Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Write: Resistance, Positive Energy, and Progressive Vision(s)

At the upcoming Southeastern Writing Center Association (SWCA) conference in February, I will be presenting as part of a collaborative panel alongside three extraordinary writing center colleagues: Dr. James Truman, the Director of the Miller Writing Center at Auburn University; Matthew Kemp, the Learning Center Coordinator at Auburn University at Montgomery; and Dr. Erin Chandler, Director of the Harbert Writing Center at the University of Montevallo. 

In addition to collaborating on this presentation, our institutions are connected by former tutors. Former Wallace peer tutors Rachel and Camilla currently work at Montevallo's Harbert Writing Center, former Sparks professional tutor Christi is now working at the Learning Center at AUM, and current peer tutor Megan was also just hired to join Auburn's Miller Writing Center when she transfers this spring. 

Check out the panel proposal below.

Writing centers’ fundamental goal is empowering student engagement in academic conversations. It’s what we do. But in the last year, it’s become clear we are in a moment of historic conflict. The country feels more ideologically polarized than it has been since the 1960s, and what “empowerment” means, who gets access to the “academic conversation,” and how to even define that “academic conversation,” is more hotly contested than ever. From the extremist Campus Reform to the more moderate NAS, political organizations have made colleges and universities ideological battlefields, and “free speech” conflicts have brought actual violence to campuses like Berkeley, Auburn, and Charlottesville. These visible conflicts highlight the ideological struggle at play every day in funding decisions, staffing choices, and administrative reorganization.

Now is a time of transition…but we don’t know to what. The uncertain outcome can make it feel like the center cannot hold and mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.                                       

Given these dark times, what’s a writing center to do? Do we hide our heads and hope for change, or do we not go gentle into that good night? How do we productively resist? These presenters will show how four very different writing centers in one southern state have chosen to navigate these transitions—the power of positive affect, emotional intelligence, and collaborative attitudes (Maren et al 2015, King et al 2015). Each presenter demonstrates the value of metacognitive approaches in writing center training and collaborative endeavors across institutional boundaries that cultivate the cultural value of positive engagement (Dweck 2006; Deci & Ryan 2000 & 2010). This is how we enter the fray, how we defend our values. We won’t bury our heads—we will hold them high, and we won’t be afraid of the dark.


Works Cited

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2010). Self‐determination. John Wiley & Sons.

Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. Random House Incorporated.

Gagné, M., & Deci, E. L. (2005). Self‐determination theory and work motivation. Journal of organizational behavior26(4), 331-362.

King, R. B., McInerney, D. M., Ganotice, F. A., & Villarosa, J. B. (2015). Positive affect catalyzes academic engagement: Cross-sectional, longitudinal, and experimental evidence. Learning and individual differences39, 64-72.

Marien, H., Aarts, H., & Custers, R. (2015). The interactive role of action-outcome learning and positive affective information in motivating human goal-directed behavior. Motivation science1(3), 165.

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American psychologist55(1), 68.