The Grief of a Teacher: Reflections on Trauma, Dis/Connections, and Institutional Paradox

  • Post category:4.2
  • Reading time:2 mins read
By Deborah J. Cohan


Road into a forestThis article examines, first and foremost, the experience of teaching about violence and, secondarily, how being a contingent faculty member uniquely complicates the already complicated task of teaching about trauma. It is this tension—this nexus of relationships between violence itself and the situation of being contingent, each predicated on isolation—that is the subject of this analysis. Through auto-ethnographic methods, case studies of students studying trauma, and conversations with faculty, the author exposes layers of personal, relational, organizational, and institutional brokenness. In delving into the connection of emotion and social structure, she hopes the article appeals to and benefits a range of audiences, especially people interested in: higher education’s role and responsibility in preventing and responding to gender-based violence, the emotional life of the classroom, feminist pedagogy on trauma, the mental health crisis in higher education, and the over-reliance on contingent laborers in higher education.