Epideictic Piece in the Chronicle about IA

Amanda says that everyone has linked to this story in the Chronicle about Invisible Adjunct. I'm embarrassed to be so slow on the uptake, but thought I would comment on it since I recently posted a paper I wrote about the Chronicle and IA.

The article is nice, quite an encomium. It's written by Scott Smallwood, the same staff writer who interviewed Jill Carroll in an article titled, "Less Whining, More Teaching: Jill Carroll, a Proud Part-Timer, Thinks Many Adjuncts Need a New Attitude." (Subscribers only.) Of course I know that Smallwood shouldn't be held accountable for writing a rather celebratory piece on adjuncts' embracing capitalism and entrepreneurship, as the one on Carroll is. (Interestingly enough, he quotes IA's response to that article: "'For all practical intents and purposes, the adjunct is a low-wage worker without benefits who can be hired and fired at will,' she once wrote. 'So in what way can the adjunct be an entrepreneur, except in his or her own mind?'" but doesn't provide the context.) He's writing for a specific publication with specific generic conventions that, I still argue, uphold the status quo. True, he characterizes the hiring system as "broken," but it remains the case that most of the Chronicle's inculcations about academic labor are jeremiads, not radical critiques such as IA's weblog.


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You might find Kevin Walzer's take on this article interesting.

(Link either from my blog or the Invisible Adjunct Channel.)

Thanks, Rana

I definitely find Kevin's post very well-put; thanks for pointing me to it. I've been meaning to add him to my blogroll, and Timothy Burke, but haven't yet gotten around to it. :o

Village voice touches on this issue

Generation Debt - the New Economics of Being Young: Wanted: Really Smart Suckers
by Anya Kamenetz
Grad school provides exciting new road to poverty

Enjoyed reading your comments

Carroll's real issue is that she has a valuable niche subject. In many ways she is the adjunct version of a PhD in Business (a field with ten openings for every seven graduates). Unfortunately, for most adjuncts, who teach in areas where there is not a shortage, nor where any single institution does not have enough of a class load to justify a prof in the area, her advice is a poor fit.

She has acknowledged this, but feels that developing some sort of business sense and a positive attitude is a better approach if one is going to adjunct than the hopelessness that is probably more realistic.

What is really needed is an external counterforce, probably in the form of trying to reach kids who can bail out of the programs with a masters degree and go to law school. In fact, at some law schools, a masters degree is becoming more and more common (and may well become the new entry requirement for upper tier schools).

That would provide a resolution of sorts.

Another thing is that there ought to be, somewhere, a discipline of adjunct studies, either in sociology or theory of education or anthropology.

My thoughts.


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