Our new WLN Blog co-editors: Ann Gardiner and Brian Hotson

This week’s post is an introduction of our new co-editors, Ann Gardiner, Director of the Writing and Learning Center at Franklin University Switzerland and Brian Hotson, Director of Student Academic Learning Services in the Studio for Teaching and Learning at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Canada. In their conversation below, they speak to their own experiences coming to writing centers, their own practices in academic writing, and their outlook for the blog. You can contact Ann (agardiner@fus.edu) and Brian (brian.hotson@smu.ca) with any ideas for the blog.

Ann Gardiner

Q:    How did you arrive at your current position?
Ann: To make a long story short, I would say that I went through several side doors to arrive at my current position at Franklin University Switzerland, where I have been Director of the Writing and Learning Center since 2010. With a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, I started my academic career as a professor, but I always worked closely with writing centers and even created one during my first academic appointment in Germany. In a sense, I became a specialist in general education courses, and I found that I really enjoyed helping students how to write better, read better, think better. In my two previous teaching appointments prior to coming to Franklin, I regularly taught writing and was teaching writing courses at Franklin as an adjunct when my predecessor at the Writing and Learning Center took an extended maternity leave. The replacement position became a permanent position in 2010, and I have been happily here ever since.

Brian Hotson

Brian: Unlike Anne, I started outside academia before my first writing centre position in 2008 at the writing centre at Queen’s University in Kingston (Ontario). I worked for many years in academic publishing, as a writer, project manager, and editor, among other things, mainly for Nelson Education. I also spent ten years as a writer and director/producer in educational television. Writing centre work came as a suggestion to me from a friend: I needed a job while completing my Master’s. We moved our family to Halifax in 2009, and in 2010, the directorship of the centre at Saint Mary’s University came available. It seems to really bring together my working skills and experience together.

Q:    What do you like best about working in writing centres?
Brian: Students and sentences. I spend a lot of time thinking about both. I like getting to know the students as a person–when I can–what they want to do academically, as well as how they’re going to take all their experiences and knowledge away with them. There’s great satisfactions to witness a student’s progress in, through, and out of the school. It’s humbling and satisfying!

Ann: As Director of the Writing and Learning Center, I have also gotten to know my tutors well too. Like Brian, I find it extremely rewarding to watch a student or tutor progress. I regularly have fantastic discussions with my students, tutors and academic mentors, who are upper-level students who help professors in their first year seminar courses and whose training I help coordinate. As I mentioned, I really enjoy helping students become better learners, and there is never a dull moment with this endeavor. We are a very small school at Franklin with about 400 students, and as a result I know my students well.

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WLN News Round-Up

Assistant blog editor, Amber Slater, shares some of what’s on the WLN news radar this week:

Why do writers love to run? Nick Ripatrazone explores the parallels between writing and running, aiming to explain why so many famous authors have been known to hit the track or the trails. [The Atlantic]

From CBC

From CBC

College students offer tutoring to Syrian refugees. Using Skype, a group of students from McGill University is offering English language tutoring to Syrian refugees who are studying for the TOEFL exam. While it is currently a pilot project, the students hope to involve more of their peers and spread awareness about the refugee crisis. [CBC]


A PhD student explains the utility of writing groups. Travis Grandy explains the personal benefits of writing groups and offers tips about how they can be structured and planned. [Inside Higher Ed]

A youth writing center will be recognized by the White House. The center, the Telling Room, is based out of Portland, Maine and offers writing programs for refugee and immigrant high school students. The organization will receive a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award of $10,000 to expand its programming. [MPBN]

Watch a video about the Telling Room here:

What writing and tutoring-related news do you have to share with us this week? Let us know in the comments!

Two new publications of interest across borders


I’m pleased to announce that the collection I co-edited with Michelle Cox—WAC and Second-Language Writers: Research Towards Linguistically and Culturally Inclusive Programs and Practices—is now available online at http://wac.colostate.edu/books/l2/. Among the 18 chapters are articles written by authors from China, Lebanon, and Sweden, along with a rich array of articles co-authored by TESL and composition scholar-practitioners.  The book will also come out in print from Parlor Press in March.

I also want to let folks know that the Fall 2013 issue of The WAC Journal is available at http://wac.colostate.edu/journal/. The issue includes a review of Wu Dan’s book Introducing Writing Across the Curriculum into China: Feasibility and Adaptation as well as an article Marty Townsend (Univ. of Missouri) and I co-authored “Conversations in Process: An Observational Report on WAC in China.”

–Terry Myers Zawacki, George Mason University, tzawacki@gmu.edu

Three Professors In English Discuss Effective Writing

We just uploaded interviews with three professors in our English Department:

http://writing2.richmond.edu/writing/wweb/english/  (see left hand menu for links to videos).

Our Writing Consultants conducted these interviews. They may load slowly, as they are locally hosted. We have about 30 more in various fields. See the handbooks linked from this page:


Our long-term goal is to compile interviews for each handbook, as well as sample papers with commentary by the professors and writers (including some reflective “what if” remarks).

Writing Center News You Can Use, May 2013

News You Can Use is a selection of articles that concern language and writing in an international context. Have an interesting article to share? Post it in the comments below or on Facebook!

It’s summer reading time! The summer 2013 issue of Kairos includes several articles of interest to the international community.

The latest issue of Praxis is also filled with great articles, including Tzu-Shan Chang’s “The Idea of a Writing Center in Asian Countries: A Preliminary Search of Models in Taiwan.” 

And just for fun, a look at “Words that Last,” “‘ultraconserved words’ that have remained largely unchanged for 15,000 years.”

Writing Center News You Can Use, March 2013

News You Can Use is a selection of articles, taken from Writing Lab Newsletter‘s Facebook page, that concern language and writing in an international context. Have an interesting article to share? Post it in the comments below or on Facebook!


“It’s almost as though somebody with a giant eraser is literally trying to erase punctuation from our consciousness.” Read about the “war on apostrophes” in one British town.

A Japanese publisher has printed what may be the “world’s tiniest book.”  I wonder how students would feel to see that one on a syllabus.

And finally, do we need to ™ this post? Sweden rows with Google over term ‘ungoogleable’

Writing Center News You Can Use, February 2013

Over on the Michigan State University Writing Center blog, Ruth Shillair tells us “How to have the best. appointment. ever.”

The Writing Center at Passaic County Community College has been celebrating National Translation Month. Check out some translations of Bulgarian poetry as well as other translation posts on their blog.

The Marian E. Wright Writing Center at UM-Flint has created an International Writing Centers Week project to connect writing centers across borders. Scroll through their “Twitter Writing Center Love” post to see if you can spot any familiar WCs!