Welcome to the Active Voice Blog, the official blog of the Wake Forest University Writing Center. You can find all the information you need about the Center around our main site, but this space is reserved for students, faculty, and staff to share perspectives on writing practices and processes. We hope you’ll find something here that speaks to you!
Writing teachers talk about revision, discipline, and the recursive nature of the writing process. Here’s a new way to frame what we mean. “It’s not really that mystical. It’s like repeated practice over and over and you suddenly become something you had no idea you could be,” says Ta-Nehisi Coates, a national correspondent for The Atlantic and the author of Between the World and Me. “I strongly believe that writing is an act of courage. It’s almost an act of physical courage.” He’ll be speaking in Wait Chapel Nov. 17 as part of the “Voices of Our Time” series. In the meantime, hear his advice on writing.
In his essay “Politics and the English Language,” George
Orwell made plain the ways in which those in power use language and grammar to obfuscate, conceal and abdicate responsibility. Grammar remains as political as ever, as Ellen Bresler Rockmore, a lecturer in the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric at Dartmouth, makes clear in her op-ed piece in the Oct. 21, 2015 edition of The New York Times.
You may have heard of the hoopla over the way a new textbook widely used in Texas depicts slavery as “bringing millions of workers” to the American South. Rockmore shows us how the textbook, published by McGraw-Hill Education, distorts slavery even further through its grammar. “But it is not only the substance of the passages that is a problem,” she writes. “It is also their form. The writers’ decisions about how to construct sentences, about what the subject of the sentence will be, about whether the verb will be active or passive, shape the message that slavery was not all that bad.”
Today’s guest post was written by Writing Program faculty member Phoebe Zerwick.
“To drag or trail (through the dirt).”
“The dog draggled his toy across the yard all day long. Once he was alseep, his owner put the toy straight into the washer.”
“draggle, v.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, September 2015. Web. 22 September 2015.
“The two hands placed together so as to form a bowl.”
“The lost hiker formed a gowpen and drank as much water from the stream as his stomach could hold.”
“gowpen, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, September 2015. Web. 22 September 2015.
“Divination through communication with the spirits of the dead.”
“She tried sciomancy and a ouija board to predict her grade in the course.”
“sciomancy, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, September 2014. Web. 29 October 2014.
Want more spooky words? Check out this link.
On Friday, October 2, WFU hosted the 2015 North Carolina Tutor Collaboration Day. Sixty-four writing center tutors, directors, and staff made the drive to Winston-Salem from 15 colleges to share their experiences. The day’s theme was “sharing what we do and doing what we share,” and participants were given many opportunities to share their challenges and successes as a way to strengthen the work we all do in our Writing Centers every day.
According to Rachel Robinson, the NC Representative for the Southeastern Writing Center Association, “State-wide tutor collaboration days are so important because they encourage tutors to meet, collaborate, and share their successes and struggles with the work they do, and they help the tutors realize they aren’t in the field alone.”
One highlight of the day was a presentation by Dr. Kate Brooks from the Office of Personal and Career Development on how writing center tutors can market their tutoring experiences and transferable skills after graduation. “[Dr. Brooks] told us that by emphasizing skills other than writing, such as patience, cooperation, and preparation for any situation that may arise in a session, we could communicate to potential employers that our work in the Writing Center thoroughly prepared us for a wide range of activities,” said one of our Writing Center tutors, Amanda. “This was great to hear because it provided me with a method to spin my story and engage interviewers in a way that would break with expectations and set me apart.”
Ryan Shirey, Director of the WFU Writing Center, called the event “a wonderful time and a great way for writing tutors from all over the state to connect with each other and affirm their important work with student writers.” The WFU Writing Center is looking forward to many future collaborations with out North Carolina colleagues!
“To pretend or exaggerate illness in order to escape duty or work; to feign or produce physical or psychological symptoms to obtain financial compensation or other reward.”
“The malingering of the employee was fairly obvious to his boss as his mysterious illness coincided with the biggest meeting of the year.”
“malinger, v.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, September 2015. Web. 22 September 2015.
National Day on Writing – #WhyIWrite
Every year the National Council of Teachers of English sponsors “National Day on Writing” with a theme that encourages us to think about the importance of writing to our lives. This year the theme of the NDoW is “Why I Write,” and English classes, writing centers, and many other groups are sharing their thoughts with the world through events and programming as well as through the Twitter and Facebook hashtag #WhyIWrite. Here at the WFU Writing Center, we asked some of our tutors to share the reasons why they write in the short video below. We also designed trading cards with famous authors describing why they write (or wrote), so keep an eye out on campus for those (or ask a friendly tutor for one)!
Writer trading cards feature: Joan Didion, Lord Byron, Octavia E. Butler, Anaïs Nin, Gao Xingjian, Louise Erdrich, Flannery O’Connor, Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Zadie Smith, Stephen King, Junot Díaz, Richard Wright, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gish Jen, and Don DeLillo.
This semester, Prof. Phoebe Zerwick’s community journalism students are getting out there and sharing the stories of Winston-Salem through a brand new website called Heard it Here. Within the first few weeks of the semester, students have written articles about various Winston celebrations and events, upcoming initiatives in the city, and neighbors who are making a difference in the dash.
Check it out! There’s some really great work coming out of JOU 276 this semester!