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A is for Adjunct
collected sightings of the academic precariat in cyberspace
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On the City as University: Occupy and the Future of Public Education

On the City as University: Occupy and the Future of Public Education | A is for Adjunct | Scoop.it

The CUNY Graduate Center Advocate writes:

 

For quite a long time now, we precariously situated students and faculty in CUNY have been practicing the art of what Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o calls “poor theory”— “maximizing the possibilities inherent in the minimum… being extremely creative and experimental in order to survive.”

 

Unable to isolate ourselves within the velvety quicksand of armchairs and seminar table solipsism, we have instead pursued a kind of crowd scholarship that jettisons “interest” for “involvement.”

 

Discussions among crowds of people—in and out of assemblies, street marches, virtual forums, shared meals, space-transformations, and yes, even jail stints—have assembled critical lessons and experiences not yet valued by scholastic frameworks of singularly rendered knowledge. Thousands have co-authored this document itself.

 

We are engaged in a process of defending our educational and social futures from a threadbare past and present.

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Rhetoric and Composition: Academic Capitalism and Cheap Teachers | Ann Larson

Rhetoric and Composition: Academic Capitalism and Cheap Teachers | Ann Larson | A is for Adjunct | Scoop.it

Excepts from long but excellent article by Ann Larson published March 3, 2012, on her blog, http://annlarson.org

 

When I enrolled in the PhD Program in English at the CUNY Graduate Center to study Composition and Rhetoric, I was idealistic about the future of the discipline and my own place in it. I believed that Comp and Rhet (as I came to call it) was asking crucial questions that were central to the mission of higher education in America. I still believe that.

 

But, after working in the field in a number of full-time and part-time positions over several years, my idealism has turned to despair at what I now regard as Composition’s great shame. It has left me to doubt that there is a place in the field for me and for many others like me.

 

As anyone who teaches college writing is probably aware, the majority of such courses are taught by contingent faculty, including adjuncts and graduate students. These workers usually receive low wages and few benefits.

.... 

The Real Problem: In Which It Turns Out that Academic Capitalism is Just Like Regular Capitalism

 

The previous discussion of disappearing full-time jobs in Composition and Rhetoric allows me to define some terms. What do I mean by the word “system” that I have been using so far?

 

Viewing contingency as a systemic problem means acknowledging that we can’t make everything better by cutting off the supply of PhDs, by encouraging veterans to retire, or by working harder for table scraps. And we certainly aren’t getting anywhere by waiting patiently for the field’s éminence grise to voluntarily develop an accurate grasp of the facts.

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But there is a way back to true relevance. Harvey’s theory of capitalism’s road to crisis suggests a new task for those who are in a better position than most to demand change. It is “the task of the educated discontented,” he writes, “to magnify the subaltern voice so that attention can be paid to the circumstances of exploitation and repression.” The well-known voices in our field must magnify the voices of their oppressed colleagues. A real “Contingency Studies” ought to start with the field’s veterans. As prominent members of the profession, it’s their responsibility to speak for and against that profession, and certainly for the next generation of scholars. These emissaries guard the gates of an academic discipline that is disintegrating. It’s time they recognized it.

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