“Never enough, never enough”: institutional autobiography and gendered labour in contemporary North American women’s writing

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Abstract

This article examines the gendered experience of labour in the North American university to theorise its implications for the production of autobiographical writing. Drawing on the work of Dodie Bellamy, Roxane Gay, and Heidi Julavits, I make a specifically feminist argument about time, precarity, and value in academia, arguing that the job of writing creatively in the academy is complicated by the invisibilisation of education and administration as well as the preponderance of women and minorities in non-permanent and therefore precarious academic roles. The three authors discussed here all play with supposedly marginal forms like the diary or blog to trouble the institutional overvaluing of canonical work and destabilise what Sarah Sharma (2014) calls a “patriarchal temporality” (12) designating their work and their lives as marginal. With a particular focus on Bellamy, then, who documents her repeated denial of tenure in her personal and often sexually explicit writing, I want to interrogate the peculiar circularity of narrating experiences of precarity in the body of a text that might be read by current or future employers, as these women anxiously translate their personal and leisure time into new forms of workplace productivity, committing further areas of their life to the university without seeking liberation from it.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of American Studies
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022

Bibliographical note

Not yet published as of 24/06/2022.

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