FROM THE EDITORS
Thomas Spitzer-Hanks & James Garner
The University of Texas at Austin
It is with great pride that we present to you our Spring 2016 issue of Praxis: A Writing Center Journal, in which we have had the privilege of publishing what we feel are a number of vital contributions to the field of writing center scholarship. The title of this collection is “New Approaches to Old Ideas,” and we think you’ll find that the articles in this issue provide some exciting and innovative ways to rethink and address preexisting writing center dilemmas, as well as invisible questions that have lurked in the background unanswered. From how best to assist Generation 1.5 writers to reimagining the usefulness of assessment, a number of articles that ask how we as writing center directors and consultants might address a number of concerns that directly affect our clients and staff.
In this issue’s column, Sunny Hawkins reconsiders the familiar and age-old problem of procrastination. Where we tend to think of procrastination as a negative behavior, leading to furious, Red Bull-fueled writing binges and self-loathing, Hawkins claims instead that for some writers, it is a useful work habit. Hawkins looks to Peter Elbow’s notion of The Dangerous Method—exhaustively thinking through an essay well ahead of time and then producing one draft—as a useful way to approach composition for those unable to write before the last minute arrives.
The first focus article of this present issue looks back to our previous issue on dis/ability in the writing center. Savannah Stark and Julie Wilson address the dearth of research on and stigmatization of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) in writing center studies. By applying disability scholarship to this important issue, Stark and Wilson hope to draw attention to questions of disclosure and stigmatization in order to encourage disability literacy in the writing center and open a more welcoming space for a wider variety of students.
Gary Jaeger’s article goes back to two foundational texts of both writing center scholarship and the humanities in general: Stephen North’s “The Idea of a Writing Center” and the dialogues of Plato. North claims that the writing center consultation should involve “a continuous dialectic that is, finally, its own end,” and Jaeger uses this as a starting point to contend that certain aspects of Socratic dialogue, particularly the ways we ask questions and enlarge upon our clients’ responses, to achieve greater clarity and efficacy in our consultations.
Two articles this month consider how we might better meet the needs of multilingual writers, a community of writers that writing center scholarship has in recent years done increasingly more to serve. Young-Kyung Min questions the value of the old adage that writing centers are not editing services, insisting that editing can be a valuable strategy for modeling composition strategies for multilingual writers. By providing our tutors with a lexical grammar approach and practical strategies to take sentence-level writing consultations from an “editor-dynamic” to an “educator-dynamic,” Min proposes that we would be able to better serve our multilingual writers whose main concern is writing in English. Likewise, Liliana M. Naydan considers how Generation 1.5 writers exist in our writing centers not only as clients but as consultants and administrators. Working against monolingual hegemony, these “hybridized” writers can act as a subversive force to “re-member” the writing center’s “dismembered past” in order to “create a writing center future that recognizes, values, and promotes hybridity.”
As writing center scholarship has moved toward an emphasis on RAD research, Justin Hopkins calls for a reconsideration of the recent antipathy toward local level research and questions the distinction often made between research and assessment. Tracing the evolution of his own writing center’s student evaluation form over several years, Hopkins argues that what might be most useful (and what we as writing center administrators might actually want) is constructive assessment that improves our writing centers at an individual level, rather than large-scale, generalizable research. Christopher Ervin’s article also considers research and how we as writing center directors might better begin to make use of the peer perspective in our research. Ultimately, Ervin hopes that peer tutors, who have much to teach us with their “insider-outsider” perspective, will begin to be recognized as a valuable resource for research into the theory and practice of writing centers.
Elizabeth Kleinfeld calls for greater attention to analysis of source selection and integration in writing center consultations as a means of helping student writers develop. After observing that students often cite incorrectly from less than useful sources, Kleinfeld began to emphasize citation analysis in her consultants’ training. Making citation analysis a key implement in our consultants’ toolboxes can, Kleinfeld contends, “be a powerful way to focus students’ attention on the ways they and the sources they cite are in conversation.”
While our first focus article looked backward to our last issue, the final article of this issue looks forward to our Fall 2016 issue on graduate student writing support. Bethany Ober Mannon approaches the question of how best to serve graduate student writers by proposing that writing centers can better address the unique challenges that graduate student writers face if we begin to teach graduate students how to incorporate tutoring into the writing process. Her article outlines four strategies for accomplishing this, as well as providing ways to help undergraduate tutors effectively consult with graduate students by expanding the range of techniques used.
In concluding this issue’s Letter from the Editor, I (James) would like to share some important announcements. First, as mentioned above, look forward to our special issue on graduate student writing support, guest-edited by Shannon Madden and Michele Eodice and coming in December Finally, I want to express my gratitude for and wish all the best to Thomas Spitzer-Hanks, whose tenure as Managing Editor for Praxis is coming to an end. Thomas has been an exemplary co-editor and wise mentor as he has guided me through my first year on the Praxis staff, and without him, I would have been adrift in a sea of emails and Google Drive spreadsheets. As Thomas exits, I would also like to take this opportunity to introduce and welcome Casey Sloan, who will be taking over my role as incoming Managing Editor as I assume senior editorial duties. As I take the helm, I am grateful for the opportunity to continue publishing high quality and exciting work on writing centers and writing center pedagogy through Praxis.