|CFP: Writing Work/Faculty Work:
Literacy and Labor in the Managed University.
Edited by Marc Bousquet, Tony Scott, and Leo Parascondola.
(Some of the papers in this collection will appear in the Spring 2001 volume of Workplace: A Journal For Academic Labor [http://www.workplace-gsc.com], as part of a special issue devoted to composition work. Expanded versions of those items, together with many new pieces, will be prepared in book form later that year. A partial list of those who have already indicated an interest in contributing includes: Richard Ohmann, James Sledd, Jennifer Trainor and Amanda Godley, Steve Parks, Bill Thelin, Ira Shor, Kurt Spellmeyer, William Hendricks, Gary Olson, Chris Suggs, Ray Watkins, Greg Meyerson, Laura Sullivan, Jessica Yood, Karen Thompson and Eileen Schell.
As composition has disciplinarized and professionalized over the past thirty years, the working conditions of most of the people who actually teach college writing has steadily worsened. Though composition has always generally professed a politically progressive orientation, many of the people who do composition scholarship find that they are being asked to supervise, theorize and legitimate the increasing degradation of the scene of college writing. Nearly all composition classes are taught by sub-, para- and non-faculty, many of whom work primarily out of their homes or cars, enjoy few benefits, and earn wages at the poverty level. Few literacy workers have active research lives, participate in governance, or enjoy the system of rewards and protections that encourage innovation and guarantee academic freedom. The disciplinarization of composition, marked by a great blossoming and new vitality in rhet-comp scholarship, has been accompanied by the near-total conversion of composition work to a system of flexible managed labor-so that, despite a great increase in rhet-comp Ph.Ds, a college writing student is more likely today than at any time since the 19th century to be taught by someone who does not hold a doctorate.
Writing is the single largest occupation of every category of higher-education teacher without traditional faculty control over their labor: adjunct lecturers, graduate student employees, nontenure-track instructors. Writing instructors are overwhelmingly white and female, on average older than other college teachers, and owe the smallest percentage of their total earned income to the university of any other postsecondary teaching group. The one thing that a composition instructor and her students are most likely to have in common is the experience of flexible work. What would happen if this shared experience of contingency were foregrounded in both pedagogy and politics? In what ways is the composition discourse a management discourse, producing metanarratives that legitimate the degradation of academic labor? What kind of literacy is produced in the scene of managed labor?
Nearly every participant in the composition conversation would like to see writing instructors become "more like" faculty-to have the chance to govern, enjoy an intellectual life and develop as an instructor, as well as enjoy better pay, benefits, protections, and security. But this hasn't translated into a consensus among compositionists that the writing instructors whose work they theorize and supervise should actually be faculty. Why not? Isn't writing work faculty work?
Proposed essays that explore any aspect of the working lives of composition teachers, the learning conditions of their students, or the status of labor in the rhet-comp discourse are warmly welcomed. Please send a working title and short description of the proposed project by September 30 to Tony Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org (that's a *zero* before the "2" in the email address)
or by snail mail: Tony Scott, University of Louisville, Department of English, Louisville KY 40292.