The Labor is Real. Or, I Am Still Here. And Here’s Where I’ve Been

The past month has been a whirlwind of the kinds of academic labor no one ever sees or talks about.  So when I hear legislators make comments about my 17-hour-workweek, I want to yell, and then cry, and then write angry letters.  But I don’t have time to do any of those things…because I do not have a 17-hour-workweek.


I have 17 hours of teaching responsibilities a week, but as I am reminded on a yearly basis, my job has three components:  teaching, service, and scholarship.  So one third of my job is the only part most people see. And those 17 hours are only face time with students.  That does not include grading, planning, or communicating with students. 17 hours is 12 teaching hours and five office hours.  So yes, I can in theory be on campus only 17 hours a week, but I don’t know anyone for whom that is a reality.

I have been meaning to share a few documents I have created about what it means to study and work in the academy, and this week’s budgetary meeting comments seem like a good impetus.

First, KU English ran a nice faculty profile of me.  When I read it, I remembered that I am tired for good reason.  And that I don’t work 17 hours a week.

Second, I didn’t have time to accept the senior seminar’s invitation to speak to them about attending grad school due to time constraints.  I mean, I have to work 17 hours a week–how can I find time to attend another class session?!

But I did find time to make and upload this video so I could answer their pressing questions about what it means to go to grad school for Poco Lit and Gender Studies.  I think I did a pretty decent job, so anyone wanting to know more about my journey or my advice for those considering grad school, take my video as you will.

Finally, I chaired the LVAIC Women’s and Gender Studies Conference held at DeSales University on Saturday.  Chairing a conference includes such sexy tasks as answering emails, creating google forms, and asking for money.  I am proud of the work I do, and I am glad to serve my community.  But people are GOING TO STOP DOING THIS WORK if the world at large continues to shit on us as if we are lazy workers.

The students made me proud.  They are the best part of my job.  But my job often asks me to take time away from them to do other things, and I have to fight to make sure my students remain my first priority.  Those 17 hours are the best ones of the work week.



  1. Yes, I agree. Those 17 hours – or whatever they are for each teacher/professor – spent with the students are the entire reason we ever agreed to do this job in the first place!

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