What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

April 14, 2011

Claire Chambers, senior lecturer in postcolonial literature, Leeds Metropolitan University, is reading David Farrier's Postcolonial Asylum: Seeking Sanctuary Before the Law (Liverpool University Press, 2011). "A densely theoretical yet politicised and interdisciplinary book that signals an important new trajectory in postcolonial and cultural studies, towards interrogation of the plight of those looking for sanctuary in Europe, Australia and elsewhere. It is at its best in discussing asylum statistics and contexts, and analysing art, photography and literature. Recommended reading, especially for policymakers and tabloid journalists."

Geraint Evans is lecturer in English, Swansea University. He is reading Steven Maras' Screenwriting: History, Theory and Practice (Wallflower Press, 2009). "Most books about screenwriting concentrate on simplistic rules for student writers and ignore the complex history of the 20th century's most significant narrative. This does a lot more: through a pluralistic approach to screenplays and film history, it opens up the relationship between screenwriters and cinema audiences and cleverly explores the difference between typing and writing."

Martin McQuillan, dean of arts and social sciences at Kingston University, is reading Andrew Shaffer's Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love (Harper Perennial, 2011). "Shaffer isn't an academic; he writes for The Huffington Post. So he's good on sex, less sure on philosophy: Rousseau's flashing, Marx's illegitimate children, Heidegger's affairs with students, Sartre and de Beauvoir adopting their lovers. Unlike poets, philosophers seldom write about their own love lives, reminding us of the age-old difficulty of deriving the universal (Love) from the particular (Camus' adultery)."

Peter J. Smith, reader in Renaissance literature, Nottingham Trent University, has just finished William Golding's Pincher Martin (Faber and Faber, 1956). "Written immediately after The Inheritors, it demonstrates the same exhilarating struggle with language, as the extremes of experience surpass any adequate description. The sole survivor of a torpedo attack is washed up on an isolated rock. His obdurate survival instincts amid this pelagic wasteland make the twist in the last sentence all the more pathetic. Reading the novel's opening is (hopefully) the closest you'll ever come to drowning."

Duncan Wu, professor of English, Georgetown University, is reading The Poems of Shelley, 1819-1820, Volume 3 (Pearson Education, 2011). "The third instalment of this ongoing project, in the Longman Annotated Poets series, is one of the best. Here are authoritative texts of some of Percy Bysshe Shelley's most important works, including The Mask of Anarchy and Ode to the West Wind, edited by the foremost British editors in the field: Jack Donovan, Cian Duffy, Kelvin Everest and Michael Rossington. Essential for anyone who cares about Shelley."

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