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The Knowledge Contract: Politics and Paradigms in the Academic Workplace


reviewed by Eileen E. Schell — August 21, 2006

coverTitle: The Knowledge Contract: Politics and Paradigms in the Academic Workplace
Author(s): David Downing
Publisher: University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln
ISBN: 0803217307, Pages: 326, Year: 2005
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In The Knowledge Contract:  Politics and Paradigms in the Academic Workplace, David Downing examines how and why the concept and practice of disciplinarity remains a “cultural dominant” (p. 3) in U.S. colleges and universities. Although Downing acknowledges that interdisciplinarity and “pluralism” serve as “a kind of default modus operandi of higher education” (p. 2), disciplinarity is still the basis of the knowledge contract, the means by which knowledge is largely created, compensated, valued, and managed in higher education.  Downing critiques the dominance of disciplinarity and argues for ways that we might renegotiate the knowledge contract to encompass alternative possibilities for structuring what counts as knowledge; and furthermore, for restructuring exploitive academic labor relations (the overuse of contingent faculty, part-time, and temporary faculty, for instance). Part of the importance of this volume, then, is Downing’s complex theorization and historicization of disciplinarity, coupled with the linkages he makes between disciplinarity, epistemology, and... (preview truncated at 150 words.)


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: August 21, 2006
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12689, Date Accessed: 10/24/2017 3:45:36 AM

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About the Author
  • Eileen Schell
    Syracuse University
    E-mail Author
    EILENN E. SCHELL is Associate Professor of Writing and Rhetoric and a Faculty Affiliate in Women’s Studies at Syracuse University where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in writing and rhetoric. Her research interests include academic labor studies, feminist rhetorics, rhetorics of globalization, and environmental rhetorics. She is the author of Gypsy Academics and Mother-teachers: Gender, Contingent Labor, and Writing Instruction (Heinemann, 1998) and co-editor with Patricia Lambert Stock of Moving a Mountain: Transforming the Role of Contingent Faculty in Composition Studies and Higher Education (NCTE, 2001), which won the 2003 Conference on College Composition and Communication Best Book Award. Her coauthored book Rural Literacies with Kim Donehower and Charlotte Hogg is forthcoming from Southern Illinois University Press in 2007.
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