Who Pays for This?

The American Yawp is committed to collaboration, scholarly rigor, equity, and transparency. This page lays out our understanding of the issues confronting academic labor, our approach to compensation, how we finance contributions, and how those who share our mission can support the project.

On Labor and Compensation

The academic labor market is broken. Declining state support, endless austerity-driven budget-cutting, and bloated university administrations have bled faculty positions dry. The humanities, lacking a close connection to private capital and prone to partisan political attack, have been hit especially hard. The American historical profession is therefore in crisis–the vast majority of U.S. college history courses teaching the American Yawp, for instance, are taught by underpaid, overworked, and contingent workers laboring without secure long-term employment. And it is only getting worse. Most graduate students who earn their PhDs have no practical hope for achieving gainful academic employment on a tenure track. Contingent faculty members are often both outstanding scholars and skilled instructors. This means that the collapse of the academic job market has robbed the world of ground-breaking research, cheapened the quality of instruction, and left those of us in the declining number of positions over-burdened with service obligations to our students, our universities, and our profession.1 

The American Yawp was grounded in the assumption that academics have an ethical obligation to share their knowledge as broadly and productively as possible.2 In a functioning academic labor market, academics are employed in full-time tenured and tenure-track positions with salaries and long-term job security that come with the expectation of “esoteric” academic labor: intellectual work performed without direct financial remuneration.3 Academics review manuscripts, deliver conference presentations, write book reviews, publish articles, review tenure files, write letters of recommendation, chair panels, give interviews, and perform several other intellectual activities without hope of direct compensation. We believed The American Yawp could be part of that “esoteric” labor and help alleviate the burden of unaffordable textbooks.4 

Academic projects such as ours, however, must confront the political economy of the institutions in which they operate. Universities have slashed their tenured positions, constricted the size of their full-time faculty, and given much of the field of history over to contingent labor. The dream of democratized esoteric academic labor is instead, for many, the nightmare of adjunctification, at-will employment, and low pay.

Believing that all labor deserves compensation, The American Yawp will, moving forward, ensure that all contributors have the opportunity to receive remuneration for their efforts. Full-time salaried academics may, like the editors of this project, choose to forgo remuneration or donate their stipends under the assumption that they receive salaries with the expectation of producing and sharing knowledge. Graduate students, contingent faculty, and other academics without a firm financial foothold, however, are encouraged to accept stipends.

We cannot escape the systems in which we operate, but we can try to operate as ethically within those systems as possible. This is our attempt to do so.

Support & Donations

To fund stipends, we have signed a second contract with Stanford University Press that includes a one-time grant of $15,000 and an ongoing agreement that royalties from the sale of print copies will fund future stipends (no royalties have heretofore been taken from the project). Despite this royalty arrangement, we are committed to keeping the cost of our print edition lower than any similar book. The University of Texas at Dallas has also awarded the project a three-year grant to facilitate additional labor on the project. And we have begun seeking external grant funding and foundation backing to sustain the project into the future.

If you support the mission of The American Yawp, we now also welcome tax-deductible donations to the project through this portal [Link pending].

Transparent Budgeting

This page will be updated annually with a transparent accounting of all funds received and spent.



  1. AHA jobs reports: https://www.historians.org/ahajobsreport2022; And see Marc Bousquet, How the University Works: Higher Education and the Low-Wage Nation (New York: NYU Press, 2008); Adrianna Kezar, Tom DePaola, and Daniel T. Scott, The Gig Academy: Mapping Labor in the Neoliberal University (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019); Herb Childress, The Adjunct Underclass: How America’s Colleges Betrayed Their Faculty, Their Students, and Their Mission (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019). []
  2. Readers interested in learning more about the history of our project may do so here. []
  3. Stevan Harnad, “Overture: A Subversive Proposal,” in Scholarly Journals at the Crossroads: A Subversive Proposal for Electronic Publishing, ed. Shumelda Okerson and James J. O’Donnell (Washington, D.C.: Association of Research Libraries, 1995), 11–12. []
  4. For more on how the cost burdens of textbooks cheapen education and for good news about the success of open educational resources in the discipline of history, see Joseph L. Locke and Ben Wright, “Opening the Book: The Utopian Dreams and Uncertain Future of Open Access Textbook Publishing,” in Intermediate Horizons: Book History and Digital Humanities , Mark Vareschi and Heather Wacha, eds. (University of Wisconsin Press, 2022) and Joseph L. Locke and Ben Wright, “History Can Be Open Source: Democratic Dreams and the Rise of Digital History,” American Historical Review 126, No 4 (December 2021), 1485-1511. See also ahropenreview.com. []