The 2011 Midwest Writing Centers Association Conference

Join Us!

Join your colleagues from across the Midwest and beyond for a stimulating conference in beautiful Madison, Wisconsin!

Make Your Hotel Reservation Today!

The cutoff for reserving rooms within our hotel blocks is soon, so make your reservations while special rates last!

Keynote Speaker

We’re very sorry that Professor Eric Darnell Pritchard from the University of Texas at Austin will not be able to join us as our keynote speaker, and he sends his deep regrets. But we’re delighted that Professor Deborah Brandt from the English Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, one of the top literacy scholars in the United States, has graciously agreed to speak at our Friday keynote luncheon. The title of her MWCA keynote is “Deep Writing.”

Deborah Brandt’s research focuses on social and economic histories of mass literacy; the status of mass writing within late twentieth and early twenty-first century culture; and diversity, equity, and access in literacy learning. Author of Literacy in American Lives and of Literacy and Learning, she is currently working on a project called “Writing Now: New Directions in Mass Literacy,” a study that explores the ascendancy of writing as a second stage of mass literacy, focusing on the impact of writing as a means of production in the American economy since about 1960.

Featured Closing Speaker

Professor Michele Eodice, Executive Director of Learning, Teaching, and Writing, University of Oklahoma.

Pre-Conference Workshops

Please join us for one of these fabulous pre-conference workshops, led by outstanding writing center scholars and directors. The pre-conference workshops are scheduled for Thursday afternoon, October 20, 2011, at the Pyle Conference Center, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Participating in a pre-conference workshop requires an additional $25 registration fee. Please register for pre-conference workshops as you register for the conference, through your member profile on the MWCA website. Seats for the pre-conference workshops are limited, so please register soon! If you have questions about the pre-conference workshops, please contact Brad Hughes, MWCA Conference 2011 Co-Chair, Director of the Writing Center and Director of Writing Across the Curriculum at the University of Wisconsin-Madison,, 608.263.3823.

Pre-Conference Workshop A:

Title: From the Center Across the Curriculum: Developing a Writing Fellows Program as Part of an Existing Writing Center
Leaders: Emily Hall (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and Carol Severino (University of Iowa)
Time: Thursday, October 20, 2011, 2:00 to 5:00 PM


Looking for a proven way to expand your writing center into new territory? Want to connect with new faculty members across campus? In this interactive workshop, the directors of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Iowa’s Writing Fellows Programs will facilitate a discussion of the theory and practice of establishing an undergraduate Writing Fellows program as an extension of (as well as a pathway to) a Writing Center. Topics will include: how to secure partnerships with existing campus entities or groups (such as an honors program or an academic department); how to pilot a program; how to recruit and train Fellows; how to recruit and communicate with professors; and how to troubleshoot problems that may arise. Our focus throughout will be on how a Writing Fellows program can expand the mission of a Writing Center on campus and serve as a bridge for faculty and students back to the Center.


Emily Hall directs the Writing Fellows program at the University of Wisconsin-Madsion, where she has taught for 17 years. She is particularly interested in how Writing Fellows influence professors’ views of and responses to their students’ writing. Emily also works closely with Brad Hughes and UW-Madison’s wonderful Writing Center staff.


Carol Severino co-founded the Writing Fellows Program at Iowa in 2003 and has been directing it since then, co-teaching the Writing Fellows course every fall. She especially enjoys guiding and getting to know the wonderful fellows, recruiting new instructors to work with the program, and reading writing assignments from different disciplines and courses.

Pre-Conference Workshop B:

Title: An Inquiry State of Mind: Doing Research in the Writing Center
Leaders: Michele Eodice (University of Oklahoma) and Beth Godbee (Marquette University)
Time: Thursday, October 20, 2011, 1:00 to 4:00 PM


That wonderful moment when we realize that all around us, each day, our writing centers present amazing opportunities for research is also the moment we begin to ask: How do I do research in the writing center? Which methods are useful and available to me? What kinds of questions do I need to develop first? What kinds of support, permissions, and analysis tools do I need?

This workshop will help you build an inquiry-based foundation for thinking through the design of a research project. You will leave with a viable research question, a better understanding of available methods, and a plan for working on your project.

Participants will work on developing research questions and design a plan for a research project based on “everyday inquiry” methods, those methods that fit best with the ways we work and offer us the richest data for analysis.

  • Which method should I use to learn more about talk?
  • How would I discover how students revise?
  • Do I really need student consent to study their activity in the writing center?
  • Isn’t this work just assessment with another name?

The workshop leaders will address these questions and more as we work with participants to facilitate clear definitions, foundational understandings of methods, and basic steps in the research process. The workshop is geared to undergraduate researchers, graduate students, professional staff, and faculty directors.


Michele Eodice is the executive director of a unit at the University of Oklahoma called Learning, Teaching, & Writing. She is a past president of the International Writing Centers Association and a co-author of The Everyday Writing Center.


Assistant Professor at Marquette University, Beth Godbee recently completed her dissertation, a mixed-method study of collaborative writing talk in campus and community writing centers. She is passionate about research methodologies and has published research based on conversation analysis, ethnography, participatory research, and tutor/action research.

Pre-Conference Workshop C:

Title: Working Strategically with Multilingual Writers: Best Practices
Leaders: Kim Strain (University of Minnesota) and Terese Thonus (University of Kansas)
Time: Thursday, October 20, 2011, 1:00 to 5:00 PM


The number of multilingual writers in many Writing Centers throughout the Midwest is increasing, and many writing consultants, both experienced and inexperienced, feel under prepared to work with this important student population. In this half-day workshop, participants will learn best practices in consulting with multilingual writers, not only learning specific strategies to use in their consultations but also developing greater intentionality in their work. The workshop will conclude with a discussion of how these practices could be implemented at each participant’s writing center.


Kim Strain is one of the Non-Native Speaker Specialists at the Center for Writing’s Student Writing Support program at the University of Minnesota. As a teacher and a consultant of multilingual writers for over 15 years both in the United States and abroad, Kim is one of the main developers of the Center’s print and online materials for multilingual writers. Kim also mentors and trains new undergraduate and graduate consultants on working with multilingual writers in the Center every year.


Terese Thonus has been Director of the KU Writing Center at the University of Kansas since 2007. She has 14 years’ experience as an ESL/EFL instructor and teacher educator in Brazil, Thailand and the U.S. as well as 10 years’ experience teaching in M.A. Linguistics/TESOL programs and five years’ experience as a peer writing tutor. Terese has published and presented on writing center interaction, especially between tutors and English L2 writers.

Conference Details

A draft schedule for sessions will be available in Early September. For general information about the conference schedule, see the FAQs.

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I am presenting at the conference. What audio-visual technology will be available at the Pyle Center?

The Pyle Center will provide LCD projectors in all breakout rooms. For cost savings, however,the planners ask that presenters bring their own laptops and remote controls, when possible. (Note: There will be a couple of spare laptops available.) Also, presenters should bring their own mini DisplayPort-to-VGA adapters if their new PC or MAC laptops require them. As with all AV presentations, it is strongly advised that presenters bring backup copies of their presentations on flash drives and also email them to themselves in the event that personal laptops malfunction or if presenters are sharing laptops with co-presenters. To ensure laptop compatibility, presenters should make a test of their equipment during the continental breakfasts or after Friday’s presentations if scheduled for Saturday’s sessions.

Will attendees be able to connect to WiFi?

The Pyle Center has WiFi capability, and during registration each attendee will be given a NETID and password to access the Internet through the UW portal.

Where is Madison and what's it like?

Madison is a medium-sized city in south-central Wisconsin, with a population of 235,000 in a metro area of about 500,000. Madison is about an hour-and-a-half drive from Milwaukee, an hour and a half from Dubuque, three hours from Chicago, and four-and-a-half hours from the Twin Cities. Home of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison College, and Edgewood College — all local hosts for this year’s MWCA conference — Madison is a great city to visit, with a fun vibe and lots of energy and creativity. The University campus, where the conference will be held, stretches for two miles along the south shore of Lake Mendota, within easy walking distance of many shops and restaurants along State Street, which runs between the University and state capitol.

When I called to reserve a room at the Lowell Center, I was told that it's full during the conference. Where should I stay?

Please be sure to read the hotel section of the conference website. We have blocks of rooms reserved not only for the Lowell Center at UW-Madison but also at the Campus Inn (just one block from the Pyle Conference Center), the Doubletree Hotel (five blocks from the Pyle Conference Center), and the Concourse Hotel (six blocks from the Pyle Conference Center). You may also find many more hotel options at

What are the rooms like at the Lowell Center?

Well, the lobby’s nothing to write home about, and the rooms are on the small side (so is the elevator), but the guest rooms are attractive, recently redecorated, and very convenient to the Pyle Center, where the conference will be held, and to great walking along the lakeshore and to shopping and dining on State Street.

I'm arriving a day (or more) early for the conference. Any recommendations for what to do with my free time?

There’s lots to do, depending on your interests and whether you’ll have a car.

  • If you like architecture, be sure to visit the State Capitol. And nearby is Monona Terrace, a convention center on the shores of Lake Monona, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, a native of the Madison area. You’ll enjoy shopping, dining, and people-watching on State Street, which connects the University campus and the capitol. At the Lowell Center, you’ll be right at the northeast edge of the thousand-acre University campus, which runs for two miles along the shore of Lake Mendota. On your way to the campus, stop at the Memorial Union (the student union) to buy an ice cream cone (the famous ice cream is made on campus) or buy a beverage and sit on the terrace overlooking the lake at the back of the union; there’s often great live music inside the Memorial Union and a great view of Lake Mendota from the Union terrace. (Be warned: to buy a beer at the Union, you’ll need to demonstrate that you’re attending the conference and that you’re over 21 — so bring your Pyle Center registration form or your name tag, once you have one when you register at the Pyle Center on Friday.) You might want to take a stroll or jog or bike on the lakeshore path, which runs west for a couple miles from the Memorial Union. The nearby Chazen Museum of Art on campus and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art on State Street are well worth a visit. The Wisconsin Union Theater in the Memorial Union has a wonderful concert series. There are many public golf courses in the city — the most challenging is University Ridge. And Madison’s a great place for biking and boating.
  • A short drive or bus ride away from the University is the Henry Vilas Zoo, a small but attractive and varied zoo. Best of all, its free. At the west end of campus is the famous Frank-Lloyd-Wright designed Unitarian Meeting House, well worth a look and tour. And if you’re a Wright fan, you’ll want to visit his home, studio, and school at Taliesen, in Spring Green, Wisconsin, an hour west of Madison.
  • If you’re into the performing arts, check out the schedule for the Overture Center, a beautiful new cultural center right on State Street, between the University and the capitol.
  • The Willy (Williamson) Street Neighborhood, on the near east side, is great for walking, with fun, unique local shops (cooking, craft, the Willy Street Co-op, coffee shops and music venues) and restaurants.
  • The University’s Arboretum (out Monroe Street to the southwest, a 1000-acre nature preserve and education center), is gorgeous in the fall, great for walking.
  • If you want more lakeside walking beyond the Lakeshore Path on the UW-Madison, visit Lake Wingra (also out Monroe Street to the southwest, near Edgewood College) offers great autumn walking in Wingra Park and at the back of Edgewood’s campus
  • If you’ll have children with you who like water parks, an hour north of Madison is Wisconsin Dells, filled with more (outdoor and indoor) water parks than you can count (try the indoor ones in October).
  • If you’re looking for the truly bizarre, you might want to tour the House on the Rock, in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, an hour west of Madison — an endless and fascinating collection of objects, from rare and beautiful to pure kitsch.
  • Just southwest of Madison, in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin, is Cave of the Mounds.
  • Devil’s Lake State Park, in Baraboo, Wisconsin, 45 minutes north of Madison, features a beautiful lake, hiking trails, and striking cliffs (well, striking for the mountainless-Midwest).
  • Also in Baraboo is the International Crane Foundation, a fascinating place to tour if you’re interested in the restoration of endangered species.
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin, an hour and a half east of Madison, offers great culture, history, dining, and neighborhoods. On the shore of Lake Michigan, the new addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum, designed by Santiago Calatrava, is a stunning piece of architecture.
  • For details about any of these places and many more, check out the Madison Visitors Bureau Web site or Wisconsin’s office of tourism Web site.

Are there any restaurants in Madison?

Hard to believe, but yes there are. Hundreds of them, in fact, many within walking distance of the conference center and conference hotels, with a great range of cuisines and prices. When you arrive at the registration table in the Pyle Conference Center, you’ll receive an extensive guide to Madison restaurants, written by local writing center colleagues. In case you’d like to read about Madison restaurants in advance, take a look at —

Do I need to rent a car?

In most cases, probably not. Madison is a great walking city, with most of what you’ll want to do and a good variety of restaurants within easy walking distance of the Lowell and Pyle Centers. If, however, you—or others traveling with you—will want to do more sightseeing, then you will want to have a car.

What's the schedule going to be for the conference?

Please click here for a pdf of the conference schedule. Note: rooms may be subject to change. Please refer to the printed copy you receive when you arrive in Madison.

On Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011, from 12:00 to 7:00 p.m. and Friday, Oct. 21, 2011, from 7:30 AM to 4:00 PM, we’ll hold registration in the lobby of the Pyle Conference Center when you can say hello to some of the conference staff, ask questions, and pick up materials and your name tag. We will hold optional pre-conference workshops from 1:00 to 4:30 PM on Thursday afternoon, the 20th (additional registration fee required for the pre-conference workshops).

Concurrent sessions will run on all day on Friday the 21st and during the morning and afternoon on Saturday the 22nd. Friday’s plenary lunch will feature Keynote Speaker Eric Darnel Pritchard, a professor from the Department of Rhetoric and Writing at the University of Texas at Austin. Late in the afternoon of Friday the 21st we will have special-interest group discussions. And Saturday afternoon’s closing session will feature Professor Michele Eodice, Director of Learning, Teaching, and Writing at the University of Oklahoma.

What is the parking situation? I will be commuting.

If you are staying at one of the conference hotels (Lowell Center, Campus Inn, Doubletree Hotel, Concourse hotel), you should arrange parking directly with your hotel when you make your reservations. If you are commuting to the conference, you may reserve campus parking through the Pyle Conference Center. Permit requests must be received online by The Pyle Center at least one week prior to the conference and are assigned to one of these lots: Lot 83Lot 1, or Lot 6 (Campus parking map). (Lot #6 is at Helen C. White Hall, which is only two blocks from the Pyle Center.) There is also a city ramp at Francis and Lake Streets which charges $1.50/hour and is only two blocks away.

Other area hotels may provide parking for overnight guests, and many are within walking distance and/or offer shuttle services. We recommend that you check with your hotel for more information before you request a reserved parking permit for The Pyle Center.

How do I avoid a side trip to Iowa to see my parents?

Possible excuses: You’d hate to spread chronic wasting disease across the border? Your goldfish is planning major surgery and you must return home? You’re sorry, but you’ll be spending another week in Wisconsin in preparation for the big Halloween festivities in Madison?

What's the weather going to be like?

Impossible to tell in Wisconsin. The average high in the third week of October is just about 60 degrees, but the low temps are generally in the 30s. It could be warm and sunny. But then again, it could be cool, cloudy, and rainy. You know which we’ve put in an order for. Because of the range in temperatures, winds off the lake and variability of indoor climate controls, wearing layers and carrying an umbrella are your best bet. Here’s a link for Madison forecasts Weather Underground, Madison.

Is there a list of used bookstores in Madison?

There are several used bookstores in the State Street area, including Avol’s Book Store at 315 W. Gilman, Bookworks at 109 State Street, A Room of One’s Own at 370 W Johnson St., Paul’s at 670 State St., and the Underground Textbook Exchange at 664 State St. Another dozen are listed in the yellow pages.

2011 Conference


The Pyle Conference Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
702 Langdon Street
Madison, Wisconsin


October 20-22, 2011


Hosted by the writing centers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison College, and Edgewood College.