What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

February 25, 2010

Sarah Amsler, lecturer in sociology at Aston University, is reading Mark Fisher's Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? (John Hunt Publishing/0-Books, 2009). "Finally, an analysis of contemporary capitalism that combines rigorous cultural analysis with unflinching political critique. Illustrating the deleterious effects of 'business ontology' on education and 'market Stalinism' in public life, Fisher lays bare the new cultural logic of capital. A provocative and necessary read, especially for anyone wanting to talk seriously about the politics of education today."

James Stevens Curl, honorary senior research fellow, Queen's University Belfast, is reading Maurice and Michael Craig's Mausolea Hibernica (Associated Editions, 2010). "This witty, exquisitely illustrated volume celebrates a building type with which Ireland is richly endowed. Tracking down these wonderful artefacts (often sited near ruined churches amid thick undergrowth) in the 'muttering rain' prompts profound thoughts concerning the human condition: in a fit of the blues one should go nowhere else. Thus Mausolea Hibernica is a perfect companion for the non-eternal bedside."

Martyn Hammersley is professor of social and educational research, The Open University. "I'm reading Putting Philosophy to Work by Susan Haack (Prometheus Books, 2008) - a set of essays covering a surprising range of topics, including: whether truth is one or many; whether science depends on faith; problems with clinical trials; and Dorothy Sayers' feminism. One of the main influences on Haack's work is the 19th-century American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce, and like him she writes with wit, verve and a profound intelligence."

George McKay is director of the Communication, Cultural and Media Studies Research Centre, University of Salford. He is reading Kenneth Helphand's Defiant Gardens: Making Gardens in Wartime (Trinity University Press, 2006). "A wonderful study of 'gardens created in extreme social or political conditions' - in World War One trenches, Jewish ghettoes in occupied Poland, even in a bomb crater in London during the Blitz - with impressively researched and often very moving archive photographs."

Norbert Pachler, reader in education at the Institute of Education, University of London, is reading Gunther Kress' Multimodality: A Social Semiotic Approach to Contemporary Communication (Routledge, 2010). "This book takes on the important task of examining frequently used terms and concepts and explores their fitness for purpose for discussing the world of communication at the beginning of the 21st century. Kress offers a convincing set of theoretical tools to deal with representation and meaning-making in a context of social, economic, political and cultural transformation."

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