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The Mid-Atlantic Writing Centers Association

2022 Annual Conference - Call For Proposals

Deadline Extended:

February 8, 2022

Looking Back and Looking Ahead:

The Writing Center’s Past, Present, and Future

In the past eighteen months, writing centers, moved entirely online, have continued to tutor, teach and learn in the midst of a global pandemic, racial injustice unrest and political turmoil, and increasing concerns about our students’ and tutors’ mental health and physical wellbeing.

The current complex circumstances have brought into sharper focus a host of issues related to embodiment, equity, accessibility, language diversity, and democratic dialogue. Just as the two most recent MAWCA conferences asked us to consider the values that drive our practices and to explore how COVID-19 shaped our ideas of access and equity, we would like to take this opportunity to explore what lessons we have learned, what practices we would like to retain, and what new directions have opened up in writing center work.

For example, as we slowly return to in-person tutoring and teaching, we realize that the online component has dramatically increased. At this moment, together with Lisa Bell, it is worth asking the question: What is worth preserving when we move tutoring online? What can we learn from online tutoring that would be worth taking up in our in-person sessions?  Bell, in her thought-provoking WLN 2020 blog post, writes that moving online is not about preserving as much of face-to-face interaction as we can, but rather about how we can “value and support learners and learning.” 

Additionally, how, now, do we continue to interrogate who accesses our centers and why, as Lori Salem did in “Decisions, Decisions: Who Chooses to Use the Writing Center”? Do our practices include as many people as possible or do we end up excluding some? How well do we engage in listening to the very students we most want to serve? How do we support learning by continuing our work on anti-racist and radical writing center pedagogies, as Luara Greenfield has asked? How do we push our understanding of supporting learners into the future, by perhaps considering the emotions of the “whole person” as Driscoll and Wells call us to do? And do all that in the context of our dramatically increased online presence as well as in our traditional face-to-face sessions?

At the same time, we also need to acknowledge the fact that a huge amount of writing happens online and in multimodal environments. We can no longer afford to ignore the presence of visuals or sound, which complement, modify, or argue together with the written text. How do we design tutor training to build on evolving tutoring practices and strategies, as Fallon and Sabatino consider in Multimodal Composing: Strategies for Twenty-First Century Writing Consultations?

Therefore, we invite proposals that help us to continue conversations about how we value and support learners as we move forward whether online or in person.


What continuities do we see between our current concerns and past writing center conversations? What parts of our foundational theories and practices still serve us?

What questions have we left unanswered? Which conversations are still unfinished?


How are we responding to rapid change?

How has the pandemic disrupted our idea of writing center space?

What student populations do we serve best and how can we become more inclusive?

What (else) have we learned from the past eighteen months?


Beyond issues related to distance learning in the age of Covid-19, we invite you to consider where writing centers are going and where you think we ought to go. What is here to stay? How can we look at this moment as an opportunity to steer the future? What research directions have come into sharper focus and why?

Session Types: Asynchronous or Synchronous. In-Person or Online.

Individual Scholarly Presentation In-Person: Individual presenters share their original work as a 15 minute presentation in Tawes Hall.

Individual Scholarly Presentation on Zoom: Individual presenters share their original work as a 15 minute pre-recorded PPT or Prezi presentation (with either voiceover or video) and are present online for discussion.

Panel/ Roundtable/ Workshop In-Person: Three or more presenters share their original work together or organize a discussion on a topic for about 45-50 minutes in Tawes Hall.

Panel/ Roundtable/ Workshop on Zoom: Three or more presenters share their original work as a 45-50 minute pre-recorded PPT or Prezi presentation (with either voiceover or video) and are present online for discussion. Alternatively, three or more presenters organize a Zoom discussion/ workshop on a certain topic.

Scholarly Asynchronous Poster Presentation: In this asynchronous online option, individual presenters or groups share their work via a Google Document, Google Slides, or Google Jamboard, available during the hours of 4pm on Friday, April 1, 2022 and 4pm on Saturday, April 2, 2022, and monitor the document for questions and comments.

Podcast: Presenters share their work via a prerecorded audio podcast (with accompanying transcripts). Podcasts may range from 15-50 minutes in length. A Google document will be available for questions, reactions, and comments during the hours of 4pm on Friday, April 1, 2022 and 4pm on Saturday, April 2, 2022.

Data Dash or Research-in-Progress Forum: Presenters share their work in a brief, 5-7 minute presentation format, followed by group discussion. An option for pre-recorded sessions accompanied by asynchronous audience feedback will be considered. 

Literature to Consider:

Bell, Lisa. “Rethinking What to Preserve as Writing Centers Move Online.” Connecting Writing Centers Across Borders: A Blog of WLN: A Journal of Writing Center Scholarship, July 20, 2020. https://www.wlnjournal.org/blog/2020/07/rethinking-what-to-preserve-as-writing-centers-move-online/

Dembsey, J.M. “Naming Ableism in the Writing Center.” Praxis: A Writing Center Journal, vol.  18, no. 1, 2020, http://www.praxisuwc.com/181-dembsey

Driscoll, Dana Lynn and Jennifer Wells. “Tutoring the Whole Person: Supporting Emotional  Development in Writers and Tutors” Praxis: A Writing Center Journal, vol. 17, no. 3, 2020, http://www.praxisuwc.com/173-driscoll-wells

Fallon and Sabatino, eds. Multimodal Composing: Strategies for Twenty-First Century Writing Consultations. Utah State University Press, 2019.

Greenfield, Laura. Radical Writing Center Praxis. Utah State University Press, 2019.

Hohjin Im; Jianmin Shao; Chuansheng Chen. “The Emotional Sponge: Perceived Reasons for Emotionally Laborious Sessions and Coping Strategies of Peer Writing Tutors.” Writing

Center Journal, vol. 38, no. 1-2, 2020, pp. 203-228.

Hotson, Brian and Stephanie Bell.  “Three Foundational Concepts for Tutoring Digital Writing.” Writing Lab Newsletter, vol. 45, no. 1-2, 2020, pp. 18-25.

Salem, Lori. “Decisions...Decisions: Who Chooses to Use the Writing Center?” The Writing Center Journal, vol. 35, no. 2, 2016, pp. 147–71.

Stroup, Rachel. Tutors' Column: "Mansplaining in the Writing Center: Gender Dynamics and the Ongoing Struggle with Authority" Writing Lab Newsletter, vol. 45, no. 7-8, 2021, pp. 26-29.

Thier, Tyler et al. “Productive Disruptions: Moving from Empathy to Invitation in the Struggle towards Equity in Writing Center Work.” Praxis: A Writing Center Journal, vol. 18, no. 3, 2021. http://www.praxisuwc.com/183-thier-et-al

Wisniewski, Carolyn; Regidor, MarĂ­a Carvajal; Chason, Lisa; Groundwater, Evin; Kranek,

Allison; Mayne, Dorothy; Middleton, Logan. “Questioning Assumptions About Online

Tutoring: A Mixed-Method Study of Face-to-Face and Synchronous Online Writing

Center Tutorials.” Writing Center Journal, vol. 38, no. 1-2, 2020, pp. 261-294.

Worm, Anna. “Believing in the Online Writing Center.” Writing Center Journal, vol. 38, no. 1-2, 2020, pp. 231-58.

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