Teaching Poor: Voices of the Academic Precariat
Graduate students, TAs, undergrads and adjunct voices all welcome.
The career of college professor, giving back to the society that provided for them through education, was once a respectable path to the middle class. That class position is now slipping through the hands of the very people who helped create it, thanks to the erosion of tenured and tenure-track positions in favor of short-term contract positions without security. What should be rags to riches stories about the power of education to lift people out of poverty by providing a pathway to better jobs have become, for many academics, stories of stagnation, downward mobility, and outright impoverishment under the burden of massive debt uncompensated for by the very academy that helped contract faculty incur it.
Teaching Poor: Voices of the Academic Precariat will be a collection of voices from the world of so-called adjunct or contract college instructors who now teach 60-75% of all college courses in the United States and are paid wages equivalent to Walmart workers. In the tradition of Studs Terkel’s Working, Teaching Poor will honor both the difficulties and the triumphs of this new class of impoverished white collar laborers in the academic trenches, detailing personal struggles with the resultant poverty produced by low wages, crushing student loan debt, lack of healthcare and retirement provisions, and the professional and cultural costs this system levies on individuals and the students they teach.
I welcome creative non-fiction, biographical essay, short stories, poems, comics and, in the spirit of hacking the academy through digital humanities, may eventually expand to multimedia and a permanent archive of work similar to Story Corps. Length can vary wildly, to as much as 7500 words for prose. Longer pieces will probably be reserved for the online archive. Please do not feel constrained to use your real name. Anonymity is guaranteed should you request it.
Here’s how it’s shaping up, roughly:
Part 1: What We Do—The Adjunct Life on the Road
Part 2: How We Do It—Lessons in the Classroom and Out
Part 3: Why We Do It—What Keeps Us Going Back
Part 4: Tenuresplaining and Other Humiliations Small and Large
Part 5: Exit Strategies: Why We Quit
Part 6: Student Voices/Experiences
Part 7: Stories of Radicalization
If what you have doesn’t seem to fit these sections, send it anyway. This project already has a good number of submissions and I will be sending out proposals shortly.
Send your submissions to Lee Kottner at firstname.lastname@example.org by July 31, 2015, please. Editing and proposal writing commences in August.