What are you reading?
A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers
Richard Hand, professor of theatre and media drama, University of Glamorgan, is relishing Jane Graves' The Secret Lives of Objects (Trafford, 2009). "The author's careers as a cultural studies lecturer and a psychotherapist have created a compelling voice. Whether looking at clutter, kitchens or the washing machine, the Sir John Soane Museum or Some Like it Hot, her theoretically informed essays (each illustrated by a different contemporary artist) delightfully mix erudition with insight - this is cultural studies at its most accessible and pertinent."
David Kennedy, senior lecturer in English and creative writing at the University of Hull, is reading Stress Fractures: Essays on Poetry, edited by Tom Chivers (Penned in the Margins, 2010). "Chivers calls poetry an art form that entertains the constant play of contradictory forces in order to make sense of its new positions in a rapidly changing cultural landscape. His 14 contributors cover everything from slam poetry to British followers of Oulipo in essays that are often formal experiments in themselves. An exciting introduction to new directions in poetry."
Elizabeth Meehan is emeritus professor in the School of Law, Queen's University Belfast. "I've just read Wyn Grant's The Development of a Discipline: The History of the Political Studies Association (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010) with huge enjoyment, as it made things in my own past spring back to life with remarkable clarity. Others will also enjoy the book for its well-judged account of the association's history, its rich insights into disciplinary developments, and for Grant's perceptive, humane observations of the individuals involved."
Peter J. Smith, reader in Renaissance literature at Nottingham Trent University, has just finished reading Susan Hill's The Small Hand (Profile, 2010). "In Hill's latest ghost story, the urbane world of Adam, a well-to-do trader in rare books pursuing a First Folio, is threatened by visceral remorse for a buried past. This pithy novella has all the nervous suspense and imminent foreboding that you would expect from the author of The Woman in Black."
Hester Vaizey, a historian and college research associate, Clare College, Cambridge, has just read Chil Rajchman's Treblinka: A Survivor's Memory (Quercus, 2011). "An incredibly powerful account by one of the very few Jews who survived deportation to Treblinka, a Nazi death camp in occupied Poland. Most people died within hours of their arrival. Against all the odds Rajchman didn't, but was instead put to work, first cutting the hair off female victims, then carrying stretchers with dead bodies to mass graves and lastly hacking gold teeth from corpses. Much ink has been spilled on the Holocaust, but his tale of survival brings us back from the abstract numbers of victims to offer an insight into what it was like to be a persecuted Jew in Europe during the Second World War."