What are you reading? – 9 August 2018

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

August 9, 2018
Students sitting at a table alongside a pile of books
Source: iStock

Maria Delgado, professor and director of research, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London, is reading Núria Triana-Toribio’s Spanish Film Cultures: The Making and Unmaking of 
Spanish Cinema (BFI Palgrave, 2016). “With Pedro Almodóvar shooting his 21st film, Dolor y Gloria/Pain and Gloria, I have turned to this erudite account of the emergence of Spain’s film industry over the period from 1986 to 2011. His films haven’t fitted easily into the brand of social realism that the Spanish Film Academy has tended to reward. Examining the central role of the academy, the book looks at strategies employed to protect film-making post-Franco, promote certain trends and genres, and shape what constitute ‘good’ films through the annual Goya awards. A vision of Spanish cinema, where the Catalan was in effect marginalised, was sold both nationally and internationally, through the boom years of early democracy and into the post-2007 economic crisis.”

A. W. Purdue, visiting professor in history at Northumbria University, is reading E. F. Benson’s The Complete Mapp and Lucia (Wordsworth Classics, 2011). “These three novels are set among the middle-aged leisured elite in the small town of Tilling, closely based on Rye, immediately after the First World War. Lucia, recently widowed, moves to the town, bringing in tow her bachelor friend Georgie; she fears he may wish to marry her, and is relieved, if slightly miffed, when she discovers his dread of such a relationship. She quickly arouses jealousy and resentment in Elizabeth Mapp, the reigning arbiter of social and cultural life. As Keith Caradine points out in his perceptive introduction, sex hovers over the book, but that ‘horrid thing’ is never acknowledged, giving the book a flavour as camp as a Carry On film. This, perhaps, reflects the author’s own experience, since Benson came from the somewhat exotic ménage of an Archbishop of Canterbury, in which his father seems to have been the only consistent heterosexual.”

John Pritchard, director of strategic planning, Durham University, is reading Max McKeown’s The Strategy Book (2nd edition, FT Publishing, 2015). “The premise of this clearly articulated guide is that strategy is about shaping a desired future. At a time of unprecedented turbulence in higher education, this book therefore addresses a broad and pertinent subject, although it frames it primarily with reference to the corporate world. The author maintains that the essential elements of strategising are concerned with answering the fundamental questions of ‘where are we, where do we want to go, what must be done, how to do it and how to measure progress’. While not addressing the particularities of a university culture that now frequently eats strategy for breakfast, it provides a useful resource and toolkit of techniques to help address the challenges we face at this critical juncture.”

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