CFP: Writing and Well-being
National University of Ireland, Galway
5 April 2019
Procrastination, writer’s block, failing a course due to being unable to finish writing assignments, and even debilitating anxiety—many of us who work with writers, whether in the classroom, the writing centre, or in another support capacity, encounter students who regularly experience these kinds of challenges. There are also those writers who explain writing as essential to their being, a form of therapy, and a release. Both sides of this spectrum point to the ways writing intersects with students’ well-being. Given that academic writing constitutes the core activity across multiple disciplines, professionals responsible for students’ workload and supporting writing should understand how mandatory writing assignments affect students’ physical and mental health and their emotional state; however, the subject remains under-researched, and the answers in hand are ambivalent.
For example, while some writing practices have been cited as fostering students’ sense of confidence and self-worth (Virtanen 2007), there is a consensus that writing anxiety is prominent among multiple student populations (Baez, 2005). At the same time, studies of student stress (Bush et al., 1985; Abouserie, 1994, Schafer, 1994) do not specifically point to writing anxiety as a stress factor. While most of us understand developing a writing process as a way to intervene in writing-related anxiety, there is little direction in the scholarship on what to do when the writing process itself seems to exacerbate a student's stress.
In speculating on ways to negotiate this issue in our pedagogies and practices, one might refer to the calls to see students’ writing as labour; as Horner (2000) and Rose (2012) argue, students’ time is a finite resource that should be used with a greater sense of responsibility. Traditionally, writing was seen as an invisible activity taking place purely in the realm of the intellect, away from the daily life of the students. This limiting view of writing obscures its impacts, whether negative or positive, on the physical world—on students’ bodies, minds, and broader aspects of their well-being.
To look at student writing through the lens of well-being means to challenge long-standing assumptions, to examine familiar practices from a new angle, and to explore new approaches in our writing pedagogies and other writing support programs like writing centres and mentoring programs within higher education institutions. We welcome presentations that explore the connection between writing and well-being from a variety of angles. Possible topics include but are not limited to the following:
● Writing for well-being, and well-being for writing
● Nurturing well-being during the writing process
● How do we teach/model well-being for student success and beyond?
● Intersections between well-being and marginalized identity markers
● Intersections between well-being and inclusivity efforts
● Historical approaches to the issue of writing and well-being
● Well-being in locations that support writing (writing centres, mentoring programmes etc)
● Student writing as labour
Proposals of 300 words should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, December 21, 2018. Panel proposals are also welcome and should include a list of contributors.
In addition to 20-minute talks, the conference will include a discussion forum. Please contact Irina.email@example.com if you are interested in giving a 5 minute presentation on any of the above subjects or a new subject related to writing and well-being. Informal queries are also welcome.
Looking forward to seeing you in Galway!
Ira Ruppo & Georganne Nordstrom