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The Journal of Multimodal Rhetorics

ISSN: 2472-7318

Notes on Graduate Assistantship-ing From Home: A COVID-19 Poem

Amanda L. Shoaf

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Keywords: graduate student work, housework, burnout, unpaid labor

Categories: Reflecting on Academic (Over)work and/or Precarity; Somewhere in Between: Grad Student Perspectives; Reflecting on and Refusing Racial and/or Gender Inequity


[Low-level background noise from laundry machines, cooking, dishes being put away, and vacuuming]


It suddenly occurred to me that I, too, would like to have a wife.

Amanda, where are you at with your dissertation

Amanda, can you lead this orientation

Amanda, did you do the dishes

Amanda, when will supper be ready


I want a wife who will work and send me to school.

Why, in the midst of a pandemic, are we expected to juggle more than ever

Why does the world expect you to go on as if nothing has changed


I want a wife to make sure my children eat properly and are kept clean.

Is my time not valuable? What makes me a tool to be used?

Why? Is it because I’m a grad student? Is it because I’m a woman?


[Background noise rises in volume]


I want a wife who will keep my clothes clean, ironed, mended, replaced when needed…

Amanda, did you know I taught myself ASL

Amanda, do you want to try my sourdough


I want a wife who will keep my house clean.

Amanda, what have you done so far?

Amanda, what have you learned to make?


I want a wife who will plan the menus, do the necessary grocery shopping, prepare the meals, serve them pleasantly, then do the cleaning up while I do my studying.

So I just keep going

And with every step

I wonder who I’ll be at the end of this

Will I ever get my joy back


[Background noise rises in volume again, competing with the spoken audio]


Amanda, can you…

Amanda, can you…

Amanda, can you…

Amanda, Amanda, Amanda, Amanda


[Background noise, now cacophonous, crashes out]



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katfolker. (2018, April 28). Dishes. Freesound. Retrieved from

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Amanda L. Shoaf is a PhD candidate in Rhetoric & Composition at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her dissertation examines the intersections between accessibility, spatial rhetoric, and multimodal composition, focusing specifically on mapping as a heuristic for both research and composition. She hopes to apply that approach to other issues of access beyond disability, both within academia and beyond. In her spare time, she loves listening to podcasts and is the proud co-parent of two kittens named Marshmallow & Georgie.

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