Spring 2019 Issue: Balance and Boundaries

Spring 2019: “Balance and Boundaries”


Guest-edited by the staff of the Andrew Bodenrader Center for Academic Writing and Composition at Manhattanville College:

Katherine Matuszek, ‘19
Niaya Walker-Moffett, ‘20
Portia Blanchard, ‘21
Leticia Cortes, ‘21

For the Spring 2019 edition of The Dangling Modifier, writers were invited to submit works addressing the theme of “Balance and Boundaries,” a contemplation of the shifting definitions of writing center work and the scope of the mission of writing centers.

In Peripherals Visions for Writing Centers, Jackie Grutsch McKinney encourages a re-consideration of the “writing center grand narrative,” (58) or the idea that the “writing center is a place, it is for all students, it is focused on one-to-one instruction, and the focus is tutoring” (62). When we begin to interrogate the “grand narrative” we might ask, how do we define and perform the act of tutoring? Some understandings of centers are “so naturalized that things are left unsaid” and we are unlikely to analyze them critically (62). So, how do we balance our own perceptions and internalized expectations of what tutoring should be? In what ways can we follow Grutsch McKinney’s call to re-imagine the writing center as more than one-on-one sessions?

Writers were askes to write on the complexity and juxtapositions of tutoring within writing centers and writing center studies. Writers explored boundaries within their experiences of writing center work (tutoring, research, workshop development, etc.) and considered if our current idea of a writing center limits us in the execution of our role(s) as tutors. Should we dictate boundaries for what tutors and centers should and shouldn’t do? If there are universal ideas about writing centers that most tutors embrace, how can we balance a desire to do more? Is it possible for writing centers to exist outside of the perceived boundaries?

Writers were asked:

● Have you ever felt limited by expected rules that govern a one-on-one tutoring session? Do you feel guilty if you break these rules (ex. writers should set the agenda, writers should do all the work, etc.)?

● Are axioms of best tutoring practices (like: our job is to create better writers, not better papers, the writing center is not a fix-it shop, etc.) in your experience always universal?

● Consider your own experience in writing center work. Besides one-on-one sessions, what other activities do you participate in (research, workshops, etc.)? Do these experiences allow for a blurring of boundaries between tutors, professors, or directors? Can these experiences encourage mentorships or stronger relationships?

● How does your work in writing centers correlate with your center’s mission or your institution’s? Does your center’s mission either restrict or allow you to go beyond the boundaries of institutional expectations of the writing center? How do we talk to others (students, faculty, staff, administration) about the mission of the writing center?

● Do boundaries limit us from engaging in social justice work in our centers? In tutor training and/or in tutoring sessions, how do we balance our commitment to assisting writers at any stage of the writing process and a desire for dialogue about social justice issues? How do we perform the role of tutor while also performing our own identities?

We generally prefer shorter submissions (500-1000 words), but we’re flexible. We also appreciate articles and stories that display the writer’s understanding of the writing center field and how their ideas connect with others (in short, try to cite some relevant literature).


Trichotomy of Learning Spaces
by Candice Cowan

Accessibility and Visibility in Writing Centers
Connor Ferguson

What’s in a Name?
Paisley Keene

Outreaches Becoming Outrageous: Podcasting the Writing Center
Raven M. Runnels

Sometimes You Need a Fix-It Shop
Samantha Reynolds

Writing in a Global World: The Increasing Prevalence of Online Writing Center
Saajan Bhakta

Our Students CAN Do This: Combatting Misconceptions in Two Year College Writing Centers
Elizabeth Mercado

Why Student Writing Tutors Matter: Changing the Stigma Surrounding Community College Writing Centers
Claud Fanclik

Breaking Bad Boundaries in Writing Center Pedagogy
Carolyn Millar, Joy Bourne, Elena Powell

Rightfully Writing with Spice
Treasure Glover

Writing Center Consultant Bios: The What, The Why, and The How
Joseph Cheatle, Amber Abboud, Alexis Sargent, Lynn Ferro, Jessica Kukla

The Benefits of Blending Boundaries
Rebecca Dey

Clinging to the Ought and Should
Alessandra Hickman