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    The neoliberal university and the neurotic academic: A textual analysis of ITV drama Cheat

    Wilkinson, C, Silverio, SA and Wilkinson, S ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1564-5472 (2020) The neoliberal university and the neurotic academic: A textual analysis of ITV drama Cheat. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 45 (2). pp. 257-269. ISSN 0309-877X

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    Through a textual analysis of four episodes comprising the ITV 1 psychological thriller Cheat, this paper explores depictions of the English Higher Education [HE] landscape and of the lived experiences of being an academic in the television drama. We achieve this through a focus on the fictional HE institution where the drama is set–St. Helen’s College–and the central character, university Lecturer: Dr Leah Dale; who is employed on a fixed-term contract and is applying for tenure. This paper engages with the following themes: Emotional Labour; Precarity of Fixed-Term Contracts; and Imposter Syndrome. Insight gleaned through the textual analysis contributes to the understanding of how academics might be navigating and negotiating the neoliberal university. In particular, we highlight the implications of contractual precarity in HE and the fragility of identity which is experienced by some academics. As such, this paper goes some way towards remedying the deficit of scholarship on the lived experiences of being a contemporary academic.

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