technology, new media, literacy, writing centers, digital media, remediation


Writing center directors (WCDs) often situate their programs in physical and virtual spaces without fully studying the pedagogical and political implications of their decisions. Without intense study, writing centers risk building programs within spaces that undermine their missions and philosophies. In The Production of Space, Henri Lefebvre argues that "From the analytic standpoint, the spatial practice of a society is revealed through the deciphering of its space" (38). The study of space also reveals important political and financial priorities within the institution. Furthermore, the positioning of buildings and the spatial layout of a campus display the institution's priorities and attitudes toward writing center work. Theorizing the Online Writing Lab (OWL) through the lens of cultural and political geographies, it becomes apparent that the physical spaces of many writing centers are not as sustainable as WCDs might like, and in many ways, they are marginalized within the larger institution. This dissertation prompts a rearticulation of place and space in the writing center. In this dissertation, I argue that in an attempt to rethink current practices, the virtual space of the writing center should perpetuate, extend, and improve the social practices employed in our physical spaces. I draw from mapping exercises to inform my critique in an attempt to advance our understanding of writing center physical and virtual spaces. The changing geographical and cultural landscape of the institution demands that writing centers pay close attention to spatial implications as they employ technology to create dynamic virtual resources and more sustainable spaces. I rearticulate writing center spaces through cognitive and digital mapping, urban planning, and architectural theories. I make several contributions through this work: theoretical, to rearticulate the physical and virtual space of writing center work; political, to understand the constructions of the writing center's pedagogical spaces; and pedagogical, to understand best practices for creating virtual spaces that enhance learning, unlike those we have seen before or have had available in the writing center.


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Graduation Date



Bowdon, Melody


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Arts and Humanities



Degree Program

Texts and Technology








Release Date

July 2014

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)