What are you reading? – 14 January 2016

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

January 14, 2016
Books on bookshelf

Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder professor of geography, University of Oxford, is reading Dawn Foster’s Lean Out (Repeater, 2016). “Rarely does ‘essential reading’ really mean that you urgently need to read a book. But Lean Out is different: the argument that a society that promotes ‘aspiration’ must rely on outliers is just one of its many gems. There is a danger that corporate feminism will enter academia and will not be recognised for the aberration that it is. Lean Out is the antidote. Just 87 pages long, it is well worth the many hours it takes to read and absorb.”

Vicky Duckworth, senior lecturer in educational research, Edge Hill University, is reading Michael R. M. Ward’s From Labouring to Learning: Working‑class Masculinities, Education and De-industrialization (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). “I’m gripped by the educational journeys of a group of working-class males from the Welsh valleys, and moved as I navigate through the rich history and devastating deindustrialisation of a once-vibrant community. ‘Chameleonisation’, Ward’s meaningful metaphor, unlocks the often silenced complexities at work in these re-traditionalised, re-embodied practices of masculinity.”

Dave O’Brien, senior lecturer in cultural policy, ICCE, Goldsmiths, University of London, is reading Culture, Economy and Politics: The Case of New Labour (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), edited by David Hesmondhalgh, Kate Oakley, David Lee and Melissa Nisbett. “I’m reading this for three reasons. First, it is invaluable for the teaching I do. Second, it gives important context to the uncertainty associated with arts funding. Finally, it gives a nuanced assessment of the entire New Labour period, countering simplistic assertions that it was merely a neoliberal project.”

R. C. Richardson, emeritus professor of history, University of Winchester, is reading Gavin Stamp’s Lost Victorian Britain: How the Twentieth Century Destroyed the Nineteenth Century’s Architectural Masterpieces (Aurum Press, 2007). “It reads at times like a relentless catalogue, but this effect rightly underlines the ruthless obliteration of countless fine Victorian buildings not just by wartime bombs but in the course of ill-conceived schemes of civic ‘improvement’. Euston station’s destruction was perhaps the most unforgivable, but alongside it should be placed iconic buildings as various as the Imperial Institute in South Kensington and the monumentally vast Eaton Hall in Cheshire.”

Uwe Schütte, reader in German, Aston University, is reading Marianne Fritz’s The Weight of Things (Dorothy, 2015). “Possibly the world’s most colossal literary work, Festung (Fortress) is one in which its author, the Austrian writer Marianne Fritz (1948-2007) breaks with all narrative norms. It is a monstrous work that mirrors the monstrosity of its subject matter – the Second World War. Only the first part, The Weight of Things, can conceivably be translated. Adrian Nathan West has achieved this difficult task superbly.”

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