Class Act: Reflections on a working-class academic sense of self as a Graduate Teaching Assistant

Alex Hastie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Scholars have been writing about Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) for the best part of 25 years. Variously described as ‘the donkey in the department’ (Park and Ramos, 2002) and ‘peacekeepers’ (Raaper, 2018) in neoliberalised universities, GTAs perform a crucial teaching role in many academic departments. Juggling the responsibility of running seminars and marking undergraduate exams with doctoral research, many have identified the ‘liminal’ (Keefer, 2015; Winstone and Moore, 2017) status of GTAs who occupy a role between student and teacher. This is a logical approach to take, with GTAs not only managing the logistics of their PhDs and teaching workloads, but their ‘emerging professional identity’ (Winstone and Moore, 2017) and expectations of ‘becoming’ an academic. Currently missing from this scholarship is the consideration of what it means to be a working-class GTA. Whilst work on GTAs continues to grow, including relating to identity (Lusher, Campbell, and Carrell, 2018; Collins, 2019), there remains an absence of working-class voices in postgraduate pedagogies. This paper then, reflects on what this future research might look like for those straddling these boundaries between student and academic, working-class and middle-class.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-46
Number of pages20
JournalPostgraduate Pedagogies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Working-class
  • Performativity
  • Liminality
  • pedagogy
  • identity


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