Conference for the European Writing Centers Association 

By Prof. Ann Mott / Created 2010-10-15

The European Writing Centers Association (EWCA) convened a conference at AUP on May 24-28, 2010.  Celebrating the EWCA’s 12th anniversary and 7th European gathering, the 2010 conference brought together an international community of scholars, administrators, writing center tutors and professionals.  The conference theme, Crossing National Boundaries and Linguistic Borders:  (Re)Thinking and (Re)Situating the Writing Center and WAC connection in Europe and Beyond, invited participants to rethink the connection between writing across the curriculum programs (WAC) and Writing Centers and the role they play (individually and collectively) in nurturing and advancing the culture of writing in Europe and beyond.  Representing 35 countries, 180 participants attended the week-long conference, with 134 showcasing their research via 80 presentations.  

The conference was structured into several segments. A pre-conference “Walk about/Write about,” lead by faculty from European University Viadrina in Germany, offered participants the opportunity to meet in the Marais for an early evening walking/writing tour. The conference then opened in the American Church with a welcome speech delivered by the EWCA Chair, Ann Mott, and two outstanding keynote speeches: "Centered Writing: Sharing and Collaborating across Borders" given by Muriel Harris, Professor Emerita of English and retired Writing Lab Director, Purdue University; and "Reading, Writing and Magical Thinking" given by Anne-Marie Picard-Drillien, Professor of Comparative Literature, French and French Studies, AUP.  A champagne reception followed in AUPs Grand Salon.

The next two and a half days included morning and afternoon presentations, roundtable discussions and panels, each followed by question-and-answer sessions. While a range of sessions gave attendees the occasion to re-examine long-established topics such as writing center theory and pedagogy, how best to ‘set up shop’ and successful tutoring strategies, many presentations, for example “Helping Students with Thesis and Dissertation Proposals: Insights from Rhetorical Genre Theory”; “Writing Centers and International Collaboration: A France-U.S. Dialogue”; “Merde in Other Words: Cultural Miscues and Humor in a WAC-Based Writing Center”;  and “Writing Center Work across Generations: the Beat Goes On” gave these topics a new spin that had participants re-imagining what happens in our centers, reclaiming our roots and realizing the potential power of who we are, what we do and how vital our work is.  Several informal, unscripted sessions invited participants to speak to issues of interest and/or concern.

Evening activities for conference participants included a Bateaux Mouche ride and a bus tour of Paris by dusk.  Both were organized by AUP’s Cultural Affairs Office and lead by a phenomenal group of AUP student workers who dedicated their week to ensuring the success of the conference.

Chris Anson, University Distinguished Professor, Professor of English and Director, Campus Writing and Speaking Program, North Carolina State University, delivered the closing keynote: "Looking Out: Writing Centers and the Role of Course Instructors."  A wine and cheese reception, held in AUP’s Grand Salon, ended the conference.

The EWCA conference was an exceptional occasion for colleagues to embrace old friends, forge new friendships and renew or set into motion collaborative initiatives such as our recently launched Writing Center Tutor Exchange Fund which will allow tutors to visit and work in other institutions’ centers.


 Ann Mott is Assistant Professor of English and Writing Lab Counselor at AUP.