What does it mean to be an academic today? Why do so many students and their teachers feel like frauds?

An article by Ruth Barcan appears in the current issue of the THE – Why do some academics feel like frauds?

This is the theme of Ruth Barcan’s newly published book Academic Life and Labour in the New University: Hope and Other Choices.

Academic Life and Labour in the New University

What does it mean to be an academic today?

What kinds of experiences do students have, and how are they affected by what they learn?

Why do so many students and their teachers feel like frauds?

Can we learn to teach and research in ways that foster hope and deflate pretension?

‘Balanced, lucid and scrupulously enquiring, this is the best book I have read about the forces shaping everyday life in the new university and the dilemmas confronting teachers, researchers and students. Firmly based in the experience of work, Barcan’s case for an ethics that does not leave us stranded between despair and resignation gives those of us who still value academic life good grounds for hope indeed.’   Meaghan Morris, University of Sydney, Australia

‘Finally a book with the patience and perspective to explain the reality of work in the university today. Against the current regime of myopic productivity, Ruth Barcan offers her colleagues a vision of humility and hope. It is a vitalism that emerges when academics focus on the place that still matters and promises most: the classroom.’   Melissa Gregg, University of California, Irvine, USA

‘A deeply affecting book that will speak to the experiences of all precarious, time-pressured and surveilled academics who have found that working in the Academy is not what they expected. Ruth Barcan offers us both a powerful critique of life in the contemporary University, and a politics of hope that other, better ways are possible.’   Rosalind Gill, King’s College London, UK

Drawing on a range of international media sources, political discourse and many years’ professional experience, Academic Life and Labour in the New University explores approaches to teaching and research, with special emphasis on the importance of collegiality, intellectual honesty and courage. With attention to the intersection of large-scale institutional changes and intellectual shifts such as the rise of transdisciplinarity and the development of a pluralist curriculum, this book proposes the pursuit of more ethical, compassionate and critical forms of teaching and research.

About the Author: Ruth Barcan is a senior lecturer in the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney, Australia. She is the author of Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Bodies, Therapies, Senses (2011), and Nudity: A Cultural Anatomy (2004). She is also co-editor of Imagining Australian Space: Cultural Studies and Spatial Inquiry (1999), and Planet Diana: Cultural Studies and Global Mourning (1997).

More about Academic Life and Labour in the New University: Hope and Other Choices.

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