Con Job: Stories of Adjunct & Contingent Labor, by Megan Fulwiler and Jennifer Marlow

Reviewed by David Maynard, The University of Findlay


“ . . . over the course of this film, we’ve borrowed two different cameras and external microphones (that we didn’t always know how to use), had one lesson from a friend on lighting and framing, taught ourselves three different video editing platforms, accumulated five external hard drives, and traveled the United States and Canada, interviewing adjuncts and labor leaders, and all of this was made possible on a Visa card and a small grant from the college of Saint Rose.”

-- Megan Fulwiler and Jennifer Marlow, Con Job: Stories of Adjunct & Contingent Labor

The above passage is taken from Megan Fulwiler and Jennifer Marlow’s joint introduction to their film, Con Job: Stories of Adjunct & Contingent Labor, a lead-in that highlights the egalitarian bond shared by Con Job’s authors. Fulwiler and Marlow take turns speaking the words above, emphasizing the cooperative nature of their film, a choice that reflects one of its central missions, which is “to give actual voice to the adjuncts . . . ”

Whereas a traditional print publication may have granted adjuncts a voice through type-face, Fulwiler and Marlow confront their audience with the many faces of contingency in North America. This decision to create a digital forum in which adjuncts speak for themselves reflects the authors’ mission to “investigate contingency from a range of perspectives in order to better understand how it works, how it evolved and how it can be changed.”

Fulwiler and Marlow conclude their introduction by informing the audience that “[w]hat you are about to see is the result of what happens when you put two writing teachers behind the camera.” If these are the results of putting writing instructors behind the camera, then we need to start providing more cameras to English departments’ adjunct pools. Fulwiler and Marlow’s thought-provoking and ultimately empowering diagnosis of higher education’s exploitation of contingent faculty addresses a gap in the national discussion of education that must be filled by the voices of those who are being exploited.

Through Con Job: Stories of Adjunct & Contingent Labor, Megan Fulwiler and Jennifer Marlow take a significant step toward giving adjuncts a national voice.