Call for Proposals for
The Graduate Workshop of the
Institute for Comparative Literature and Society
at Columbia University, Late March, 2019


Amid accelerating conversion of academic labor to adjuncts, exploitation of university service workers, and growing graduate labor union power at private universities across the U.S., labor has become one of the most urgent topics in the academy today. In this spirit, we want to hold a workshop prefiguring the future university we would like to work towards: one that is collaborative and interdisciplinary in form as much as in name, oriented towards generosity and not careerism, emerging from and in communication with the communities it crosses and the labor force it draws on, and where all forms of labor are paid justly.

The Institute for Comparative Literature and Society’s Graduate Workshop will reflect on labor in the university. We have chosen to put on a workshop rather than a conference in the hopes of having an honest conversation about how we navigate our institutional contexts. We extend this call for proposals convinced that the university can still be a tinderbox for radical work. Our contention that—no matter what university presidents say—intellectual work is still labor and that labor is intellectual, opens onto a rich field of possible topics: unionization (and union-busting), health within the university, emotional, affective, and care labor, labor within pedagogical relationships, overpaid and underpaid labor, gendered and racialized hierarchies in the university and patterns of exclusion, cooptation and tokenism, other futures outside the university; and so on.


The workshop will take place in late March at Columbia University in late March or early April 2019. We invite collaborative proposals for this workshop in the form of discussions, skillshares, presentations and performances. Proposals should include a description of your current work (whatever that might be), your goals in participating, and possible formats for your part of the workshop. If you are selected, we will reach out to you to further develop your proposed session.

You do not need to have a position in or formal relationship with a university to apply. We encourage people of color, queer, trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming people and disabled people to make proposals.

Priority will be given to participants based in the Tri-State area who can commit to attending both all days of the conference. Participants from outside Columbia University will receive small honoraria for their participation and be reimbursed for any childcare expenses incurred. We are committed to holding an accessible conference. Please let us know what accomodations you require.

Email all proposals and questions to
laborincontext @
by November 7 14, 2018.