Call for proposals

SCWCA 2015
February 12-14, 2015
The University of Texas at Austin
Theme: “What Starts Here Writes the World”

In his iconic 1984 essay “The Idea of a Writing Center,” Stephen North noted that, despite having been around since the 1930s, writing centers were still seen as fix-it shops for troubled texts; instead, he argued, in a writing center the object is to make sure that writers, and not necessarily their texts, are what get changed by instruction. In axiom form it goes like this: our job is to produce better writers, not better writing.

Or, in other words, a student’s experience at the writing center doesn’t just change the text brought in for discussion, but changes the student’s understanding of writing. North said such a process makes writing centers a manifestation “of a dialogue about writing that is central to higher education.”

On the thirtieth anniversary of North’s essay, his concern remains valid: what gets changed by writing centers? How are writing centers seen by students, teachers who refer students, administrators who fund them, and the campus at large? What changes when you change writers? For the 2015 SCWCA Conference in Austin, Texas, we invite proposals on this theme—by changing writers, what do writing centers change?

Possible topics include:

  • how writing centers change (or don’t change) writers;
  • how writing centers change cultures of writing at their universities;
  • how writing centers change and are changed by programs such as community outreach and service learning initiatives;
  • how writing centers change and are changed by specific campus communities (such as veteran, LGBTQIA, non-traditional, and international students);
  • what role, if any, writing centers play in social justice movements;
  • what impact writing center work has for consultants and visitors in terms of their non-student lives, as citizens, employees, employers, professionals, writers of non-academic writing;
  • how we assess what writing centers do;
  • what has or hasn’t changed in writing center culture (One option: Why does North’s distinction between writer and written continue to resonate? What does it do for us as a community?)
  • other ideas related to writing and change

Proposals are due October 15. To submit, please fill out the form at

As conference details become available, they will be posted at

Hosted by The Undergraduate Writing Center, Department of Rhetoric & Writing, &  Department of Intercollegiate Athletic Student Services at The University of Texas at Austin

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