Mission and History
The Hume Center for Writing and Speaking works with all Stanford students to help them develop rich and varied abilities in every aspect of writing and oral communication. In free individual sessions, Hume tutors help students get started on assignments; address and overcome writer's block or performance anxiety; learn strategies for revising, editing, and proofreading; and understand academic conventions in their fields.
Whether students are working on a written or oral project for a course or applying for a grant or job, our writing or speaking tutors can help them develop effective strategies and sharpen skills to improve their written or oral communication.
We provide support to students with one-to-one tutoring sessions, small group consultations, and workshops. We also foster a lively culture of writing and speaking on the Stanford campus by sponsoring writing boot camps and groups for graduate and undergraduate students, by hosting presentations of student research as well as special events, and by bringing together instructors with students and their parents for celebrations of writing and oral communication done in our community. We cooperate with faculty across the campus to support their use of writing and speaking in a variety of courses.
Writing Center History
The Hume Writing Center was founded by Professor Andrea Lunsford in 2001. Initially called the "Stanford Writing Center," its name was changed to honor a generous donation provided by George and Leslie Hume. In our first year of operations, we tutored 700 students. In 2011-2012, by comparison, we provided over 7,000 tutoring sessions a year to both undergraduate and graduate students. The Hume Writing Center celebrated its 10th Anniversary with two days of events on May 16 and 17, 2012.
The Hume Center was directed by Clyde Moneyhun from 2004 to 2010, by Julia Bleakney from 2012 to 2016, by Doree Allen (Interim Director) from 2016 to 2017, and by Zandra L. Jordan since 2017. Assistant or Associate Directors in Hume have included: Wendy Goldberg, John Tinker, Sohui Lee, Patti Hanlon-Baker, Marissa Gemma, Erica Cirillo-McCarthy, Sarah Pittock, and currently Norah Fahim (Associate Director).
This YouTube video provides a brief overview of the Hume Writing Center history and range of ways it works with students on their writing.
You can also learn more about the Hume Writing Center in the following articles:
- "Stanford Writing Center." Praxis: A Writing Center Journal. 4.1. Fall 2006.
- "Words Get a Groove." Stanford Magazine. May/June 2007.
- Cynthia Haven. "East Palo Alto High Schoolers Hone Writing Skills in Campus Program." Stanford Report. April 9, 2008.
- Lindsay Schauer. "Giving: Project WRITE." Gentry. June 2008: 142.
- Kate Chesley. "Hume Writing Center Celebrates 10th Anniversary." Stanford Report. May 14, 2012.
- Allie Fijolek. "A Day in the Life of the Hume Center." International Writing Centers Association Blog. February 12, 2015.
Oral Communication Program History
The genealogy of public speaking at Stanford is particularly interesting in light of oral communication's recent academic renaissance. Although the ability to speak with clarity and grace has been one of the uncontested aims of a liberal arts education, the place of speech training within private institutions like Stanford has not been entirely clear. But the importance of oral communication skills prevails. Studies reveal this, common sense certainly tells us this, and, most convincingly, Stanford graduates who enter the professional world and witness the value of these skills on a daily basis remind us of this in their alumni correspondence.
The Center for Teaching and Learning's Oral Communication Program reflects the enduring relevance of the spoken arts at Stanford and the university's renewed commitment to "provide students instruction in oral communication," as it was phrased in 1994 by the Committee on Undergraduate Education. With the support of the President's Innovation Fund, a new position in oral communication was created at CTL in 1996. Since then we have developed a full-scale program which serves the university—undergraduates, graduates, and faculty—in a variety of ways, outlined below.
As we engage nationally with other college and university programs that share our mission, the possibilities for enhancing oral communication skills at Stanford seem limitless. In our efforts to develop a new and stimulating pedagogy of "public speaking," we hope to expand the traditional definition of our subject and move beyond the confines of a superficial skills orientation. Among other things, learning to listen more intently, to analyze more cogently, and to trust one's own voice more deeply. To this end, we have committed ourselves to revitalizing a rhetorical tradition at Stanford and to fostering an awareness of the seasoned and fundamental place of oral expression in a liberal education.
Current and past Writing Center staff have published a range of work that contributes to the field of writing center studies.
Bleakney, Julia and Sarah Peterson Pittock. “Tutor Talk: Do Tutors Scaffold Students’ Revisions?” Writing Center Journal 37.2 (2019), 127-160.
Cirillo-McCarthy, Erica, et al. “‘We Don’t Do That Here’: Calling Out Deficit Discourses in the Writing Center To Reframe Multilingual Graduate Support.” Access and Equity in Graduate Writing Support Special Issue of Praxis: a Writing Center Journal. December 2016.
Cirillo-McCarthy, Erica. “Kairos & Stasis in Writing Center Administration.” Academic Exchange Quarterly 18.4 Special Issue on Writing Center Theory and Practice (Winter) 2014.
Goldberg, Wendy. "Center Stage: Performing the Culture of Writing at Stanford." Creative Approaches to Writing Center Work eds. Kevin Dvorak and Shanti Bruce. Creskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 2008.
Hanlon-Baker, Patti and Clyde Moneyhun. "Tutoring Teachers." The Writing Lab Newsletter. 36.9-10 (May/June 2012): 2-5.
Jordan, Zandra L. “Womanist Curate, Cultural Rhetorics Curation, and Antiracist, Racially Just Writing Center Administration." The Peer Review, vol. 4, no. 2, 2020.
Lee, Sohui. "The Idea of a Multi-literacy Center: Six Responses." With Jackie Grutsch McKinney, David Sheridan, Nancy Grimm, Naomi Silver, Valerie Balester. Praxis: A Writing Center Journal 9.2 (2012).
Lee Sohui. Writing Centers and New Media: Digital Literacies in Multimodal Spaces. Edited with Russell Carpenter. Routledge, 2013.
Lunsford, Andrea. "Collaboration, Control, and the Idea of a Writing Center." The Writing Center Journal. 12.1 (1991): 3-10.
Lunsford, Andrea. "Some Millennial Thoughts about the Future of Writing Centers." With Lisa Ede. The Writing Center Journal. 20.2 (2000): 32-37.
Lunsford, Andrea. "Collaboration, Community, and Compromise: Writing Centers in Theory and Practice." With Lisa Ede. Writing Together. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2012: 370-386.
Peterson Pittock, Sarah, and Erica Cirillo-McCarthy, “Let’s Meet in the Lounge: Toward a Cohesive Tutoring Pedagogy in a Writing and Speaking Center.” How We Teach Writing Tutors: A WLN Digital Edited Collection, Ed. Karen Johnson and Ted Roggenbuck (2019).
Peterson Pittock, Sarah. “Inclusion Takes Effort: What Inclusive Approaches to Writing Tutoring Can Bring to Writing in the Disciplines.” The Writing Across the Curriculum Journal 29 (2018), 88-111.
Tinker, John. "Vagrant Sympathies: From Stylistic Analysis to A Pedagogy of Style." Style. 37.1 (Spring 2003).
Tinker, John. "Generating Cultures of Writing: Collaborations between the Stanford Writing Center and High School Writing Centers." The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues, and Ideas 80 (2006): 89-91.