Rafoth Delivers Keynote Address at Guadalajara Writing Conference

Posted on 10/31/2019 1:37:59 PM

Ben Rafoth delivered the keynote address at a gathering of about 200 faculty and tutors from several countries in Latin America. A plenary address was also given by IUP alumna Rebecca Day Babcock (PhD ’05).

The three-day conference, held on the campus of ITESO Jesuit University of Guadalaja, focused on the relationship between writing centers and programs, and on academic writing and orality in native and foreign languages. Interculturality, inclusion, and multilingualism were the topics of many papers and presentations. 

In his keynote, Rafoth spoke about the role of dialogue in tutoring, particularly the way tutors use conversations with writers to promote critical thinking by questioning assumptions, asking for evidence, qualifying claims, and evaluating sources.

When writers meet with tutors, Rafoth said in his keynote, their conversations open minds. “They also disrupt prejudices and false assumptions. One-to-one conversations have this power because they begin with respect for one another. Then they advance to the sharing of feelings, knowledge, and truth.”

Babcock, who was Rafoth’s advisee, is now the William and Ordelle Watts Professor and head of the Department of Languages and Literature at the University of Texas Permian Basin. She co-presented with Terese Thonus, University of Baltimore, on a model for writing centers that are global, multilingual, multicultural, and inclusive.

Also presenting at the conference was Abigail Villagran Mora of the Universidad Popular Autonoma del Estado de Puebla. Villagran Mora is working on her PhD degree in the IUP English Department’s program in Composition and Applied Linguistics.

During the conference, Rafoth also led a workshop for the writing center tutors at ITESO and other universities in attendance. Many of the tutors were from universities in Colombia. The highlight of the workshop was a discussion about the relative merits of generalist and specialist tutors in foreign language contexts. 

Rafoth noted the growing popularity of writing centers around the world, especially in Latin America, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. They are adapting the American model to their own needs, he said, because advanced literacy skills are today more important than ever.

More information about the conference.

Department of English