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Around the Columns

Writing on a wave

Amy Lannin
Amy Lannin now leads MU’s Campus Writing Program, which supports more than 300 writing-intensive courses. Photo by Nicholas Benner

Writing is a “generative process” of discovery for Amy Lannin, assistant professor in English education and the new director of MU’s Campus Writing Program. But when she logged onto her Facebook account recently to discover a post from one of her former middle school students, that description took on a new meaning.

“His message was, ‘Remember in eighth grade when I told you that I would send you a copy of my first book?’ ” Lannin says, beaming with pride. “ ‘I need your address.’ ”

Lannin taught English at the middle school and high school levels, taught courses at Peru (Nebraska) State College and co-facilitated the Nebraska Writing Project in the ’90s. Since 2003, she has been associate director of Missouri’s arm of the National Writing Project, a network of 200 sites throughout the country that dedicate themselves to improving the teaching of writing.

Although she is taking over a successful and nationally recognized program that provides support for MU’s more than 300 writing-intensive courses, she sees some ways in which the program can improve.

“People need to know about us,” Lannin says. “We need to make connections with other campus programs, such as educational technologies and service learning.”

In addition to the faculty writing workshops in which instructors compose and tweak syllabi and classroom assignments, Lannin looks forward to faculty writing retreats. Working from the historic Conley House, the program will open its doors one Friday a month and provide snacks and coffee to faculty who wish to confer about projects or simply write, undisturbed.

“If I start writing and allow myself to keep at it, I’ll discover something,” Lannin says. “Maybe it’s a poem one day, an academic article, something for publication or even a memoir. You may not know that you are going to go in a direction, but as you write, things start to tumble out. It’s that surprise and discovery.”