Hypothetical Seminar for English Departments Using Graduate Teaching Labor

I put this together more as a provocation and thinking-tool than as an actual working syllabus, since it’d be, uh, laborious to squeeze—even tightly—into a 15-week semester. I’ve also been inspired by seeing the insightful work of some of my amazing current and former WSU colleagues, work from which these ideas derive and depart in ways that make the flaws and faults in what follows mine alone. Call it old-school and somewhat arbitrary at alphabetized 10 shorter and 10 longer, but I guess part of what I’m posing here is: if I’ve shamefully and myopically overlooked a certain essential text that more perfectly fits into the framework implied below, what would you cut first in order to replace with your candidate, and why? And what kinds of sequencings might you imagine?

The politics herein may prompt eye-rolling.If that’s the case, I can only offer a mea culpa and suggest putting it under a Straussian reading, if you’re into that sort of thing😉.

Shorter readings:

Longer readings:

Midterm project:

As a group, the seminar members will submit a collaborative project (in whatever genre and media are rhetorically appropriate) that connects (1) course readings from the first half of the semester to (2) your own individual and collective research in order to (3) meaningfully integrate and synthesize responses to some of the following questions.

  • What are the relevant conditions, histories, theories, practices, and policies around the academic labor movements (international, US, Pacific Northwest) of the past 40 years?
  • Where, when, and how has graduate student unionization worked and not worked?
  • How does work on academic labor intersect with diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives?
  • What have been the historical risks and problems associated with the academic labor movement?
  • What work are graduate students in English-related disciplines doing on academic labor at other universities?
  • What are the public rhetorics surrounding the academic labor movement?

The collectively-authored project should have a clear audience, purpose, and organization. It must cite its sources in an appropriate academic format. It can employ whatever asynchronous digital modalities or media or forms the group considers appropriate. You will also turn in an individual methodological reflection where you quantify the time you spent on the project using some sufficiently precise technology. Doing so in the context of methodological reflection may inform your perspective on how much future work would be required for your proposal to be implemented.

Final project:

  • An early draft of a publishable article or grant proposal or white paper or video documentary or archive/curation or publicity/propaganda/public advocacy campaign. 4000–6000 words of submission-quality prose or the time-labor equivalent in whatever media are rhetorically appropriate. Co-authored or collaboratively-authored projects, of the appropriately similar individual levels of contribution (so 2 people would be like 8000–12000 words or the time-labor equivalent), are possible.
  • A brief reflection on our work over the course of the semester, including some consideration of (1) your own individual work practices, (2) academic work practices more generally (at the levels of seminar, department, institution, discipline, or you get the idea), and (3) instances where those practices resonated or intersected with specific quotations from the readings or discussions. A few paragraphs of text.
Hypothetical Seminar for English Departments Using Graduate Teaching Labor