A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers
Fred Inglis is emeritus professor of cultural studies, University of Sheffield. He is reading Jeremy Mynott's "new and gripping" book, Birdscapes: Birds in Our Imagination and Experience (Princeton University Press, 2009). "It is not only a model intercalation of ornithology and anthropology for the benefit of the human scientist, but also a vivid, meditative restatement of the place of much-abused old Nature in our hearts and souls."
Giulia F. Miller is postdoctoral research fellow in Jewish studies, Pennsylvania State University. She is reading Barbara E. Mann's A Place in History: Modernism, Tel Aviv, and the Creation of Jewish Urban Space (Stanford University Press, 2006). "This is an absolutely fascinating book that considers the complexities of Tel Aviv's birth, a city that was founded in 1909 as both a paragon of modernism and newness but also a form of exile for its Jewish founders."
Ken Plummer is emeritus professor of sociology, University of Essex. He is reading Rich Ling's New Tech, New Ties: How Mobile Communication Is Reshaping Social Cohesion (MIT Press, 2008). "Durkheim meets Goffman at the mobile phone shop for an interactional ritual. Fun but slight."
Alec Ryrie is reader in church history, department of theology and religion, Durham University. "Top of my tree at the moment is Beth Quitslund's The Reformation in Rhyme (Ashgate, 2008). She has written - amazingly! - the first real scholarly study of the work that outsold every other book in 16th- and 17th-century England, excepting only the Bible: the Whole Booke of Psalmes, the first English hymn-book, universally and somewhat inaccurately known as Sternhold and Hopkins (the names of two leading contributors). But the book was then buried in scholarly contempt, from which Quitslund has unearthed it: her book traces its origins and its early reputation, and gives us an invaluable insight into early modern England's religious culture."
Jo-Ann Wallace, professor of English and film studies and chair of women's studies, University of Alberta, is reading Sheila Rowbotham's Edward Carpenter: A Life of Liberty and Love (Verso, 2008). "It's wide-ranging, knowledgeable and sympathetic. It does a fabulous job of recreating a social and cultural milieu that went underground, but never really went away."