What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

December 23, 2010

John Benson, emeritus professor of history, University of Wolverhampton, is reading Clare Rose's Making, Selling and Wearing Boys' Clothes in Late-Victorian England (Ashgate, 2010). "This book is of wider interest than its title suggests. Exploring the relationships between age, gender, class and consumption, it raises a series of important and intriguing issues - as well as telling us, for example, about fashion magazines that were happy to describe children as 'those big, moving, shiny dolls which mothers amuse themselves in dressing'."

Stephen Coleman, professor of political communication, University of Leeds, is reading Deborah Cameron's Good to Talk? Living and Working in a Communication Culture (Sage, 2000). "This wonderful work asks why so much contemporary energy is devoted to teaching people how to communicate properly - as if talking to one another were a technical accomplishment rather than an essential feature of human sociality. Cameron is an astute communication theorist (deceptively so, for she commits the sin of being readable) and when she writes about call-centre training it is hard not to weep."

Laurence Coupe, senior lecturer in English, Manchester Metropolitan University, is reading John Parham's Green Man Hopkins: Poetry and the Victorian Ecological Imagination (Rodopi, 2010). "Amazingly, this is the first sustained study of Hopkins' work from an eco-critical perspective. Parham's general argument is that, if we are to confront the ecological challenge of our own age, we must stop fixating so much on Romantic ecology and start taking into account Victorian ecology, especially the ideas of Ruskin and Morris. He contends that Hopkins' work is so complex and vital that it comprehends different strains of ecological thought with which we're still coming to terms. A thoughtful and thought-provoking book."

Gary Day is principal lecturer in English, De Montfort University. He is reading Rob Bagchi and Paul Rogerson's The Unforgiven: The Story of Don Revie's Leeds United (Aurum, 2002). "This lively book tells how Don Revie turned a struggling second-division side into one of the best clubs in Europe - by dirty play and match fixing, said some. No: Revie made everyone at the club feel they had a part to play in its success, and everyone from top to bottom was given due recognition. That's not a bad creed for society either."

Tim Hall, lecturer in human geography, University of Gloucestershire, is reading Ash Amin and Nigel Thrift's Cities: Reimagining the Urban (Polity, 2002). "An important recent intervention in debates about the city, and a response to the tendency of urban geography to focus on the big issues at the expense of the everyday. It places the seemingly trivial and mundane at the heart of a reimagined geography of cities as connected, distributed and plural."

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