For academics hovering between contingent and permanent status, getting publications on the CV can make the difference—or can it? Looking closely at engagement with professional academic literacy practices offers meaningful insights into academic labor. This article considers the case of a newly-minted PhD working a collection of contingent jobs while aspiring to publish and obtain a permanent position. In the face of a heavy teaching load and disheartening job search, Elle Stewart (a pseudonym), decides to put off writing. She disidentifies with the discourse of being an academic and disengages from professional academic literacy practices, despite a life history full of success with academic writing. This case study takes an academic literacies approach and uses a framework of discoursally constructed writer identity to consider how Elle’s literacies and identities mediate one another. While personalizing many of the dilemmas of contingent labor, the case study also considers Elle’s painful disconnection from research and the structural factors that lead her to feel shut out of professional academic writing.



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