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New Name, New Website

28 Aug

The RISD Writing Center is now officially the Center for Arts & Language.


This change reflects recent growth in our mission and in the variety of services we offer:

Peer tutoring in writing, public speaking, and visual communication

English language support for multilingual students

Advising for student publications

Learn more at our new website:

Visit us at the same location: College Building, room 240.


Open for Dialogue

20 Jan


In the past year or so, and especially since the election, we have noticed more students coming to the Writing Center with texts and speech expressing views about politics, social justice, and identity. Engaging with diverse and deeply held ideas and perspectives is a privilege we take seriously. Our ongoing research and approach to tutoring emphasizes respect for individual voices, experiences, goals, and learning styles. Last weekend we participated in a workshop led by Claudia Ford (Lecturer, HPSS), who helped us understand our role in fostering respectful, open dialogues, even, or especially, when they are difficult.

We’re still honing our skills in this work—in fact, we agreed that this practice requires perpetual reflection—but we want you to know that we’re here for you. We invite you to come in if you would like support in processing and articulating your thoughts or feelings about complex topics, whether that means practicing a speech for a rally, writing a cultural critique for class, or preparing for a Facebook conversation with a friend. All opinions and beliefs are welcome, because we believe that silencing opposing views is unfair and unproductive when we should be discussing them. However, we will stand against bigotry, whether in words or in actions, and put our skills toward building a more inclusive community.

We hope you will consider visiting us as a space for safe and open discussion.

We would also like to share some of the materials and tools we have found most helpful in exploring this topic and preparing for this work:

Suggested Ground Rules for Inclusive Dialogue

Nonviolent Communication Model, The Center for Nonviolent Communication

“Effective Dialogue Skills,” Kathy Obear

“How to DO Empathy,” Alan Seid

“You Talkin’ to Me?” John C. Cavanaugh

“Let’s Not Be Divided,” Trevor Noah


2 Jun

Pomp and circumstance with hi-jinx, hilarity, and a touch of anarchy — RISD Commencement is always a headline-worthy affair. But this year was extra exciting for us, because Malcolm Rio, Graduate Student Speaker, and Rachel Ossip, Senior Class Speaker, both happen to be RISD Writing Center tutors.

Malcolm stood tall in his studded heels, checked his snapchat, and argued for the value of learning to “fail well” in a world of contingent crises. Rachel compared the RISD we know today to the drinking fountain we could have been in a poetic meditation on origins, water, and what stays with us. Of course John Waters was insanely amazing, but these guys were just as brilliant, just out of the gates of RISD.

Check out their speeches below, and visit the RISD Commencement 2015 website for more.

“You Are a Ffabschrifter”

12 May

Students of Lucinda Hitchcock and Rachel Ossip’s Shaping Language course spent the semester “ffabschrifting” — treating writing as making and making as writing and simultaneously creating content and form, each with the other in mind. The class hosted a final event/party downtown in the Design Office last night.

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Each student read their own poem/story/definition of “ffabschrifting,” and Hitchcock and Ossip read a transcript — no, a ffabschrift — of their own previous conversation about the course’s development and all the brilliant, unexpected ways students took on the role of ffabschrifter. This variety sparked some engaging debate: on the one hand, it seems like we are all ffabschrifters, whether we know it or acknowledge it or embrace it or not; at the same time, purposeful and conscious attention made all the difference to everyone’s process and resulting work.

The group then invited visitors into the discussion with some questions: Does ffabschrifting have to involve text? Is it limited to just writing and making? Is “ffabschrifting” the right word for what’s happening here? Amid all these loose ends, one thing was certain: ffabschrifting is more than a practice — it’s a movement. We love these ideas and these questions, and can’t wait to see how the movement advances.

Check out some of the class’s work on their website:

The Shaping Language course will be offered to GD seniors and grad students again next year (and non-majors with permission from the instructor).

Triple Canopy’s Publication Intensive

20 Mar

Interested in publication as an art form, an evolving medium, and a site for experimentation? This summer program is a great opportunity to learn about the history of publication and actively engage in the contemporary practice. According to their announcement, participants will “research, analyze, and enact an approach to publication that hinges on today’s networked forms of production and circulation but also mines the history of print culture and artistic practice.”

Check out the details and apply by Monday, April 6.


Got a Research Assignment? There’s a Tab for That.

4 Feb

The RISD Writing Center is proud to announce the publication of our video tutorial on writing research papers. You can access all the videos and supporting materials in the Video Tutorial tab at the top of our website.

Curious? Get started:

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.


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.