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Above, Dr. Amber Engelson (center), celebrates the opening of MCLA's new Writing Studio on Friday, Feb. 5, with writing associates (from left) Natalie Carpentier '18, Jaclyn Ordway '18, Jade Tarris '17 and Alex Romano '17.

New Writing Studio Opens

02/08/16

Located on the first floor of Murdock Hall in room 120, MCLA's new Writing Studio is a space where all writers from across the campus community -- from students to faculty and alumni -- may meet to collaborate and create.

“We want it to be a vibrant, generative space, filled with conversations about writing in its many forms,” said co-director Amber Engelson, Ph.D., assistant professor of English/Communications and MCLA’s Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) specialist.

Having an official Writing Studio space, Engelson said, solidifies MCLA’s commitment to writing.

“It tells our students and faculty members – in addition to alumni and prospective students – that writing matters, and that we value the conversations which are already happening on campus, about how to best prepare for the writing situations presented to us in the 21st century.”

The large, bright room is strewn with round tables so that the seven writing associates who work there – students who specialize in a broad range of writing; from poetry, essays and fiction to science lab reports – can easily sit next to the writers they assist. Plants, as well as artwork donated by MCLA students add to the warm and welcoming feel of this space.

“The corner location is also fantastic; there are lots of windows and natural light during the day, and in the evening it will be clear to those outside by the well-lit windows that the writing associates are available to meet with writers,” Engelson added.

Each of the writing associates was required to take a course on the best practices for teaching and tutoring writing. They are ready to collaborate with writers at any stage of the writing process; from understanding assignments and brainstorming ideas to planning, revising and polishing up final drafts.

“Not only must writing associates be good writers, they must also be able to talk about writing with others – something that requires training, friendly personalities and confidence,” Engelson said.  

The Writing Studio project, she explained, is the culmination of years of hard work by various members of the MCLA community, including Mary Levitt of the English/Communications Department, who set about training the writing associates in Writing Studio pedagogy and practice.

“Further momentum for an official writing space came from the Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) Committee, an interdisciplinary group of 15 faculty members from across campus,” Engelson added.

This semester, writing associates are available Monday through Thursday nights, from 6 to 9 p.m., with some online hours available for commuter students. All members of the MCLA community are welcome to free, individual consultations with the writing associates.

Appointments are available, and walk-ins also are welcomed.  

Students and faculty are invited to schedule writing group meetings and writing events when the space is available. Already, faculty have expressed interest in scheduling the space for writing workshops for their students, Engelson said.

In addition, beginning this month, Engelson will hold WAC workshops in the Writing Studio for faculty members.

For more information, go to www.mcla.edu/writingstudio.