What are you reading? – 10 December 2015

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

December 10, 2015
Woman reading on park bench

Tim Hall, professor of interdisciplinary social studies, University of Winchester, is reading Alexandra Harris’ Weatherland: Writers and Artists under English Skies (Thames & Hudson, 2015). “As I watch a grey, rain-laden sky out of my window, it is hard to imagine the English weather as a focus of artistic and cultural fascination. But in this beautifully written and illustrated cultural history, Harris reveals the complex and shifting relationships between the English – including poets, novelists, artists and diarists – and their weather. While grounding her interpretations in the cultures of the times she examines, she never obscures the gems drawn from her copious source material.”

Harriet Harriss, senior tutor in architecture and interior design, Royal College of Art, is reading Anne Dye and Flora Samuel’s Demystifying Architectural Research: Adding Value to Your Practice (RIBA, 2015). “This pioneering book features a diverse range of actionable, real-world tested examples of architectural research taking place in practice, debunking the myth that research is something only academics and theorists do well. Instead, Dye and Samuel evidence the increasing importance of research to all practising architects and built environment professionals – particularly those who seek to become competitive, innovative and even more societally relevant and responsive.”

Andreas Hess, senior lecturer in sociology, University College Dublin, is reading Sociological Amnesia: Cross-Currents in Disciplinary History (Ashgate, 2015), edited by Alex Law and Eric Royal Lybeck. “By definition, collective and cultural memories are about not what happened but what is being remembered. That also applies to large professional associations, where the 1 per cent of the discipline’s great names have crowded out many other fascinating scholars. This collection helps to excavate the work of ‘dead’ sociologists such as Raymond Aron, Viola Klein, G. D. H. Cole and Norbert Elias.”

Richard Joyner, professor emeritus of chemistry, Nottingham Trent University, is reading Helga Nowotny’s The Cunning of Uncertainty (Polity, 2015). “I picked up this book with great anticipation. Nearing its end, I’m very disappointed. Developing a shared understanding of uncertainty is a major challenge for politicians, academic experts including climatologists and economists, and voters alike. I don’t think that this short book will help much, despite the dense erudition of every page. Either it’s too cunning or I’m too simple.”

Uwe Schütte, reader in German, Aston University, is reading Morrissey’s List of the Lost (Penguin, 2015). “Morrissey’s musical output may have become irrelevant over the past decade, but fortunately his knack for language has blossomed in his literary work. In any case, the opening 100 pages of his Autobiography are dazzling. And in this, his first novel, he delivers superb prose fiction from start to finish. A spellbinding, gnostic tale about the world on a downward spiral.”

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