The “Standard” Issue

8 Dec

The RISD Writing Center highly recommends the new student-curated exhibition Kindred, on view at the Gelman Gallery December 5, 2014 through February 1, 2015. Not only is there a significant selection of text-based work, but Writing Center tutor Oge Mora (Illustration ’16), has a piece of great interest to us in the show.

Oge collaborated with exhibition co-curator Kelly Walters (GD ’15) on The Standard English Test Booklet (SET) — a series of questions that mix “standard” English with other dialects. The piece highlights how language connects to identity, and how that connection often gets overlooked, if not repressed, in academic settings. Gallery visitors are invited to take these tests as well as participate in a brief survey.

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Writing Center tutors and staff had the pleasure of interacting with Oge’s work before the show in a recent staff meeting. Oge led a discussion of how code-switching (changing the dialect or type of English one uses in academic, professional, and social contexts) is problematic, and how code-meshing (using a combination of dialects and types of English to best articulate one’s ideas and identity) could resolve these issues. We had an opportunity to take her SET exam and reflect on the experience compared to test-taking in “standard” English.

We hope you’ll visit the RISD Writing Center if you’re interested in writing in your own dialects and/or finding your voice.

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