James Stevens Curl, Katie Dow, Liz Gloyn, A. W. Purdue and Sara Read...

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

May 29, 2014

James Stevens Curl, professor of architecture, University of Ulster, is reading Pevsner: The Complete Broadcast Talks. Architecture and Art on Radio and Television, 1945-1977 (Ashgate, 2014). “Surviving texts of talks on art and architecture given by Nikolaus Pevsner and broadcast over 32 years are here given, comprehensively edited: they comprise a remarkable collection, sometimes wrong-headed (his worship of certain personalities was often embarrassing), but always interesting and frequently full of insights. A fascinating record, meticulously presented, it recalls a time when the BBC took intellect seriously.”

Review: Parenting Culture Studies, edited by Ellie Lee et al

Katie Dow, research associate in the sociology of reproduction, University of Cambridge, is reading Parenting Culture Studies (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), edited by Ellie Lee, Jennie Bristow, Charlotte Faircloth and Jan Macvarish. “A must-read for anyone with a scholarly or critical interest in today’s ‘better safe than sorry’, high-intensity, expert-led culture of parenting. Accessibly and engagingly written with handy summaries for each chapter, it could also provide reassurance and a reality check for parents overwhelmed by advice about how best to protect their children from the apparent risks of the modern world.”

Review: Shikasta: Re: Colonised Planet 5, by Doris Lessing

Liz Gloyn, lecturer in Classics, Royal Holloway, University of London, is reading Doris Lessing’s Shikasta: Re: Colonised Planet 5 (Flamingo, 1994). “Some obituaries published after Lessing’s death in November 2013 mentioned that she was most proud of her Canopus series, of which this novel is the first. A stimulating sci-fi vision of Earth’s history as part of a grander cosmic narrative – not without flaws, but with plenty to enjoy and provoke: do humans have agency or do alien forces shape us unwittingly?”

Review: The Trigger: Hunting the Assassin Who Brought the World to War, by Tim Butcher

A. W. Purdue, visiting professor in history, University of Northumbria, is reading Tim Butcher’s The Trigger: Hunting the Assassin Who Brought the World to War (Chatto & Windus, 2014). “Gavrilo Princip did not cause the First World War, but his assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand started a chain of events that led to it. That they did was due to the context of a Balkans seething with irreconcilable nationalisms that was also the focal point of a struggle between Russia and Austria–Hungary. Butcher weighs Princip’s aims in light of Bosnia’s recent history.”

Review: Fat, Gluttony and Sloth: Obesity in Literature, Art and Medicine, by David and Fiona Haslam

Sara Read, lecturer in English, Loughborough University, is reading David and Fiona Haslam’s Fat, Gluttony and Sloth: Obesity in Literature, Art and Medicine (Liverpool University Press, 2009). “This book is richly illustrated with pictures – including an image of Daniel Lambert, who died in 1809 aged 39 weighing nearly 53 stone – as part of its survey of representations of fatness over several centuries. It argues that obesity is on a disease curve that, if it follows the same pattern as other diseases, will be eradicated by science. And shockingly, it shows that obesity ‘kills more people in the developed world than terrorism, climate change or war’.”

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