Diversity and the Hidden Truths of Tenure

Edited by Patricia A. Matthew

332 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 3 figs., 1 table, appends., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-2771-7
    Published: November 2016
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-2772-4
    Published: October 2016
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-5109-3
    Published: October 2016
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-3016-8
    Published: November 2016

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The academy may claim to seek and value diversity in its professoriate, but reports from faculty of color around the country make clear that departments and administrators discriminate in ways that range from unintentional to malignant. Stories abound of scholars--despite impressive records of publication, excellent teaching evaluations, and exemplary service to their universities--struggling on the tenure track. These stories, however, are rarely shared for public consumption. Written/Unwritten reveals that faculty of color often face two sets of rules when applying for reappointment, tenure, and promotion: those made explicit in handbooks and faculty orientations or determined by union contracts and those that operate beneath the surface. It is this second, unwritten set of rules that disproportionally affects faculty who are hired to "diversify" academic departments and then expected to meet ever-shifting requirements set by tenured colleagues and administrators. Patricia A. Matthew and her contributors reveal how these implicit processes undermine the quality of research and teaching in American colleges and universities. They also show what is possible when universities persist in their efforts to create a diverse and more equitable professorate. These narratives hold the academy accountable while providing a pragmatic view about how it might improve itself and how that improvement can extend to academic culture at large.

The contributors and interviewees are Ariana E. Alexander, Marlon M. Bailey, Houston A. Baker Jr., Dionne Bensonsmith, Leslie Bow, Angie Chabram, Andreana Clay, Jane Chin Davidson, April L. Few-Demo, Eric Anthony Grollman, Carmen V. Harris, Rashida L. Harrison, Ayanna Jackson-Fowler, Roshanak Kheshti, Patricia A. Matthew, Fred Piercy, Deepa S. Reddy, Lisa Sánchez González, Wilson Santos, Sarita Echavez See, Andrew J. Stremmel, Cheryl A. Wall, E. Frances White, Jennifer D. Williams, and Doctoral Candidate X.

About the Author

Patricia A. Matthew is associate professor of English at Montclair State University.
For more information about Patricia A. Matthew, visit the Author Page.


"These essays are now, more than ever, a timely and courageous contribution to the exploration and critique of the operation of power as it refracts against diverse, non-dominant identities in American higher education.” —James H. McDonald, NY Journal of Books

"The powerful testimony from veteran and young scholars in Written/Unwritten illustrates the barriers that still must be shattered, while also pointing the way forward to creating a more inclusive, diverse and intellectually vibrant academy."—Diverse: Issues in Higher Education

"An impressive volume that investigates a wide range of issues confronted by underrepresented groups in the professorate."—Journal of Political Science Education

"I don't think there has been a more important higher education book in the last thirty years than Patricia Matthew's Written/Unwritten, which obliterates the notion that all we need in our nation's colleges and universities is more black and brown professors. In pieces that are at once brilliantly personal and critical, Matthew and her contributors show us how professors of color, and primarily black women professors, are critiqued and disciplined so much more harshly while being asked to do work their male colleagues would never be asked to do. We've been waiting generations for this book. This book will change the way evaluation and value are ritualized at America's colleges and universities."—Kiese Laymon, author of Long Division and How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America

"Written/Unwritten: Tenure and Race in the Humanities is a game changer in the burgeoning public conversation on diversity in the humanities. This fine collection will sit on the table in my office to be perused, jotted in the margins, and possibly 'stolen' by students and junior colleagues because it is the sort of work that can shift a person’s perspective and save more than careers."—Jafari Allen, author of iVenceremos?: The Erotics of Black Self-making in Cuba

"Through the voices of faculty of color who have endured the rigors of the tenure and promotion process, Patricia Matthew's valuable book gives academics an opportunity to reflect on how to deal with experiences of marginalization and a noninclusive workplace environment." —Dwayne Mack, Berea College, co-editor of Beginning a Career in Academia: A Guide for Graduate Students of Color

Multimedia & Links

Matthew continues to write about race and tenure at writtenunwritten.wordpress.com.

Follow the author on Twitter @triciamatthew.

The Written/Unwritten Facebook page: facebook.com/writtenunwritten.