Laurence Coupe, Michael Patrick Cullinane, John Gilbey, Liz Gloyn and Richard Howells...

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

October 3, 2013

Laurence Coupe, senior lecturer in English, Manchester Metropolitan University, is re-reading Kenneth Burke’s Language as Symbolic Action: Essays on Life, Literature, and Method (University of California Press, 1966). “In these essays, Burke offers his most accessible account of the way human beings use words to cope with situations, and how they so often abuse them in their attempt to subdue nature, maintain hierarchy and pursue perfection – with literature usually, but not always, offering the necessary corrective.”

The Lion and the Journalist, by Chip Bishop

Michael Patrick Cullinane, senior lecturer in US history at Northumbria University, is reading Chip Bishop’s The Lion and the Journalist (Lyons Press, 2012). “The story of Theodore Roosevelt and his lifelong friendship with Joseph Bucklin Bishop is engrossing. Their lives intersect at historic moments, adding perspective to the 1902 coal strike, the administration of the Panama Canal, the 1912 election and 20th-century journalism in the White House. Most importantly, as Roosevelt’s official biographer, Bishop’s controversial hagiography can tell us much about this president’s early legacy.”

Sailing Alone Around the World, by Joshua Slocum

John Gilbey, who lectures in IT service management at Aberystwyth University, is reading – for maybe the fourth or fifth time – Joshua Slocum’s classic nautical tale Sailing Alone Around the World (John Beaufoy, 2010). “Having rebuilt the oyster sloop Spray, which he found in a meadow, Slocum set off from Boston in 1895 on an eventful three-year circumnavigation. The book was hugely popular at the time – and the dry, understated humour with which he describes his triumphs and disasters still brings a smile to the faces of those who have (like me) made fools of themselves at sea.”

Lavinia, by Ursula K. Le Guin

Liz Gloyn, lecturer in Classics, Royal Holloway, University of London, is reading Ursula Le Guin’s Lavinia (Orion, 2010). “Le Guin breathes life into a pivotal but almost invisible character from Virgil’s epic poem, the Aeneid, and retells the classic foundation myth of Rome from her perspective. Lavina’s choice to marry Aeneas instead of Turnus brings war to her people, but also enables the eventual rise of Augustus. A great example of imaginative classical reception in contemporary fiction.”

Roger Fry's 'Difficult and Uncertain Science', by Adrianne Rubin

Richard Howells, reader in culture, media and creative industries, King’s College London, is reading Adrianne Rubin’s Roger Fry’s ‘Difficult and Uncertain Science’ (Peter Lang, 2013). “I’ll read anything about Fry – a scholar, aesthete and public intellectual who was also said to be extremely good company. This is true even of a book that is essentially a published doctoral thesis and therefore slightly less engaging. But the author takes the great man with appropriate seriousness, confirming that with Roger Eliot Fry we have one R.E.F. who, unlike his acronymic namesake, genuinely deserves to be called excellent.”

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