have you seen students experience regarding expression? How do you encourage students to draw upon their own identities and experiences in their writing? What are your excitements and frustrations about this issue? What experiences can you share to help create a new narrative about how culture informs language? How do you help students empower themselves with voice?

Perhaps one of the most common situations we encounter in the writing center is working with international students who come in saying they want help sounding more “American.” They may have felt pressure from professors or peers to change their writing voice in order to blend in more, or perhaps they have even been marked down significantly on work solely because of non-standard grammatical usage. What experiences have you had working with international students trying to assimilate to American conventions? How do you navigate issues with grammar that hinder a student’s academic performance? How do we as writing tutors help such students meet professors’ standards while still allowing students to stay true to their own unique voices and identities?

We also face similar issues of language with domestic students. Students write to their own voices, and as writing tutors, we want to acknowledge their individual sovereignty when it comes to using their voice. Despite historical attempts to standardize English–attempts which often privilege certain groups and marginalize others–there are many different Englishes and dialects based on our varied backgrounds and experiences. Domestic students often feel pressure to alter their voices to fit the standards set by a certain instructor or institution; they may also feel pressure to conform to a certain geographic or cultural norm. The Dangling Modifierwants to know how to cultivate an environment in both the writing center and the classroom that is accepting of different forms of expression. How do we as writing consultants acknowledge different dialects as valid and equal ways of speaking? How should we approach issues of frustration expressed by clients in this regard, to validate their unique voice while still helping them address their audience(s)?

We accept traditional essays and consultation narratives (1000-2000 words) addressing the above questions. We are also interested in non-traditional or digital submissions on the CFP topic, including:

  • Interviews (2-3 pages) –These could be conducted with fellow consultants, students, faculty members, and other members of the writing center community. Forms could include written conversational pieces or edited videos.
  • Tweets (1-240 characters) –These could be single tweets or a series of tweets which speak to, or complement, each other (up to 9 tweets for 1 submission). We are mostly interested in form–how can you address this topic in a creative and concise way?
  • Poems (up to 3) — These could be traditional or experimental forms of poetry.
  • Videos (no more than 12 minutes) — These could be short films that address the topic in creative or conventional ways.

We request that all written submissions be formatted in a Word document so that we can provide feedback if necessary. Authors of all written and digital submissions accepted for publication will work with one of our editors, via written feedback and required video chat, to review and revise their piece before final publication.

Email submissions or questions to danglingmodifier.psu.edu@gmail.com. The due date for submissions is Monday, April 9.

The Writing Center
Michigan State University


Caitlin Vandermeulen

Cailin Haggerty

Sarah Liddy

Grace Beltowski

Gabriella Abalo