What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

July 15, 2010

Helen Abbott, lecturer in French, Bangor University, is reading Patrick McGuinness' Jilted City (Carcanet, 2010). "I'd heard some of these poems at a reading and was struck by the playful way in which McGuinness grapples with the nature of in-between-ness (between languages, between places, between life and death). The collection is simply delightful, especially the wry humour of the 'Blue Guide' section on travelling through Belgian train stations. Most of all, these poems reveal a rare unpretentious craft."

Mary Evans is visiting Fellow at the Gender Institute, London School of Economics."I am currently reading Barbara Einhorn's Citizenship in an Enlarging Europe (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), possibly the most illuminating account yet of the 'new' Europe. An essential guide to the origins of the political conflicts and divisions in Europe, it never ignores the context of the material and the economy."

Richard J. Larschan, professor of English, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, is reading Richard Russo's Straight Man (Vintage, 1998). "It's a Lucky Jim for our benighted times, as English chair Hank Devereaux vows to strangle a goose a day in response to threatened budget cuts. Like Kingsley Amis skewering academic pretensions with simian chest-pounding, Russo's dark humour depicts the current economic, intellectual and psychological state of American higher education so accurately that laughter continually intermingles with tears."

June Purvis, professor of women's and gender history, University of Portsmouth, is reading Carol Dyhouse's Glamour: Women, History, Feminism (Zed Books, 2010). "An entertaining read that explores the changing nature of glamour throughout the 20th century. The world of Hollywood film stars with their fur, slinky dresses, perfume and red lipstick is evoked, as well as the celebrity of Princess Diana and Madonna. Does glamour empower women or turn them into objects? Bodily adornment, it is argued, can represent self-assertion for women."

Chris Terry has lectured at universities in Canada and Germany and is visiting senior lecturer at the projected Nehemia University, Albania. He is reading Martha Nussbaum's The Fragility of Goodness (Cambridge University Press, 1986). "Why read literature, criticism or philosophy? These were questions posed when F.R. Leavis told Ludwig Wittgenstein to give up philosophy and Wittgenstein proposed Leavis abjure criticism. Reading Nussbaum answers both of them. Comparing Sophocles with Aristotle, drama with philosophy, Nussbaum opens up language. Can emotions be cognitive? Can empiricism include the complexity of life? She makes reading fun again."

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