What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

October 22, 2009

Tim Birkhead, professor of behaviour and evolution at the University of Sheffield, is reading Darwin's Sacred Cause (Penguin, 2009) by Adrian Desmond and James Moore. "As we continue to celebrate the bicentenary of Darwin's birth, some may be feeling Darwinned-out and finding it difficult to imagine that there could be anything left to say, but this book makes a novel and compelling case for the way Darwin's abhorrence of slavery motivated his idea of evolution by common descent."

Richard Hand, professor of theatre and media drama, Cardiff School of Creative and Cultural Industries, University of Glamorgan, is reading Mark Millar and Steve McNiven's Civil War (Marvel Comics, 2006-07). "This comic is my guilty pleasure: a Superhuman Registration Act forces America's superheroes to unmask or be incarcerated indefinitely in a Guantanamo-like zone outside US jurisdiction. The eviscerating interrogation of loyalty and freedom makes this one of the most startling analyses of 21st-century global politics in any medium."

Rehana Jawadwala, a sports physiologist at the University of Central Lancashire, is reading Wittgenstein's Poker: The story of a ten-minute argument between two great philosophers by John Eidinow and David Edmonds (Faber and Faber, 2005). "I have always been intrigued by the behind-the-scenes personalities of those people whose work I admire. I particularly like the approach and treatment of this non-fiction book."

Sue Child is research fellow, Peninsula Medical School, University of Plymouth. "I am reading and reviewing Lisa Baraitser's Maternal Encounters: The Ethics of Interruption (Routledge, 2008). I am always interested to read about the experiences of women who have become mothers. This is a philosophical book that discusses a wide variety of theories including mothering, identity, language and love. The diaries kept by new mothers, and used by the author as a textual narrative, add depth and understanding to the arguments. I particularly liked the statement that the child is left with a mark of birth in the form of its navel, but the mother has no mark to signify her rite of passage into her new intimacy with the child."

Simon Underdown is senior lecturer in biological anthropology in the department of anthropology and geography, Oxford Brookes University. "I am currently rereading M.R. James' Collected Ghost Stories (Wordsworth Editions, 2007). They are old favourites of mine - every one of them - that I never tire of revisiting when the nights start to draw in."

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