Monday, April 6, 2015

The Hierarchy of Humanities Schadenfreude

Slate Magazine
April 1st, 2015

Carmen Maria Machado had a writing professor named Harvey Grossinger who changed her life. So profound was his influence that he inspired her to become a writer herself. Her article “O Adjunct! My Adjunct!”, which appeared recently in the New Yorker, is a testament to Grossinger’s legacy—part living elegy, part call to arms for adjunct professors, in whose ranks he labored, poorly paid, and without benefits or job security. “What I wouldn’t figure out for the better part of [a] decade,” Machado writes, “was that Harvey was an adjunct. He didn’t tell us, and I didn’t know to ask.” She’d never even heard the term adjunct before, which is part of the reason she now finds herself in a similar position, for a similar pittance. “The adjuncts who teach well despite the low pay and the lack of professional support may inspire in their students a similar passion—prompting them to be financially taken advantage of in turn,” she writes. “It strikes me as a grim perversion of the power of teaching.”

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