Writing Center Journal


This study investigates and reports on the personal, professional, and programmatic benefits and risks associated with contingent writing center work. Interviews were conducted with 48 contingent writing centers workers, including directors, assistant directors, associate directors, graduate student workers, and tutors. Survey data of the interview participants showed contingent writing center workers are usually White women with advanced degrees. Most of this article focuses on interview data, analyzed using grounded theory. Interviews revealed participants’ understanding of what contingency means and revealed their struggles with instability, insecurity, and uncertainty even while they lauded the flexibility, freedom, and autonomy their contingency afforded them. The interview data also further revealed the ways in which these working conditions were created and maintained by the institution. These findings suggest the need for collective action across the composition and writing center fields—from professional organizations, tenure-line writing center workers, and contingent workers themselves. Through collective action, we can create equitable working conditions for all writing center workers.