As tutors we come into contact with dozens of essays, projects and presentations every week, through our writers. As we comment on and nudge along in our tutorials, we have a sense of aiding a writer in their work – but what about our work? Is our impact on the paper or Powerpoint more than just that of a nursemaid? I don’t know that most of us would call ourselves “authors” after working with others’ writing, but is tutoring in itself a creative act? (more…)
Why We Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Poetry Tutorials May 8, 2012
“I want to look at a poem I’ve been working on.” My writer uttered these words at the beginning of a tutorial last week, and the phrase filled me with fear and anxiety immediately. I am an English student, to be sure, and maybe that’s why she chose to make an appointment with me – but I study English literature! I don’t write short stories or poems, I don’t workshop, and the whole business of creative writing remains mysterious and somewhat awe-inspiring to me. I’ve heard of “those that don’t write, teach,” but when you’ve been writing mostly blog posts and the odd formalist analysis of a 19th century novel, it’s hard to know what to say. I wondered what I could possibly offer this student, but to my surprise, I found plenty to say (as did she). The appointment was fun, informative, and refreshingly relaxed. As a writer (and not a poet) I may not have had much to offer, but as an engaged reader, I was able to offer insights to this struggling writer. (more…)
In any discussion of writing (particularly writing in order to be published), the conversation comes back to platform. You may not have heard that term for it, but “platform” refers to how the author wishes to present themselves. In the publishing world, this usually means the author’s credentials, where they “fit” into a few conventional categories, and what makes them worth listening to. You can’t just be a cookbook writer anymore, you have to be Joe Writer, winner of these various national awards and ruler of a social media empire, comparable to this Food Network personality. “Platform” sounds pretty shallow, but consider the meaning in politics. Politicians talk about platform all the time to discuss their positions on various issues, and what makes their ideas worthy of your time. Platform determines how the reader (or the voter) sees you, and affects how they react to your writing. It’s worth considering, then, how paying attention to your “platform” in academic writing can help you connect with your reader (or professor) most effectively. (more…)
When to Judge: on Evaluation in Tutorials April 24, 2012
I try not to be too evaluative in my tutorials (or even my Written Feedback). Of course, there’s always a time to reassure the writer that they’re on the right track, or that some turn of phrase is well done and should be retained, even exploited or learned from. There’s also the awareness, though, that placing a value judgment or (heaven forbid) a letter grade on someone else’s work isn’t my job. For one thing, what if the professor disagrees with me and I’ve now misled the student into thinking their work is one thing, when it’s really being graded as another? Far more importantly: did the writer come in for a pat on the head, or for constructive criticism and help? (more…)
Nomadic Studio @ DePaul September 22, 2010
If you haven’t dropped by the Nomadic Studio at DePaul University Art Museum yet, then by all means do so. According to a museum press release, the exhibit space has been “repurpose[d]” by the Stockyard Institute into a “hybrid station for production, exhibition, development, performance, publication and education.” A diverse panel of writers will convene tomorrow, Sept. 23, at 6pm to explore the various forms and content that animate their writing. Check out Nomadic Studio’s blog for more information and for a list of upcoming events.