Laboring over labor

About six months ago, my friend Kevin and I realized that if we’re ever going to be promoted to full professor while maintaining our commitment to our labor activism, we need to shift our scholarly agendas so that we’re writing more about labor issues.  This realization initially led to a panel proposal for the Rhetoric Society of America, which I’ve just begun drafting.  We’re now starting to cook up a proposal for next year’s CCCC that will argue that our discipline (Composition Studies) is the “epicenter” of a renewed academic labor movement (with possible implications for the larger labor movement in the US).

Having written a dissertation and several publications/presentations since then linking peace activism and pedagogy, theorizing academic practice in terms of street-level work that mobilized me long before I became an academic, I’m back in the same place I was in 2001–needing to theorize, in somewhat academic terms, work that I’ve already been doing for years.  When I wrote the dissertation, I really resisted doing this theorizing; it felt like a distraction.  Having made my way through much of that thinking, I now realize how useful it has been and can only hope that’s true a second time.

I’ll be writing more about this and would really appreciate some conversation among any readers who are also concerned about academic labor.

2 Responses to Laboring over labor

  1. Dan says:

    I am confused. How can academic work be consider “labor”? Mao would have probably shot you and Stalin sent you to Gulag.

    Please help me understand how your plight compares to late 19th century factory or farm workers.

  2. sethkahn says:

    Dan: It doesn’t compare. I never said it did. Couldn’t agree more that Mao or Stalin would have lined us up against the wall. That’s one reason I’m not a revolutionary socialist.

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