What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

April 15, 2010

Will Brooker, reader in film and television, Kingston University, is reading Karen Hellekson and Kristina Busse's Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet: New Essays (McFarland, 2006). "As a male fan-scholar I used to feel a little uncomfortable around female-dominated media fandom, with its slash fiction, support networks and 'squeeing'. Hellekson and Busse's collection welcomes even the sceptical reader, and turned this cynic into a convert. Like the communities it discusses, the anthology is a generous, intelligent network of dialogue and debate. I wish I'd read it earlier."

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 Victorian CSI by William A. Guy, David Ferrier and William R. Smith (The History Press, 2009) - a reprint of Guy's 1844 book, written before there was much science in forensics. Although his reputation was damaged in a famous poison trial, this is a testament to his considerable achievements: the work of a general physician sorting out crime scenes before blood-spatter analysis became a specialism or before anyone had even dreamed of DNA."

John Welshman, senior lecturer in the department of history, Lancaster University, is currently reading Chris Mullin's A View from the Foothills (Profile, 2009). "Mullin's diaries are the New Labour equivalent of Alan Clark's: more self-deprecating, but equally indiscreet and revealing as they flit between constituency life in Sunderland, Mullin's flat in Brixton and the foothills of power in the corridors of the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, the Department for International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office."

Martin James, senior lecturer in popular music studies and course leader in the BA (Hons) in popular music journalism, Southampton Solent University, is reading Neal Stephenson's Anathem (Atlantic, 2008). "Stephenson's cyberfiction novels have gradually moved back in time to a point where, in his Baroque Cycle, characters grappled with the birth of modern science and monetary systems. Anathem, his latest, however, is set 3,000 years in the future, where he brings mathematics, science, philosophy, art and music together via brilliant characterisation and erudite storytelling."

James Clarke is course coordinator in the BA (Hons) in film and screen media design, Hereford College of Arts. "I am reading the collected series of Bone graphic novels by Jeff Smith (Scholastic). These are wonderfully crafted fantasies with a connection to the rural Americana of L. Frank Baum's Oz stories. Witty, epic and emotive, the Bone serial reminds me to encourage my film-making students to investigate the great sequential art tradition of comics. Note to self: hunt out book on Winsor McCay for students."

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