Media Attention to the Adjunct Plight: Helpful or Harmful?

Maria Plochocki's picture

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September 30, 2019
Massachusetts, United States
Subject Fields: 
Composition & Rhetoric, Cultural History / Studies, Humanities, Labor History / Studies, Literature

The 51st Annual Convention of the NorthEastern Modern Language Association will be held 5 - 8 Mar., 2020, in Boston, MA. Please consider submitting a proposal fo the below roundtable, and circulate this announcement widely:

In the last few years, attention to the adjunct plight, to include poverty-level pay, limited job security, as well as lack of respect for us personally and acknowledgement of our professional credentials and accomplishments, seems to have intensified, reflected in a variety of media outlets, from more liberal ones like The Atlantic and Washington Post to even the ultraconservative Fox News. Though, to adjuncts, some of these revelations are no news and, in fact, only recap what we’ve long known and experienced, they are shocking to some, from students who question the purpose of pursuing higher education and/ or adjunct professors’ authority and fitness to teach to, of course, parents and others who invest in educational institutions by paying tuition and taxes. The spectrum of responses evoked by these revelations has also been broad, from the aforementioned shock and sympathy to victim-blaming. So is this media attention helping or hurting our cause – for ex., exerting pressure on lawmakers and administrators to improve our working conditions or exposing those who speak out to retaliation and ridicule? What impact is this attention having on higher education more broadly? For ex., could it lead some to wonder whether it’s worth investing effort and funding in, which could lead to further cutbacks and even dismantling? Papers examining specific case studies, as well as treating the issue more broadly, are sought.

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Maria Plochocki


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