What are you reading? – June 2021

A look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

June 21, 2021
Source: istock

David Bridges, professor emeritus in the University of East Anglia’s School of Education and Lifelong Learning, is reading Clare Debenham’s Life and Death in Higher Education: The Rise and Demise of British Colleges of Education (Lutterworth Press, 2021). “Teacher training colleges (‘colleges of education’ from 1964) deserve a place in the history of higher education in Britain. At their peak in 1968, as Debenham explains, there were 113 local authority colleges and 53 run by voluntary bodies. Some 40,000 men and women entered them, compared with about 50,000 entering universities. But from 1974 onwards, the colleges were abolished as separate institutions. Some were shut down, others merged with local polytechnics and universities; a few survived and diversified, eventually becoming universities in their own right. Debenham provides a vivid picture of the life of these colleges, drawing on interviews and archival material, and uses their death as a starting point for some provocative analysis of how teacher training is best provided inside and, increasingly, outside higher education.”

John Anchor, professor of international strategy at the University of Huddersfield, is reading Mauro F. Guillen’s Rude Awakening: Threats to the Global Liberal Order (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018). “The 2008 financial crisis threatened the stability of the political and economic settlement that arose from the ashes of the Second World War. The first Global Liberal Order (GLO1) ran from 1945 to the 1970s and was characterised by Keynesian macroeconomic management and increasing social liberalism. GLO2 saw an emphasis on the primacy of markets and the financialisation of the economy. In both periods, technocratic economic management reigned supreme. The whizz-kids who invented ever more complex financial derivatives and lent billions to those who could not repay them were not punished after the 2008 crash. The crisis and the response to it were then exploited by populists to challenge the Global Liberal Order and its multilateral institutions. Despite a new respect for expertise during the Covid pandemic, the jury is still out on whether the liberal centre can hold.”

Uwe Schütte, reader in German at Aston University, is reading David Anderson’s Landscape and Subjectivity in the Work of Patrick Keiller, W. G. Sebald, and Iain Sinclair (Oxford University Press, 2020). “I try to keep abreast of publications on W. G. Sebald, my former PhD supervisor at the University of East Anglia. But although research on him shows no sign of abating, quantity does not necessarily mean quality. This book turned out to be a welcome exception. Anderson’s comparative study connects and compares Sebald’s East Anglian travelogue-cum-essay The Rings of Saturn and his novel Austerlitz with key works of ‘English psychogeography’. It has opened my eyes to how his books, though originally written in German and maintaining a decidedly European outlook, participate in a very English tradition of engagement with landscape. Most enjoyable, however, were not only the many insights I gained, but also the fact that it is written without the jargon that mars so many studies of Sebald.”

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