Imagining the New Community: The Writing Center’s Hidden Antagonisms after the Neoliberal Turn

Tony Iantosca


This paper reimagines writing center labor’s place within the university’s production of knowledge after neoliberalism. This positioning of writing center labor reveals parallels and affinities with the “feminized” characteristics of service sector labor, a type of work which has proliferated after deindustrialization. While I explore dimensions of writing center work that this positioning reveals, important limits to these parallels emerge, and within and beyond these descriptive limits I advocate redefinitions of writing center labor. Accordingly, I assert that this work escapes economic measure while embodying an ethos that is antithetical to the neoliberal imaginary’s individualist assumptions. The constantly shifting, emergent identities of students and tutors, alongside the writing center’s activation of the feminist care ethic through social production, are what characterize this challenge to forces shaping the university in the context of neoliberalism.


Writing Centers; Neoliberalism; Service Sector; Affective Labor; Knowledge Production

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Im@go. A Journal of the Social Imaginary - Biannual - Edizioni Mimesis