In 1993 the Undergraduate Writing Center opened its doors to students of all majors in need of help on various writing-intensive projects—from research papers to résumés to scholarship application statements.
To celebrate its 20-year anniversary, the writing center hosted its first large-scale symposium titled “The Future of Writing Centers” on Feb. 22-24. The event featured book readings, presentations and panel discussions by 46 faculty and students from various universities throughout the nation. Drawing more than 125 participants, the symposium covered an array of topics, including writing in a digitized world, new challenges facing writing centers, and teaching strategies for writing center consultants.
Peg Syverson, director of the Undergraduate Writing Center and associate professor of Rhetoric and Writing, says the event successfully highlighted the value of writing centers—and why students must never underestimate the importance of writing skills regardless of their major.
“Clear, intelligent, appropriate writing is absolutely essential in virtually every professional field and academic discipline,” Syverson says. “New technologies for expressing and communicating our ideas have only amplified the demand.”
Operated by the Department of Rhetoric and Writing and located in the Flawn Academic Center, the writing center offers a wide variety of activities, events, workshops, presentations and resources in addition to everyday consultations.
“The one-on-one consultations help students become skillful, independent writers,” Syverson says. “This, in turn, prepares them not only for the professional work that awaits them, but for all the many forms of expression they will engage in both online and in print, as family members, friends, participants in their larger communities, and citizens of a contemporary culture.”
Following are highlights of three talented authors who presented their works at the symposium celebration:
Alyssa Harad (Ph.D. English, ‘03) is the author of “Coming to My Senses: A Story of Perfume, Pleasure, and an Unlikely Bride.” Her writing has appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine, Marie Claire and the perfume blogs Now Smell This and Perfume-Smellin’ Things.
Michael Erard (M.A. Linguistics, ‘96; Ph.D. English, ‘00) is the author of “Babel No More: The Search for the World’s Most Extraordinary Language Learners.” A native American English speaker, he lived in South America and Asia, where he learned to speak Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. His books and essays on language and culture have appeared in The New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, the Economist and Rolling Stone.
Owen Egerton is the author of the novels, “The Book of Harold: The Illegitimate Son of God,” and “Marshall Hollenzer is Driving,” as well as a short story collection titled “How Best to Avoid Dying.” He was the co-creator of the award winning comedy hit The Sinus Show and performs regularly with Master Pancake at the Alamo Drafthouse Theater. In 2005 he earned a MFA in creative writing from Texas State University, where he studied under the writers Tim O’Brien and Barry Hannah.
Banner image: Mary Hedengren, rhetoric and writing doctoral student, presented her poetry at the Undergraduate Writing Center’s 20th anniversary symposium on Friday, Feb. 22 at the Craft of Writing panel.