Wrestling with Career: An Autoethnographic Tale of a Cracked Academic Self

  • Barbara M. GrantEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Critical University Studies book series (PCU)


In her chapter, Barbara explores the idea of ‘academic career’ to trouble its ascendance as a commonsense way for describing our academic lives, especially its now insidiously dominant form, which is more in the ilk of ‘careerism’. By tracing out various broken and tangled lines within her own story of working in one university for nearly 40 years, and her ongoing ambivalences about applying for promotion to professor, Barbara confronts some of the difficult ethical issues endemic to academic life. Composed as a series of writing experiments – memories, litanies, recalled conversations – Barbara seeks to show how an ordinary academic life is rich with possibilities for resistance to the registers of neoliberalism that shape and inform the contemporary university and those of us who dwell there.


Academic career Academic life Careerism Promotion Writing experiments 



Thanks for incisive feedback on early drafts from my School’s doctoral writers group (Daniel, Lisa and Vanessa), and from valued academic colleagues (Fran, Niki and Viv). Thanks, too, to colleagues who, when asked, agreed to the inclusion of their tiny stories.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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