Higher Education and Working-Class Academics. Precarity and Diversity in Academia Teresa Crew
In April 2020 I was contacted by Dr Teresa Crew who was close to completing the manuscript of her book on working class academics. I'd met Teresa in June 2019, at a one day conference on academic precarity at University College Cork organised by Dr Theresa O'Keefe and Dr Aline Courtois. Teresa and I remained in contact via Twitter and after I'd posted up the new cartoon 'Glace/Ice' inspired by that conference on precarity, she contacted me to ask whether I'd be interested in creating seven black and white chapter illustrations for her book. The timescale was pretty tight, but I said yes!
Teresa's book is based on a large qualitative study interrogating UK working class academics' identity and experience. She sent me the draft manuscript to work from and her clear ideas (always helpful!) of what she envisaged - black and white drawings, approximately 4 x 4 inches. I read each chapter, noting the metaphors and visual images within the text, which arose for me. I then set about creating seven distinct drawings linked by a common motif, a university arch, using perspective and dark/light contrasts to communicate implications of inside/outside, belonging/imposter. Towards the end of April I sent Teresa some early sketches to check she was happy with the way I'd developed her ideas.
Over the course of the next month, I worked up ideas and drafts for each illustration then focused on each one in turn. There was a lot to work with, ideas of habitus, micro-aggressions, precarity, pedagogy and student support among others. Rough sketches for Chapters 1-6 are below. The final versions have now gone to the publisher. As a novice and someone who works by hand, I'm always nervous about my illustrations coming up to scratch on the publisher's technical requirements. Teresa's happy though and that's the main thing! She has produced a really rich study and I felt privileged to be a part of the publication. The book was launched (virtually) at the University of Bangor on 2 December 2020. Teresa spoke about her work with her usual passion, conviction and informality. ! Full details are on my publications list.