NeMLA 2023 Roundtable CFP: Resilience, Failure, and Academic Identity

Kelly Minerva's picture
Call for Papers
September 30, 2022
New York, United States
Subject Fields: 
Women's & Gender History / Studies

This roundtable session is interested in resilience as a form of individual emotional labor that, like all emotional labor according to Arlie Russell Hochschild, places unequal demands on faculty who are untenured, contingent, or who identify in historically-marginalized identity categories. Academic identities are tied to the production of scholarly projects, and, according to Skovholt and Trotter-Mathison, one of the many benefits of resilience is that it can “stabilize or even increase work productivity” (Rozelle-Stone, 2020). Thus resilience focused on scholarly output can exacerbate already-exploited academic labor (Brouillette, 2014; Tokumitsu, 2015). Neoliberal capitalist labor markets can manipulate resilience to keep academics who identify in historically-marginalized identity groups focused on our individual abilities to bounce back after an academic failure, instead of demanding change in unsustainable workplaces or to discriminatory peer review processes.

How and why do we fail and when is it ok to admit our academic failures? How and when do narratives of resilience demand that we rewrite failures into successes? Can we refuse resilience? Are calls to bounce back after a rejection akin to a mythology of women trying to “have it all”? How do Fred Motten and Stefano Harney’s undercommons or the growing visibility and support for alt ac careers offer strategies of resistance? To what extent is resistance the same as resilience? To what extent are the demands of resilience gendered, racist, or ableist? When is failure an option? What institutional policies interfere with resilience? What is the relationship between resilience and imposter syndrome? How can we support one another through failures?

Building on previous WGSC sessions on mentorship, this roundtable asks participants to share their (incomplete) stories of failures in order to build community as we investigate how we manage when things fall apart.

Please submit 200-word abstract and a brief bio to the NeMLA portal:

Contact Info: 

Kelly Minerva, Utica University

Contact Email: