A Bee-hive, a Koala den, a yoga studio, and a clinic : acknowledging the uniqueness of our writing center spaces

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in English


Department of English


Margaret Strain


This research project examines the physical spaces of four writing centers in anattempt to understand what our writing center spaces actually look like. In previous research studies, dominant scholarship has told us that our spaces are "cozy" and "just like home." This project then uncovers some recommendations related to the design of our writing centers including material items that writing centers need within these spaces to best serve writers. From there, this study proposes recommendations to the writing center community about what we need, both within our space and with our material resources, to successfully operate for the benefit of all writers, as many of our mission statements echo.Through an examination of these spaces, this study first identifies that each writing center space is unique due to its institution. Although each writing center in this study was part of a library, each used their space in different ways which did not allow for many generalizations about space to be made across all four writing centers. Second, because of university constraints that are particular to a certain campus, each writing center needs to understand the population(s) they serve before attempting to (re)design their spaces. This understanding of individuality across institutions will allow for thewriting center to be designed and decorated to help meet their mission of making better writers.This study also found that the cozy home metaphor related to writing center design, part of the dominant scholarship, is not as prevalent as it once was and no longer dominates the available literature of writing center spaces. Instead, these spaces cannot fit within one overarching metaphor; thus, although writing centers still strive to be welcoming places for writers, we are attempting to fulfill this mission in unique ways and one generalization, metaphor, or descriptor is not possible for all writing centers, although I do provide a number of new metaphors to consider if a writing center is looking for a new way of viewing their space. Lastly, this study calls for further examination into other writing center spaces, including how writing centers utilize and think of their physical spaces, to help answer this overarching question of what design and material resources we truly need in our spaces to serve the needs of all writers using our services.


Rhetoric, writing center

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