Subversion & Subterfuge in the Writing Center

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has necessitated a shift in our conceptualization of writing center work. Especially as writing centers have reoriented themselves to online synchronous and asynchronous tutoring in 2020. Writing center practitioners have had to adapt and transform longstanding practices to better fit our new paradigm. Ongoing, too, is our reckoning with racism and white supremacy, a cultural pandemic, which has resulted in the loss of Black lives and the increased visibility of right-wing insurgents across the country.

The National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing (NCPTW) seeks to extend these lines of thinking, with a special interest in how tutors subvert writing center training or best practices. What forms of subterfuge do tutors deploy in order to complete their work in a pandemic? How might tutors use subversive complicity as a guiding philosophy for engaging in antiracist tutoring practice? What other “workarounds” do they create to do their jobs more in a way that aligns with their own tutoring philosophies? While subversion and subterfuge may traditionally be thought of as undesirable traits, the writing center’s historical positionality as marginal gives subversive tactics a special role, one that is often necessary for survival. As the pandemics, both cultural and biological, continue to rage, what tactics will writing centers need to survive and thrive in the world that comes next?

We look forward to you joining us remotely this year and exploring how subversion and subterfuge can move the field of writing centers forward.

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