(Ruth Margaret Barcan)
PERSONAL: Female. Education: Holds a doctorate.
CAREER: University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, member of staff; University of Western Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, member of faculty; University of Sydney, professor of gender studies, 2004–. Book review editor for Cultural Studies Review.
MEMBER: Cultural Studies Association of Australasia.
AWARDS, HONORS: Department of Education award, 1997.
Site/Countersite: A Semiotic Study of the Gold Coast, University of Queensland Press (St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia), 1993.
(With Christa Berg) Will the Real Australia Please Stand Up: A Travelogue, University Gallery, University of Tasmania (Launceston, Tasmania, Australia), 1996.
(Editor, with others; and contributor) Planet Diana: Cultural Studies and Global Mourning, Research Centre in Intercommunal Studies, University of Western Sydney Nepean (Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia), 1996.
Nudity: A Cultural Anatomy, Berg (New York, NY), 2004.
Also contributor to scholarly journals. Member of editorial board, Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies.
SIDELIGHTS: A cultural historian, Ruth Barcan is particularly interested in subjects that cross national and even traditional cultural borders. In Planet Diana: Cultural Studies and Global Mourning, Barcan and her fellow contributors describe the worldwide impact of Princess Diana of Great Britain's sudden death. "The diversity of opinion and the wide range of topics considered in Planet Diana are the book's greatest strengths," according to Susan J. Hubert, writing in the Journal of Popular Culture. These topics include Diana's public image as filtered through the press, her relationship to the British monarchy, her status as a gay icon and a sort of secular saint for other marginalized groups, and the shock of her death and its emotional impact on people throughout the world.
Nudity: A Cultural Anatomy takes on a much broader subject, with roots going back deep into prehistory. Barcan's purpose is to move beyond particular descriptions to find underlying patterns in the treatment of nudity. As Caroline Daley explained in the Journal of Australian Studies Review of Books, "regardless of the period she is writing about, Barcan understands nakedness as a metaphor and views nudity, like clothing, as a social and cultural phenomenon. So her book explores how, in a variety of western societies over hundreds of years, nakedness has been used to divide and categorise people."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Cultural Studies Review, Volume 11, number 1, 2005, Susan Luckman, review of Nudity: A Cultural Anatomy.
Journal of Australian Studies Review of Books, April, 2005, Carolyn Daley, review of Nudity.
Journal of Popular Culture summer, 2001, Susan J. Hubert, review of Planet Diana: Cultural Studies and Global Mourning, p. 250.
Library Journal, September 1, 2004, Janet Ingraham Dwyer, review of Nudity, p. 173.
University of Sydney Web site, http://www.arts.usyd.edu.au/ (June 3, 2005), "Ruth Barcan."