What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

April 22, 2010

Daniel Binney, an administrator in the department of history, Classics and archaeology, Birkbeck, University of London, is reading Nicholas Ostler's Ad Infinitum: A Biography of Latin (Harper Press, 2007). "A fascinating book of immense scope and satisfying detail following the progression of an obscure Italian dialect with little to recommend it, to the pinnacle of Western scientific and philosophical thought, finally to its fond senescence. With a wry nod to the title, I wish it had gone on longer."

Piotr A. Cieplak, doctoral researcher in the department of French, University of Cambridge, is reading Lisa Downing and Libby Saxton's Film and Ethics: Foreclosed Encounters (Routledge, 2009). "A fascinating examination of the way film, film-makers and spectators face, ignore, accept and challenge established, as well as unlikely and surprising, ethical dilemmas. I appreciate this book for the close attention it pays to filmic texts while it encourages a broader debate about philosophical ideas and historical discourses. A brilliant, comprehensive overview accompanied by revealing, detailed analysis."

Nathan Emmerich is a doctoral candidate in the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, Queen's University Belfast. "I am reading Ron Iphofen's Ethical Decision Making in Social Research (Palgrave, 2009). Drawing on a range of knowledge and experience, Iphofen gives a fairly comprehensive view of a rapidly developing field. This is more than an 'ethics primer' for social scientists, but it also avoids too much specialised analysis. It deserves a place in most university libraries and, if Palgrave brings it out in paperback, the shelves of social scientists with specific interest or responsibility for research ethics and those whose research tends to raise ethical challenges."

Leslie Gelling, senior research fellow in the faculty of health and social care, Anglia Ruskin University, is reading Katrin Himmler's The Himmler Brothers (Macmillan, 2007). "Three Himmler brothers were born into a normal middle-class German family. One brother became head of Hitler's SS and was responsible for the deaths of millions of people in concentration camps. This book offers a fascinating insight into the private lives of the Himmler family, their history and Heinrich Himmler's impact on later family members."

Sharon Ruston is chair in 19th-century literature and culture, University of Salford. "I've been reading Clayton Koelb's The Revivifying Word: Literature, Philosophy, and the Theory of Life in Europe's Romantic Age (Camden House, 2008) on how characters, authors, and history come to life through the act of reading. It is fascinating that once-living and now dead leaves of a book enable this new life."

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