Contingency, Exploitation, and Solidarity: Labor and Action in English Composition

  • contingent faculty, composition studies, writing program administration, first-year composition

Edited by Seth Kahn, William B. Lalicker, and Amy Lynch-Biniek
Copy edited by Don Donahue. Designed by Mike Palmquist.

This book won the Best Book Award from the Council of Writing Program Administrators at its 2019 annual convention. Presented every two years, the award recognizes an outstanding book related to writing programs and program administration.

CoverComposition has been a microcosm of the corporatization of higher education for thirty years, with adjuncts often handling the hard work of writing instruction. We've learned enough to know that change is needed. Influenced by the efforts of organizations such as New Faculty Majority, Faculty Forward, PrecariCorps, and national faculty unions, this collection highlights action, describing efforts that have improved adjunct working conditions in English departments. The editors categorize these efforts into five threads: strategies for self-advocacy; organizing within and across ranks; professionalizing in complex contexts; working for local changes to workload, pay, and material conditions; and protecting gains.

Contributors to this collection include contingent and tenure-line faculty from private, public, and community colleges, as well as writing program administrators and writing center faculty. Their voices address contingency, exploitation, and solidarity in activist terms deriving from institutional realities and cases. Collectively, they offer creative and constructive responses that can enact labor justice and champion the disciplinary energies of all members of our collegial community.

Table of Contents

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Front Matter


Foreword. The New Faculty Majority in Writing Programs: Organizing for Change, Eileen E. Schell
DOI: 10.37514/PER-B.2017.0858.1.2

Introduction. Paths Toward Solidarity, Seth Kahn, William B. Lalicker, and Amy Lynch-Biniek
DOI: 10.37514/PER-B.2017.0858.1.3

Chapter 1. Silent Subversion, Quiet Competence, and Patient Persistence, Carol Lind and Joan Mullin
DOI: 10.37514/PER-B.2017.0858.2.0`

Chapter 2. Despair Is Not a Strategy, Anna K. Nardo and Barbara Heifferon
DOI: 10.37514/PER-B.2017.0858.2.02

Chapter 3. An Apologia and a Way Forward: In Defense of the Lecturer Line in Writing Programs, Mark McBeth and Tim McCormack
DOI: 10.37514/PER-B.2017.0858.2.03

Chapter 4. Real Faculty But Not: The Full-time, Non-tenure-track Position as Contingent Labor, Richard Colby and Rebekah Shultz Colby
DOI: 10.37514/PER-B.2017.0858.2.04

Chapter 5. Head to Head with edX?: Toward a New Rhetoric for Academic Labor, Michael Murphy
DOI: 10.37514/PER-B.2017.0858.2.05

Chapter 6. Contingency, Solidarity, and Community Building: Principles for Converting Contingent to Tenure Track, William B. Lalicker and Amy Lynch-Biniek
DOI: 10.37514/PER-B.2017.0858.2.06

Chapter 7. The Other Invisible Hand: Adjunct Labor and Economies of the Writing Center, Dani Nier-Weber
DOI: 10.37514/PER-B.2017.0858.2.07

Chapter 8. The Risks of Contingent Writing Center Directorships, Dawn Fels
DOI: 10.37514/PER-B.2017.0858.2.08

Chapter 9. The Uncertain Future of Past Success: Memory, Narrative, and the Dynamics of Institutional Change, Rolf Norgaard
DOI: 10.37514/PER-B.2017.0858.2.09

Chapter 10. Non-Tenure-Track Activism: Genre Appropriation in Program Reporting, Chris Blankenship and Justin M. Jory
DOI: 10.37514/PER-B.2017.0858.2.10

Chapter 11. Traveling on the Assessment Loop: The Role of Contingent Labor in Curriculum Development, Jacob Babb and Courtney Adams Wooten
DOI: 10.37514/PER-B.2017.0858.2.11

Chapter 12. Adjuncts Foster Change: Improving Adjunct Working Conditions by Forming an Associate Faculty Coalition (AFC), Tracy Donhardt and Sarah Layden
DOI: 10.37514/PER-B.2017.0858.2.12

Chapter 13. Building Our Own Bridges: A Case Study in Contingent Faculty Self-Advocacy, Lacey Wootton and Glenn Moomau
DOI: 10.37514/PER-B.2017.0858.2.13

Chapter 14. What Works and What Counts: Valuing the Affective in Non-Tenure-Track Advocacy, Sue Doe, Maria Maisto, and Janelle Adsit
DOI: 10.37514/PER-B.2017.0858.2.14

Chapter 15. Hitting the Wall: Identity and Engagement at a Two-Year College, Desirée Holter, Amanda Martin and Jeffrey Klausman
DOI: 10.37514/PER-B.2017.0858.2.15

Chapter 16. The Problem of Speaking for Adjuncts, Seth Kahn
DOI: 10.37514/PER-B.2017.0858.2.16

Chapter 17. The Rhetoric of Excellence and the Erasure of Graduate Labor, Allison Laubach Wright
DOI: 10.37514/PER-B.2017.0858.2.17

Chapter 18. Brutal(ist) Meditations: Space and Labor-Movement in a Writing Program, Michelle LaFrance and Anicca Cox
DOI: 10.37514/PER-B.2017.0858.2.18


About the Editors

Seth Kahn is Professor of English at West Chester University, where he teaches courses primarily in rhetoric and writing. He has served as co-chair of the CCCC Committee on Part-time, Adjunct, and Contingent Labor and currently serves as co-chair of the CWPA Labor Committee. Recent publications include "What Is a Union?" in A Rhetoric for Writing Program Administrators; "'Never Take More Than You Need': Tenured/Tenure-Track Faculty and Contingent Labor Exploitation" in Forum: Issues about Part-Time and Contingent Faculty; and a co-guest-edited special issue of Open Words on "Contingent Labor and Educational Access."

William B. Lalicker is Professor of English at West Chester University. A former co-chair of the Council on Basic Writing, and a veteran of multiple roles in writing program administration frequently over the past two decades, his publications and presentations include research on structural equity and labor justice in writing programs; basic writing; and transnational and intercultural composition pedagogies. His chapter "The Five Equities: How to Build a Progressive Writing Program in a Department of English" appears in Minefield of Dreams: Promises and Perils of Independent Writing Programs (Justin Everett and Cristina Hanganu-Bresch, editors), published by the WAC Clearinghouse and University Press of Colorado.

Amy Lynch-Biniek is Associate Professor of English and the Coordinator of Composition at Kutztown University, where she teaches composition, pedagogy, and research writing. She serves as the editor of the NCTE publication Forum: Issues about Part-Time and Contingent Faculty through January 2018. Her publications include articles in Teaching English in the Two-Year College, CCC, and Reflections: Writing, Service-Learning, and Community Literacy. Amy co-guest-edited a special issue of Open Words on "Contingent Labor and Educational Access." A member of the CCCC Labor Caucus since 2009, she has served on its steering committee (since 2010), as chair (2013-2015) and as secretary and archivist (since 2015).

Publication Information: Kahn, Seth, William B. Lalicker, & Amy Lynch-Biniek (Eds.). (2017). Contingency, Exploitation, and Solidarity: Labor and Action in English Composition. The WAC Clearinghouse; University Press of Colorado. 

Web Publication Date: February 19, 2017
Print Publication Date: November 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-64215-085-8 (pdf) | 978-1-64215-086-5 (epub) | 978-1-60732-765-3 (pbk.)
DOI: 10.37514/PER-B.2017.0858

Contact Information:
Seth Kahn:
William B. Lalicker:
Amy Lynch-Biniek:


Review by Erin Lehman, Ivy Tech Community College, June 17, 2019.

Perspectives on Writing

Series Editors: Susan H. McLeod, University of California, Santa Barbara; Rich Rice, Texas Tech University

Acrobat Reader DownloadThis book is available in whole and in part in Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF). It is also available in a low-cost print edition from our publishing partner, the University Press of Colorado.

Copyright © 2017 Seth Kahn, William B. Lalicker, and Amy Lynch-Biniek. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License. 440 pages, with notes, illustrations, and bibliographies. Available in print from University Press of Colorado as well as from any online or brick-and-mortar bookstore. Available in digital format for no charge on this page at the WAC Clearinghouse. You may view this book. You may print personal copies of this book. You may link to this page. You may not reproduce this book on another website.