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Events and Learning Cohorts

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When Work Doesn’t Work: Grappling with Vocation and the “Good Life”

Wed 02.03.21 @ 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM CST

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From unemployment to overwork, our work journeys can be uneven and fraught. Sometimes we will also experience a great disconnect between our daily work and life goals. What does vocation mean when your work journey and the “good life” feel worlds apart?


Dr. Christine Jeske spent a year interviewing people laboring amidst some of the highest unemployment and entrenched racism in the world. Drawing from Christine’s newly released book, The Laziness Myth: Narratives of Work and the Good Life in South Africa (Cornell 2020), Upper House’s Melissa Shackelford will interview Christine about how cultural narratives and systemic barriers influence the ways we experience work and how prevalent myths shape (and distort) peoples’ beliefs about vocation.


This conversation will challenge common definitions of success and invite you to forge a more nuanced view of vocation for all of life—not just your work. You’ll leave with tools for a vocational audit—questions to help you assess what you’ve believed about the good life and the steps you can take to realign your vocational journey.

About Our Speaker

Christine Jeske is an Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Wheaton College and author of several books including her latest release, The Laziness Myth: Narratives of Work and the Good Life in South Africa (Cornell University Press, 2020). She earned her Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and has worked in microfinance, refugee resettlement, community development, and teaching while living in Nicaragua, China, and South Africa. Her current research considers how people imagine achieving a “good life,” especially when unemployed or working in low-wage jobs. She lives in an old Wisconsin farmhouse named the Sanctuary, complete with a dozen chickens, several pigs, innumerable weeds, two children, and one wonderful husband. Learn more at

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Wed 02.03.21
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM CST
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Upper House
365 East Campus Mall, Suite 200
Madison, WI 53715 United States
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