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Planning for Hypertexts in the Writing Center…Or No Essay

Michael Pemberton asserts in his article “Planning for Hypertexts in the Writing Center…Or Not”, that this new age of technology brings with it a dilemma facing writing centers that stems from the perceived need for writing centers to assimilate hypertexts into their topics mentored, the willingness of the writing centers to accommodate hypertexts and if there is a need, how would writing centers meet such needs. There is no dilemma here because writing centers need not treat hypertexts any differently than any other text (Pemberton). They already have tutors working in specific areas of expertise.

Tutors with expertise in hypertext can be found. Pemberton also brings up the rationale that a relatively small number of clients will be writing hypertexts anyway so centers don’t need to worry about it. Pemberton doesn’t discount the challenges faced by writing centers in assimilating into the technological age. As writing centers had always been primarily interpersonal interaction, many feel that the advancing technology is a threat to this interaction (Pemberton). The advent of chat rooms and email tutoring has lessened this perceived threat.

He notes that finding articulate tutors may be very difficult, especially for small schools without many resources (Pemberton). Another challenge lies in providing training for tutors. But the challenges do not appear to outweigh the advantages. Times change; language changes; writing changes. That is a constant we can rely on. Writing centers have adapted and will continue to adapt to the changes coming their way. Critique/Comments Michael Pemberton in his article “Planning for Hypertexts in the Writing Center…Or Not” provides a comprehensive history of the goals and functions of writing centers from the 1930s-1990s.

He presents a possible problem facing writing centers and possible solutions to the problem, without bias or emphasis on one or the other. His straightforward writing allows the reader to come to a conclusion about the future of writing centers and the necessity of assimilating hypertext into tutoring topics. Pemberton provides much commentary from experts in the field of writing centers and tutoring so his own take does not sway the reader. As change occurred throughout the history involving writing centers, the writing centers and their tutors adapted to the needs of their clients.

Pemberton assures that no matter what those needs become, writing centers will naturally meet those needs. While some worry that the computer age will depersonalize the interaction between tutor and tutee, it is clear that the communication tools available via the Internet have not hindered interpersonal relationships in or out of writing centers. Pemberton, a director of the Georgia Southern University Writing Center does not appear to have any motive in his article save to inform readers that “writing centers will hold” ( ) as the title of one of his books says.

Perhaps he merely wants to put to rest any fear felt by the technologically hesitant. Technological advancement is here to stay but rest assured by Michael Pemberton that the writing centers will advance right along with it. Pemberton, Michael A. “Planning for Hypertexts in the Writing Center… Or Not” In The St. Martin’s Sourcebook for Writing Tutors. 3rd Ed. Christina Murphy and Steve Sherwood. Boston. New York: Bedford/ St. Martin’s, 2008:294-308.


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