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Call for Proposals: Staging Women’s Lives in Academia

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Due: 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 shorter pieces will be considered. Send to Michelle Massé at mmasse (at) isu (dot).edu AND Nan Bauer-Maglin at nbauer-maglin (at) gc.cuny (dot) edu.

Tentatively titled Staging Women's Lives in Academia, this book 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. There are 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. The book is under serious consideration at Rutgers University Press for its new Higher Education Studies series.

The design for the collection outlines professional life stages, including:

  • 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

Essays are encouraged from women who have followed a traditional career path, but also from those who've travelled other roads (for example, a graduate student writing about the decision to get the Ph.D. but not pursue academic employment, an adjunct writing about mid-career parenting decisions, an administrator writing about being "stuck," or an associate professor talking about the decision not to seek promotion to full professor). 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 contributors are encouraged to draw upon personal experience, writers should also theorize and concretize their essays. 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 could be considered, 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?"

Contributors should be frank, but should also encourage "best practice" discussion and serve as references for other women. Because responding fully to some of these topics may be difficult, proposals or essays by written by several people in dialogue with each other or authors writing under a pseudonym or anonymously will be accepted.

The Literary Mama Blog Editor searches for mama-centric news you can use — including information about publishing opportunities and literacy efforts; essays and writing prompts that motivate and inspire; and announcements about events, classes, and workshops. The current blog editor is Bridget Lillethorup; read her bio here

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