inadequate futures

[012 - MLA19 CFP - Ethics in/and the Academy]

March 05, 2018 by alex christie

Katie Dyson and I are putting together a roundtable on ethics in and around the academy. In particular, we're seeking short presentations that address the ethics of our investments in the disciplinary, methodological, pedagogical, and institutional structures of the academy. How might we reimagine the academy? You'll find the full cfp below.

The academy - the porous collective of scholars working in/around higher ed institutions - has become an increasingly public site and subject of political challenge. Broader social movements and cultural reckonings with institutional racism, sexual harassment, and abuse have called on scholars and administrations to interrogate the power structures and institutional hierarchies that sustain intellectual labor and enable or inhibit scholarship. Critiques of disciplinary methods like the recent debates about hermeneutics, surface reading, and postcritique have challenged us to rethink institutional investments in core methodologies and affective attachments to critical practices. Meanwhile, for many, positions within the academy have grown increasingly precarious with widespread adjunctification, volatile job markets, and the de-funding of graduate programs, humanities departments, and education writ large. This is echoed in public distrust in the value of the humanities and the broader vocationalization of higher education.

How might these problems become sites of possibility; an opportunity to reimagine or remake the academy? Following Kathleen Fitzpatrick, how might we think of these critiques and interventions as provocations to think more generously about the collective capacity and transformative potential of our work as scholars within and beyond the academy? How can we cultivate spaces, methods, and pedagogies that grapple with rather than reproduce the limitations or power structures of the academy?

This roundtable invites papers that explore the ethics of the relationships and practices that make up the academy, our orientations towards and attachments to our objects of study, and our ability to enact change within and beyond the academy’s walls. Topics may include (but are not limited to):

  • Ethics in/and pedagogy:

    • What practices, assignments, and strategies help build more equitable classrooms?
    • How can our pedagogies be more responsive to the current political landscape?
  • Ethics in/and practice:

    • What ethical dynamics are (re)produced in our methods and practices? How might we orient them otherwise?
    • What kinds of affects are bound up in our methods and practices? What might different affective attachments make possible?
  • Ethics in/and precarity:

    • How can we cultivate more humane working and learning conditions for both students and instructors?
    • How can we build community within and beyond the classroom and the institution?

Please send ~250 word abstracts to Alex Christie ( and Katie Dyson ( by March 15th.