Widening the margins Making space for Third Space Professionals

Main Article Content

Julie Karaus
Sarah Zurhellen


This article capitalizes on the experience of composition to examine where Third Space labor is currently positioned and uses frameworks from higher education and labor studies to look toward the possibility of a more equitable future. Third Space professionals both exemplify and challenge the class structure within the managed university, wherein academic freedom is exercised as a marker of class hierarchy. Affordances associated with the academic profession have become commodified, and physical and metaphorical constraints continue to grow in response to the erosion of academic freedom and financial support. The continued unbundling of traditional faculty roles means that the job of educating an increasingly diverse student population for a labor market that values interdisciplinarity, flexibility, and multiple literacies often falls to Third Spaces. In their attempts to maintain enrollment, universities exalt these support services even as they marginalize the professionals who staff them. Composition scholars and practitioners are no strangers to the margins; indeed, they’ve built homes and careers there, developing effective pedagogies and programs whose longevity and impact support both students and faculty. Third Space professionals’ most effective moves are inclusive rather than exclusive and are attuned to core discursive and rhetorical principles from feminist studies. Such work, when it is effective, performs a gate-opening rather than gate-keeping function that is imperative to the Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives that have come to define the sustainability goals of the US university system.

Article Details

Academic Labor in the Third Space
Author Biographies

Julie Karaus, Appalachian State University

Julie Karaus is the Assistant Director of the University Writing Center at Appalachian State University.

Sarah Zurhellen, Appalachian State University

Sarah Zurhellen is the Assistant Director of the Writing Across the Curriculum Program at Appalachian State University