From educating to entertaining, books that caught the faculty’s attention.
Kathleen Kelly, Professor of English. I just finished Gabriel (1839), a play by George Sand. Gabriel, granddaughter of Prince Bramante, is raised in seclusion as a male so that the Prince’s inheritance will go to her rather than a reprobate grandson. Educated as a man to be courageous, athletic, temperate, and intellectual, Gabriel eventually discovers she is a female and learns to pass as either man or woman, but the tragic incompatibility of the two gender stereotypes makes her life impossible. I’m designing a new course on the French Revolution and its aftermath in literature. This play offers a great insight into prevailing ideologies of gender while being an entertaining, suspenseful fantasy.
Anne Roggeveen, Associate Professor of Marketing. I read and enjoyed Shanghai Girls by Lisa See, so I picked up the sequel, Dreams of Joy. The story is one of relationships and intrigue as an estranged daughter runs away to Shanghai in search of her birth father and becomes entangled with the New Society of Red China.
Megan Mcdonald Way, Assistant Professor of Economics. One book I’m reading is Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius by Sylvia Nasar, which examines the evolution of modern economics through engaging portraits of its key protagonists living and working through the last three centuries. Some of the characters you might not immediately associate with the study of economics—Charles Dickens and Beatrice Potter, for example—while many are familiar in name if not in personality, such as Marshal, Hayek, Keynes, and Schumpeter. In portraying this variety of people who made the social science of economics what it is today, Nasar focuses on their common interest in improving the impoverished conditions in which many of the world’s people lived and still live today.
Beth Wynstra, Visiting Assistant Professor of English. I’m reading the play The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer. It’s set in New York City during the early days of the AIDS epidemic, and it powerfully depicts the ignorance and fear surrounding the outbreak of the disease. I saw the Tony-winning revival of The Normal Heart this past summer on Broadway, and I’m writing a book chapter on the play.
Tom Buttacavoli, Adjunct Lecturer of Accounting. For fun, I’m reading The Abbey by Chris Culver. It’s a police crime drama about a homicide detective who is near the end of his career and investigating the death of his teenage niece. It’s light reading (on my Kindle) for traveling or in-between times.
Fritz Fleischmann, Professor of English. One of the books I’m reading is Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. Pinker draws on a breathtaking array of sources to explain the decline of violence in the modern era. In 1939, Norbert Elias had already theorized this in The Civilizing Process, but he had to rely exclusively on documentation from cultural history. Pinker is able to draw on decades of research to support the argument that things were far worse in the past and that there is such a thing as progress, driven by the “spread of government, literacy, trade, and cosmopolitanism.” In my work in gender studies, especially the history of masculinity, I became interested in the topic of violence. This book is a wellspring of information and inspiration. It makes you optimistic that humans can learn to think and feel differently.
Kellie Donovan-Condron, Adjunct Lecturer, Arts and Humanities. At the moment, I’m reading Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. In this story, there is an alternate London in the sewers and train tunnels below the city. The main character enlists a group of people to help her find out who killed her family. I’m reading it for an article I’m writing on monstrous representations of the city.