Writing Center Journal


Writing consultants regularly perform emotional labor. They suppress or express emotions to welcome clients and invoke enthusiasm to cultivate writers’ confidence. Because emotional labor performs these crucial functions, it merits focused attention in writing center studies. However, while research has considered the emotional needs that writers bring, scholars have not yet sufficiently examined the affective engagements that consultations require of writing consultants. The first section of this article presents a case for treating affective dimensions of tutoring as labor. The second section analyzes five tutor-training manuals using the Specific Affect Coding System (SPAFF) to identify references to emotion and affect in the texts. This analysis shows that these tutor training manuals offer limited or indirect discussions of emotional labor and neglect the fact that relational work is just as much a practiced skill as cognitive work. The final section offers implications and proposes ways these manuals could start more robust discussions of emotional labor to further writing center goals of creating supportive, collaborative environments. By teaching and valuing the emotional labor of tutors, writing centers can become more inclusive places and mitigate factors that lead to burnout.