2017 Conference Wrap Up

Thank you to Joe Varga and this year’s organizing committee for hosting an incredibly rich and successful conference.  The CFP for next year is available.  Hope to see everyone at Stony Brook!


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Conference Day Two, Thursday 6/1

The day began with plenary speaker Josh Pacewicz (Sociology, Brown University) who spoke on Rust Belt Populism during the 2008 and 2012 elections and continued with a discussion by Michael Zweig and Sherry Linkon on working-class voters and the Trump election.  The day ended with a Presidential Plenary led by past-presidents Christie Launius and Tim Strangleman, president-elect Terry Easton, and current president Michele Fazio.

2017 WCSA Conference at Indiana University at Bloomington is underway!

The Working-Class Studies 2017 Conference, “Class Struggle: Race, Gender, and Revolution,” began with its annual Meet & Greet on Wednesday evening.  It was a large turnout of new and familiar faces.  A film screening of “The Killing Floor” followed at the IU Cinema.

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Call for Papers: The Journal of Working-Class Studies Special Issue, December 2017

The Journal of Working-Class Studies Special Issue, December 2017: The Poverty of Academia: Exploring the (Intersectional) Realities of Working Class Academics

Educational attainment is often framed as positive, having the liberatory potential to free the socio-economically marginalized from their constraints. There is little if ever any mention of the unchained slavery of debt and low wages that ties working-class academics to perpetual bondage. Once working class academics become subsumed into the Ivory Tower, assumptions of class privilege are immediately attached to their bodies: they are perceived as solidly middle class. But many individuals within academic settings occupy marginal positions. This marginalization has led to the creative use and understanding of an “outsider within” status.  This special issue attempts to uncover the influences of class status (among other axes of identity) on academics who still occupy this socioeconomically disadvantaged position. Far too often, these stories exist in siloes of private messages, listservs, and Facebook groups. This CFP hopes to move these singular stories of pain and struggle to a forum where the commonalities among these stories as well as the structural influences sustaining these realities can be collectively recognized.

As Deborah Warnock (2016) illustrates, working-class academics describe the precarious nature of their existences inside the tower. In the work she conducted, she identified five key themes that comprise the marginal existence of working-class academics: 1) alienation, 2) lack of cultural capital, 3) encountering stereotypes and microaggressions, 4) experiencing survivor guilt and the impostor syndrome, and 5) struggling to pass in a middle-class culture that values ego and networking. Two additional narratives are also emerging as part of this interlocking web of marginality: student debt and increased exploitation of adjunct labor.

This special issue, continuing along the path charted by Warnock and others, seeks to center these working class scholar narratives. We pay particular attention to the intersecting reality of working class scholars, highlighting the impossible web that many women, LGBT individuals, disabled scholars, people of color, religious minorities, etc. navigate to exist within academia.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Publishing AND perishing
  • Negotiating while Woman
  • Cultural capital
  • Employment and debt​ (including student loan debt)
  • Parenting while poor and professor
  • Navigating immigration
  • Failed academic job search/ faltering academic job market
  • Demands of travel (relocation, conference travel, speaking, etc)
  • Family (broadly defined) (changing relationships, perceptions of family/by family, finances)
  • (Hiding) Class and sexuality
  • Class concerns at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions
  • Negotiating want vs need/ relative poverty
  • Part time/contingent/adjunct faculty income/debt
  • Perceptions of competence (impostor syndrome)
  • Sharing/community building
  • Stigma (covert or overt)
  • “Bad and Boujee”
  • “All poor but the Prez”

We endeavour to publish timely as well as academically rigorous articles, therefore the deadline for submissions is September 1st 2017. Send submissions and inquiries to academicpoverty@gmail.com.

WCSA President-Elect’s Book Published

Terry Easton’s new book, Raising Our Voices, Breaking the Chain: The Imperial Hotel Occupation as Prophetic Politics has been published through Open Door Community Press.

This oral-history based book tells the dramatic story of how, in June 1990, a one-day action to bring attention to rising homelessness and lack of affordable housing in Atlanta transformed into a sixteen-day occupation of the abandoned Imperial Hotel. Over 300 homeless people and their advocates were vital to the action. This book also demonstrates how the occupation spurred affordable housing development in the 1990s and beyond. Rev. Tim McDonald, Pastor of First Iconium Baptist Church, says Raising Our Voices, Breaking the Chain is an “authentic, powerful, moving retelling of an epic time in the history of Atlanta when the issue of homelessness was taken to another level.” Historian Todd Moye writes, “Raising Our Voices, Breaking the Chain is a gem. The story of the Imperial Hotel takeover–told through the voices of the women and men who conceived and executed the takeover themselves, alongside Terry Easton’s insightful analysis–contains countless lessons for anyone who would act to end homelessness and make American cities just a little more democratic.”

Please contact Terry Easton at terry.easton@ung.edu to request a copy of this book in exchange for a $10 tax-deductable donation to the Open Door Community.

Henkel Presents on Land Grant Universities and Working Class Students

Scott Henkel gave a presentation on May 8th at the University of Wyoming on the theme of “an education good enough for the proudest and open to the poorest.” The presentation is available at this link. Some of the presentation is Wyoming-specific, but much of it is more widely relevant to working class studies, as it tells a part of his working class story, and includes arguments for increasing access and support for working class students.

Updates on Conference Events

The WCSA is hosting a number of events at its upcoming conference in Bloomington:

  • The annual Meet & Greet event will be held Wednesday, May 31 from 5:30- 7 pm at Nick’s English Hut located at 423 E Kirkwood Ave in Bloomington (a short walk from the center of campus). We encourage everyone to stop by and meet new and returning members. Enjoy some appetizers on us!
  • Two “Action Gathering” panel sessions hosted by members of the WCSA Steering Committee will be held on Thursday at 3:30 – 4:45 pm and Friday 1:45 – 3:15 pm. Everyone is encouraged to attend and engage in ongoing conversations about growing the field of working-class studies.
  • A presidential plenary session led by Past-Presidents Tim Strangleman and Christie Launius, President-elect Terry Easton, and current President Michele Fazio to facilitate a discussion on future directions of the WCSA has been scheduled for Thursday from 5:15 – 6:30 pm.
  • Our Membership Meeting is scheduled for Friday at 12:15 pm.  All are welcome to attend to learn more about the WCSA and hear updates from the Steering Committee. Folks are encouraged to bring lunch.