Friday, September 6, 2019
September 6, 2019: Academic Labor: Further Reading
[Usually around this time I’d be sharing Fall Semester Preview posts. I’m on sabbatical, so no teaching for me this Fall; instead I thought I’d connect Labor Day to issues of academic labor this week. Leading up to a special weekend tribute post!]
A handful of the many texts and sites (in no particular order) that can help us continue thinking about and advocating for issues of academic labor:
1) Contingent magazine: Well, I lied—I did make one choice about the order of these five items, and that’s to start with one that doesn’t focus in its content on issues of academic labor. Instead, what makes this new public history magazine so important is that it is dedicated to publishing the voices and work of contingent faculty, and similarly is largely edited and run by colleagues in contingent positions (which makes becoming a donor to help keep the magazine going that much more vital). Publishing as an academic is difficult in all circumstances, but it can at times be nearly impossible for adjunct faculty, and this wonderful new publication represents a direct attempt to respond to and change those realities.
2) New Faculty Majority: As I wrote on Tuesday, adjunct unionization has begun to become a genuine possibility in many places, and I am entirely here for it. But up until recently it wasn’t really possible (and it’s still not in many other places), and in the meantime NFM has for more than a decade been offering examples of both solidarity and labor activism for adjunct and contingent faculty around the country. I know I’m asking for money a good bit in this post (not my general MO, at least), but this is another organization that can really benefit from every donation, and more exactly our most precarious colleagues can benefit from them.
3) Adjunct Nation: The Adjunct Nation website also features various forms of legal and labor advocacy and activism, but it’s also more of a journalistic and community site, one that features numerous voices engaging with topics as widespread as news coverage, book reviews, job postings, pedagogical tips and strategies, and more. To reiterate Wednesday’s post, these are the kinds of conversations and issues that every scholarly organization (and every academic institution) should be featuring and sharing as well, but it’s not either-or, and a site like Adjunct Nation offers a great deal for all faculty members.
4) James M. Lang and Josh Eyler: Academic labor isn’t just about adjunct and contingent issues, of course, and it would be dangerous to pretend that these conversations don’t affect us all in multiple key ways. One way to push back on those narratives is to read the folks who are writing most thoughtfully about academic labor, teaching and learning, and related questions, and Lang and Eyler are two of those current voices for sure (as is my FSU colleague Kisha Tracy). Voices that have a great deal to tell us about our current academy as well as overarching and longstanding topics.
5) Hua Hsu’s “The Professor and the Adjunct”: Just one review essay in one magazine (albeit one by one of our best public scholarly journalistic voices in Hsu), but a great example of both the burgeoning body of writing on adjunct and contingent labor and of the fundamental questions that can be asked and engaged through reading those works. I hope in a small way this week’s series has added something to those continued and crucial conversations.
Special tribute post this weekend,
PS. What do you think?