MLA 2013 Convention and the Year of the Adjunct

MLA Boston 2013

Did you feel it?

During the first weekend of 2013, Boston pulsed to the beat of the adjunct. At the MLA 2013 Convention, you couldn’t turn around without hearing about contingent faculty issues in one form or another.

It all began on Thursday evening when the convention kicked off with the historic, first-ever all-adjunct presidential forum. Outgoing MLA President Michael Bérubé presided over a panel that consisted of New Faculty Majority Executive Director Maria Maisto; Beth Landers, a French professor at the University of Missouri; and Bob Samuels, president of the California AFT University Council and a lecturer at UCLA. What an honor it was for me to speak in the company of these great leaders and teachers.

I had the privilege of opening the forum and beginning what will become one of the most important weekends in history for adjunct justice.

The massive ballroom contained the largest audience I’ve ever addressed, and I confess to being a little nervous. I knew, though, that I had to record the audio of my speech, even if it would be one more thing to worry about. After all, most of the people interested in hearing it couldn’t afford to fly to Boston and attend the conference.

The audio worked out pretty well. Better than I thought it would, in fact. I had my recorder right next to the pages, so you will hear them as they turn, but other than that, everything is pretty clear. In the first minute or so, you’ll hear Bérubé introducing us and then I start at about the 1:20 mark. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. Hope you agree. You’ll see the audio player at the end of the post or you can listen here now.

More on Adjuncts From MLA 2013

But my speech was just one of many during this MLA 2013 weekend. Maisto, Landers, and Samuels all gave excellent presentations, as well. Several panels also featured discussions and papers on adjunct labor. Then there was, of course, Bérubé’s presidential address, a rousing call to action and passionate defense of the humanities and those who teach them–all those who teach them, including and especially those who do it for next to nothing.

As soon as he finished speaking, the place erupted. Maria Maisto and I stood up and the rest of the ballroom followed. The speech was well-worthy of the standing O, as was Michael Bérubé for all the work he has done for adjuncts and for the future of university faculty. Audio of Bérubé’s address should be available soon on the MLA website.

As if all this wasn’t enough, The Chronicle of Higher Education and I released the new version of the Adjunct Project to much excitement and buzz. Editor Liz McMillen and I fielded questions and listened to stories during a reception on Saturday, while two marketing professionals from The Chronicle deftly conducted demonstrations of the new site. It was more than I ever could have imagined last February when we adjuncts built our spreadsheet. We’ve come a long way and our level of public exposure continues to grow.

Read more about the weekend and MLA 2013 from William Pannapacker in The End of MLAlienation and What if the Adjuncts Shrugged?

Also, more on the Adjunct Project at Adjunct Project Reveals Wide Range in Pay and MLA Sessions Keep the Focus on Adjuncts.

Were any of you at the conference or following it on Twitter? What were your high points?

My MLA 2013 Presidential Forum Speech:

MLA 2013 Speech


  1. Was extremely proud of you, Josh. Wish you could have caught the CLIP sessions. Sorry I missed you at the booth….

  2. Josh, You gave a very well organized and detailed account of the work and findings of the Adjunct Project. I applaud your effort and I thank you.

  3. Yes, thanks for the audio, much appreciated and very well receive – I wish more had thought to make one, but I’m saving your ez how to description to remind all and sundry about recording themselves so we can share and stash in the cloud to get back to. Works both ways too ~ maybe you could send/post an audio/video for or Skype in for other conferences you can’t attend. Did the Chronicle tape the site tour?

    1. Things were a little nerve-wracking during the setup. I thought about trying to record everyone, but, as you can hear from B

  4. I think MLA recorded the whole session, so let’s wait and see when/where it might be available. But Josh is right — we need to take the initiative on making these kinds of event accessible to faculty who don’t have the resources to travel to academic conferences. Lobby for MLA to live stream? CFHE did it for their May 2011 campaign launch!

  5. But do it better… the CFHE was not accessible everywhere, took special software to access and not on just any computer. They went with expensive HD commercial quality. That was why they recommended making arrangement to get together to view. Plus no transcripts or audio. The ESL people meet up and confer from all around the world with needing to drop a bundle to do it.

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