Today in the academy we are writing lesson plans and finalizing syllabi, writing e-mails to students and finishing novels and bracing ourselves for the start of the spring semester, which at UT Austin begins tomorrow.
Today in the United States, we honor the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the civil rights movement, and we think seriously about their legacy. In what ways is the current moment a continuation of slavery and colonialism, of civil war and civil rights? In what ways have we broken with that history, and to what ends?
It may be mere convenience, or the strange history of the academic calendar, which put these two moments back-to-back. But after a year in which gender and racial conflicts seemed to jump to the forefront of popular discourse in new and vital ways, it is also an opportunity. How does our practice as scholars and educators continue to pursue social equality in our communities?
Martin Luther King, Jr. was a great orator and a great writer, and as a writing educator, that has long been central to my relationship with the civil rights movement. But this year, I find myself thinking about how powerful rhetoric is just one part of social practice. Martin Luther King, Jr. brought together speech and practice. As a #reclaimMLK writer put it (quoting the Washington Post) put it, "He wasn't convenient." This semester, I will be thinking about what it means to be an "inconvenient" educator.
Maybe this means building bridges with groups across campus. Maybe it mean changing a syllabus to give greater weight to underrepresented voices. Maybe it means rethinking what good writing is, what good writing looks like, and what good writing means.
At Axis, we are looking forward to taking part in conversations about these topics throughout the spring semester. Alongside the Undergraduate Writing Center at UT Austin, we will be hosting a series of blog posts reflecting on best practices for socially conscientious writing education - in the context of LGBTQ education, race, gender, language acquisition, and dis/abilities.
Next month, we look forward to the South Central Writing Center Association Conference in Austin, where we will be meeting many of our readers and contributors face to face. We hope that many of the vital conversations held in person during that conference will continue in this digital space.
Finally, as we read submissions to the spring edition of Praxis, we will be publishing a series of offshoot posts and responses on the topic of dis/ability in the writing center. If you are interested in contributing a blog post on this topic, please contact the praxis editors (firstname.lastname@example.org).
*Image from the Boston University website