What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

December 10, 2009

John Gilbey lectures in IT service management, Aberystwyth University. "I'm reading Brian Clegg's excellent book The Man Who Stopped Time (Sutton, 2007), an account of the life and interesting times of Eadweard Muybridge. He was a pioneer photographer who was commissioned by Leland Stanford (of Stanford University fame) to study racehorses in motion on Stanford's farm at Palo Alto - and arguably kick-started the concept of cinematography in the process. He also shot and killed his wife's lover in a fit of jealous rage, so it includes pretty much everything you could wish for in a Victorian drama. Beautifully written, well researched and elegantly presented."

Steve Hanson, lecturer in contextual studies, Hereford College of Arts, is rereading This England by Pete Davies (Abacus, 1998). "Content and context change historically, but it's fascinating to return to this text and discover how little has changed in this post-industrial place as a general election looms."

Willy Maley is professor of Renaissance studies, University of Glasgow. "As Jonathan Swift well knew, the history of the English in Ireland is so brutish as to make satire an ineffectual weapon, but where satire fails scholarship steps in. The contributors to Age of Atrocity: Violence and Political Conflict in Early Modern Ireland (Four Courts, 2007), edited by David Edwards, Padraig Lenihan and Clodagh Tait, painstakingly chart the course of colonial violence from Elizabeth I to Cromwell, exposing the unsubtle nature of 'anti-terrorist' and 'peacekeeping' operations (read beheading and bloodletting) long before Iraq and Afghanistan."

Stephen Wade lectures in the history of crime at the University of Hull and the department for continuing education, University of Oxford. "I'm reading Classic Crimes by William Roughead (New York Review of Books, 2001). Roughead was a Scots solicitor, and arguably the most deeply read and scholarly author of the 'true crime' genre as it emerged in the Edwardian period, when crime writing was 'respectable' and often written by barristers. This selection reminds me how challenging crime investigation can be, helping me relish the task."

Tim Hall, lecturer in human geography, University of Gloucestershire, is rereading Murray Edelman's Constructing the Political Spectacle (University of Chicago Press, 1988). "This is a classic of political analysis that reminds us of the inherent centrality of language, symbol, rhetoric and spin to the political process long before Peter Mandelson and Alastair Campbell arrived on the scene."

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