NeMLA 2023 Session on Adjunct Faculty and Resilience

Maria Plochocki's picture
Call for Papers
September 30, 2022
New York, United States
Subject Fields: 
Composition & Rhetoric, Cultural History / Studies, Graduate Studies, Humanities, Literature
The NorthEastern Modern Language Association (NeMLA) will be holding its next conference 23 - 6 Mar., 2023, in Niagara Falls, NY; as usual, there's an exciting line-up of sessions of all types. The deadline for submitting abstracts is 30 Sept. 2022.
I'm co-chairing the following session:

This roundtable discussion will focus on the lived experiences of contingent faculty. In particular, we plan to address the limits of resiliency and how it can be a weakness that is used against some adjuncts. In addition, we will explore the ways that resiliency can also be as a force for change, leading to unionization efforts and activism.

This topic is both timely and important. Higher Education institutions employ large numbers of part-time faculty and full-time, non-tenure track faculty members---collectively referred to as “contingent” faculty. A decade ago, The American Association of University Professors reported that 75% of all faculty positions in U.S. higher education were off the tenure track and 60% were part-time appointments. Ten years have passed, but little has changed. In fact, the situation has only intensified with institutions closely monitoring enrollment numbers, coping with dwindling resources, and cutting costs.

In the humanities, contingent faculty often teach large sections of gatekeeper courses, such as first-year writing / English Composition. They face low compensation, few benefits, lack of job security, and sometimes exploitive treatment and isolation within the academy. However, despite it all, contingent faculty have remained resilient, unionizing and fighting for job protection, shared governance, and improved working conditions: “The militant strain of contingent faculty culture is having an impact on the culture of the tenured and their unions” (Bousquet, p.106).

In this roundtable discussion, we hope to hear the “voices” of all types of contingent faculty and engage in a dialogue about how they remain resilient in an environment where they must balance student success initiatives and institutional priorities while, at the same time, facing uncertain futures and marginalization on campus.

We welcome participation from those who fit into any of the categories below:

* Visiting professors and post docs with temporary appointments
* Independent Scholars who continue to teach and publish with little institutional support
* Adjuncts teaching heavy loads on multiple campuses, often teaching large sections of English Composition
* Two-year college faculty, charged with teaching gatekeeper humanities courses to underprepared students
* Career Adjuncts who have taught languages and literature since graduating---sometimes decades ago

American Association of University Professors (AAUP), (2012). The Inclusion in Governance of Faculty Members Holding Contingent Appointments. Retrievedfrom

Bousquet, M. (2006). We are teachers hear us roar: Contingent faculty author an activist culture. Cinema Journal, 45(4), 97-107.

Kezar, A., & Sam, C. (2010b). Understanding the new majority of non-tenure-track faculty in higher education: Demographics, experiences and plans of action. ASHE Higher Education Report Series, 36(4). San Francisco, CA: Wiley. Periodicals, Inc. at Jossey Bass.

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