Guest editors: Kathy Evertz and Renata Fitzgerald for The WLN Journal
During any given conference, writing center consultants and writers may experience feelings that range from joy and satisfaction to anger and frustration, any of which can foster or impede a writer’s development or performance. Yet in a literature rich with examinations of the cognitive, pedagogical, political, and ethical dimensions of interacting with writers, the affective dimension of writing centers often goes unaddressed or is deemed secondary to other concerns. We invite writing center workers to help spark a conversation that foregrounds how emotions, motivations, values, and attitudes can influence what does or does not happen in writing conferences, both for those who visit and those who staff our centers.
Research shows that positive mood enhances feelings of self-efficacy, while negativity can be corrosive (Tillema, et al.). One way the affective dimension can overwhelm the cognitive in writing centers is when a writer is uncomfortable with the demands of academic discourse. Ivanic explains, “Students often face a crisis of identity, feeling that they have to become a different sort of person in order to participate in these context-specific and culture-specific knowledge-making practices of academic institutions” (344). Challenges to writers’ and/or consultants’ identities can lead to feelings of anxiety and vulnerability.
We encourage contributors to consider, as starting points, moments when the emotional can overwhelm the cognitive in a writing conference; whether disregarding a writer’s and/or one’s values, motivations, and attitudes impedes or enhances a writer’s growth; whether consultants should strive to balance the affective and cognitive; and what is gained or lost by addressing the affective dimension in writing conferences.