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Power and Gendered Labor in the Academy: A Half-Day Symposium

Mar 8, 2019 @ 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Carol StabileC21 hosted a half-day symposium exploring issues of labor, power, precarity, and academic stardom. (Listen to Carol Stabile’s keynote talk below.)

The past two years have seen shockwaves of protest and activism in response to a growing awareness of sexual assault as a tragically commonplace occurrence. Sexual assault and related abuses by those in positions of power take place in every field, from Hollywood to food service to academia, as recent high-profile abuse scandals rocking the supreme court and the academic world have painfully reminded us.

Popular discussions of sexual assault and #MeToo have often centered around much-needed critiques of patriarchy and rape culture. This symposium worked to highlight an additional, related dimension of the problem in academia: that of power and labor, and the uneven ways in which they operate in universities. The Avital Ronell case, for instance, has as much to do with generational shifts in academia, the politics of academic labor (especially the marginality of graduate students both economically and within academe), and the ways that power accrues in the academy unequally (much the same way that it does outside the academy) as it does with inappropriate sexual conduct.
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Symposium Schedule:

2:00 Welcome Remarks

2:10 – 3:30 Panel organized by the UW-Milwaukee chapter of the American Association of University Professionals (AAUP). Panelists:

  • Rachel Buff (History)
  • Renee Calkins (Foreign Languages & Literature)
  • Cary Costello (Sociology)
  • Joyce Latham (School of Information Studies)
  • Xin Huang (Women’s and Gender Studies)

3:30 – 3:40 Coffee Break

3:40 – 5:00 Keynote by Carol Stabile: “A Graduate Student is Being Sexually Harassed: Power, Privilege, and the Professoriate”

Like the priesthood, the professoriate is full of magical thinking, relationships bound up in mystical forms of power and privilege, and practices that allow for particularly toxic and dangerous forms of abuse. This presentation foregrounds class in thinking about academic stardom, power, and gendered labor in the academy in order to help us think about the myriad problems—and the very important and increasingly fragile privileges—of the professoriate.

5:00 – 6:00 Reception in Curtin 939

About the Participants:

Rachel Buff is a professor of history, director of the Cultures and Communities Program, and coordinator of the Comparative Ethnic Studies Program at UW–Milwaukee. Her research interests include immigrant rights and itinerant/vagrant histories. Buff is author of Against the Deportation Terror: Organizing for Immigrant Rights in the Twentieth Century. She is also past president of the UWM AAUP chapter.

Renee Calkins is a senior lecturer in Classics in the Department of Foreign Languages & Literatures at UWM. Her work focuses on ritual and commemoration in ancient Greece, and she is an active member of AAUP, having served as their secretary-treasurer and on a variety of committees since 2015.

Cary Costello is an associate professor of sociology and director of the LGBT Studies program at UWM. His research and teaching focus on the regulation of sex and gender through medical interventions into the bodies of intersex and transgender people, as well as embodiment and sexuality in virtual settings.

Xin Huang is an assistant professor in Women’s & Gender Studies at UWM. She studies gender, identity, and sexuality in contemporary China. Huang is the author of The Gender Legacy of the Mao Era: Women’s Life Stories in Contemporary China.

Joyce Latham is an associate professor in the School of Information Studies at UWM. Her work focuses on public libraries, intellectual freedom and library history, and she has written about the feminist press and other activist issues in library science. Latham’s alternative perspective on the history of libraries allows her research to focus on the activist role of librarians in the development and distribution of cultures influencing American society.

Carol Stabile is director of the Center for the Study of Women in Society at the University of Oregon. Stabile’s interdisciplinary research focuses on gender, race, class, and sexual orientation in media and popular culture. She is the author of The Broadcast 41: Women and the Anti-Communist Blacklist (2018), White Victims, Black Villains: Gender, Race, and Crime News in US Culture (2006), and Feminism and the Technological Fix (1994). She is a founding member of Fembot, an online collaboration of scholars conducting research on gender, new media, and technology.

This symposium is part of C21’s Insecurity series, which focuses on insecurity and the ways in which various forms of insecurity are systematically produced.


Mar 8, 2019
2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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Curtin 175
3243 N Downer Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53211 United States
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