"On Elephants, Writing Centers Tutors, and Other Misunderstood Creatures" NCPTW Keynote 2015
A. Introduction Thank you so much for that introduction and for the invitation--the privilege--to talk to all of you today. Thank you especially to Clint, Andrea, and Chris for hosting this awesome conference and for thinking of including me. I’ve always thought of keynote addresses as a mutt genre: an unholy combination of pep rally, acceptance speech, academic lecture, infomercial, and commencement address— this one will be no different. I’ll talk a bit about me, a bit about you, a bit about elephants, with maybe a ghost story or two.
As I was planning this talk, I couldn’t help but think that life is strange and that it’s particularly strange that I’ve been invited to talk to you. I mean, I never meant to become a writing center scholar. I more or less accidentally ended up in the field of writing studies and I was assigned to work in the writing center when I drove with my cat and other worldly possessions in my hatchback ford escort from Minnesota to New Mexico to start my MA program. Yet, there I was assigned to work ten hours a week in the writing center and it turned out to be a very fortuitous turn in my life. I learned how to talk to writers and how to give feedback. I learned how to be in a community of writing teachers and tutors. And, I learned how to study writing centers.
I went on to get my PhD, during which I worked again at another Writing Center as tutor and then as an assistant director, and then took my first job at Ball State as Writing Center Director, where I’ve remained since 2003. So it’s strange that I fell into writing center work and strange, perhaps to some, that I’ve stayed. After all, turnover in writing centers for both tutors and directors is quite high.
But what I found most strange about the invitation to speak to you all is than in my first book, Peripheral Visions for Writing Centers, I argued that we’ve made peer tutoring too central in the story of the work of a writing center. So, here I am, invited to speak to the biggest national gathering of peer tutors—some of the best and brightest peer tutors from across the nation, no doubt—just after I’ve published a book wondering if peer tutoring should be our story. This presented me a challenge: What do I have to say to you all? Why should you listen?
And, then, I got a sign. Literally a sign. Let me explain. This May, I was packing up our writing center. We were moving down the hall to a newly appointed space with, for the first time, an attached receptionist office, an attached administrator office, and a staff room. I was over the moon for this move, which had been approved 18 months earlier and finally, at last, was coming to fruition. But as I sat on the floor and weighed what to do with 30 years of accumulated stuff—photos of old tutors, agendas from meetings past, handouts now retired—I found myself a little choked up and questioning my motives. This space had served us. This space, in all of its humbleness, had inspired us. This space had brought us together and held us. Why are we leaving this space? To make it worse, colleagues dropped by with condolences.
Somewhere in the heap of stuff to sort through, in a drawer that was packed full of 4-inch cardstock letters, a plastic jack o’ lantern, construction paper, and some rogue plastic forks, I found rolls of bulletin board paper in various colors and lengths. I was tossing them in the recycling bin and then I came across this. [show poster]
Imagine my surprise as I’m wrestling with finding words to say to all of you and I’m physically and emotionally wrestling with 30 years (or more) of accumulated writing center history and I find this sign that connects my two struggles. I knew that Ball State hosted NCPTW but it was in 1995 (twenty years ago)—before I got to Ball State, before I even began to work in writing centers, and before, perhaps, some of you were even born! I laughed as I unrolled the sign and saw what it was. I laughed at how strange life was. I laughed thinking about who must have decided to make the sign for the conference, how they must have confiscated the hallway where the markers wouldn’t ruin the linoleum and where they’d have twenty feet or more to unroll the paper, how they had to decide where to hang the sign to greet the conference attendees, and how someone, who I don’t know, decided after the conference to roll the sign up and tuck it in a drawer, and how I and the countless directors and tutors before me had let in lie in that drawer for twenty years. I got a sign, y’all.
And here’s what the sign said to me: You can hold on to the past. You can bring parts of the past with you. But you also need to know when to make room for something new. We are all, in this moment, holding history, holding writing center history in our hands and in our memories. For writing center professionals, the question of our time is what do we continue to hold and what do we let go of? What do we bring with us into the future? I’m going to argue today that we certainly bring tutoring--peer tutoring--with us into the next evolution of writing centers, but that we also adjust our grip, so that we can hold an expanded vision of writing center work.
B. The Story is Too Small
It isn’t lost on me that the writing center at Ball State moved into our now “old” writing center in the mid-1980s, right at the same period when lots of key writing center texts were published including: • Stephen North’s “The Idea of a Writing Center,” • Muriel Harris’s Teaching One to One • Kenneth Bruffee’s “Peer Tutoring and ‘The Conversation of Mankind’” • Gary Olson’s collection “Writing Centers: Theory & Administration” These texts established peer tutoring as the work of a writing center. They offered philosophy and method for centers new and old to move to a model where undergraduate tutors gave feedback to undergraduate students. The fact that these texts are still cited today as justification and clarification of writing center mission is telling of the important legacy of these scholars.
Our old writing center, in the way that it was configured, also revealed peer tutoring as its key enterprise: as it was, it was one big room with round tables, a few computers on those old typewriter-era office desks. The space enabled pen and paper tutoring quite well, but not much else. There were no outlets near the tutoring tables for student laptops or tablets. There were no “off stage” spaces for tutors to dissect difficult or enjoyable sessions. The administrative team—the five of us—had no drawer, desk, let alone a separate office. The secretary had her desk down the hall. We tried with our furniture to alert users that this zone was for checking in, that one for waiting, and there, in the back, that area was only for the staff to drop their bags and fill their coffee cups. Our old center enabled the work of peer tutoring pretty easily, but complicated other work. Even work closely related to peer tutoring—like the interviewing of potential peer tutors, administrative team meetings, and mentor meetings often had to take place somewhere else.
Here’s a question for us to consider: What if we think about both our old writing center and the narrative of writing centers as peer tutoring centers as 30-year old technologies? Then we would ask: what does this space or this story as a technology enable us to do? What does it not allow? Who is it for? Who does it not work for?
What I argue in Peripheral Visionsis that peer tutoring as central, as THE work of writing centers is a story of writing center work that oversimplifies. We can trace the roots of this story back to the mid-1980s, to those scholars like North, Harris, Bruffee, Olson and others, that I’ve mentioned. We can confirm and verify that peer tutoring has been and is important to writing centers. But, I imagine that you, like me, have done writing center work that isn’t tutoring. The story of peer tutoring (like our old space) leaves out some of our work, some of our important work, I’d argue.
Sure, the story had its benefits. When we think of the writing center as a tutoring center, we can feel pretty confident that others will understand what that is. In other words, that story is legible. Offer tutoring (FREE tutoring as so many of us emphasize!) also is altruistic. We help, we say. We want you to achieve great things. Since we often advertise that our tutoring is for ALL students, we are also saying that tutoring is democratic. A tutoring center, to administrators, seems natural, important, and pretty cheap. After all, tutors, especially peer tutors, do not cost as much as faculty or full-time staff. For all of these reasons, we might want to hold on to this story of our work.
And yet...the story for me and for you probably seems a little uncomfortable at times. I think holding tight to this story has consequences for those of us in writing center studies and for our standings within our institutions. Even if we set aside that the story normalizes particular types of tutoring over others, we might notice that an emphasis on tutoring is an emphasis on a system by which we ask students to change to fit a system. In the words of Tiffany Rouscalp, students are not whole. It is a one-sided arrangement: students get tutored so they can meet course expectations. Sure, many times those expectations are fair and appropriate, but other times, like when an instructor takes 10% off for every “error,” it seems like we are participating in a system designed to fail particular groups of students. Secondly, we have known all along that the writing center as a tutoring center is seen by students and faculty alike as a place for remediation. Any study on student use of tutoring—in writing centers and more broadly—shows that less than 1/5 students will take advantage of tutoring during their college careers. (I’m afraid similar numbers are not available for secondary or graduate schools.) So, if students see us only as tutoring centers, the majority might avoid us.
Furthermore, there’s that old confusion about what a “peer” is in the peer tutoring terminology. Just last month at IWCA, a new director stood up and said that all this talk of peer tutoring made her feel like she didn’t belong there: her center only had professional/staff tutors.
Finally, if we promote ourselves as only tutoring centers, we are leaving out other work that we do. In 2009, Becky Jackson and I did a study on non-tutoring work. We just wanted to know what, besides tutoring, was happening at writing centers across the country. We surveyed writing center administrators about over 70 different non-tutoring activities, asking whether their center engaged in these activities. We found that writing center professionals were ALREADY doing the majority of these activities in their centers. [chart] One things most writing centers do is workshops for students, faculty, staff, and community members—85% of centers do this. Yet, it isn’t seen as part of the writing center story and consequently we don’t have scholarship on best practices for workshops or the one-to-many pedagogy.
But let me be utterly clear about one point: we have outgrown the story of peer tutoring as the (only) work we do; we have not outgrown peer tutoring. The talk we do with writers over texts of all kinds has benefits for the tutor, writer, the school, and beyond—some of those benefits we have barely begun to recognize. I can’t imagine a future for writing centers that doesn’t include peer tutoring. But I also can’t imagine a future for writing center where we consciously continue to occlude the other work happening in writing centers in the way we narrate our work—we need to talk about the work to prepare tutors, to run centers, to support writers more broadly, to research and understand our work, to educate others on writing/writing pedagogies, to change communities, and to name systems of oppressions within which we operate.
The discomfort we felt trying to fit our non-tutoring work into our old center is symbolic or maybe even symptomatic of the field’s enchantment with peer tutoring. When we try using a technology for something it’s not built to do, we can get by, but it’s unnecessarily complicated. In this future which I see on the horizon, writing center practitioners and scholars will open up the story of what a writing center is by telling different stories that use peripheral and extrasensory vision.
Doing so, we move out of the 1980s narrative, like my writing center moved out of our old space, that no longer was large enough to hold us.
At the end of Peripheral Visions, I suggests ways that we develop peripheral vision—ways to see outside of the tunnel vision that I think the peer tutoring narrative fosters. I urged that we remind ourselves that the narrative was merely one representation of our work, and as Jerome Bruner sagely says, “Any story one may tell about anything is better understood by considering other possible ways in which it could be told” (Bruner, 2004, 37). I also encouraged us to pay attention to the pieces that the narrative doesn’t account for, because Kris Fleckenstein suggest that these forgotten pieces always “press for attention.” In the rest of my time today I’m going to offer four ways to account for the pieces that are pressing for attention, in order to write different stories of writing center work, stories that decenter peer tutoring. I look forward to hearing as this conference unfolds how you all have also been thinking about decentering peer tutoring.
C. Towards New Narratives In the mid-1980s, right around the same time that the Ball State Writing Center moved into its now old room and writing center scholars were singing the praises of peer tutoring, bioacoustics scientist Katy Payne was at the zoo in Portland, Oregon. Payne was well-known for discovering song in humpback whale communication in the 1960s, and she was hanging out by the elephants before giving a talk on whales and noticed something bizarre. She recalls, “I began to realize, every now and then, I was feeling a throbbing in the air. I realized that was the same feeling I got when I used to sing at Cornell in the Sage Chapel. It would go low, low, low. When the pipes go down, you begin to lose pitch — and pitch is replaced by feeling." This lead her to wonder if elephants were making sounds too low for people to hear. Sure enough, they were; Payne was able to prove that elephants communicate in pitches humans can hear and in infrasound which we can’t hear. This discovery took Payne to Africa where she worked with colleagues for decades to record elephants where they naturally gathered, using special “elephant-proof” microphones. Payne insisted they not just catalogue the noises the elephants made but that they craft a dictionary of elephant communication by watching what elephant behaviors corresponded with what sounds. Doing so, Payne supposed, they’d be better able to understand what the sounds might mean.
What’s amazing to me about this story is how Payne makes this incredible scientific discovery by just loitering and by drawing on her own experience to make sense of what she’s noticing. How incredible is it that being in the choir in college could give her insights into her scientific work? Then, Payne goes to the source. She doesn’t stay in the zoo, she doesn’t shrug and go back to studying whales, she goes to the natural habitat of the elephants, stays for years, figures out how to best record elephants, and decides, even though she’s known for bioacoustics (not animal behavior) to observe and record to make sense of it all.
When I heard this story on NPR this summer, I immediately thought of writing centers, naturally. I’ve asked in Peripheral Visionshow we might better see non- tutoring writing center work, and Payne’s work provides one model. One that, despite the very different field, has a lot to offer us. Payne listens for something that is there but something she can only “hear” when she uses not her expertise as a whale researcher, but her personal experience. She “discovers” something that was there all along, but that prevailing wisdom kept others from paying attention to.
The type of research that Payne does is a particular kind of research. So many writing center scholars have been calling for this kind of research in writing center studies lately—Dana Driscoll and Sherry Wynn Perdue, Lauren Fitzgerald and Melissa Ianetta, Terese Thonus and Rebecca Babcock, Sarah Liggett, Kerri Jordan and Steve Price, for example. I, too, have joined the chorus of scholars with the publication of my second book, Strategies for Writing Center Research.
Those of you who are here today are certainly aware of writing center scholarship—you are here at this conference as both producers and consumers of writing center scholarship—you know, unlike many in other people at your schools, perhaps, that writing center studies is an area of scholarship, so you might be wondering what do you mean that a bunch of writing center scholars are asking for writing center research? What’s the difference? Well, they (we) mean something very specific by it. I think Liggett, Jordan, and Price offer the best taxonomy for describing different approaches to inquiry in writing centers. They talk about inquiry as either theoretical, practitioner, and empirical.
Theoretical inquiry is scholarship where the primary evidence used to back claims is other scholarship. In theoretical inquiry, a writer uses a particular theory or lens to think through a problem. For example, in the book The Everyday Writing Center, among other theories, the authors use Wenger & Lave’s idea of “community of practice,” to reimagine writing center teams and leadership.
In practitioner inquiry, the primary evidence used to back claims is the writer’s own experience. The writer will often use other sources within this type of inquiry, but the primary focus is on offering a solution or a new way of thinking about an issue, in most cases, with regards to tutoring. Sometimes the focus of this type of inquiry is on “what works?”
The third type of inquiry is empirical inquiry; this is the type of inquiry that so many of us have been pleading for lately. Not because theoretical and practitioner inquiry aren’t important, but because there haven’t been enough empirical studies on writing center work published. Empirical inquiry uses data gathered by the writer as evidence. There are overlaps between all three types of inquiry and any one type of scholarship might rely on different types of claims. However, one key difference for empirical research is that it calls for systematic collection and analysis of data, planned in advance of the phenomena under study.
Let me give an example. Let’s say I want to study the mentoring we do in the writing center; all of our new tutors are assigned a mentor from the administrative team. From my experience, I notice that some mentoring pairs seem to cohere better—it seems the graduate student assistant directors make stronger connections than I’m able to, for example. I could write about this, using specific examples of pairs I’ve noticed that have worked and not worked and think about how this experience might be meaningful to readers. That would be a practitioner approach; it is reflective and my memory can be selectively drawn upon to give the examples that fit with the point I want to raise.
I could also dive into the scholarship on mentoring, training, and administration in writing center studies more broadly. There, I might find a particular theory of mentoring which I could bring to writing center studies and use it as a lens to read writing center work. That would be a theoretical approach. I could read selectively and isolate the texts that help me make my point.
An empirical approach to study writing center mentoring would look different. I would have to plan out a way to capture data related to the mentoring. Data is often collected in empirical studies through surveys, fieldwork, interviewing, and document collection. I might decide to do both surveys and interviews of all mentors and mentees during the next academic year. I should plan when to do the interviews and when to survey, how, what questions to ask in each, and how I’ll capture the data—notes, recordings, etc. I’ll also have to think about how I’ll analyze (sort) and interpret (read) the data. All of these decisions help me capture a swath of data and help me make an interpretation of the phenomena which must account for all of the data I collected—not just what sticks out in my memory and not just what helps me make the argument I want to make.
For me, this type of inquiry can result in a sort of meticulous storytelling. Though I learn from (and write) theoretical and practitioner inquiry, I love the surprise of researchers finding what they didn’t expect to find when they engage in empirical research. I like to see how they come to research narratives (interpretations) which can’t dismiss counterexamples. However, not all empirical research can open up a new vision or new stories—if the study is shaped too narrowly by what the researcher already expects to find, the study will only find what the researcher expects.
This all leads me to my first suggestion for decentering the peer tutoring narrative: #1: I want to give permission for writing center scholars, (as if its my job to do so!) to do qualitative research. Some of the recent fervor for empirical RAD research in writing center studies has implied that empirical research must result in data, results, or numbers that we can share across contexts or quantitative research. Qualitative studies that result in narrative renderings might not “aggregate” in the same way that purely quantitative studies may, but they do accrue. Besides, in many cases, the things we wish to study are not easily counted nor are questions we want to answer always foreseen by us. Surveys seem to be the most popular type of empirical research within the field and survey design requires that we know what we want to ask when we begin. I’d like to suggest that the open, iterative design of case study, interviewing, ethnography, autoethnography, and action research will be more interesting off-ramps from the peer tutoring narrative. These types of studies ask us to spend time with the humans important to our work, in the field when possible. Qualitative approaches are best suited to study writing ecologies or ecologically. It’s the opposite of hypothesis testing; it’s planned and systematic, but it bobs and weaves. The researcher starts and follows what unfolds. In Noise from the Writing Center, Beth Boquet writes about research that correlates grades with writing center use. She says, “I’m am suspicious of the neat, clean, efficient research ... because I suspect it actually tells us very little at the same time that it fails to tell us a whole lot” (50). Though I’ve done studies that use quantitative data, I’ve found Boquet’s statement to be prescient. Research for me always uncovers messy realities. Qualitative research methods allow the messiness to be captured and narrated in a way that quantitative research often does not. I’m not saying there’s no value in quantitative research, but just that qualitative research ought not to be forgotten since it has so much to offer.
My second suggestion for decentering the peer tutoring narrative is to encourage, something I haven’t heard other folks advocating for, empirical research on non- tutoring writing center work. Of the existing empirical research in writing centers, much of it is discourse analysis on tutoring sessions. Though these are tremendously interesting and important, check out Jo Mackiewicz & Isabelle Thompson’s Talk about Writing for a great recent example of this type of study, however, this type of study is more likely to keep tutoring central than to decenter tutoring, to find something new, to move or open up the conversation. It keeps the question of the field at the level of: what happens in a tutorial? As opposed to: how do we support writing and writers in our communities? (I’m not sure that’s the question of the field, either, but it is the closest I can come to.)
One of the projects I most admire in writing center studies is Paula Gillespie, Harvey Kail, & Brad Hughes’ Peer Tutoring Alumni Research Project where they follow-up with peer tutors years after they work in writing centers to see how the tutors believe writing center work has affected their post-writing center lives. Their research is gathered in different ways, but one way is in focus group dinners, where they break bread together and ask these former tutors about their professional and personal lives. The researchers are able to discover the multiple skills and habits of mind that the tutors take with them—they are able to articulate a benefit of tutoring, the benefit for the tutor, that largely was unrecognized before their study began.
This project exceeds and extends the writing center in both time and geography. It spans years beyond a tutoring session and states away.
#3: As a reader of writing center scholarship, I want more studies like the Peer Tutoring Alumni Research Project—studies that surprise me, that tell me stories, that show the broad consequences of having a writing center (not just how a paper is changed or not). Last month at IWCA, I got the chance to hear Kelsey Weyerbacher, a undergraduate tutor at Montana State University, discuss her autoethnography in which she “considers the ways in which the writing center community’s texts are limiting the roles of peer tutors in our spaces.” She noted how she has many roles in the writing center, but the title of “peer tutor” and the way her role is described in the in-house and published tutoring manuals only discuss her tutoring. Kelsey’s research brings me to my third suggestion about the types of empirical research that will be able to dislodge the narrative of peer tutoring: researchers and research teams need diversity. Most of the existing studies of writing center work is conducted by administrators or by graduate students hoping to become administrators. Though I think our work is not bad , we also need different perspectives, we need, say, people who study whales and were in the choir in college to listen differently, to see differently. We need studies led by or collaborative teams that include the “Other.” For instance, instead of studies on multilingual writers in the writing center conducted by English-only speakers, our research teams could include multilingual writers. We should also seek diverse populations when recruit for studies. Directors should encourage and support research by tutors and writers in our centers.
Thus, I think empirical research gives us one off-ramp from the peer tutoring as the writing center work narrative, but particularly qualitative research on non-tutoring aspect of tutoring shaped by diverse researcher/research teams. Research with these qualities will give us better insight into what is happening in writing center work already that doesn’t fit into the peer tutoring narrative.
#4: I’d like to suggest today one other way to counter this peer tutoring narrative. This last approach is different than the others in that it doesn’t reveal to us what is there that our current narratives don’t account for, instead it is a strategy for us to pay attention to what isn’t there, maybe what was never there. It is a way to listen to silences, to see absences. Though more empirical research enlightens our understanding of what is happening with writing center work and we’ll notice what isn’t happening or what used to happen but no longer does, who is involved in writing center work, who isn’t, and so forth, we cannot use empirical research in the same way to study what does not exist.
Instead, sociologist Avery Gordon suggests that anyone who wants to study social life—and arguably writing centers maintain a social life for writing—also must pay attention to hauntings and what she calls “ghostly matters.” With this she doesn’t mean ghosts of the sort of spooky, Halloween, restless souls of the dead vein, rather, she writes, how hauntings are when “that which appears to be not there is often a seething presence” (8). She notes that “In a culture seemingly ruled by technologies of hypervisibility, we are led to believe not only that everything can be seen, but also that it is available and accessible for our consumption.”
While thinking about what ghosts might occupy writing centers, curiosity led me google “writing center ghosts” where I did find stories of a 1990s haunting at the South Dakota State University writing center, where a coordinator had “creepy experiences” and “felt that eyes were watching” her—causing her to run to her office and lock the door. This feeling of someone being there or someone watching who isn’t actually there is what Gordon is getting at, though I don’t think it normally makes us run for our offices.
I think, for instance, of the conspicuous absence of a tutor once upon a time who I had to fire for sexual harassment. I think of all of the directors and tutors before me, whose work we sometimes encounter in the writing center, who we work to please even as they are only now an absent presence. I think of poor kids who are multiple times over less likely to apply, attend, and graduate from colleges and universities across the country. They are not in our university community; our writing center does not support them. I think of the students we will not serve, because we don’t have enough resources or because they don’t want the support we have. I think of all of the years of extraordinary writing center research I hear at conferences which never appears in print and thus is all but forgotten. I think about there are too few writing tutors and administrators of color. I think about Michael Blitz and Mark. Hurlbert who write about a writer named Gloria who used the writing center and who feared for the lives of her family members in El Salvador in “If You Have Ghosts.” Gloria suddenly stops coming to the writing center and her absent presence is felt by the authors. I think about the extra room proposal that would have doubled our new writing center space, but was denied— the space we never had.
Avery Gordon asks: “What kind of case is a case of a ghost?” She answers: “It is a case of haunting, a story about what happens when we admit the ghost—that special instance of the merging of the visible and the invisible, the dead and the living, the past and the present—into the making of worldly relations and into the making of our accounts of the world. It is a case of the difference it makes to start with the marginal, with what we normally exclude or banish, or, more commonly, with what we never even notice.” (24-25) So, this fourth way to decenter the peer tutoring narrative is to pay attention what isn’t there, pay attention to hauntings, pay attention to what we’ve lost and what we never had. We do this by reflection, honest conversation, and recognition of pain and loss. We do this by checking our wish to make writing centers places of play and comfort are not merely impulses to erase the ghosts.
As I planned for this conference and my thoughts went to imagining the story and spaces we have for writing centers as technologies, about the idea of “decentering,” and about my own anxieties participating in this somewhat radical conference theme, I thought of another story of space, centers, technology, and controversial stories—perhaps the ultimate story of decentering.
I thought about the stories that have been told about what the center of the universe is. In ancient Greece, the prevailing belief, which came to be known as the Aristotelian view, was that the earth was the center and everything in the heavens orbited around the earth. In 1610, Galileo discovered that there were moons orbiting around Jupiter and Venus seemed to orbit the sun, which provided evidence for Copernicus’s heliocentric model. Though Galileo was simply seeing what was always there—using a telescope he developed—he was charged with heresy by the Catholic Church and he himself suppressed his views and evidence for nearly a decade. Towards the end of his life, however, he no longer held back and started to tell this new story about the universe: the sun is the center. Consequently, he was put under house arrest and it took the Catholic Church 200 more years to completely drop its resistance to Galileo’s heliocentric story. The idea, the story, of the relation of elements of the universe and what was central was that hard to dislodge. I’m really glad that the conference organizers have asked us to think about our stories and about what we put as central in our vastly smaller universe of writing center work.
Perhaps, we can borrow from the current stories about the universe— astronomers no longer ask what is in the center of the universe because they have concluded there is no center.
I asked at the beginning of this talk what I have to say to you, best and brightest peer tutors. And here’s what it is: you’re needed. We need talk about writing, one on one, one to many, online, face-to-face. We need you to do what you do so well. But, we also need you to remind us what else you do, what other roles you play in the writing center and what other roles you could play. We need you to do research (I’m hoping for more empirical, qualitative, non-tutoring research), we need you to be on research teams, and we need you to tell us how you’re haunted, what’s painful or absent in writing center work. We need you to tell a new story of our universe. As Avery Gordon say, “We need to know where we live in order to imagine living elsewhere.” (Gordon 5)