Negotiating Voice in the Writing Center

Watabu, Kayla
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Writing in academia often requires students to abandon their voice and adopt the discourse conventions of the academic community in order to successfully pass classes and socialize with peers. For students with language backgrounds other than that of their institution, this process can create conflict within their identity, as the voice shaped by their “home” language and the voice of the institution are competing against each other. In this clash, the writing center acts as a gateway for students—particularly multilingual students—to access academic discourse and minimize the amount of “errors” in their writing. The writing consultant thus occupies a position optimal for informing students who have cultural and linguistic differences between their “home” languages and academic discourse. Given this ability to bridge the distance between the two communities, it is necessary to explore the responsibility of the consultants in mitigating the loss of voice and identity. In this paper, I draw upon my work as a Mānoa Writing Center consultant, as well as the scholarship of Gloria Anzaldúa, Andrea Lunsford, and John Trimbur, to explore the consultant’s responsibility in negotiating these clashing communities through collaborative practices. In applying these pedagogical methods, I hope to reframe the conversation around building alliances between multifaceted identities.
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