CFP: Special Issue of WLN- The Affective Dimension of Writing Center Work

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.

WLNResearch 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.

Successful proposals will demonstrate awareness of existing scholarship about the affective aspects of writing center work and explore issues like these:

  • the vulnerability that writers may experience when
    • they are asked to read their texts aloud in a somewhat public space
    • their texts address sensitive or personal issues
    • they are undergoing identity formation in a new and challenging environment
    • they are novices at the type of writing they are sharing
  • the potential of positive emotion to facilitate writers’ motivation and self-efficacy
  • the intersection of writing with race/ethnicity, class, and/or gender
  • the impact of psychological states, such as depression or anxiety, on a writing conference
  • the effect of learning differences, such as dyslexia, on a writing conference
  • strategies for staff development that support writing center workers’ abilities to
    • acknowledge their own feelings
    • recognize ways to capitalize on positive emotions
    • empathize with writers
    • set healthy boundaries
    • redirect consultations when appropriate

We welcome proposals for articles (no longer than 3,000 words [fewer if there are figures and/or tables], in MLA format, including Works Cited) and a Tutor’s Column (no longer than 1,500 words, also in MLA format and including Works Cited).  Proposals will be accepted until May 31, 2016.  Invitations to submit full articles will be issued by June 30, 2016.  Invited manuscripts will be due by November 15, 2016.

Proposal format: Please submit an approximately 300-word proposal explaining the topic, background scholarship and/or your own research, and your plans for structuring an article on this topic. Send the proposal to Kathy Evertz ( and Renata Fitzpatrick ( Please provide full contact information with your submission.

Works Cited

Tillema, Julie L., Daniel Cervone, and Walter D. Scott.  “Negative Mood, Perceived Self-Efficacy, and Personal Standards in Dysphoria: The Effects of Contextual Cues on Self-Defeating Patterns of Cognition.”  Cognitive Therapy and Research 25.5 (2001): 535-549.  Print.

Ivanic, Roz.  Writing and Identity:  The Discoursal Construction of Identity in Academic Writing.  Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 1998.  Print.

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