What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

April 29, 2010

Stephen Boyd Davis is head of the Lansdown Centre for Electronic Arts, Middlesex University. "I am reading Daniel Rosenberg and Anthony Grafton's quite exceptional Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline (Princeton Architectural Press, 2010). It is a beautifully produced, lavishly illustrated history of visual representations of historical time that will prove a foundational text for future serious study of chronographics, which have too long been considered a populist, even childish way of conceptualising history."

Laurence Coupe is senior lecturer in English, Manchester Metropolitan University. "I've been prompted by the recent death of Thomas Berry, the Christian ecologist who described himself as a 'geologian' rather than a theologian, to re-read The Great Work: Our Way into the Future (Three Rivers Press, 1999). Here he guides us into the 'Ecozoic Era', during which we will take our modest and respectful place within the Earth community after centuries of destructive arrogance. The keys to our transformation will be not only imagination but also the rediscovery of ancient and native wisdoms. His chapter on the function of the university should be compulsory reading for vice-chancellors everywhere."

James Stevens Curl, honorary senior research fellow, Queen's University Belfast, is reading Penelope Harris' The Architectural Achievement of Joseph Aloysius Hansom (1803-1882): Designer of the Hansom Cab, Birmingham Town Hall, and Churches of the Catholic Revival (Edwin Mellen Press, 2010). "One would think that the inventor of the hansom cab, founder of The Builder, and architect of many important buildings including Birmingham Town Hall, the Church of the Holy Name, Manchester and Arundel Cathedral, might have deserved a monograph, but none has appeared until now. This slim volume is therefore welcome, though very expensive."

Susan Hogan is professor of cultural studies, University of Derby. "I am reading Natasha Walter's Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism (Little, Brown, 2010) - an intelligent, articulate exposition, and a swingeing indictment of sexism. It is more of a polemic than a scholarly endeavour, but highly entertaining. I'd like to make it compulsory reading for undergraduates who say 'I'm not a feminist but ...' and then articulate feminist values and beliefs."

Tim Unwin, Ashley Watkins professor of French, University of Bristol, is re-reading Jean Fornasiero, Peter Monteath and John West-Sooby's Encountering Terra Australis: The Australian Voyages of Nicolas Baudin and Matthew Flinders (Wakefield Press, 2004). "The history of Australian exploration is awash with British names, but this reminds us of the contribution made by the French. Baudin's voyage has often been thought irrelevant, and the commander incompetent. In fact, his encounter with Flinders was a model of scientific collaboration. Here, his legacy is fascinatingly reassessed."

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