Fieldnotes from the Front Lines: MLA Subconference 2014

by VanessaVaile

@whowewilltobe on the best part of MLA2014 — the glorious Subconference

Who We Will To Be


Columbia College Chicago, Polar Vortex 1: We’re legally occupying a South Loop, non-profit private arts school lecture hall on Michigan Avenue because of urgency and necessity. I’m awake. Jolted by Panel 1’s lines of flight, it’s not hard to be: 1) Here’s how to find grants to develop classes for prisoners, 2) Wisconsin incarcerates 10% of its black men, and 3) The instructor knew her job was done when the students taught each other. The Q&A? The school-to-prison pipeline.

It feels good, like a reunion or an avatar of the Coalition Against Corporate Higher Education, here at the MLA Subconference, which is less a shadow conference than a think tank in a borrowed room filled with ABDs, new PhDs, adjuncts, a scattering of undergrads riled up to read from private university budgets, staff, a couple TT, many low-wage workers, Fight For 15, the IWW, and anti-eviction organizers from across the nation…

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