What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

July 30, 2009

Andrew Blake is associate dean of social sciences, media and cultural studies, University of East London. - "I'm just finishing Marxism, Cultural Studies and Sport (Routledge, 2008), edited by Ben Carrington and Ian McDonald, as preparation for London 2012. It's part of a belated attempt by cultural studies to take sport as seriously as it has taken other aspects of popular culture. I'm about to re-read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, so that I can work out what Warner has left out of the movie. It usually downplays the political and anarchistic elements in the books, and doubtless will do so again."

Alison Hramiak is principal lecturer and faculty fellow for assessment and feedback, Sheffield Hallam University. - "I'm reading Education in Britain: 1944 to the Present, by Ken Jones (Polity, 2008). I am fascinated by the history of education. I think you need to know where you come from to help you get to where you're going, and this book lets you do just that."

Flora Samuel takes up her new post in September as professor and head of department, School of Architecture, University of Sheffield. - "I'm reading When the Lights Went Out: Britain in the Seventies by Andy Beckett (Faber, 2009) to understand the political background for some of the activist architecture that was happening at that time. If you weren't quite conscious enough to understand what was happening in the blackouts, this is the book for you. A really enjoyable read covering the beginnings of lots of important things, including the environmental movement, feminism and gay activism."

Howard Segal, professor of history, University of Maine, is reading Christina Marsden Gillis' Writing on Stone: Scenes from a Maine Island Life (University Press of New England, 2008). "A beautifully written and very moving memoir about decades of summer living on an island off the Maine coast and a fascinating history of an island whose small cemetery includes the graves of Gillis' son Benjamin and the famous deconstructionist literary critic Paul de Man."

Duncan Wu is professor in the English department, Georgetown University. "I'm reading W.G. Sebald's The Emigrants (Vintage, 2002), having just devoured his other books - Austerlitz, Vertigo and The Rings of Saturn - in the past two weeks. He was a great, great writer who ranks alongside Nabokov and Borges. Weirdly, while in the UK over the past month I've met two people who knew Sebald and one person who wants to write his biography."

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