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Writers Room

Project: 11
Name: Rachel WenrickKirsten Kaschock, PhD (rw346@drexel.edu; 917.224.8114)
Department: English

Description

Writers Room—a CoAS initiative within the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, an urban extension center in West Philadelphia’s “Promise Zone”—is a program that creates authentic relationships between people from diverse backgrounds. We incorporate community members in programming decisions and elicit feedback at every stage, creating trust between the neighborhood and the university. In just under two years, we have created a once-monthly writing workshop series, organized writers’ hours for one-on-one feedback sessions, provided field trips to cultural events and museums, and run successful side-by-side classes incorporating community members, Drexel students, staff and faculty.

Writers Room’s first season ended with the publication of a 100+ page collection of work. The standing room only release party—where Drexel students, faculty, staff and Mantua and Powelton community members read from their work, together—was covered by two TV news crews and several online publications. Our second season includes 170+ hours of programming and two term-long literature and writing courses. A writer-in-residence series will launch next year with poet Major Jackson. Writers Room also applied for an NEA Big Read grant this spring for a proposed slate of programming built around Zora Neale Hurston’s iconic novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Our humanities fellow would become familiar with the workings of Writers Room, our mission, our organization, and administration. Because we are a new initiative, we are interested in having our fellow do a literature review of community literacy programs to establish similarities, differences, best practices, and evaluation techniques. This information will aid Writers Room in presentation of our work to academic and artistic communities as well as to funders. This type of research and development is essential to create sustainable nonprofit and community-based ventures. The fellow would also help create an archive of creative work produced at Writers Room.

Associated Independent Study

We imagine that your interests will shape the independent project produced while working with Writers Room. Potential projects might take the form of a traditional literature review, a journal article, a portfolio of creative work in response to the research, or a proposal for continued work at Dornsife.

Gained Experience

You will gain research and development skills essential to creating sustainable nonprofit and community-based ventures. If you desire to do creative work in conjunction with this project, you will be mentored through the process of a creating a fully-realized manuscript/portfolio.

Outcome

Journal article and grant proposal

Tasks

Our humanities fellow would become familiar with the workings of Writers Room, our mission, our organization, and administration. Because we are a new initiative, we are interested in having our fellow do a literature review of community literacy programs to establish similarities, differences, best practices, and evaluation techniques.

Location

Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, University Writing Program (MacAlister Hall)

Meetings

We'll have weekly meetings, but our schedule will be determined together.

Interview Availability

April 13, April 14