Thomas A. DiscennaMay 27, 2020
Discourses of Denial
The Rhetoric of American Academic Labor
On this episode of the New Books Network, Lee Pierce (they/she) interviews Thomas A. Discenna of Oakland University about the myriad ways that the labor of those employed by universities is situated as somehow distinct from ordinary labor. Focusing on a variety of sites where academic labor is discursively constructed in popular consciousness including among the professoriate itself, its critics and detractors, the unionization struggles of graduate students, the invisibility of contingent academics and the resistance to the unionization of student athletes. In Discourses of Denial: The Rhetoric of American Academic Labor (Routledge, 2017), Discenna paints a compelling picture of “the denial of academic labor” happening across public and private institutions, arguing that it functions to underwrite an attack on labor in all of its variations. The professoriate is, therefore, not a retrograde figure of more genteel times but the emblematic figure of late capitalism’s transition to cognitive labor and with it an unceasing colonization of the human lifeworld. I hope you enjoy listening as I much as I enjoyed chatting with Tom about this illuminating book. I’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @rhetoriclee and @rhetoricleespeaking. Share your thoughts about the interview with the hashtag #newbooksnerd.