Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Navigation

Will Teach for Food

Academic Labor in Crisis

1997

Cary Nelson, editor
Foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich

Book Default Image

A compelling examination of the human cost of today’s corporate colleges and universities.

This compelling examination provides a clarion call to academic workers, summoning them to take action against the continued decline in working conditions on American campuses. “Will Teach for Food exposes the myths and reveal what people employed at all levels of academic life are doing to improve their own futures and the future of the American university.” --David Montgomery, Yale University.

Contributors: Stanley Aronowitz, Michael Bérubé, Daniel Czitrom, Robin D. G. Kelley, Duncan Kennedy, Kathy M. Newman, Linda Pratt, Corey Robin, Andrew Ross, Ellen Schrecker, Michelle Stephens, James D. Sullivan, Karen Thompson, Stephen Watt, John Wilhelm, and Rick Wolff.

“By bringing together persuasive stories and useful analyses, Will Teach for Food serves as a useful text in academic labor education.” Composition Studies

Academic labor has never been more vulnerable to exploitation, or more galvanized into action. Threats to tenure, job shortages for new Ph.D.s, and an increasing reliance on poorly paid graduate students and adjunct faculty for teaching are the harsh reality on campuses across the nation. Will Teach for Food provides a clarion call to academic workers, summoning them to take action against the continued decline in working conditions on American campuses.

When graduate students at Yale University held a “grade strike” during the 1995-96 academic year, they were protesting policies such as downsizing, subcontracting, and outsourcing-strategies currently wreaking havoc on the larger U.S. workforce. The debates at Yale mirror those on many campuses: whether graduate student teaching assistants are students or employees of the university; whether faculty are management or staff; what constitutes a reasonable teaching load and fair compensation.

In Part I of Will Teach for Food, participants describe the Yale student strike and examine what workers on other campuses can learn from this action. In Part II, activists and scholars place the challenge to academic workers in the context of U.S. labor history and assess the impact of university “corporatization” on the communities that surround them and on higher education as a whole.

Contributors: Stanley Aronowitz, CUNY; Michael Bérubé, U of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Daniel Czitrom, Mount Holyoke College; Robin D. G. Kelley, New York U; Duncan Kennedy, Harvard Law School; Kathy M. Newman, Linda Pratt, U of Nebraska; Corey Robin; Andrew Ross,
New York U; Ellen Schrecker, Yeshiva U; Michelle Stephens; James D. Sullivan; Karen Thompson, Rutgers U; Stephen Watt, Indiana U; John Wilhelm; Rick Wolff, U of Massachusetts.

Book Default Image

Cary Nelson is Jubilee Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois. He is the editor and author of numerous books, including Manifesto of a Tenured Radical (1997).

Book Default Image

“By bringing together persuasive stories and useful analyses, Will Teach for Food serves as a useful text in academic labor education.” Composition Studies

“Higher education is being restructured to suit the needs and myths of the so-called ‘free market’ economy. These essays expose the myths and reveal what people employed at all levels of academic life are doing to improve their own futures and the future of the American university.” David Montgomery, Yale University

Whether or not one is interested in higher education, this book is a great read for those who get off on corporate porn. It exposes the lurid spectacle of profs and grad students-drowsily emerging from their library cubicle

being gang-banged by corporate thugs who cry poverty as they pick the pockets of their confused prey.

“Will Teach for Food is a book that every grad student, part-timer, and even full professor doesn’t want to read, but should. Urgent? Yes. Bleak? Surprisingly not. The collection offers arguments, analyses, and advice to those who are, in Aronowitz’s words, ‘agents of a new educational immagination.” The Texas Observer

“That graduate students are in fact part-time employees and apprentice scholars, explains Cary Nelson, is a symptom of the labor crisis wreaking havoc on the university. . . . In Will Teach for Food, Nelson assembles essays by professors and graduate students from many disciplines, mixing long views of academic labor with post mortems on the failed 1995 grade strike organized by graduate students at Yale.” In These Times

“This is a critical issue, much of the information is useful, and the introductory overviews and concluding articles are excellent.” Choice

“The contributors are teachers, tenured, part-time and unemployed; union organizers and activists; public intellectuals and graduate students. These categories are clearly not exclusive. Many of the contributors are several of these at once: what they all share is that they are all workers. The cumulative effect of these essays is to point out that even while the number of students may be increasing, the number of tenure track positions is declining, rapidly. the apprentice metaphor is no longer universally applicable, collegiality is non-existent at several levels, and the new university is a post-Fordist one in which trustees, often the same corporate executives who are rapidly firing employees to increase already bloated corporate profits, are now turning their attention to the college and university labor force.” Against the Current

Nelson has succeeded in producing a timely and much-needed look at the current crisis afflicting labor in higher education. The collection is a valuable effort on a serious problem with potentially long-lasting and far-reaching repercussions.

Labor Studies Journal

Will Teach for Food provides a clarion call to academic workers, summoning them to take action against the continued decline in working conditions on American campuses.

Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society