Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday Matinee: "Degrees of Shame"

Today is another movie day on the blog ~ BYOP(opcorn). Leading up to #cocalXI ~ or #altCOCAL, even both, depending on your inclinations (but that's another post), the current Sunday Matinee series focuses on Barbara Wolf's films about adjunct academic labor, which have been closely associated with COCAL since the first Campus Equity Week in 2001, where Degrees of Shame: Part-time Faculty: Migrant Workers of the Information Economy was shown in Chicago (and became a CEW staple). The afterword to A Simple Matter of Justice was taped at COCAL IV in San Jose, CA. In the picture to the the right, Barbara Wolf is handing out flyers in Chicago.

See also Barbara Wolf's bio and other posts in the series. Barring the unforeseen, next Sunday's Matinee will be that very San Jose afterword and more links, of course...now, Degrees of Shame




In 1960 Edward R. Murrow made Harvest of Shame a television documentary about the plight of migrant farm workers. To Barbara Wolf the economic situation and working conditions of adjunct professors suggested an information economy parallel to migrant farm workers. 
Following the logic of Harvest of Shame, Wolf interviews a variety of adjunct faculty to make visible the working lives of these least respected but absolutely vital faculty members who now do more than 40% of the teaching in America's institutions of higher education. Interviews with university administration officials, union leaders, legislators, and other observers document both the problem and possible solutions. 
Murrow concluded Harvest of Shame by asking his viewers to cultivate “an enlightened, aroused and perhaps angered public opinion” and to demand a change. Wolf sees her documentary as both informational and, in Murrow’s tradition, as a tool for change.


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