Martin Cohen, Mary Evans, R.C. Richardson, Bruce Scharlau and Sharon Wheeler...

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

April 18, 2013

Martin Cohen, editor of The Philosopher, is reading Anthony James’ Amputated Souls: The Psychiatric Assault on Liberty 1935-2011 (Imprint Academic, 2013). “This book has a terrible cover of what looks like a Muslim woman peering out from under a veil, while the title makes the book sound like a narrow political manifesto. Never judge a book by its cover! In fact, James packs a great deal of carefully gathered and clearly expressed information in the 60 or so pages of the book proper. Think of this book as a kind of exposé, of the sort the Sunday papers used to do, on, say, thalidomide or torture in Iraq.”

This is a Dreadful Sentence by Penny Freedman

Mary Evans, centennial professor in the Gender Institute, London School of Economics, is reading Penny Freedman’s This is a Dreadful Sentence (Matador, 2010). “At last, a new detective novel set in a British university. Many of the usual suspects are there (the profit-driven types in particular, with some sharp observation of their activities) but definitely not in the usual order or with the usual results.”

Other People's Daughters by Ruth Brandon

R.C. Richardson, emeritus professor of history, University of Winchester, is reading Ruth Brandon’s Other People’s Daughters: The Life and Times of the Governess (Phoenix, 2009). “An engagingly written social history of an often unhappy field of middle-class women’s employment fictionalised by the Brontës and others. Six case studies occupy most space, although here - as in the mini-biographies of Mary Wollstonecraft and the self- fashioning Anna Leonowens, of The King and I fame - the subject matter sometimes goes out of focus. Governesses, as Brandon shows, occupied an ambivalent and confining social space that would begin to be rectified only by the women’s education and suffrage movements.”

Impro for Storytellers by Keith Johnstone

Bruce Scharlau, senior teaching fellow in computing science, University of Aberdeen, is reading Keith Johnstone’s Impro for Storytellers: Theatresports and the Art of Making Things Happen (Faber, 1999). “Storytelling makes talks more interesting, and this book intrigued me after I participated in Bright Club Dundee. Even if you use only some of its games in class, such as the ‘one-word sentences’ game, there is much in this book about how we learn, and it illustrates ways to enable people to be more open to learning.”

The House on an Irish Hillside by Felicity Hayes-McCoy

Sharon Wheeler, senior lecturer in journalism, University of Portsmouth, is reading Felicity Hayes-McCoy’s The House on an Irish Hillside (Hodder & Stoughton, 2012). “Exiled Irishwoman and English hubby yearn for Dingle. They buy a house there. There is music. Nostalgia’s slapped on with a trowel. It rains a lot. The book is beautifully written but ultimately reminds me of The Pogues drummer Andrew Ranken’s précis of a clichéd review of one of their gigs: ‘The band was great, the singer was drunk, tears were shed for the famine.’”

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