The Exploit: Affective Labor and Poetry at the University
The Exploit was a collaborative project about labor in the academy, which was framed as both a “didactic joke” and as a “hack.” Instead of trying to create or model havens for less-alienated thinking, the project aligned creative production with the imperatives that drive the contemporary university: efficient productivity and return on investment. At different stages, it involved an adjunct faculty member, various editors and readers, and the students in Wagner’s graduate poetry workshop. The Exploit leveraged these human resources to increase their productivity. Labor performed for the project was integrated with labor already being performed in the fulfilment of professional duties and the pursuit of educational qualifications. The project overtly and intentionally reproduced existing hierarchies and inequities in order to draw attention to them. This chapter recounts and reflects theoretically on what The Exploit revealed about interlaced circuits of economic, cultural, educational and academic capital.
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