Affective Tensions in Response

Main Article Content

Nicole I. Caswell


This article reports on a research study focused on understanding the relationship between teachers’ emotional responses and the larger contextual factors that shape response practices. Drawing from response and emotion scholarship, this article proposes affective tensions as a way for understanding the tug and pull teachers experience between what they feel they should do (mostly driven from a pedagogical perspective) and what they are expected to do (mostly driven by an institutional perspective) in a contextual moment. The case study of Kim offers an analysis of two affective tensions that emerged from her think-aloud protocol: responding to grammar/sentence errors over content and responding critically to students she likes. Kim’s case reveals the underlying affective tensions between individual emotions, cultural constructions, and institutional contexts that are being negotiated while she is responding to student writing. This article concludes with suggestions for identifying emotions and affective tensions that both influence and paralyze writing teachers’ response practices.

Article Details

How to Cite
Caswell, N. (2018). Affective Tensions in Response. Journal of Response to Writing, 4(2). Retrieved from
Featured Articles
Author Biography

Nicole I. Caswell, East Carolina University

Nicole I. Caswell is an Associate Professor of English and Director of the
University Writing Center at East Carolina University. Her research
interests include writing centers, writing assessment, and emotional
labor/work. Nicole’s research has been published in the Journal of Writing
Assessment, Academic Exchange Quarterly, The CEA Forum, and various book chapters. Her book The Working Lives of New Writing Center Directors
(coauthored with Grutsch McKinney and Jackson) was published by Utah State University Press and won the 2017 International Writing Centers Association Best Book of the Year award.