Ruth Barcan

About Ruth Barcan

Ruth Barcan works in the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney. Her research interests include the pedagogical, political and personal dimensions of higher education. She is the author of Nudity: A Cultural Anatomy (Berg, 2004); Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Bodies, Therapies, Senses (Berg, 2011); and Academic Life and Labour in the New University: Hope and Other Choices (Ashgate, 2013).

Articles about Ruth Barcan

Articles by Ruth Barcan

How to be an Academic by Inger Mewburn review

Life Choices:
Vocation in a Casualised Work World

'In this era where most analyses of the university and academic labour thrum with words like ‘neoliberal’, ‘corporate’, ‘precariat’ and ‘para-academic’, we might be forgiven for greeting the term ‘vocation’ with a snort or a curl of the lip. Is it really possible – or more to the point, is it really desirable or fair? – for young academics today to consider their work a vocation, calling or mission? Surely, the marketised, casualised university has turned the idea of vocation into a sick joke, the kind of self-punishing ideal that Lauren Berlant describes as ‘cruel optimism’: ‘when something you desire is actually an obstacle to your flourishing’. Or has it? Can the people that academic and blogger Inger Mewburn calls the ‘New Academics’ – those who, like her, have never known a university that was anything but precarious, who are both the product of the contemporary university and its future workforce — can they have a vocation?'