Ashley Squires holds a PhD in English from the University of Texas at Austin and serves as Assistant Professor of Humanities and Director of the Writing and Communication Center at the New Economic School.
Writing Center Professionalization in the United States and in Russia: How Do We Learn from Our Histories?
Professionalization is the process by which an occupation becomes a sovereign set of institutions and practices informed by a set of shared standards and values. Writing centers in the United States took a particular path toward professionalization during the second half of the twentieth century, developing in response to the educational values and concerns of individuals in the American field of Rhetoric and Composition. When the first writing centers were established in Russia, they began as an effort to duplicate the U.S. model (the Writing and Communication Center at the New Economic School is the paradigmatic example). They appeared, however, during a period of big changes for the Russian academic profession, which is now under increasing pressure to publish internationally. Likewise, the field of English Studies and the departments that tend to house writing centers have followed a much different trajectory than those at peer institutions in the United States. That this should be so may seem like common sense, but as I argue in this presentation, there are elements of the U.S. experience that should be instructive for Russian writing centers and vice versa.