Critical University Studies in the Age of the Adjunct - ACLA 2015 Seattle (March 26-29, 2015)

full name / name of organization: 
Ian Butcher, Duquesne University
contact email: 

With the increased prominence of movements like the New Faculty Majority and the MLA Subconference, along with the sensational cases of Margaret Mary Vojtko and Mary-Faith Cerasoli, criticism on the social/economic factors which shape the processes of higher education has emerged as an urgent and vital component of the contemporary humanities. A growing body of scholarship has placed labour issues, student debt, the job market, education funding, and resource allocation among the fundamental elements which condition the production and distribution of knowledge in not just the humanities, but the university as a whole. Along with these points, a reconsideration of the very idea of higher education (particularly in light of the commercialization of education and the growth of for-profit institutions and initiatives) has come to define a branch of scholarship that Jeffrey Williams has called "Critical University Studies." The formal announcement of this field at the beginning of the decade brought together two decades of scholarship, but with mainstream attention to its concerns at an all-time high the continued production of incisive analysis within Critical University Studies is paramount. This panel seeks to contribute to this field by considering a number of questions:

How might literary studies contribute to Critical University Studies (both in terms of scholarship and pedagogy)?

How might other critical paradigms—like Feminism, Queer Studies, and Disability Studies—shape Critical University Studies going forward?

How might Critical University Studies promote conversation between the humanities and STEM disciplines on the value of knowledge, the ethics of its production, and the idea of the contemporary university?

What conditions—disciplinary, institutional, regional—inflect issues of labour and debt and how might understanding these local conditions inform larger action?

What role might Critical University Studies play in core curricula, general education programs, and courses which reach large portions of the student body, like freshman composition?

How might the scholarship produced under the aegis of Critical University Studies be transformed into praxis beyond the necessary calls for unionization?

Submissions due by October 15, 2014 to