The Center Will Hold: Critical Perspectives on Writing Center Scholarship

The Center Will Hold: Critical Perspectives on Writing Center Scholarship

The Center Will Hold: Critical Perspectives on Writing Center Scholarship

The Center Will Hold: Critical Perspectives on Writing Center Scholarship

Excerpt

The “graying of the professoriate” has been a topic of interest for the past decade as higher education literature has pondered the demographics of an aging population of faculty members. With the retirements—anticipated and accomplished—it behooves us to move the stories about writing center histories into the archives in a more formal manner. One would like to say that it will be helpful for those who follow the pioneers to understand how we got here from there so they can enjoy the “wisdom of the past.” Would that it had been all wisdom.

Fortunately, a good deal of the wisdom that has accumulated can be attributed to one writing center figure, Muriel Harris. When the Conference on College Composition and Communication honored Muriel Harris with its Exemplar Award at the 2000 convention, the organization merely affirmed what those working in the writing center profession have known for years: Muriel Harris has made profound contributions to our field in innumerable ways. When she published the first issue of the Writing Lab Newsletter in April 1977, she helped establish the basis of a new professional community and provided it with an important mechanism for cohesion. While writing centers had been in existence for a great many years before this—at the University of Iowa, for example, under the guidance of Lou Kelly—it was not until the creation of the Newsletter that writing center directors and staff had a national forum for regular publication and professional contact. Over the course of the next 25 years, Muriel Harris and the Newsletter have become two of the writing center community’s most valuable resources. Together, they have confirmed writing center studies as a legitimate area of scholarly inquiry, given shape to a new field of study that has become increasingly sophisticated theoretically, educated hundreds of writing center professionals, and helped us to envision the nature of . . .

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