Postdoctoral Associates

Heather Steffen

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. is a scholar of 20th- and 21st-century U.S. literature and culture whose research investigates how concepts of labor, learning, and public service are produced through the interplay between rhetorical practices and material conditions in American universities. Her book project, Useful Work: Imagining Academic Labor in the American University, examines how professors, teacher-scholars, and para-academics theorize academic labor in critical and narrative writing. The book identifies four models of academic labor operating in faculty discourse since the emergence of the modern American university—professional, unionist, vocational, and entrepreneurial—and explores how the tensions between these models influence key debates in higher education, such as those surrounding academic freedom, casualization, or graduate education. Before coming to Rutgers, Heather earned a Ph.D. in Literary and Cultural Studies at Carnegie Mellon University, taught as a lecturer in the Writing Program at UC Santa Barbara, and researched metrics and measurement in higher education as an NEH-funded postdoctoral scholar in UCSB’s English Department and Chicano Studies Institute.