Gary Day, Andrew McInnes, R.C. Richardson, Brandy Schillace and Sharon Wheeler...

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

March 14, 2013

Gary Day, principal lecturer in English, De Montfort University, is reading Frank Kermode’s The Sense of An Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction (Oxford University Press USA, 2000). “Fiction has replaced apocalypse as a way of making sense of our relationship to time. Julian Barnes was so taken with this idea that he used the title of Kermode’s book for his own Man Booker prizewinning novel. Kermode was that rare critic who felt his way to profound truths and this, his masterpiece, shows him at his very best.”

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Andrew McInnes, lecturer in English (education and scholarship) at the University of Exeter’s Cornwall campus, is reading Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca (Virago, 2003). “I had always dismissed this as an inferior Jane Eyre, until I had to read it to teach it. From its famous first lines onwards, the novel grips you with its hallucinatory power. Du Maurier combines mystery, social satire and a nightmarish atmosphere to ensnare her nameless narrator (and us) into complicity with the murderous Maxim de Winter.”

Public History and Heritage Today: People and their Pasts

R.C. Richardson, emeritus professor of history, University of Winchester, is reading Public History and Heritage Today: People and their Pasts (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), edited by Paul Ashton and Hilda Kean. “‘Public history’ is often contentious, sometimes bedevilled by political correctness, and variously defined by either its subject matter or practitioners. Here, 14 contributions - mainly from the UK but with inputs from Australia, New Zealand, the US and Denmark - give useful insights into different aspects of today’s democratisation of history, displayed in changing museum practice, statues and monuments, national parks, re- enactment societies, and the intersections of personal and public history.”

The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? by Jared Diamond

Brandy Schillace, assistant professor of English, Winona State University, is reading Jared Diamond’s The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? (Allen Lane, 2012). “We often take technology for granted, forgetting that the rest of the world isn’t nearly as ‘plugged in’ - and that we aren’t so very distant from our own tech-free past. This work provides fascinating first-person case studies of traditional societies, demonstrating how much they can teach us about life, adaptive social practice and what it means to be human.”

Murder for Treasure by David Williams

Sharon Wheeler, senior lecturer in journalism, University of Portsmouth, is reading David Williams’ Murder for Treasure (Bello, 2012). “What are the chances now of a banker being the hero of a series of books? Fat chance and no chance, probably. Bello, which is reissuing forgotten classics, offers up the late Williams’ elegant, laugh-aloud mystery, which boasts a nuggety plot peopled by bogus vicars, formidable matrons, American millionaires, a parrot and a raffish Irish wolfhound called Devalera.”

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