What are you reading? – 7 December 2017

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

December 7, 2017
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Clare Debenham, honorary research associate, University of Manchester, is reading Diane Atkinson’s The Suffragettes in Pictures (The History Press, 2010). “1918 marks the centenary of the Representation of the People Act and so I have often been asked by journalists to provide details of leading suffragette Christabel Pankhurst, who was awarded a first-class honours degree in law from my university. The book’s title might imply a ‘dumbing down’ of the issues, but this is far from the case: in discussing the origins and growth of women’s suffrage campaigns, it does not shrink from academic controversy, for instance around the death of Emily Wilding Davison. The arguments are nuanced and clearly presented. Lavishly illustrated from contemporary photographs, the book brings home the scale of the activities of the suffrage movement and the violence. I find particularly thought-provoking the photograph of the Manchester Exhibition Centre completely destroyed in 1913 in an arson attack by militant suffragettes.”

Maria Delgado, professor, and director of research, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London, is reading Charlotte McIvor’s Migration and Performance in Contemporary Ireland: Towards a New Interculturalism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). “Large-scale immigration since the 1990s has had significant consequences both for understandings of interculturalism and broader policies and art practices in Ireland. Charlotte McIvor’s compelling new study examines how the Republic has mobilised interculturalism as both social policy and aesthetic practice. From the representation of asylum seekers and refugees to casting practices in theatre, from community arts projects to the visibility of women’s labour in and as performance, this book asks powerful questions about how art operates in nation formation. It also asks important questions about histories of performance, our ethical and political responsibilities as cultural historians and the complex ways in which the arts in Ireland have served to work through issues of social and indeed political interculturalism.”

Rachel Roberts, lecturer in secondary English education, University of Reading, is reading Frank Coffield’s Will the Leopard Change its Spots? A New Model of Inspection for Ofsted (UCL Institute of Education Press, 2017). “Coffield’s awkwardly titled polemic questions the value of the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills in school improvement, and sets out a new model of inspection incorporating a more supportive, dialogic approach. The atmosphere of accountability and decision-making based on (mostly erroneous) assumptions of ‘what Ofsted wants’ that has grown up in schools around government policy of league tables and endless interference is firmly in Coffield’s line of fire. His ideal version of inspection requires the dropping of ideology-laden vocabulary such as ‘rigour’ and the repositioning of teachers as capable professionals. He notes that, with a new HM Chief Inspector of Education, there is an atmosphere of change at Ofsted. Let’s hope this book is on her reading list.”

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