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“The Adjuncts” by Chloe Smolarski, City University of New York, CUNY Contingents Unite

Academic freedom is the subject of three major conferences and at least two substantial journal issues this season, and they’ll all get a fair amount of ink and electrons when Ward Churchill’s lawsuit against the University of Colorado commences next month in Denver. Churchill’s campus process was wrongly decided in the fallout of a political witch hunt, featuring a faculty committee that generated spurious charges of “plagiarism” and “research misconduct” that will not bear the scrutiny of history (nor, one hopes, the district court).

You can read Churchill’s essay on the case in a massive, just-released special issue of Works and Days, guest-edited by Edward Carvalho and available for just $12 by emailing Tracy Lassiter (t.j.lassiter@iup.edu) or David Downing (downing@iup.edu).

The issue includes important work by a huge lineup: Derrick Bell, Joe Berry, Michael Bérubé, Eric Cheyfitz, Noam Chomsky, Grant Farred, Norman Finkelstein, Henry Giroux, Sophia McClennen, Randy Martin, Ellen Messer-Davidow, Cary Nelson, R. Radhakrishnan, Bruce Robbins, Susan Searls Giroux, Cornel West, and Jeffrey Williams, and many others, including yours truly. It’s the best value in academic freedom short of joining the AAUP.

Following the Works & Days release and just two weeks in advance of the scheduled start of the lawsuit, Churchill will speak at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), Downing’s home campus about an hour’s drive from Pittsburgh.

From the reports I’ve seen, a few complaints have been registered with the IUP administration, but nothing with the hysteria and virulent hatred stirred up by the Churchill case in the past. The event also features appearances by Nelson, McClellan, and Williams; if you’ll be in western Pennsylvania on February 23, it’s worth making the drive.


The chance to attend the linked conference at the Cornell Africana Studies and Research Center during surprisingly balmy February weather has already passed you by, but watch this space for news of a South Atlantic Quarterly special issue on related topics, prepared by Grant Farred with guest editor Evan Watkins.

On April 3, the Frederic Ewen Academic Freedom Center in New York will host a conference about the threat to those freedoms represented by corporatization, including such topics as the rise of the business curriculum and the permatemping of the faculty.By far the most common curtailments and violation of academic freedom are experienced by faculty serving contingently, as I’ve pointed out recently.



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