Composition's Professionalism vs. the Writing Center Director: Rethinking the Director as a Teacher

Ferruci, Stephen A.

I would not go so far as to say that composition has a conscious interest in keeping writing centers on the periphery of its field. But I do find it interesting that, after years of writing center scholarship which supports their clear importance to composition’s understanding of literacy acquisition, composition scholars (both those who are active in writing centers and those who are not) have yet to productively define the role of the writing center director, remaining somewhat ambivalent about their role in the professionalization of composition studies (Grimm 523-24). Because of a less-than-clear understanding of the professional role of writing center directors, there exists a whole set of poorly examined assumptions about what directors do or should do. These assumptions have been left unexamined because the pressures on composition to develop a coherent, rigorous, defensible field of study often preclude the inclusion of what is seen as non-scholarly activities; thus, as during tenure reviews where it matters very little how much “service” one has given to the university, on a larger, institutional scale, what we do as administrators matters less to our development as a rigorous discipline than how much “hard theory” we generate; the currency of the academy is not administrative savvy, but rigorous theoretical textual production. (This “theory/practice” tension within composition studies was perhaps best illustrated by the “dialogue” in the pages of College Composition and Communication between Peter Elbow and David Bartholomae in the early 1990s, or, more recently, the tension has been illustrated in an exchange between Victor Vitanza and Julie Drew over teaching cultural studies in the pages of the Journal of Advanced Composition.) We are faced, then, with the questions of how to incorporate the strong administrative roles that many occupy into the field’s professional persona and how to do so in ways that do not further “ghettoize” directors outside the scholarly ranks of the academy.

These types of questions frame much of the work in composition. One solution to the particular problem of the director is to view that position through a pedagogical lens, understanding the director not as a traditional administrator but as a teacher, a project that has much in common with composition’s efforts to move away from limiting notions of the traditional classroom. Compositionists have defined, however incompletely, the director as an administrator who teaches or as a teacher who administers as part of her service to the institution and not as a teacher-scholar of writing. As a field we shy away from fully incorporating the director into our professional persona because administration too closely resembles service and historically compositionists have struggled to be taken seriously as a field (see any of the numerous historical analyses of the field). Yet center directors have much to add to an understanding of the teacher and to composition’s struggle to fully professionalize itself.

Unfortunately, the role directors currently occupy as administrators of what amount to local literacy projects affords them neither authority nor prestige. Mary Trachsel illuminates this problem by setting it within the larger framework of academic labor and production: “We must acknowledge that scholarship is the stuff that academic careers are made of, [and] is currency that holds value beyond the confines of a particular classroom, department, or campus.” She goes on to argue that because teaching within writing centers is so individualized it often goes unnoticed; “such teaching,” she writes, “has the flavor of domesticity” (33). Sue Ellen Holbrook would attribute what Trachsel claims in part to the feminization of composition studies, a phenomenon that Susan Miller, in Textual Carnivals: The Politics of Composition, examines in light of economic factors affecting the work of the field.

Virginia Perdue, in “Writing-Center Faculty in Academia: Another Look at Our Institutional Status,” suggests that to counter the misrepresentation of what directors do they should provide narratives illustrating the complexity of what really happens in writing centers. However, this too presents problems. First, administration is about numbers — how much for what? Second, directors are not thought of as teachers. After all, they only train tutors and perhaps tutor occasionally. That’s not teaching. Worse, writing center pedagogy is commonly understood as nurturing and feminine. That’s really not teaching. (Margaret O. Tipper addresses this problem in her article “Real Men Don’t Do Writing Centers” where she examines why so few men use her writing center’s services. Her solution? Masculinize how the writing center represents itself.) Furthermore, scholarship in writing center theory is not hard currency because it remains associated both with administration, and therefore service, and with composition theory, therefore (supposedly) not a scholarly activity. Any narratives directors supply will be read in that context.

These more common articulations of the director keep them on the margins of the field and prevent composition from incorporating them and their work into its professional goals. I have found that articulations of the director break down into three rough roles, and I would like to use those as a way to examine the resistance to thinking about the director as a teacher and the continual propagation of those roles despite their ineffectiveness. Reliance on these restrictive roles for writing center administrators stems from the notion that transforming the idea of the writing teacher to include administration runs the risks of pushing composition further into the periphery of scholarly academic circles, polluting or at least troubling the theoretical waters. Such a project must necessarily foreground teaching — which unfortunately means coming to terms with the ways that teaching remains “feminized” as a professional issue — and redefine it along models that escape the traditional classroom context. Riskier still, reexamining these roles requires strong resistance to the euphoria of composition’s meteoric rise in professional status and a hard look at how that professionalization has actually affected those who work and teach in writing centers (as composition has done to mixed success with the use of part-time labor).

Administrator, Tradeworker, and Revolutionary

Understanding writing center directors as administrators predominates writing center scholarship because their most salient duties are the day-to-day demands of their centers: budgeting and ordering supplies, scheduling and paying tutors, arranging class presentations, and negotiating with deans and faculty members. Seeing directors solely as administrators occurs because they are primarily understood and treated as administrators by their colleagues in other disciplines and by composition as a field. This is understandable given that directors do run small administrative units. This might not be a problem, except that the administrative role of the director itself remains poorly defined.

The data Gary Olson and Evelyn Ashton-Jones gathered in “Writing Center Directors: The Search for Professional Status” indicate that most writing program directors assume that the writing center director should be concerned primarily with the training of tutors and with the daily running of the center. Very few of the respondents thought that the director should also be a scholar or a teacher. There is a clear, if not explicit, distinction between training tutors and teaching students. The primacy of administrative functions does not simply reflect the director’s administrative work, but indicates a professional assumption concerning the nature of administration and the director. Administrative work, within the rarefied stratosphere of the academy, is not exactly viewed with any great respect; fields tied to administrative functions are often perceived to be less rigorous and less important to the pursuit of knowledge that ostensibly defines the academy. In her essay, “Centering in on Professional Choices,” which is in part a reflection on her own experiences in writing centers, Muriel Harris reminds us that “the scholarship and teaching component of administrative work is not adequately recognized and [. . .] its complex and substantial nature is too often viewed merely as ‘service’” (437).

Harris’s reading of writing center work echoes the data Olson and Ashton-Jones collected; they state that their data “suggest that the center director is perceived as a kind of wife. [. . .] The director is expected to keep a good house, to make sure the center ‘runs smoothly.’” Furthermore, the director should “be nice,” “friendly,” have “lots of personality,” and provide “chocolate cookies” (23). Not surprisingly, administrative work, perceived to be ancillary and unscholarly, becomes thought of in gendered terms. And notice, too, the centrality of the metaphor of wife and servant. It should not be surprising that the qualities we associate with the director have much in common with those given the housewife. Moreover, this perception of the director, heavily gendered and contextualized in socio-cultural assumptions about women in the workforce, reveals compositions’ professional assumptions concerning writing center administration, not to mention the implicit assumption that the term “wife” and the duties ascribed to that role automatically have to be pejorative. Composition does not escape the pressures of disciplinarity and the underlying social structure of male / female work relations. It is a dangerous mistake to overlook composition’s history as a service-oriented field. Composition’s history makes it all the more revealing that these assumptions about the nurturant role of the director should come from compositionists. In more masculine arenas within the academy, administrators are concerned with negotiation and diplomacy; being “nice” is not crucial to that work. That center directors are expected to be nice suggests that in this context “nice” has become a euphemism for malleable and domestic(ated).

This articulation of the directors’ administrative functions created difficulties because they are supposed to change how writing gets taught, talked about, and thought about across campus by administrators, faculty, and students. As Stephen North points out, writing centers are supposedly the “centers of consciousness” (446) for writing on their campuses. In most hierarchical systems, and certainly in the increasingly budget conscious academy, being nice is not enough to get the job done. Though they are asked to effect change, given the role and minimal trappings of a professional and of an administrator, center directors are not often given the power or authority, or, according to the survey data, the respect of their professional position. On this point Phyllis Stevens Endicott and Carol Peterson Haviland concur: “if composition instructors often are ranked low in the academic hierarchy, writing center personnel are often denied even a shaky foothold on the ladder” (2).

Judging from the impressions of those surveyed, the role of the director has more in common with that of servant or nurse-maid, functioning mostly as a supportive presence. Lea Masiello and Malcolm Hayward agree with this nurturant view of the center director, adding that “a director must attend to the relationship between her writing center and academic departments” (73). This mandate is perhaps unique to writing center administration, for in most non-departmental administrative units in the institutional structure, the unit is directly responsible not to the faculty, except perhaps in the most general sense, but to an administrative unit further up the hierarchical ladder. These administrative units do not rely on faculty involvement in the way that a writing center does, and neither do they usually seek to change the faculty’s pedagogical practices (there are exceptions). Since writing center directors often have a mandate to improve students’ writing but not the authority to make curricular changes directly, their primary recourse under current articulations of their role becomes one of conciliation and compromise.

Because of their loosely-defined and quasi-administrative roles, directors must often alter their own sense of what is “right” in terms of writing instruction to fit in with the pervasive institutional definition of literacy: functional and transparent. According to René Scanlon Cox, the director must be responsible for everything from “teaching critical thinking” to “teaching all grammar skills” (81); the director should “minimize administrative procedures and staff” (82), but “should augment the teacher education program” and “should serve as a faculty resource center” (83). Nancy Grimm reminds us that “writing centers remain vulnerable in times of shifting budgets and administrative priorities. This vulnerability can position them as eager-to-please wives, ready to serve the needs of the students and faculty whatever they may be” (532). Note yet again the pejorative role of wife. Understandably, directors align themselves with the whims of other administrators and faculty because they want to remain connected with the institution’s goals so that the writing center may appear to be indispensable. Because their administrative role is understood largely in terms of localized — institutionally invisible? — initiatives, writing center directors become unable to affect the policy or curricular changes that they need to keep the center functioning as it was intended to.

The same thing that saves writing center directors “in times of shifting budgeting and administrative priorities” (Grimm 532) damns them: their willingness and institutional need to play chameleon with their colleagues. Diana George and Nancy Grimm agree: “we feel the pressure to develop more special courses, to work with instructors rather than students, to put tutorial time into administration and clerical work” (62). Louise Z. Smith states this more bluntly: “Supervisors of goldfish-bowl writing centers . . . [who] feel pressured to adopt a uniform ‘best’ pedagogy, know that whichever pedagogy they adopt must inevitably offend some part of the faculty” (4). Without the backing of a coherent professional goal and the direct support of the field, directors must resort to sleight-of-hand writing center pedagogy and administration.

However much sense this makes in terms of institutional survival, it ultimately puts them in the position of the tradeworker. They continuously incorporate new services and tools: instructional technologies, competency and skills testing, word-processing, networked computers, as well as desktop publishing and web-design applications. Whew! Even the workshops which nearly all writing centers offer — research, editing, and revising, etc. — ultimately reinforce the assumption that writing pedagogy is a grab-bag of discrete skills and techniques, the writing center is a skills center, and the director is a tradeworker or semi-skilled laborer. Yet Irene Clark argues that “flexibility and adaptability are fundamental to the idea of a writing center.” Furthermore,

The spirit of openness and inquiry makes writing centers a natural site for helping students acquire [. . .] information literacy—that is, the ability to access, retrieve, evaluate, and integrate information from a variety of electronically generated resources. However, writing centers will not become such sites unless those of us who work in them designate information literacy a writing center priority. (203)

And so another priority gets added to Cox’s list. Many writing centers not only offer access to these services and technologies but will also train students how to use them. Clark’s mandates tacitly support functionalist notions of literacy. The only reason to develop something like “information literacy” (along with other segmented literacies: critical, liberatory, functional, cultural, work-place, etc.) for our students would be to ensure the writing center remains included in yearly budget revisions. By refusing to coherently define the role of the writing center director, composition effectively participates in an increasingly vocationalized university structure.

Incorporating new services is not necessarily bad when taken on its own. However, in the context of an already muted and nebulous articulation of the director’s administrative and teaching roles, this effusion of services further undermines any attempt to concretize our understanding of the director. Instead, the director becomes “that person who knows about computers” or “that person who teaches desktop publishing” rather than the literacies expert. The assumption that students should be sent to writing centers to work on their “poor grammar skills” parallels the assumption that they should learn desktop publishing in the writing center. Both assumptions remove the instructor’s responsibility to incorporate meaningfully such skills into his or her pedagogy. In their attempts to stay relevant, and without a clearer focus on and, more importantly, without an agreed upon and supported understanding of the professional and teacherly roles that they fill, directors simply reinscribe notions of themselves as support staff, as a helpful but relatively unimportant component of the larger institutional structure. Composition reflects this incoherence as well; consequently, directors continue to participate in their own servitude.

Admittedly, though pressured to conform to the whims of faculty and administrators, directors are savvy enough to appear to be in accord with those demands by meeting faculty needs in obvious but ultimately superficial ways: they instruct tutors to work on sentence level editing at the end of a tutorial, hold workshops on editing and organization, and provide worksheets on sentence combining and proper bibliographic citation. They provide, in other words, locatable, tangible services to the faculty that do not seem to interfere with the primary work of writing centers as it is understood within the scholarship. At best, however, this “teaspoon” approach to changing literacy instruction across our campuses remains slow enough that one has to wonder whether it can succeed at all in the long run. The development of vocational, technical, and corporate-preparatory education moves more swiftly, more powerfully, than guerrilla literacy tactics. And since other faculty are not privy to the composition scholarship that informs the workshops directors give, they often see only an opportunity to get writing taught outside of their own courses, and come to see the director as the tradeworker who provides those services.

The same types of tactics which inform the director’s role of a tradeworker—compromising and negotiating with faculty, incorporating new technologies, substantiating themselves through sundry services or because their mission coincides with the institutional movement towards cultural-pluralism—are not unique to writing centers or composition studies. All so-called “fringe” disciplines have to use similar tactics to survive. Not surprisingly, these tactics lend themselves well to the mystique of the writing center as a fringe dwelling, revolutionary front and to yet another role for the director, that of revolutionary outsider (the antecedent of which rests in the work of Freire and other liberatory pedagogues).

The consequence of this articulation is clear. Given the perception of composition as grammar instructor to the academy, the directors’ roles as administrators and tradeworkers lead them to think in terms of writing center directors versus the establishment. Those two roles set up a situation in which directors exist in an unequal power relationship with those they work with; thus they often come to see their work in direct opposition to the demands of the administration and faculty. The oppositions that they function within are close kin to the heroic narratives that crept into composition’s scholarly discourse in the late seventies and are still with us today; we are not immune to the powerful narratives of literacy as an indicator of (future) success and worthiness of the individual, and so we have come to understand our work in the heroic terms of Good versus Bad, Us versus Them. This is not to say that we are guilty of working within simplistic binary oppositions; these oppositions do, however, prescribe the ways we (can) articulate our work.

To illustrate the dangers (and potential) of this opposition, I want to focus on an essay written seventeen years ago — not because nothing similar has been written since, but because like North’s essay, Tilly Warnock and John Warnock’s essay “Liberatory Writing Centers: Restoring Authority to Writers,” has come to define and frame how directors (can) imagine their roles. Their essay serves as an excellent example of the double-bind I noted above and its role in writing center lore and scholarship. Warnock and Warnock argue that writing centers should move from their liberal origins to a more liberatory praxis, one that seeks to restore authority to both students and instructors. They claim that both instructors and students need to “revise themselves”; writing center instructors “are ready to learn and to listen, empowered with a critical consciousness that comes from understanding language as symbolic action, as having the power to revise the self and the world” (18). The students “wait, listen, and learn, but they also act and determine their own actions, symbolic and otherwise” (20). Undoubtedly, few writing center personnel would argue that this does not happen at all; however, these things most certainly do not happen in the uncomplicated way that Warnock and Warnock suggest they do. A writing center, no matter how far on the fringes of the institution it might physically or epistemologically (want to) be, still has to accommodate the faculty who send their students to the writing center; the director must still assure deans, provosts, and presidents that the work they do is worthwhile, productive and in accord with the goals of the institution.

In their conclusion, Warnock and Warnock make the argument that writing centers should maintain a critical distance from the institution. They note that “While we do not suggest that centers remain in condemned buildings or that staff salaries must remain low, it is probably a mistake for centers to seek integration into the established institution” (22). Yet earlier they articulate a vision of the writing center that validates this idea of center personnel as fringe dwelling pedagogical renegades. By doing so, they enter into a powerful narrative of self-actualized individuals collaborating to make themselves better writers, material conditions be damned. Certainly, writing center (and composition) scholarship contains many such romantic images, and sometimes they are true. But even though they may allow directors to function despite disheartening conditions, those narratives are no less damaging as a result.

Warnock and Warnock provide a cautionary description that would seem to counter this romantic and heroic narrative. Being careful to point out that writing centers are “risk-taking operations,” Warnock and Warnock remind us that writing centers “usually exist on the fringes of the academic establishment, often in unused classrooms . . . and basements. Salaries for staff are often low and granted on a year-to-year, even semester-to-semester, basis” (22). These are not conditions that anyone would want to replicate. Nevertheless, understanding the writing center as a revolutionary space romanticizes those very conditions, for despite such conditions: “labs flourish and students know where the real action is. Voices are loud, and laughter and tears are frequent” (22). Though a fairly common description of the typical writing center, perhaps even an accurate portrayal of life at the center, its primary consequence is the further mythologizing of writing center work. Furthermore, reading their essay today, seventeen years after it was first published, the power of nostalgia cannot be overlooked; those were heady days in writing center scholarship when compositionists struggled to get writing centers firmly established; out of that struggle came a sense of purpose and solidarity that has not carried over into conversations about how to define the director or what to do with the clear centrality of administration in our field.

Even as Warnock and Warnock try to establish the director as an authority figure, by establishing the context of the relationship in oppositional terms, us against them, they in effect undermine the director’s authority as an administrator, since the director needs to be “near the center” of the institution in order to enact change. True, this balkanization has some merit; directors should hardly blame themselves for their frustration with those with whom they work who refuse to acknowledge the last thirty years of research in composition. “The Idea of the Writing Center” remains the best example of this frustration. Stephen North was not the last to voice such frustration, though his was the article that really galvanized writing center scholars into thinking about how to change those perceptions.

Despite the revolutionary (and thus highly problematic and nearly unworkable within an institutional space) role of the director, Warnock and Warnock offer some interesting possibilities for the director’s role as a teacher. By positioning the writing center on the outskirts of the institution, they make a space available in which to work with students on how they can both negotiate and accommodate the demands of academic discourse. After all, faculty insistence that the writing center deal with subject-verb agreement is the same commandment, slightly revised, that those same faculty will give to students. Writing center directors and students share the same difficulties; thus, directors participate in those students’ struggles with academic literacy and can then focus the pedagogy of the writing center to anticipate and address — and hopefully, one day, redress — those problems. Thus, if Nancy Grimm is correct that students today are working within multiple literacies not accounted for in our classrooms or in the writing center, then it is also true that writing center directors share this same difficulty: they work within a different “literacy” than their colleagues who are not administrators.

The Director as a Professional Scholar and Teacher

Clearly, then, there exists serious professional pressure within the field of composition to do something about writing center directors. Unfortunately, this pressure has produced a nebulous arrangement of “tasks” that all directors should somehow incorporate; this in turn relegates the director to an ineffectual and powerless academic periphery. Even the National Writing Center Association is moot on the exact role of the director, having no clear position on what, exactly, directors should be. Olson and Ashton-Jones remark that “it is sadly ironic that writing center directors [. . .] are [. . .] constrained from having a full voice in the academic community of their peers—thought of not as teachers, not as scholars, but simply as administrators” (24). Yet, despite what Olson and Ashton-Jones found in their survey, many directors of writing centers do consider themselves to be scholars and teachers. Although those defined primarily as staff do not need to publish in order to keep their jobs, many directors are also teachers in the traditional classroom, and those who have tenure or are tenureable have to publish. As professionals who both teach and publish, directors are often undermined by the other roles that they have to fill, whether because their work is not valued because it is seen as service, or because they publish on writing center theory or work which is often not considered rigorous scholarship.

While we need to understand more fully the director’s roles as administrator, we need to remember that they are also teachers; we should work hard to understand their roles through the framework of a teacher. However, it is the teaching that goes on in the writing center that is most at risk in the struggle to become more effective administrators. It is exceedingly difficult to balance the needs of the administrator with those of the director-as-teacher-scholar, particularly when there are so many contrary and shifting pressures from within composition. Perhaps without recognizing the ambiguity of what he writes, Richard Leahy claims that “an important part of the writing center director’s job is [. . .] to be immersed in the writing center’s daily work” (47). Immersed as teachers? as administrators? as scholars? Olson and Ashton-Jones provide some more detail, as they found in their survey that “Clearly, of all twenty items, lowest in priority are those activities that involve teaching and interacting with people beyond the confines of the center” (21) and “the writing center director must be a ‘specialist in constructive human relations’” (20). Writing center directors often find themselves in a double-bind: they must work closely and at length with faculty if they want their writing centers to be successful, but in order for them to succeed as teachers and scholars they must publish; they must do the work of a scholar.

So how do we begin to address and change these assumptions? First, despite these professional and institutional restrictions, directors have access to pedagogical insights that “normal” classroom teachers do not. Because they are at once administrators and teachers, and because they are required to assume simultaneously so many different roles and different permutations of those roles, directors see the institutional structure and how students negotiate that structure from a vantage point that offers remarkable clarity into assumptions about who the teacher is. In their article, “Writing Others, Writing Ourselves: Ethnography and the Writing Center,” Janice Witherspoon Neuleib and Maurice A. Scharton write revealingly that “We have learned to use our intellectual and social skills to improve the learning environments or others, and in learning that lesson, we have become better scholars and teachers ourselves” (63). This revelation results from the director’s meshed roles of administrator, tradeworker and revolutionary. Neuleib and Scharton highlight the essence of the position that the respondents to Olson and Ashton-Jones’s survey ignore, or perhaps fail to see, since it requires considering the possibility that writing center directors are in fact teacher-scholars. A primary articulation of what writing center directors are must begin with this: they teach students a form of critical literacy that begins with acknowledging the difficulties in negotiating ingrained and systemic institutional-ideological assumptions about what it means to be a student, what it means to be a literate citizen.

Second, directors in their role as teachers are often involved in tutorials in the writing center, sometimes because there are not enough tutors to fill all available hours, but also because most directors understand the importance of maintaining a direct connection to the focus of the writing center: the student writing / writer. C. H. Knoblauch and Lil Brannon note that one of the disadvantages of teaching writing in the classroom is that “the teacher[‘s] . . . attention is diffused among many writers so that no one of them can receive the close immediate support that is most desirable” (45). Because the teaching that directors do is removed from the classroom context where teacher authority clouds the issue, the director works at the level of the students’ writing, seeing how they negotiates the assignments and requirements of academic discourse. Furthermore, nearly all of the scholarship on literacy acquisition suggests that student writing improves over longer periods of time than a single semester. Directors can work with students over a much longer period of time than most classroom teachers have with them. They also see and work with those students in constantly shifting contexts, as the students move from one course to another, switching disciplines in the process, and growing as writers as well. To understand how writing and writers change from discipline to discipline, we need to consult those who have that unique perspective. Writing center directors see the classroom struggles of students from the vantage point of the writer, not through the myopia of the teacher’s ideal text. (This is not to suggest that directors have escaped ideology).

The role the director occupies as teacher and scholar is not limited to interactions with students, but includes interactions with faculty as well. Directors constantly struggle with faculty to educate them not only about how students actually learn to write but also about the field of composition. While this is often a disheartening process, it is not without its rewards, as Neuleib and Scharton note: “as teacher-administrators we find that our institutions and our records suggest that professors do change when exposed to writing centers” (64).

So let me suggest the following modest guidelines or starting points for thinking about the role of writing center directors in the field of composition studies: (1) they have access to multiple literacies, both in terms of the students with whom they work (as Grimm argues) but also in terms of their own positions within the academy; (2) they work at the “raw” level of institutional/academic literacy acquisition; they see the struggles students have as they move through the disciplines; and (3) directors are our primary means of changing faculty attitudes towards and understanding of literacy and the teaching of writing. The role of the director calls into question the notion of the teacher in the classroom in some productive ways by highlighting the reality that even in the classroom issues and concerns that the director deals with as an administrator are present. Students do not operate in the context of a single department or discipline (as research makes plain), but rather experiences in other classrooms bleed into their classes with us. To understand, administratively, how other teachers make assumptions about students is to understand more fully the directors’ roles as teachers of writing. By looking at directors in their multiplicity of roles and by recognizing the important teaching functions they illuminate, compositionists can not only begin to address Olson and Ashton-Jones’s claim that “the role of the writing center director has never been adequately defined, and center directors are thus experiencing a kind of identity crisis” (19), but we can also begin to meet the critical promise that composition has made for its students and its teachers. To do this, however, will require the field to look more closely at how it is complicit in its own “marginalization.” The role of the martyr is engrained deeply in composition studies, and in the specific case of the writing center director, it prevents recognition of both this complicity and the possibilities that our untraditional scholarly roles offer for the teaching and teacher of writing.

Works Cited

Clark, Irene L. “Information Literacy and the Writing Center.” Computers and Composition 12.2. (1995): 203-09.

Cox, René Scanlon. “Priorities and Guidelines for the Development of Writing Centers: A Delphi Study.” Writing Centers: Theory and Administration. Ed. Gary A. Olson. Urbana: NCTE, 1984. 77-84.

Endicott, Phyllis Stevens, and Carol Peterson Haviland. “ Empowering Writing Center Staff: Martyrs or Models.” Writing Lab Newsletter 16.8 (April 1992): 1-6.

George, Diane and Nancy Grimm. “Expanded Roles/Expanded Responsibilities: The Changing Nature of Writing Centers Today.” The Writing Center Journal 11.1 (Fall-Winter 1990): 59-66.

Grimm, Nancy. “Rearticulating the Work of the Writing Center.” College Composition and Communication 47.4 (December 1996): 523-48.

----. Good Intentions: Writing Center Work for Postmodern Times. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook, 1999.

Harris, Muriel. “Centering in on Professional Choices.” College Composition and Communication 52.3 (February 2001): 429-40.

Holbrook, Sue Ellen. “Women’s Work: The Feminization of Composition.” Rhetoric Review 9.2 (Spring 1991): 201-29.

Knoblauch, C. H., and Lil Brannon. “A Philosophical Perspective on Writing Centers and the Teaching of Writing.” Writing Centers: Theory and Administration. Ed. Gary A. Olson. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 1984. 36-47.

Leahy, Richard. “Of Writing Centers, Centeredness, and Centrism.” The Writing Center Journal 13.1 (Fall 1992): 43-52.

Masiello, Lea and Malcolm Hayward. “ The Faculty Survey: Identifying Bridges Between the Classroom and the Writing Center.” The Writing Center Journal 11.2 (Spring-Summer 1991): 73-79.

Miller, Susan. Textual Carnivals: The Politics of Composition. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1991.

Neulib, Janice. W., and Maurice A. Scharton. “Writing Others, Writing Ourselves: Ethnography and the Writing Center.” Intersections: Theory-Practice in the Writing Center. Ed. J. A. Mullin and R. Wallace. Urbana, Illinois: NCTE, 1994. 54-67.

North, Stephen. M. “Revisiting ‘The Idea of a Writing Center.’” The Writing Center Journal 15.1 (Fall, 1994): 7-19.

. “The Idea of a Writing Center.” College English 46 (1984): 433-46.

Olson, Gary. A., and Evelyn Ashton-Jones. “Writing Center Directors: The Search for Professional Status.” WPA: Writing Program Administration 12.1-2 (Fall/Winter 1988): 19-28.

Perdue, Virginia. “Writing-Center Faculty in Academia: Another Look at Our Institutional Status.” WPA: Writing Program Administration 15.1-2 (Fall/ Winter 1991): 13-23.

Smith, Louise. Z. “Independence and Collaboration: Why We Should Decentralize Writing Centers.” The Writing Center Journal 7.1 (Fall-Winter 1986): 3-10.

Tipper, Margaret O. “Real Men Don’t Do Writing Centers.” The Writing Center Journal 19.2. (Spring/ Summer 1999.): 33-40.

Trachsel, Mary. “Nurturant Ethics and Academic Ideals: Convergence in the Writing Center.” The Writing Center Journal 16.1 (Fall 1995): 24-45.

Warnock, Tilly, and John Warnock. “Liberatory Writing Centers: Restoring Authority to Writers.” Writing Centers: Theory and Administration. Ed. Gary A. Olson. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 1984. 16-23.


This text was accepted for publication after an anonymous peer review process.

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