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It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Fun Writing Comics at the Library in the Summer!

The University Writing Center is committed to writing and literacy projects in the Louisville community. This summer, continuing our work in the Western Branch of the Louisville Free Public Library, several staff and volunteers from the University Writing Center facilitated four writing workshops for K-12 students. In consultation with Natalie Woods, the manager of the Western Branch, we decided to connect the workshops to the Library’s summer reading theme of “Super-Readers,” and help young people write their own comics. The four workshops had a total of about fifty participants. It was a great experience for everyone, as you can see in the reflections of the University Writing Center staff on their experiences in working with these young – and enthusiastic writers.

Cassandra Book, Associate Director

For the first of four workshops, Layne, Chris, and I came in with a plan, though we didn’t know what or who to expect. At 2 p.m. on the rainy afternoon, about ten eager kids rushed down the stairs from the main part of the library to the spacious basement conference room. Our workshop plan, developed by our fearless leader Christopher Scheidler (aliases: Omega Ant and Fry Guy), broke down the comic writing process into three stations: character, plot, and design development. Most kids flocked to the

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Ultra-Guy, one writer’s superhero

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Catgirl, one writer’s superhero

character development station. The children’s own identities, their lives, and, of course, their beloved superheroes and villains provided inspiration. Spiderman, Wonder Woman, Cat Woman, Iron Man, and The Joker all made appearances. When they finished with creating characters, many moved to plot development. Layne helped to guide their thinking through the beginning (set-up and introduction), middle (problem and climax), and end (resolution) of the plot. One surprise to us was that several of the plots intersected. The children created intertextuality—a character in one comic appeared in another writer’s as well. By the end of the two-hour workshop, we received one of our biggest compliments, that the workshop was “better than playing computer games upstairs.”

Chris Scheidler, Assistant Director

I thought that our comic book workshop was more fun than playing computer games, too. Of course, one of the reasons I initially suggested a

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Chris working with creative writers.

comic book writing workshop was because I thought it would be a way to quickly make writing fun and accessible. I also thought comic-book writing would be popular because of recent superhero movies and the library’s summer program on superheroes. Originally, I had suggested using one of the several computer programs or web-apps that are freely available, but Bronwyn raised a good point: namely, the importance of writers leaving the workshop with a tangible and material sign of their effort. Indeed, one of the biggest highlights of this summer’s workshop was during our third session where one of the writers laid-out, glued, and bound several pages into what would become a full-fledged comic book.

Of course, because comic books rely so heavily on visuals, the workshops had the added effect of pulling us a bit out of our creative element. I was particularly uncomfortable with having to draw and during the first session I found myself repeating “I’m not a good artist”. Yet any perceived lack of artistic aptitude didn’t dismay from us being creative and fully investing in the stories of our superheroes. Indeed, by the end of the second workshop writers were narrating stories as we all took turns sketching out scenes for our comic – we didn’t hold back from trying to put together interesting plot points, daring visuals, or exciting dialogue.

Layne Gordon, Assistant Director

At both of the workshops I attended this summer, I was most interested in and inspired by the writers’ desire to create superheroes that resembled themselves, as Cassie mentions above. At the time of the first workshop Wonder Woman had just premiered in

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Wonder Woman

theaters, and several of the girls wanted to draw a Wonder Woman character. But when they did, they added curly hair or glasses or a super power that they found more interesting and relevant to their own lives. They literally re-vised this character, remaking her in their own images. At the final workshop, I chose to do the same as I drew alongside the young writers. I created a superhero called Flash Mom inspired by my recent escapist foray into the Flash television show and my renewed interest in running—now with my one-year-old in tow in a jogging stroller. This required a lot more vulnerability than I expected as some of the writers asked me about what I was drawing and why, but it was also really fun to turn a male superhero into a mom superhero. I learned a lot from these young writers about the power of reimagining and revising our heroes as people more like us.

Jessica Newman, Assistant Director

I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to help facilitate one of the Western Branch Comic Writing Workshops this summer. The other University Writing Center facilitators did a great job of creating activities and prompts to help participants with different aspects of the comic writing process. During the workshop that I helped facilitate, Cassie held down the fort at the creating your superhero station—generally the first stop in the workshop—where participants thought about and drew their superheroes. 015918d57fdb4c6c54b8e73865805859135908e76fChris collaborated with an enthusiastic table of participants to create an entire universe of food superheroes and supervillains. At a third table, I helped participants think through their superheroes’ narratives (including things like conflict, resolution, characters and setting), and I was so impressed with the story lines and details that they come up with. I hope the participants had as great a time as I did creating superheroes (mine was Picasso Girl) and stories, and seeing what everyone else created. We could not have had such a successful series of workshops without Western Branch’s enthusiasm and support, and certainly not without the excitement and creativity of all the workshop participants.

 

International Mother Language Day

Emily Cousins, Consultantemily-c

Last week, on February 21st, we hosted our first celebration of International Mother Language Day here at the U of L Writing Center.

I first found out about International Mother Language Day a few years ago, and I wish I’d known about it earlier. The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) officially declared International Mother Language Day in 1999, and since then, countries worldwide have celebrated annually to promote multiculturalism, intercultural communication and linguistic diversity. February 21st was chosen for its historical significance, to commemorate the day in 1952 when university students in Bangladesh were killed by police while demonstrating for their rights to speak Bangla, their mother tongue. UNESCO is also committed to raising awareness about preserving endangered languages that are at risk of disappearing altogether. The 2017 theme was “Towards Sustainable Futures through Multilingual Education.”

In preparation for our event, we decorated using color printouts from an art series by Ella Frances Sanders featuring words in different languages that do not have direct translations in English (see her book here). We also set up a table with language trivia, and a poster on which participants could write in response to the question, “What do you love about your mother language?”

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During the event, which took place from 2-4pm, nine student volunteers gave presentations about their mother language(s). The languages represented were Japanese, Mongolian, Korean, Bengali, Kazakh, Russian, Arabic, Spanish and Filipino. Presenters used Powerpoint, showed Youtube clips, played song recordings, and used the whiteboard to share about their mother languages. Audience members got a sense of what the languages sound like when spoken, as well as what the scripts look like in writing. The presentations were highly interactive, with participants inviting each other to practice saying different words aloud.

 

I found myself truly inspired that day, seeing each volunteer speak in and about their mother language(s) with such enthusiasm, and also watching members of the audience raising their hands, asking questions, requesting presenters to repeat things or write words on the board. It’s this type of openly curious interaction and dialogue that I think can partly give rise to a sense of community we talk about and think about—often, unfortunately, in the abstract. As I reflect on the event, I think it was successful not just because of the diversity of cultures and languages represented, but also, more importantly, because participants were so actively engaged, eager to teach others and learn new things.

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At the Writing Center, we tutors are constantly learning from the writers we work with – but not always as much as we’d like. 50 minutes goes by pretty fast. The cultural exchange that we’d ideally hope to foster often gets sidelined in the face of a looming deadline. This is why I think all Writing Centers should observe International Mother Language Day every February 21st, to take some time to look up from our day-to-day routines and learn more about the cultures and languages of the students we work with. Writing from the perspective of a Writing Center tutor and someone whose mother language is not English, I think curiosity goes such a long way in creating truly inclusive spaces – and celebrating International Mother Language Day is a perfect opportunity to create such a space.

Thank you to all the student participants for their wonderful presentations, and to those who attended and contributed to making the event a success. I’d also like to extend a thank you to the International Center office and OASIS staff, who helped publicize the event.

See you again next year!

 

 

How We Write

October 20, 2016 was busier than usual for the University Writing Center. We celebrated the NCTE’s National Day on Writing and welcomed visitors on campus for the Watson Conference.

To build on our “How I Write” blog series, we asked visitors to respond to our “How I Write” questions on banner paper. They’re now displayed on the Writing Center’s glass walls. A few enthusiastic writers also responded to all five How I Write questions, so we’ll share those on the blog soon.

Participants in the Watson conference also stopped by for lunch yesterday. Many UofL English MA and PhD alumni are attending Watson, so they were eager to see our new space. We also met many faculty, staff, and graduate students just curious to see what the University Writing Center is like.

Thank you to everyone who helped out and participated– in person and online– with our #HowIWrite celebration!

Check out the day on our Storify! 

Creative Writers Welcome

Cassie Book, Associate Director 

Since we moved to the first floor of Ekstrom Library last October, we’ve hosted an open house/art exhibition, an evening of bad love poetry, a dissertation writing retreat, and graduate student and faculty writing groups. This academic year, our first complete one in our new space, we intend to continue growing our list of events and activities! For instance, during first-year orientation, we opened our doors for Kickback in the Stacks. Students dropped by to take a break from the controlled chaos in the library to play Story Cubes or Hangman. We like Kickback because it gives us the opportunity to talk to writers without the (often) added stress of a deadline or impending project. We also got a chance to plug some of our upcoming events and activities. When talking with students, I discovered that many were excited to hear that we’re starting a Creative Writing Group.

Tuesday, August 30 kicks off our new Creative Writing Group, led by Jessica Newman, an Assistant Director of the Writing Center. Though we’ve hosted graduate student and faculty writing groups before, a Creative Writing Group is a new adventure for us. We envision a diverse group of students, faculty, and staff meeting monthly to share writing, give and receive feedback, exchange ups and downs, and, of course, have fun. Anyone in the UofL community who enjoys creative writing is welcome—amount experience or investment doesn’t matter. At the kickoff on Tuesday, Jessica will facilitate discussions about writing, a few collaborative writing activities—poe-e-tree and prose—and ask for feedback about what participants want to get out of the Creative Writing Group. If you’re interested in creative writing, join us on Tuesday!

What: Creative Writing Group Kick Off
When: Tuesday, August 30, 5:00-7:00 p.m.
Where: University Writing Center, First Floor, Ekstrom Library
Who: UofL students, faculty, and staff are welcome

Questions? Contact Jessica Newman or call the Writing Center at 502-852-2173

 

Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Writing

Bronwyn T. Williams, Director

Someone once told me that any time you move it takes six months to learn how to live in a new place. After we moved into our new space on the first floor of Ekstrom Library last

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University Writing Center on the first floor of Ekstrom Library

October, it did taken us a while to figure out how the furniture worked best, get some art on the walls, and buy some new plants. Now, however, as we get ready to start the 2016-17 academic year, we are settled in and excited about the opportunities that our new surroundings offer us.

We plan to take advantage of our new space with a number of new and expanded programs and events in the coming year:

Creative Writing Groups: We are starting new creative writing groups for anyone in the UofL community interested in working on creative writing projects. The groups will meet once a month on a Tuesday during the fall semester allowing people to explore creative writing in a safe, open, and encouraging environment. Meetings will be times when people can will write, investigate issues of craft, read and respond to writing, and have fun. Any member of the UofL community is welcome – undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff. We welcome any genre of writing and any level of creative writing experience—all you need is an interest in creative writing. For more details and the schedule of meetings, see our website.

Graduate Student Writing Groups and Faculty Writing Groups: We are going to continue with our writing groups for graduate students and for faculty. These groups will provide time for writing followed by discussions of writing concerns and issues. More details and schedules for the graduate student group and the faculty group can be found on our website

Writing Center Events: We’re going to have a number of events in our new space this fall,

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“Bad Love Poetry” Open Mic Night from Feb. 2016

from participation in the National Day of Writing on Oct. 2o, to a Finals’ Week Write-In to support getting final papers finished, to an open mic night on Halloween for scary stories and poems. See our Events page on our website for more details.

In addition to our Writing Center events, we also have some other new initiatives we are excited about.

New Undergraduate Tutoring Class : We have had approved a new course for undergraduates and MA students interested in learning more about teaching writing and then potentially doing internships in community literacy settings. The course, English 508 – Literacy Tutoring Across Contexts and Cultures will be offered in 2017-18. Students who take the course can then take part in tutoring internships in the community with organizations such as Family Scholar House and the Louisville Free Public Library. 

Community Literacy Projects: We are also going to continue, and expand, our ongoing writing workshops and writing consultations at Family Scholar House. We view this partnerships as one of the key parts of our efforts to provide more writing consultation services to the larger Louisville community.

Of course, it isn’t only what is new here that is exciting. One of the most exciting things that will happen this fall is what happens here every semester. Day after day writers from across the university will bring their drafts and their questions about their writing to the Picture1University Writing Center and engage in thoughtful conversations with our consultants about how to make that work as strong as it can be.  We have an excellent incoming staff of consultants who will be doing what we do best: helping writers improve the projects they are working on today, as well helping them become stronger writers in the future. On our exit surveys, more than 90 percent of respondents agree or strongly agree that their University Writing Center appointments both help them with their immediate writing concerns and that what they learn in appointments will help them with other writing projects.

We will also continue to offer our successful Dissertation Writing Retreat, our Graduate Student Writing Workshops, workshops on writing issues for classes and student organizations at UofL, and our consultations on the Health Sciences Campus.

The mission statement for the University Writing Center says that we believe writing is an “indispensable part of the intellectual life of the university.” We stand behind this belief and it is central to what we do. But, as the new semester begins, I think the events and programs we will offer in the year ahead will allow us to add to our mission the goal of creating and sustaining a culture of writing of all kinds, on campus and in our community.

Please see our updated website for more information and resources, as well as for information about how to make your appointment for a writing consultation.

Good luck with the new academic year and I hope to see you in the University Writing Center.

 

Event: Bad Love Poems Open Mic

Join us tomorrow, Tuesday 2/9 at 6:00PM, for an open mic presented by the White Squirrel and the University Writing Center! Details below:

white squirrel valentines day open mic

Attention UofL Artists! Display your work in the Writing Center!

At the University Writing Center we are committed to celebrating communication and to putting student work first. As part of that commitment we have, over the past four years, made space in the Writing Center available for ongoing displays of student artwork. It has been exciting to have the student art in the Writing Center and has given the artists the chance to show their work to a larger university audience. Now

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Woman Writer of Pompeii

that we have moved into our new, very visible space on the First Floor of Ekstrom Library, we again have the opportunity to display student artwork. But now we have a central location on campus where the art we display will be seen by thousands of people a year.

That’s why we are calling for UofL student artists interested in displaying their work in our new space to get in touch with us. The work can be in any medium and on any subject – though we are particularly interested in work that connects somehow to writing, reading, words, books, computers, maps, and any other way we communicate to each other. All UofL students – art majors and non-majors alike – are welcome to submit works.

If you think your artwork would be a good fit for the University Writing Center space, email us today (writing@louisville.edu) or stop by the University Writing Center, First Floor, Ekstrom Library. (We reserve the right to choose which work to display).

Writing Center Staff Accomplishments – Fall 2015

The consultants and administrators who work in University Writing Center work to help people become more successful writers and to create and support a culture of writing on campus. Yet it’s important to remember that our consultants (who are all first-year MA students) and our assistant directors (who are PhD students) are also active in their scholarly and creative work. It’s time to take a moment and recognize their accomplishments for the Fall 2015 semester.

Emily Blair had a proposal accepted to present at the Southern Studies Conference in February, 2016. Her presentation will be titled, “The Universal Redneck: Representations of Rednecks and Hillbillies in Contemporary Country Music.”

Cassie Book, Associate Director of the University Writing Center, presented at the International Writing Center Association conference in October. Her presentation was titled, “(W)Centering Multiliteracy: An Unexpected Journey.”

Stephen Cohen, Assistant Director for Graduate Student Writing, will be presenting at the 2016 Conference on College Composition and Communication on “The Rhetoric of Patients: How to Access Care in an Epidemic.”

Cheyenne Franklin had her article, “Quintilian Education and Additive Bilingualism,” published in the journal Queen City Writers.

Jenny Kiefer had her poem, “Between Our Legs: On Women of the Warren County Jail,” published in the journal White Squirrel. Jenny was also selected for an editorial internship at Louisville Magazine for Spring 2016.

Jessica Good was selected for an editorial internship at Louisville Magazine for Spring 2016.

Jamila Kareem, Assistant Director for the Virtual Writing Center, was awarded a Scholars for the Dream Travel award to the 2016 Conference on College Composition and Communication. Her presentation is titled, “Transitioning with Civic Acts of Writing: For Black Students, an Alternative to Pre-College Credit Models.” Jamila also presented at the Feminisms and Rhetoric Conference in October on “Womanist Rhetorical Pedagogy.”

Amy Nichols, Assistant Director of the University Writing Center, has been accepted to present at the 2016 Conference on College Composition and Communication. Her presentation is titled, “The WPA Course: Pursuing Miller’s Intellectual Bureaucrat.”

Laura Tetreault, Assistant Director of the University Writing Center, had a coauthored article (with Bruce Horner) titled “Translation as (Global) Writing” accepted by the journal, Composition Studies. Laura also presented at the Feminisms and Rhetoric conference in October on  “Queer Women’s Slam Poetry as Embodied Performance” and will present at the 2016 Conference on College Composition and Communication on “Queer Action in the Extracurriculum.”

Write In, Build Community

Cassie Book, Associate Director

We’re off to a good start at our new location on Ekstrom Library’s first floor. Since we moved, over 500 writers have visited for over 800 appointments! Yet, another benefit of the new space— location and design— is an improved ability to accommodate larger crowds.

On December 9th we’ll host the first big event in the new space, a Write In. We join nearly 90 writing centers worldwide in the International Write In. The general purpose is for writing centers to create community around writing during a particularly stressful time of the semester. Every center will adjust the theme to its local context. For our Write In, we will simply open our doors for UofL writers to use our space to work on final papers and projects. We’ll provide snacks and handouts; writing consultants will be available to answer brief questions. The Write In forwards our Center’s mission to support writing as integral part of the university and as a lifelong learning process. Just making time to sit and write is an important aspect of any writer’s process!

While the typical daily activity in the University Writing Center takes the form of focused 50 minute consultations, the Write In offers a comfortable and motivating space to write. So, if you’re UofL a student, faculty, or staff and could use a break from your usual writing routine, drop in on Wednesday, December 9 from 6-9 p.m. in the University Writing Center.

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The New University Writing Center on Ekstrom Library’s first floor will host its first big event, a Write In, on December 9.

Kick Back in the Stacks 2015

On the annual Kick Back in the Stacks night the University Writing Center had to find a temporary space to welcome new UofL students (though we ARE still open on the Third Floor of Ekstrom Library as our new First Floor space is completed!). But we still found a way to have a great time with the hundreds of new people we met. Along with the games and the art, we had a blog open for new students to contribute to and here is what some of them had to say to some of our questions.

Meanwhile, come see us on the Third Floor to get feedback and help with your writing!

What are you most excited about for your first year at UofL?

Meeting new people!

Being in a cool and rad environmentDSCN3736

Trying new things I’ve never done before and new clubs!

Getting Free Food

Branching Out, I want new experiences and to explore new opportunities

I am excited to learn and take on the challenges that may come my way.

Living on my own

Going easy like a breeze until I hit so high no one can see meDSCN3745

About the UofL traditions and spirits of all C-A-R-D-S CARDS!!! 🙂

What is your favorite thing about writing?

It calms me down

I like writing to get my thoughts out on paper.

It is challenging but rewarding.

Explaining and expressing your feelings and cool stuff like that

I like writing because it allows me to express my feelings without being judged

I love to write my thoughts and perspectives on the world around me and then listen to the ideas that others may have.

It allows me to have my thoughts brought together in one place.

It allows me to gather my own ideas and argue viewpoints with their own thoughts

What is your favorite genre (poetry, short story, analysis etc.) to write? Why?

Poetry: It’s a very “to the point” way of getting to your feelings.DSCN3753

Mythical, romance, even dark things if I’m in the right mood.

I love historical fiction!!!!!!

Analysis: It’s what I’m most comfortable with and brings in my thoughts on a subject most thoroughly

Fiction, because I really like how stories are not always true and even realities.

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