What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

September 20, 2012

Laurence Coupe, senior lecturer in English, Manchester Metropolitan University, is reading Susan Rowland's The Ecocritical Psyche: Literature, Evolutionary Complexity and Jung (Routledge, 2012). "Rowland contributes to the greening of literary theory by showing how Jung's ideas can help us to celebrate the human imagination as an aspect of the endless creativity of non-human nature. Exploring works as diverse as The Tempest, Wuthering Heights and The Secret Garden, she reveals how literature may keep us in vital connection with the body and the unconscious, and so with the earth itself."

John Gilbey is reading Ansel Adams: Letters 1916-1984, edited by Mary Street Alinder and Andrea Gray Stillman (Little, Brown, 2001). "Most famous for his spectacular landscape photography of the American West, Adams was a major advocate of environmental protection. This collection charts, among other things, his haranguing of the federal government to protect the US' remaining wilderness areas. It is appropriate that his efforts were celebrated in 1984, the year of his death, with the establishment of the Ansel Adams Wilderness Area - a 200,000-acre enclave in California's Sierra Nevada."

Richard Hand, professor of theatre and media drama, University of Glamorgan, is reading Sean Street's The Poetry of Radio: The Colour of Sound (Routledge, 2012). "Radio and poetry are both fields too often eclipsed by sister arts and media, and for this reason, Street's timely book is passionate and enthralling, drawing as it does on his fine scholarly and practical skills as an academic, poet and radio artist. He demonstrates how illuminating and exciting genuinely cross-disciplinary research can be."

Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones, emeritus professor of history, University of Edinburgh, is reading Philip H.J. Davies' Intelligence and Government in Britain and the United States: A Comparative Perspective, which comprises: Evolution of the U.S. Intelligence Community (volume 1) and Evolution of the U.K. Intelligence Community (volume 2) (Praeger, 2012). "A work of mind-boggling erudition that (i) hints at the existence of 'Whiggish complacence' in British intelligence circles, (ii) exemplifies the quality of British scholarship in the field of intelligence studies and (iii) prompts the thought that the study of intelligence is sometimes more intelligent than intelligence itself."

Allan Johnson, associate lecturer in 20th-century literature, Birkbeck, University of London, is reading Deborah Harkness' A Discovery of Witches (Headline, 2011). "This well-paced fantasy about academics who also happen to be witches and vampires is inventive, more than a bit escapist, and yet still quite stylish. What strikes me most, though, is its portrayal of the modern university: academic superstars, it playfully suggests, are mostly witches with supernatural insight or ancient vampires who have had centuries to work on their research."

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