Graduate Writing Director Aims to Center Underrepresented Voices

Grad students working

Shannon MaddenShannon Madden, Ph.D., is the newest director of graduate writing in the Graduate School. Prior to coming to NC State, Madden held a tenure-track faculty position at the University of Rhode Island in the Department of Writing and Rhetoric. Her desire to seek opportunities to conduct equity-focused writing work and research led her to NC State. She is currently publishing a collection of books from an ongoing research project that explores the experiences of graduate student writers in the academy from underrepresented populations, including the silencing of voices and solutions for inclusion.

In just the few short months Madden has been at NC State, she has made it her mission to meet with faculty, organizations and students across campus to assess the need for support. She brings to the table a fresh and authentic approach to writing that makes it accessible to the most novice academic writers, making sure students are comfortable and aware that they aren’t alone in the writing process and it’s not something that comes naturally. “There is an assumption that graduate students don’t know how to write in their genres and they aren’t clear on their discipline-specific communication practices when really certain ways of writing and communicating in the academy hold more privilege than others,” Madden says.

Academic writing is hard. Madden believes “students’ perception of academic writing is that it should come easy; however, academic writing is highly constructed, very white and very western. Writing services on a national level don’t do enough to center voices from historically oppressed groups and that is something I research and aim to do in this position.”

Through her consistency and intentionality, pockets of graduate students are beginning to connect with the resources The Graduate School offers.

Madden charges herself with the responsibility of creating and providing services that consider the whole student, as opposed to viewing the student solely as an academic writing machine. Through her collaborative efforts in her position, she is working on several upcoming projects, including a partnership with the Counseling Center, which focuses on understanding writing as psychosocial process, as well as a workshop on avoiding perfectionism in writing and a workshop on how to manage conflict in a dissertation committee. The Graduate School aims to provide systematic support across the university so that graduate students can access resources at all levels, regardless of discipline or rank. Additionally, the Graduate School offers accountability groups and workshops that are free, available and open to all NC State graduate and postdoctoral scholars.

For a complete listing of all workshops and events, see the Graduate School’s website and Twitter feed.

Erin Elliot is a second-year graduate student in educational psychology and a graduate assistant in Multicultural Student Affairs.