Purdue University Graduate School
Towle_Dissertation_Final.pdf (1.07 MB)

"It Depends on Who You Talk To": Mapping Writing Center-Writing Program Relationships at Small Liberal Arts Colleges

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posted on 2019-05-15, 14:14 authored by Beth A TowleBeth A Towle

Writing centers and writing programs, as well as the role of their administrators, are shaped by historical and disciplinary factors that have been closely examined by scholars over the last half century. However, the role of institutionality in writing center and writing program administration (WPA) studies has been ignored in much of the scholarship about these two sub-disciplines. This dissertation examines the role of institutionality by developing a new method, relationship-mapping, as a way of understanding how the complex nature of institutional contexts impacts the work of writing centers and writing programs. Through a study of 13 small liberal arts colleges, it is determined that the factors of this specific institution type shape and transform the ways in which centers and programs develop relationships and collaborations to teach and support writing. Relationship-mapping shows promise, though, beyond small colleges and could be used at a multitude of institution types as a way to responsibly critique institutions and how they support students, as well as a way to study institutional cultures of writing.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • English

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Harry Denny

Additional Committee Member 2

Bradley Dilger

Additional Committee Member 3

Irwin Weiser

Additional Committee Member 4

Jackie Grutsch McKinney