What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

November 24, 2011

Woody Caan, professor of public health, Anglia Ruskin University, is reading Dialogicality in Focus: Challenges to Theory, Method and Application (Nova, 2011), edited by Mariann Martsin et al. "If human fish learn in schools, then dialogue forms the sea. After reading this volume, I now know how solitary confinement destroys prisoners. Without mutual interaction with The Other, our human life is reduced to a hollow mask. Dialogicality uses many voices to compose its story. Steer clear if you prefer pop psychology: this is a ticket for The Magic Flute."

Laurence Coupe, senior lecturer in English, Manchester Metropolitan University, is reading Ecocritical Theory: New European Approaches (University of Virginia Press, 2011), edited by Axel Goodbody and Kate Rigby. "Ecocriticism is often regarded as something that Americans do best. But in Europe, 'green studies' is becoming much more confident, and conscious of its rich tradition. This useful and significant volume reminds us how much we still have to learn from European Romanticism: a point made by Kate Soper with her usual clarity. It also makes some fascinating connections: for instance, between Blake and Deleuze, and between D.H. Lawrence and Heidegger."

Clare Debenham, tutor in the department of politics at the University of Manchester, is reading Charles Carlton's This Seat of Mars: War and the British Isles 1485-1746 (Yale University Press, 2011). "The dry title suggests this would be of interest only to military specialists, but interwoven with its analysis of land and sea battles are accounts of the personal experiences of ordinary soldiers and sailors: why they joined up (including a University of Oxford student escaping Classics in the English Civil War), their relationships with women and moving accounts of their death. Carlton brings early modern Britain to life."

Michael Mack, reader in the department of English studies, Durham University, is reading Michael Forster's After Herder: Philosophy of Language in the German Tradition (Oxford University Press, 2010). "This is a hugely important book. First, it shows that Herder was not only the inventor of modern social anthropology but also of modern hermeneutics, philosophy of language and translation theory; second, it shows that Herder is superior to more recent philosophy of language. In contrast to Wittgenstein and Frege's anti-psychology, Herder discovers that there is Spinozist continuity between concepts and affects."

George McKay, professor of cultural studies, University of Salford, is reading Christopher Small's Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening (Wesleyan University Press, 1998). "Re-reading this for an Arts and Humanities Research Council scoping review on community music, I'm reminded by how radical Small was in his approach. As he puts it early on, 'There is no such thing as music', and instead he coins a verb: to music. The people musicking include not just concert performers and listeners, but 'ticket collectors, piano movers, roadies, cleaners and all'."

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