What are you reading? – 7 April 2016

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

April 7, 2016
Woman reading on park bench

Sir David Bell, vice-chancellor, University of Reading, is reading Joanna Jepson’s A Lot Like Eve: Fashion, Faith and Fig Leaves: A Memoir (Bloomsbury, 2015). “When the Reverend Joanna Jepson became chaplain to the London College of Fashion, it was another chapter in the remarkable life that is described here. Brought up in a ‘conventional’ Christian family, she had to overcome significant facial disfigurement as a child and find her own way to faith. No stranger to controversy, she is a brilliant role model for activist and outward-looking Christianity.”

Kate Macdonald, visiting fellow in English literature, University of Reading, is reading Tansy E. Hoskins’ Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion (Pluto Press, 2014). “Horrifying reading! But it’s fascinating to be shown how the fashion industry’s pursuit of money kills, maims, poisons and destroys, and how buying cheap and high fashion supports this system. Thankfully, Hoskins offers inspirational stories of how to fight back as well. This is very readable, fine fashion journalism from the business end that pokes about among the dark and unilluminated facts.”

Olivette Otele, senior lecturer in history, Bath Spa University, is reading Ana Lucia Araujo’s Shadows of the Slave Past: Memory, Heritage and Slavery (Routledge, 2014). “Araujo analyses how presenting the story of transatlantic slavery has been a complex task since the 1990s. Memorialising slavery has been centred on questions of national identity and cultural tourism through heritage projects. This incredible volume sheds light on the way entrepreneurs of memory used Holocaust studies to transform our understanding of a traumatic past. This challenging debate is ongoing.”

R. C. Richardson, emeritus professor of history, University of Winchester, has been reading Living Economic and Social History (Economic History Society, 2001), edited by Pat Hudson. “This volume marked the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Economic History Society. It comprises more than 100 contributions from economic historians, mainly British and mainly male, offering personal and historiographical reflections – waspishly critical at times as well as celebratory – on the field and on their own places in its broad church. Reverence for key figures is juxtaposed with nervousness about economic history’s future prospects.”

Sharon Wheeler, visiting lecturer in media studies, Birmingham City University, is reading The Wheels of the World: 300 Years of Irish Uilleann Pipers (Jawbone, 2015) by Colin Harper with John McSherry. “As my brother, in penetrating music critic mode, would observe: ‘It’s a bit pipey!’ Funny, that, given its subject matter. I’ll probably be renewing my sad anorak credentials by saying so, but you can’t help but love such a meticulously researched book, boasting interviews, discography and even sheet music in the back should you feel moved to give the pipes a go yourself…”

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