Unwell Writing Centers
182 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:01 Apr 2023
Release Date:01 Apr 2023

Unwell Writing Centers

Searching for Wellness in Neoliberal Educational Institutions and Beyond

Utah State University Press
Unwell Writing Centers focuses on the inroads the wellness industry has made into higher education. Following graduate and undergraduate writing tutors during a particularly stressful period (2016–2019), Genie Nicole Giaimo examines how top-down and bottom-up wellness interventions are received and taken up by workers. Engaging sociocultural research on how workers react to and experience workplace conflict, Giaimo demonstrates the kinds of interventions welcomed by workers as well as those that fall flat, including the “easy” fixes to workplace issues that institutions provide in lieu of meaningful and community-based support.
The book is broken into sections based on journeying: searching for wellness, finding wellness, and imagining a “well” future that includes a sustainable model of writing center work. Each chapter begins with a personal narrative about wellness issues in writing centers, including the author’s experiences in and responses to local emergencies. She shares findings from a longitudinal assessment study on non-institutional interventions in writing centers and provides resources for administrators to create more ethical "well" writing centers. The book also includes an appendix of training documents, emergency planning documents, and several wellness-specific interventions developed from anti-racist, anti-neoliberal, and organizational theories.
Establishing the need for a field-specific response to the austerity-minded eruption of wellness-focused interventions in higher education, Unwell Writing Centers is a critical text for graduate students and new directors that can easily be applied in workplaces in and outside of higher education.
‘Contributes significantly to equity-based pedagogy and antiracism work in writing studies, as well as analyses of labor and capital as they manifest in universities more broadly and writing centers in particular. The wide-ranging interdisciplinarity places this project in dialogue with research agendas in fields ranging from education to psychology to critical race and gender studies to labor studies. This book will become a staple of writing studies syllabi and writing center libraries.’
—Naomi Silver, University of Michigan
‘A needed text, with strengths in experiential knowledge, examples of practical application, and a push for more intentional research designs for writing center research.’
—Wonderful Faison, Langston University
‘This book is needed now more than ever, given the environmental, political, social, and cultural unrest we are all experiencing. Giaimo’s attention to wellness and care should be required reading for anyone involved in mentoring and teaching writing. They offer a deep analysis of how we came to this situation and concrete strategies and solutions so that we might care for ourselves, each other, our students, and the future of higher education.’
—Neal Lerner, Northeastern University
'Timely, refreshing, and profoundly self-aware... Giaimo powerfully highlights the field’s need for specific engagement with what a ‘well’ workplace in higher education really looks and feels like.'
—The Peer Review

'Compelling, timely, well researched, practical,and engaging. . . . clearly charts multiple directions for productive and inclusive educational research.'
—Writing Center Journal

Giaimo carefully uses longitudinal research and personal narratives to travel between searching for wellness, finding wellness, and imagining a future that is well.'
—H-Net Reviews
Genie Nicole Giaimo is assistant professor and director of the Writing Center at Middlebury College in Vermont. The author of over two dozen peer reviewed articles and chapters, their work has been published in Praxis, Journal of Writing Research, The Journal of Writing Analytics, Teaching English in the Two-Year College, Research in Online Literacy Education, Kairos, Across the Disciplines, The Journal of Multimodal Rhetorics, and several edited collections. They are also the editor of Wellness and Care in Writing Center Work, an open-access digital book with WLN: A Writing Center Journal.
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