The University of Southern Denmark is offering applications for a three year PhD fellowship on Literature, unemployment and precarious labor. Advertised on The Chronicle of Higher Education, the fellowship seeks to explore the social uses of precarious literature, specifically, “forms of empathy, recognition and attachment.”
If there is no empathy for the precarious worker, then do readers have a black heart? When Duquesne professor Margaret Mary Vojtko, through circumstance and choice, dies alone on the street through a combination of systematic abuses of the system, gender bias, and her own pride, do we all merely sigh and say, so it goes? After so many years of adjunct confessionals, are we in the professoriate desensitized to the precariat story?
The only current peer reviewed article on adjunct labor is the famed, “Estimating the Cost of Justice for Adjuncts” article by Brennan and Magness, which claims saving adjuncts is too little too late. Professor Rita Felski’s project is risky and I applaud the guile it takes to approach the precariat with an academic eye. Yet, my lingering question remains: is the system so broken we must study it instead of trying to change it?