What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

Geoffrey Alderman, professor of politics and contemporary history, University of Buckingham, is reading Julia Bush's Women Against the Vote: Female Anti-Suffragism in Britain (Oxford University Press, 2007). "Celebration of the suffragettes at the 2012 Olympics obscured (deliberately?) the fact that many women in late 19th- and early 20th-century Britain were not interested in having thrust upon them the right to vote, and that the anti-suffrage movement had, perhaps, as many supporters as the Pankhursts. Bush paints a brilliant picture of the 'antis', whose passionate defence of their view of the place of women has been largely erased from public memory."

Barry Hymer, professor of psychology in education, University of Cumbria, is reading Jo Warin's Stories of Self: Tracking Children's Identity and Wellbeing Through the School Years (Trentham Books, 2010). "A beautifully sensitive, perceptive and insightful synthesis of the author's longitudinal study of five children whom she came to know between the ages of three and 17. It speaks to the emergent concept of identity capital, to a critique of infant determinism, to the status of social and emotional goals in education, and to the fruits of well-executed qualitative research."

Emma L.E. Rees, senior lecturer in English, University of Chester, is reading Naomi Wolf's Vagina: A New Biography (Virago, 2012). "Wolf applies her characteristically energetic mind to a controversial subject, investigating women's sexuality and cognition. It's a brave eye-opener of a book, which entertainingly synthesises autobiography, culture and neuroscience. It is The Beauty Myth for the 21st century."

Claire Warden, lecturer in drama at the University of Lincoln, is reading Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies (Penguin, 2000). "This Modernist classic amuses and exasperates in equal measure. The empty selfishness of the central characters proves as irritating as Waugh intended and the masterful interruptions to the narrative (the deaths and the war) ensure that this book does not celebrate the witty 'Bright Young Things' as much as scrutinise their hollowness and the society that bores them."

Roger Brown, professor of higher education policy, Liverpool Hope University, has been reading Simon Sebag Montefiore's Jerusalem: The Biography (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2012). "It is a fascinating history of a city in which the animosity between the Jews, Christians and Muslims has been exceeded only by that between the various Christian denominations. Required reading for anyone who wants to understand the present state of the Middle East."

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