This conference aims to highlight, recognise and celebrate working class people who have already navigated – or are currently navigating – socio-economic obstacles, to break through the cloistered and privileged boundaries of Higher Education and the University.
The conference remit purposefully adopts a playful reference to Walter Benjamin’s (1998) work The Origin of German Tragic Drama, by use of the term ‘constellation’. As such, it is not the aim or the remit of this conference to schematically interrogate and establish quantified categories of how to define ‘working class’ academics; such an epistemo-rigid approach would only lead to further and inevitable obfuscations and exclusions. Rather, this event is about opening an ontologic space of heritage to hear stories, narratives and conversations of journeys towards the strange and mysterious land of talismanic qualifications, middle class culture, and new academic identity.
This event is about giving voice to those who have journeyed beyond the socio-economic constraints of being structurally ascribed a life of a non-academic expectation. Of working class cultural rupture and ‘fragmentation’ in pursuit of personal growth; of inhabiting the socio-cultural ‘otherness’ and alien terrain of the university, with its implied requirements to metamorphose in to a middle class facsimile – replete with renewed accent.
The conference aims to acknowledge and promote a different academic space, one where constellations of academics and researchers with a working class heritage, can come together to conceptualise and capture the difficulties – and successes – of accessing and finding acceptance in the culture of higher education and the university.
It is about celebrating and promoting opportunities for increasing the visibility of this underrepresented socio-economic area. It is about cascading and disseminating powerful and eclectic voices of uncompromised hope and possibility; through accented, diverse and unapologetic stories, we will assertively claim recognition. Adapting Graeme Gilloch’s (2002) take on the Benjaminian constellation, from the diverse elements of our working class heritages we will recompose ‘critical contemporary constellations’ (Gilloch, 2002, p. 4), which can be used to produce an illumination of present and future possibility.
 Gilloch, G. (2002) Walter Benjamin: Critical Constellations. Cambridge: Polity Press
- Issue call for papers: Monday 27th January.
- Deadline for submissions: Friday 17th April.
- Notification of acceptance: Thursday 7th May.
- Final conference programme: Friday 29th May.
- Delegate registration opens: Monday 1st June.
If you have any questions or enquiries about the event, you can contact the conference organisers.
Look over the conference themes for some inspiration around what we might include in the conference. The suggested themes are guides and are not exhaustive, please feel free to suggest alternate themes that better suit your work and that enhance the conference overall.
We have no theme included for COVID19 for instance, but would welcome some responses around this period that is affecting the planet and all of us on it. What the implications are for working class academics would be something of immense value.
Types of Submission
Moving the conference online brings its own challenges for us collectively and individually. Look over some suggestions of what we might consider as we plan for this new space of encounter. Key rule = make choices of design that allow you to be heard.