Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Questions Posed

I have a few questions for us to consider embedded in my slideshow document for class discussion today, but here are some more to get us thinking about writing center issues in the context of this WPA class.

  • Is it appropriate to say that a "trickster" or "noisy" ideology influences your approach to administrative work when you're on the job market, or is that something you keep to yourself until after you've been hired? If it is acceptable in the field, is it still subversive to the institution? 
  • What responsibility does a writing center have to a WAC program, and vice versa? 
  • What does Boquet's writing style and research methods suggest about how the field of writing center studies has changed since 2002? What are your thoughts on that progression of the scholarship? 
  • What is your response to Boquet's argument that directors should encourage writing center tutors to be exceptional, even if it means failing at times, rather than "institutionally competent"? Is it reasonable for WPAs to ask the same of TAs? Of TAs to ask the same of student writers?
  • What's your stance about the way in which assessment aiming to justify the writing center to upper administration should be crafted? (Boquet and Harris have very different opinions on this.) 
Looking forward to responses and discussion! 


  1. I think the "trickster" ideology is an interesting one. It has an element of resistance and specificity to local contexts that makes it seem kind of raw and maybe even necessary at times, when the context seems to require it. I do not think it is necessarily subversive to an institution if it is done transparently and in an ethical way, yet one could argue that a trickster ideology is something that one would not really want to publicize, so there is a tension in it. In some ways, it reads like a way to subvert powers. I think it could be problematic if it is not "owned" by the administrator in an open way, and if it is used only for self-serving ends rather than collectively beneficial ends.

  2. What responsibility does a writing center have to a WAC program, and vice versa? '

    I like this question because I don't know the answer. It's interesting to me because the writing center and the writing program inhabit practically the same physical space at Ball State. I think the writing center provides unique ways to research what's going on in the writing program. Not to give away all the spoilers to their article since this is a public blog, but Jackie and Jennifer's research on multimodality that they conducted in the writing center gives us some insight into the ways we are or are not achieving the goals of the writing program. I think the writing center has a responsibility to the whole campus and not specifically the writing program. I think the writing program has a responsibility to the writing center to not put additional pressure or demands on the writing center. For example, I don't think it's fair for writing program instructors to require students to go to the writing center because this assumes that the writing center has the time and resources to "cater" to writing program needs when in actuality, they are helping many students not in first-year writing courses. It's healthiest when the writing center and writing program can collaborate to achieve larger goals but I see many benefits to having the two operate independently.

  3. This first question is particularly interesting--how open can you be about your belief in the value of being a trickster when being hired? On one hand, it seems like being a trickster could be framed as being one who finds potential value in moments of tension and discomfort. On the other, it could be framed as one who tricks and causes such moments of tension and discomfort for the sake of nothing other than being a trickster. The term itself has a lot of negative connotations.