CFP: Staging Women’s Lives in Academia (Literature and Language Workplaces)

May 8th, 2012

CFP: Staging Women’s Lives in Academia (Literature and Language Workplaces)

We are putting together an edited collection, tentatively titled Staging Women’s Lives in Academia. The subtitle, yet to be figured out, will indicate that our focus is upon women in literature and languages. The book, under serious consideration at Rutgers University Press for its new Higher Education Studies series, will focus upon nodal points of professional (graduate school, pre- and post- tenure, mid- and later- career, and retirement) and personal life for women in academia. We have two key premises: that choosing not to continue down the traditional path of academic life stages is as significant as following it, and that the usual conflation of academic and age-specific life stages is deeply gendered.

Our design for the collection outlines professional life stages. These range from:

• finishing the degree (who chooses to write or not write the dissertation);
• seeking academic or other employment post-Ph.D.;
• beginning and then remaining in the profession (publishing, promotions, moving into administration or not);
• leaving academia once employed (whether in a full-time or part-time, pre-tenure or post-tenure position);
• deciding to retire or to continue working.

We welcome essays from women who have followed a traditional career path, but also from those who’ve travelled other roads. We can readily see a graduate student writing about the decision to get the Ph.D. but not pursue academic employment, for example, an adjunct writing about mid-career parenting decisions, an administrator writing about being “stuck,” an associate professor talking about the decision not to seek promotion to full professor, etc. Parenting, elder-care issues, and general assessment of “professionalization” values can also lead to priorities other than those usually counseled through professional advice venues.

Although we of course want contributors to draw upon personal experience, we will be asking that they both theorize and concretize their essays. As you think about this call, we’d like to ask that you also think about some very basic questions that could help others, such as: “Do/did you discover that your experience was typical, but nonetheless didn’t expect it?” “What would you point out as the key features of this stage to a colleague just beginning it?” “How do you think your experiences were shaped by the kind of school you worked at and where your school was situated?” and, everyone’s favorite, “What would you do differently if you had it to do again?”

Besides these basic questions, there are many others that you might consider, such as: What is gendered about your career path, your career experience? How did race/ethnicity, age, class, sexuality, and culture affect your academic experience at each stage? How did your academic work feed into, enhance, or distract from other parts of your life? Or how much of your personal life intersects with or clashes with your work life? Has your work changed over time? Have you changed over time in terms of your enthusiasm for, and interest in, your work?

We want contributors to be frank, but we also want these essays to encourage “best practice” discussion and also to serve as references for other women. Because responding fully to some of these topics may be difficult, we are willing to accept proposals or essays by authors writing under a pseudonym or anonymously. We also invite proposals written by several people in dialogue with each other.

Please consider sending in a proposal for this collection, but also think about students and colleagues who fall under the “did not choose to” rubrics who may not be receiving notes such as this. Please forward this call to them. We would like to receive proposals by June 1, 2012. Proposal packets should include a 500-word abstract (or a full essay, if appropriate) and a brief c.v. Final essays should be around 6250 words, including notes and Works Cited, although we will consider shorter pieces. They should be sent to both of us:

Michelle Massé at
Nan Bauer-Maglin at