What are you reading?
A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers
Laurence Coupe, senior lecturer in English, Manchester Metropolitan University, is reading Kenneth Burke on Shakespeare (Parlor Press, 2007), edited by Scott L. Newstok. "Concentrating mainly on the tragedies, Burke demonstrates how they work as symbolic acts that force us to recognise and reconsider the motives of sacrifice, scapegoating and social hierarchy. For the sheer range of ideas, together with his capacity for audacious insight, he can be matched only by Coleridge. The introduction is one of the best short overviews of his thinking that I've read."
John Gilbey lectures in IT service management at Aberystwyth University and is currently rereading environmental pioneer John Muir's The Yosemite (in the collection John Muir - The Eight Wilderness-Discovery Books, Diadem Books, 2008). "First published in 1912, it is a wonderfully florid account of the beauties of the Yosemite Valley in California. The descriptions are so delightful that you think it must be exaggeration - until you go there."
Tom Rutter is senior lecturer in Renaissance literature, Sheffield Hallam University. "I'm reading Writing Robert Greene: Essays on England's First Notorious Professional Writer, edited by Kirk Melnikoff and Edward Gieskes (Ashgate, 2008). It's a collection of essays on this pivotal figure in the development of Elizabethan drama and prose."
David Smail is a retired clinical psychologist, formerly the head of clinical psychological services in Nottingham and special professor in clinical psychology at the University of Nottingham. He is reading Paul Gordon's The Hope of Therapy (PCCS Books, 2009). "Just about the most honest and thoughtful book on psychotherapy to have appeared this century."
Paul Sutton, principal lecturer in film, Roehampton University, is reading Stacey Abbott's Celluloid Vampires (University of Texas Press, 2007). "Despite often finding horror films just too scary, I have nonetheless always been fascinated by the figure of the vampire. This wonderful book charts the cinematic vampire's enduring popularity from Melies' The Haunted Castle to television's Buffy the Vampire Slayer and cinema's Blade. Written with a passion and an easy elegance, this book of the undead is knowledgeable and scholarly but most crucially remains immensely enjoyable throughout."