Spring 2020: “Underrepresentation in the Writing Center”
Guest edited by the staff of the University Writing Center at Texas Tech University:
Sarah G. Huerta
Luke A. Iantorno, PhD
In “Song of Myself,” Walt Whitman famously writes that he, in carefree acceptance of his own contradictions and imperfections, contains multitudes. If we take a step back from the ostensibly insular and liminal home spaces of our writing centers, they too contain multitudes. In recent years, we have come to know writing centers as contact zones in which transcultural and transdisciplinary experiences intersect (Monty, 2016), safe spaces for writers of all identities and backgrounds to share their unique perspectives (Meuse, 2016), and brave spaces where every diverse voice can be heard (Arao & Clemens, 2013). As a theme for The Dangling Modifier, “underrepresentation” contains multitudes.
This issue of The Dangling Modifier evolved from our mutual interest in how writing centers serve diverse student populations. Late last year, as we discussed potential directions the issue could take, we initially wanted to know how students of diverse populations have both informed the work peer writing tutors do and shaped the identities of writing centers. While access and equity have consistently been of interest to researchers of writing center theory and pedagogy for several years, we soon wondered how peer tutors have considered and responded to underrepresentation in their own professional lives and experiences. As two writing center professionals who respectively identify as a queer Latinx writer and as an educator and ally, we were both immediately drawn to this important and pertinent theme of underrepresentation.
Contributors to the Spring 2020 issue were asked to consider how underrepresentation has influenced their work as peer tutors. Unsurprisingly, the authors featured in this issue went above and beyond our expectations for this multifaceted theme and offer readers a variety of unique thematic interpretations. Some authors explored their own experiences working with students from underrepresented groups (LGBTQIA+ writers, multilingual writers, first generation and non-traditional students, writers with disabilities, and historically minoritized writers). Other authors considered their own identities as members of inadequately represented populations and discussed how individual selfhood influenced their approaches to writing center work.
We hope that you enjoy what you are about to read in this issue of The Dangling Modifier. These thought-provoking contributions not only provide us with knowledge about how fellow consultants have addressed underrepresentation in their respective writing centers but also offer insight into their unique perspectives and practices. As well, the essays herein gesture towards broader implications about social justice and multiculturalism, inclusivity and diversity, and interdisciplinarity.
Lastly, given the current inter/national health crisis, multiple shelter-in-place orders, and a general sense of uncertainty these days, it’s easy to feel overmatched with your back to the wall. That said, it’s important that all of us help keep our writing center families together. Be sure to check in with one another, see how your co-workers are doing, empathetically listen, and be supportive. The next time you join that virtual meeting, discuss that required reading, or sit down for an online tutorial, remember that you contain multitudes.
Sarah Huerta and Luke Iantorno
Arao, B., & Clemens, K. (2013). From safe spaces to brave spaces: A new way to frame dialogue around diversity and social justice. In L. Landreman (Ed.), The art of effective facilitation: Reflections from social justice educators (pp. 135-150). Stylus Publishing.
Meuse, J. (2016, February 9). Tutoring sessions as safe spaces: Affective writing and the personal personal statement. https://dept.writing.wisc.edu/blog/tutoring-sessions-as-safe-spaces-affective-writing-and-the-personal-personal-statement/
Monty, R. (2016). The writing center as cultural and interdisciplinary contact zone. Palgrave Macmillan.
Whitman, W. (1855). Song of myself. In M. Moon (Ed.), Leaves of grass and other writings. (pp. 26-77). W.W. Norton & Co.
Underrepresentation of Writers with Dyslexia
Multilingual Consultants: How They Will Create Better Writers
Centers for Cultural Change
The Importance of Rapport
Underrepresenting Empathy in the Writing Center
Bracing for the Contact… Zone
About the Editors
Sarah G. Huerta is in their last semester for their bachelor’s in creative writing at Texas Tech University. They will start their MFA in poetry at Texas State University in the Fall. They have been a writing consultant at Texas Tech’s Writing Center since August 2018 and have been the Writing Center’s social media coordinator since August 2019. Currently, they live in Lubbock with their cat, Lorca.
Luke A. Iantorno, PhD is an English instructor and professional writing consultant at Texas Tech University. His research interests include writing center theory and pedagogy, Romantic-era Apocalypticism and eschatology, and the culture of eighteenth-century sensibility and gender performance. In his off-time, he plays tabletop roleplaying games, loses himself in suspense-horror movies, and is a volunteer referee for women’s flat track roller derby.