Hired Hands: Casualised Technology and Labour in the Teaching of Cultural Studies

Main Article Content

Kieryn McKay
Kylie Brass


This article examines the uptake and application of podcasting in a particular higher education context, drawing on the the authors' experience in late 2008 when both were employed as casual tutors on large-scale first-year communications and cultural studies courses at the University of Western Sydney. The article maps out the limits of technological innovation within the teaching of cultural studies, as well as its limits in promoting the radical potential of a cultural studies approach. It also charts some of the effects and affects of an over-reliance on casualised labour, which we argue can have a profoundly destabilising and atomising impact on academic practice and student engagement. We argue there is a parallel between the appropriation of popular media technologies into the university and the current system of casual academic employment in Australia, in that both the podcast and the casual academic represent ‘new’ interfaces of outsourced academic labour. Stipulated from our positions as casual teachers in cultural studies, this article is written from an embedded perspective which conceptualises both the podcast and the casual academic in line with the most prevalent mode of their employment in the academy: as ‘hired hands’, appendages to traditional models of pedagogy.

Article Details

Disciplining Innovations (Peer Reviewed)
Author Biographies

Kieryn McKay, University of Sydney

Kieryn McKay taught in the School of Humanities and Languages and School of Communication Arts, and was a research officer at the Centre for Cultural Research at the University of Western Sydney from 2005 to 2010. She is a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney, where she is writing her (increasingly self-reflexive) doctoral thesis on cult literature and music, focusing on theories of contagion, obsession and insanity. She is also a co-founder of Philament: A Postgraduate Journal of Culture and the Arts.

Kylie Brass, Australian Academy of the Humanities

Kylie Brass is Policy and Projects Manager at the Australian Academy of the Humanities. Before joining the Academy in 2009 she worked at the Centre for Cultural Research at the University of Western Sydney, where she researched and published in the areas of media, cultural policy and higher education.