Faculty Writing: On New Poetry, Lessons from the Picket Line, and African American Religious History

Writing in Jacket2 magazine, Sophie Lewis delights in poet Holly Melgard’s latest book Fetal Position, a collection of poetic reflections on various kinds of labor—from student labor to child labor, reproductive labor, and divisions of labor: “Melgard is as dexterous a defamiliarizer of heterosexual culture, especially patriarchal motherhood, as I’ve ever seen.”

Then, in Notes from Below, Andy Battle takes up the issue of labor disputes in a post-mortem on what may have been the longest-running part-time faculty strike in US history. “Can collective bargaining as presently institutionalized in the United States,” he asks with regard to the New School strike last year, “produce anything like an acceptable standard of living for the group of university teachers who constitute an ever-growing majority?” Noting the strike’s massive energy and creativity, he nevertheless concludes that labor militancy alone won’t “make a durable dent” in the US system of higher education at this point in its decline.

And, for The Revealer, Kali Handelman sat down with historian of religion Judith Weisenfeld for an expansive discussion of the latter’s work on African American religious history and its felt impacts on contemporary American life. Weisenfeld’s current Crossroads Project set out to understand everything from “Rev. Dr. William Barber’s Moral Mondays” to “the African diasporic religious influences in Beyoncé’s Lemonade” to “the spiritual dimensions of the Black Lives Matter movement,” and more. “Today’s political climate,” Weisenfeld notes, “calls for new and public approaches to interpreting the historical context” in order to read more broadly its impacts on the present.

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