Sara Clethero, David Eastwood, George McKay, Diane Richardson and Sharon Ruston…

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

March 27, 2014

Sara Clethero, head of voice, London College of Music, University of West London, is reading Peter T. Harrison’s Singing: Personal and Performance Values in Training (Dunedin, 2013). “A kindly and wise book written to address what Harrison sees as ‘declining standards and values in the training and performance of singers’. It covers a huge variety of methods and supplementary disciplines, and is full of good advice and homage to the ‘incredible design’ of the singing voice. Whether it is focused enough to redeem us from the huge public muddle about singing and its significance at this time is another question.”

Lives in writing by David Lodge

David Eastwood, vice-chancellor, University of Birmingham, is reading David Lodge’s Lives in Writing: Essays (Harvill Secker, 2014). “Many know Lodge as the author of perhaps the finest and funniest campus novels. He has also taken us with humour and humanity into the worlds of military service, Catholic liberalism and deafness. This volume reminds us that he is a scholar of rare sympathy and subtlety. Try him on Terry Eagleton for luminous sanity on structuralism and post-structuralism, and on Frank Kermode for intellectual generosity.”

Black Star by Ramamurthy

George McKay, AHRC leadership fellow for the Connected Communities programme, University of Salford, is reading Anandi Ramamurthy’s Black Star: Britain’s Asian Youth Movements (Pluto, 2013). “Ramamurthy’s urgent account of a forgotten – no: ignored – history of radicalism looks at how the children of South Asian migrants organised and fought racism on the streets in northern English towns. From the Bradford 12 trial to the Bradford book-burning of the ‘Rushdie affair’, she charts the shift from a ‘black’-centred anti-imperialist solidarity movement to a splintered, faith-based identity politics.”

Europe is Gay Friendly by Richardson

Diane Richardson, professor of sociology and social policy, Newcastle University, is reading Angelia R. Wilson’s Why Europe is Lesbian and Gay Friendly (and Why America Never Will Be) (SUNY Press, 2013). “I like the way Wilson writes. In her lively and engaging style, she offers the reader a wonderfully clear and compelling account of the differences in politics, policy and culture that provides answers to the book title’s question. This is an important book, offering us a better grasp of the conceptual complexities and political challenges that hang upon the topic of lesbian and gay inclusion in different nation states and why our understanding of this matters.”

Longbourn by Jo Baker

Sharon Ruston, chair in Romanticism, Lancaster University, is reading Jo Baker’s Longbourn (Black Swan, 2014). “A fleshing-out of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but this time the story is told from the point of view of the servants. Reading Austen, I had never given a moment’s thought, as I really should have done, to the amount of washing, cleaning and pure hard work that went into keeping the Bennet sisters in clean linen. Baker has researched the period well and the detail given is chastening. Of course, there is a love story here, too.”

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