About this working group

Activism In Academia: Adjuncts in Dialogue & Action is a biweekly forum for part-time and full-time faculty to present scholarly and creative works in the humanities and social sciences, as well as share experiences as scholars of color in higher education. It is a radical space committed to anti-racist, feminist, queer and critical race theory that emphasizes the work of BIPOC scholars and theorists and the decolonization of fields that have been predominately white. We are particularly interested in highlighting the contributions of underrepresented populations in academia by changing the demographics and critical lenses of academia. This space bridges multiple divides: full-time/part-time, creative/critical work, scholarly/public audiences, teaching/scholarship. Presentations on works in progress or recent publications, roundtable discussions, and creative performances and readings are most welcome.

We are publicizing the series in order to highlight the strong ties between part-and full-time colleagues' research, teaching, and advocacy work and to raise awareness around the impacts of issues related to systemic racism, austerity, and job insecurity on adjuncts' careers, but Adjuncts in Dialogue & Action is a space for having protected, vulnerable conversations. ​If you would like to be a part of our workshop group, please email Olivia Moy at [email protected] or Michael Cotto at [email protected]


Upcoming Meetings

Fred Johnson, with Karl Johnson: "My 15 Mississippi Days in 1964,” a memoir piece about Freedom Summer

Fred Johnson
is a retired social worker and a long-time social justice activist. In the 1960's and '70's, he was heavily involved in the Civil Rights Movement and the movement to end the war in Vietnam. In subsequent decades, he was active in a range of causes, and was one of the leaders of The Committee for Non-Intervention, a New York-based advocacy organization that worked to end U.S. backing of repressive regimes in Central and South America. He is also a former professional acrobat who trained an all-girls champion unicycle team in the 1990's, as well as a writer. He is the author of the book The Tumbleweeds.

Karl Johnson
is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. He was a newspaper reporter and editor for many years, and is the author of the book The Magician and the Cardsharp. He is also Fred Johnson's nephew.

A 4-year-old Karl Johnson on the shoulder of his father, William Johnson -- Fred Johnson's brother -- at a civil rights demonstration in New Jersey in the spring of 1964.

Previous Meetings:

Wendy Xin, "The Secret Lives of Plot"

Wendy Veronica Xin is a lecturer in English at NYU. She received her PhD in English from Berkeley, and has previously been a Visiting Assistant Professor of Literature at Sarah Lawrence. Her current book project is titled The Secret Lives of Plot, and her work has appeared in NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction, New Literary History, and Victorian Studies, among others. Most recently, she has taught courses that cover “Realism and the Sense of an Ending,” “The Poetics of Place: Nostalgia and Narrative Space,” “On Style: Making Aesthetic Judgements in Everyday Life,” and a Mellon funded seminar at Berkeley, “Moving through Loss: Mourning, Gesture, and the Performance Arts,” where featured student trips to see the Mariinsky Ballet, Alvin Ailey, and lots of opera. In advance of today’s seminar, please email our seminar coordinators for a copy of Wendy's pre-circulated preface.

Melissa Castillo-Planas
, "A Mexican State of Mind: New York City and the New Borderlands of Culture"

Melissa Castillo Planas is an Assistant Professor of English at Lehman College, specializing in Latinx Literature and Culture. She is the author of the poetry collection Coatlicue Eats the Apple, editor of the anthology, ¡Manteca!: An Anthology of [email protected] Poets, co-editor of La Verdad: An International Dialogue on Hip Hop Latinidades and co-author of the novel, Pure Bronx. Her most recent book project, with Rutgers University Press’ new Global Race and Media series (March 2020), A Mexican State of Mind: New York City and the New Borderlands of Culture, examines the creative worlds and cultural productions of Mexican migrants in New York City. Her second poetry collection Chingona Rules is forthcoming with Finishing Line Press.

Roundtable on Equitable Online Teaching:

With Lise Esdaile, Mary Phillips, Michael Cotto, David Hyman, Sophia Hsu, Melissa Castillo-Planas, Olivia Moy

Hank Williams, "Street Griots: Voices from Harlem's Black Arts"

Hank Williams currently teaches in the Departments of English and Africana Studies at Lehman College. His regular courses are Contemporary Urban Writers, Intro to Africana Studies, Fieldwork in the African American Community, and African American History. His research focuses on the Black Arts and Black Power Movements of the 1960s-70s and the intersection of art, politics, and sound. Today's presentation is an excerpt from his in-progress dissertation on the artist-activist collective The Last Poets, also titled "Street Griots." In this presentation, he charts their emergence from Harlem in the 1960s and examines the tensions coming from being politically committed artists.

Sophia Hsu, "Novel Populations and the Fiction of Counting”

Sophia Hsu is an assistant professor of English at Lehman College, CUNY. She is currently working on a book project that focuses on representations of the population in the Victorian novel. Her presentation today comes from the first chapter of that project, which argues that the emerging concept of the population in the nineteenth century changed how individuals saw themselves in relation to the social whole.

Michael Cotto, “African American Existential Heroes: Narrative Struggles for Authenticity"

Michael Cotto is an Adjunct Associate Professor of English at Lehman College and the author of the dissertation African American Existential Heroes: Narrative Struggles for Authenticity. He specializes in 20th Century African American literature and philosophy of literature. The topic of his presentation focused on the existential crises of the main characters’ in Richard Wright’s The Outsider, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, and James Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain respectively in order to argue that each of the author’s engages in the existential enterprise of authenticity. To make that case for the presentation, the author of the dissertation read passages from his dissertation focusing on Wright’s main character, Cross Damon, who the author argued, suffered from existential inauthenticity.

Olivia Loksing Moy, “Reading in the Aftermath: An Asian American Jane Eyre"

Olivia Loksing Moy is Assistant Professor of English at Lehman College and the author of The Gothic Forms of Victorian Poetry (Edinburgh University Press, 2021). Today’s presentation uses the historical figure of Afong Moy to explore the difficulties and possibilities of making connections within Victorian Studies and critical race theory. Drawing on passages from Patricia Park’s Re Jane (2015), a contemporary afterlife of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, she poses the idea of reading in the aftermath of Victorian empire and American racism -- particularly in the context of a recent article on “Undisciplining Victorian Studies” in the Los Angeles Review of Books by Ronjaunee Chatterjee, Alicia Mireles Christoff, and Amy R. Wong.