Question: CWPA pledges “to promote research into student diversities; promote policies that increase diversity in our membership and in the population of people who administer writing programs; and explicitly act against the structures that cause injustice today,” and WPA-GO is dedicated to supporting this mission. How will your selection to the WPA-GO Graduate Committee advance this goal?
Amanda Presswood: My interest in studying scholarship that grapples with the imperfect meaning comes from two key experiences in my life. In elementary school I was diagnosed with a learning disability, and as a “special needs student,” I was sent outside the classroom for separate instruction. My frustration with not being allowed to stay with “normal” students engendered my inquiry about the ways that educators can better understand and recast the needs of students who have been seen as “nonstandard”. This interest has been amplified by an unexpected line of inquiry, which began with my work as a writing tutor. Over the past five years I have worked extensively with multilingual students whose writing is often identified as falling outside the norms of Standard Written English. Similar to my experience as a “special needs” student, many multilingual students are being taught and theorized about in peripheral spaces within the academy. Much like students with disabilities, multilingual writers are sent outside the “normal” classroom for remedial instruction; many multilingual students are sent to the writing center as a way to “fix” the aspects of their texts that do not adhere to standard English and thus are also expected to accept the idea that there is such a thing as standard English. Much of my own scholarship centers around diversity and as I have mentioned before the ethical treatment of all writers. This year at the CCCC I am also working as a workshop facilitation for the all-conference social justice event.