NeMLA 2020 Roundtable: They Say Alt-Ac, We Say Fight Back! Organizing for a Future in Academia and Beyond

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association
contact email: 

The current “crisis” in the academic job market was already unfolding a decade before many recent PhDs were even born. The pages of publications like the Chronicle of Higher Education are littered with grim reports on the state of the profession, jeremiads against adjunctification, glib inducements to go “alt-ac,” elegies for those lost to the academy, and of course, “quit lit” testimonials by scholars who have said goodbye to the tenure-track job market. Talk is cheap, but organizing gets the goods. Accordingly, this roundtable will explore how members of academia’s army of surplus labor are responding to this situation and what alternative futures they are already working toward. 

This session seeks proposals that address various forms of organizing, community building, and institutional innovation that scholars are undertaking both within and beyond the academy. Participants might discuss contingent faculty labor organizing, anti-austerity activism in the university, alternative sites of teaching and learning, the subversive possibilities of “alt-ac,” quit-lit as protest art, or the longer history of academics thinking and organizing outside the tenure track. Since, as Fred Moten and Stefano Harney suggest in The Undercommons, “the only possible relationship to the university today is a criminal one,” nefarious provocations to infiltrate, expropriate, and reimagine the university as we know it are especially encouraged.

This session will be a roundtable of 5-10 minute presentations followed by discussion.

Submit abstracts/proposals here by September 30, 3019:

Questions: Thomas Dichter (