What are you reading? – 11 August 2016

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

August 11, 2016
Man drinking coffee and reading book
Source: iStock

Sean Creaney, PhD candidate in criminology, Liverpool John Moores University, is reading Kevin Haines and Stephen Case’s Positive Youth Justice: Children First, Offenders Second (Policy Press, 2015). “High-profile figures have recently called for offenders to have a stronger voice in the justice system. As Kevin Haines and Stephen Case critically note, offender views are often rendered invalid as intervention is done ‘to’ them, not ‘with’ them. Although academics are quick to criticise criminal justice policy and practice, they rarely offer credible alternatives. However, Haines and Case propose an innovative model that they call positive youth justice. It was developed with children, families and practitioners – crucially, their accounts were prioritised and given legitimacy. Despite the barriers of diminishing resources, existing cultural challenges, procedural and bureaucratic systems, their model should be welcomed because it transcends youth justice and is applicable to those with an interest in education, social care and health.”

James Underwood, research fellow in modern and contemporary literature, University of Huddersfield, is reading Steve Ely’s Ted Hughes’s South Yorkshire: Made in Mexborough (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). “Steve Ely’s book addresses a strange lacuna in Hughes biography and criticism, namely the influence of the 13 years that he spent in Mexborough (ie, the period between his time in Mytholmroyd and in Cambridge). Although Hughes spent only eight years in Mytholmroyd, Ely contends that its Brontëan ruggedness and culturally engaged middle class have been enabling forces in claiming the poet for the area – in contrast to the plainer aesthetic of post-industrial Mexborough. In demonstrating Mexborough’s formative impact, Ely has unpacked the town’s heritage and social history – which is a feat just as important and engrossing as his welcome contribution to post-war literary history.”

Sharon Wheeler, visiting lecturer in media studies, Birmingham City University and author of Feature Writing for Journalists (2009), is reading Natalie Avella’s Graphic Japan: From Woodblock and Zen to Manga and Kawaii (RotoVision, 2004). “Japan produces some of the coolest stationery on the planet – and I know my Hobonichis from my Midoris, thank you for asking. Which is partly why I got hooked on the graphic art of Japan despite not being able to draw or design to save my life. Natalie Avella’s book is one to get lost in, or to use as a source book, and takes in everything from woodblock to poster design, typography and the influence of manga. There are surprisingly few big‑eyed cuties in here, and I may well have blinked and missed Hello Kitty. But the original Pokémon sneaks in at the end!”

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