What are you reading? – 5 October 2017

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

October 5, 2017
Source: istock

Sir David Bell, vice-chancellor of the University of Reading, is reading Frances FitzGerald’s The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America (Simon & Schuster, 2017). “Evangelicals in America are a political force to be reckoned with, not least in the Republican Party. But first and foremost, they represent an important strand in the Christian tradition. So who are they and what do they believe? The Evangelicals chronicles the development of this religious and cultural phenomenon. Obscure theological disputes are an important part of the story. Equally, colourful characters abound, displaying a typically American mix of spiritual ‘showbiz’ and salesmanship – and not just in the modern era. FitzGerald reminds us that there has been a perpetual argument in Evangelicalism between those whose first priority is to save souls and those who want to change society. That is as true today as it was in the past.”

Carina Buckley, instructional design manager, Southampton Solent University, is reading Louise Frith, Gina May and Amanda Pocklington’s The Student’s Guide to Peer Mentoring: Get More from Your University Experience (Palgrave, 2017). “Peer-led or peer-assisted learning is becoming an increasingly popular and prevalent feature of UK universities, with mentoring schemes set up for social as well as academic support. This handy, compact book outlines the role and its responsibilities specifically for the student thinking of becoming a mentor. It is also a practical guide – clear, informative and easy to follow – to teaching techniques, leading group work, goal setting and emotional intelligence. The authors have also provided plenty of prompts for thought and reflection. Given some of the anxieties around the role of the personal tutor that lecturers can have, and the extent to which they are able to support students outside the classroom, this could just as easily be repackaged as a guide for them too.”

R. C. Richardson, emeritus professor of history, University of Winchester, is reading Walter Greenwood’s There Was a Time (Penguin, 1969). “Greenwood’s politically charged novel Love on the Dole (1933) rapidly established itself as one of the classic statements about the inter-war depression and was in due course filmed. He also wrote other novels and plays in the same decade and in the 1940s, but nothing else rivalled his initial success. There Was a Time is Greenwood’s autobiography documenting his childhood, youth and early manhood in a down-at- heel Lancashire setting and provides a vivid portrayal of desperately hard times and of those, his own family and neighbours included, struggling to cope with poverty and unemployment. Although in a different genre, the overlap in style, characterisation, depiction of human interactions and use of dialogue in this book ensure that it is in every sense a companion piece to his most famous novel.”

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