Over the last ten years, the Contemplative Turn has gained significant momentum in higher education. My dissertation aims to forward the theoretical and practical applications of a contemplative-embodied understanding of writing center tutors’ experiences. Writing center and composition scholars have engaged in an extended debate over the purpose and goal of writing, either as a product of our social-cultural environments or a process that allows us to better understand our relationship to ourselves. I argue that this extended debate becomes moot when we engage in a contemplative-embodied approach to writing as it acknowledges and values both the social-cultural and individual exigencies that underpin composition theory.
My dissertation expands this conversation through a hybrid methodological approach based on my own contemplative progression as a teacher, tutor, and researcher. This research design allowed me to marry auto- and sensory- ethnographic practices with my background in Deep Listening and scholarly personal narrative to get “below the surface” of two writing center tutors’ lived, embodied experiences. By applying Oren Ergas’s inner curriculum as an analytical tool, I discovered the depth and breadth of what lies “below the surface,” specifically as it relates to tutors’ understandings of their minds, bodies, and emotions rather than solely focusing on the “success” of the writing center tutoring session. These findings may allow writing center tutors and administrators to privilege a more holistic approach of what it means to be a tutor; they also have implications for writing center scholarship that continues to focus its attention solely on the hegemonic and privileged purpose of writing centers: to “make better writers.” Most importantly, these discoveries point to the importance of building relationships based on care and connection in addition to providing the time, opportunity, and resources for writing center tutors to listen to their minds, bodies, and emotions.;
August 2021; School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Dept. of Communication and Media;
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
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