Posts Tagged ‘A History of the World in One Hundred Objects’

Pue’s Recommendations for January

2 January 2011

Juliana Adelman Over Christmas I read The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen which my canny husband somehow knew I had almost bought for myself each time I entered Hodges Figgis.  It’s a good read about a twelve-year old map maker and full of concise insights on all kinds of things: the five kinds of boredom (anticipatory, aggressive, ritual, let-down, monotony), history (‘History was only what we conjured it to be.  It never just was, like now is.’ p. 203), and the point of maps (‘A map…forms bridges between here and there, between disparate ideas that we did not know were previously connected’, p. 139).  A few free things might help the lean month of January pass.  I do not have an iPhone but if I did, I would download the Smithsonian Institution’s free MEanderthal app which allows you to turn your image into a likeness of a prehistoric ancestor.  Or try a picture of your favourite retiring politician…To enjoy the fruits of historic culture take yourself down to one of the National Museums for a free lecture or special event this month like the mummer’s play at the Museum of Country Life on 9 January, or the behind-the-scenes conservation tour at Decorative Arts and History (Collins Barracks) on 12 January or a tour on the history of the collection of trophy heads in Natural History on 29 January.  Finally, those of us worrying about our own futures might take something away from the RIA discourse on the future of the university to be given on 13 January by Professor Michael Burawoy in association with the IRCHSS.

Lisa Marie Griffith The last television interview of the writer John le Carré, real name David John Moore Cornwell, was aired in December. In the interview Le Carré discusses his work at MI5 and MI6 in the late 1950s and first half of the 1960s with Jon Snow. His experience working for the foreign service during the Cold War provides the backdrop for most of his early novels. The interview prompted me to read The Spy Who Came in from the Cold over Christmas which I found fascinating and thoroughly enjoyed. The book is set in Berlin just months after the Berlin wall was completed and follows the story of a spy called Lemass who is facing up to the realisation his network of contacts has fallen a part and he must flee east Berlin. The book was published in 1963 just a year after the book was set and when the author was still working for the British intelligence hence the pseudonym. While I don’t normally read Spy novels, this book has encouraged me to read Le Carré’s back catalogue.   Le Carré’s latest book Our Kind of Traitor has just been published.

Christina Morin This month I’m heading over to Oxford for the annual British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (BSECS) conference, which looks set to be a very stimulating couple of days. Sadly, it’s too late to sign up to attend, but you can find out all about what you’re missing here. While procrastinating writing my paper for the conference, I’ve been reading one of my Christmas presents: Douglas Rogers’ recently published book, The Last Resort: A Memoir of Zimbabwe. Having travelled to Zimbabwe to visit some of my husband’s family in 2007 and fallen in love with the country and the people, I’ve developed a keen interest in Zimbabwe-related literature and am thoroughly enjoying this book. Written by a Zimbabwean journalist who now lives and works in America, The Last Resort gives a fascinating and surprisingly impartial account of the controversial events that have rocked Zimbabwe over the past several decades. I haven’t quite finished it yet, but I definitely recommend it!

Kevin O’Sullivan It’s back to work this week, but I’ve been holding on to that holiday feeling for as long as possible, so why not extend it to our recommendations? You know it’s been a good Christmas when the stack of soon-to-read books grows a little more precarious on the bedside locker. This year the ranks of the unread have been added to by Messrs Hemingway, Judt, O’Riordan, and Schama. Plenty of time, of course, to get through them all, but for starters I had Dave Fanning’s plainly-written but no less intriguing autobiography, and am greatly enjoying the stunning A History of the World in One Hundred Objects, the perfect accompaniment to the BBC Radio 4 series. On the train home on Christmas Eve, I made my way through this year’s festive edition of The Economist – always a treat, this time with articles on the history of the pub, why Ireland should be more like Iceland, and the rise of Nollywood – West Africa’s thriving film industry. Finally, the obligatory time in front of the television renewed my acquaintance with two brilliant portraits of American life at the turn of successive centuries: the manic greed for oil and souls in There Will Be Blood‘s landscape of early twentieth century California; and Juno‘s brilliantly scripted portrayal of family life at the dawn of the twenty-first. It’s all good; honest to blog.

Pue’s Recommendations for February

1 February 2010

Juliana Adelman I am currently reading It’s a Don’s Life, derived from Classicist Mary Beard’s blog of the same name. The blog and book are appealingly personal and the topics covered are anything from scholarly to political, all well written.  The National Library of Ireland has started a new online exhibition called ‘Discover Your National Library‘.  It’s not really targeted at academic researchers, but it’s worth a look.  Finally, two friends  recognised that cheesy Victorian period horror about werewolves ought to be right up my alley and alerted me to the opening of The Wolfman (12 Feb).  I can’t wait!

Lisa-Marie Griffith The IFI are running a fantastic free series for anyone in and around the capital this month called ‘Archive at lunchtime’. Under half an hour in length, the programmes include both fictional and non-fictional stories that are aimed at giving the viewer ‘a unique insight into Irish society’. This month they feature the work of Colm O’Laoghaire and begin this lunchtime with Water Wisdom & Irish Gossamer.

Christina Morin This month is a busy one for music in Belfast, and I’m looking forward to experiencing some of the city’s vibrant musical culture with the 7th annual Féile an Earraigh running from 4-7 February. With a great line-up of well-known bands and performers as well as a diverse range of concerts, performances, and activities happening at various venues throughout the city, the festival promises to be a lot of fun. I’m also hoping to catch the London Classic Theatre‘s production of Martin McDonagh’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane when I’m in Cork for Valentine’s Day weekend. The play runs at the Everyman Palace Theatre from 2-13 February. While I’m in the soi-disant People’s Republic, I might also take the opportunity of popping into the Lewis Glucksman Gallery for the Thingamajig exhibit running from 23 January-9 May 2010. Exploring ‘the secret life of objects’, the exhibit is free, as is the stroll around UCC‘s campus – my old haunting grounds – you can take when you’re finished in the gallery.

Kevin O’Sullivan A history of the world, in thirteen-minute segments, across one hundred objects from the British Museum, hardly sounds like the most compelling of audio experiences, but if you can momentarily cast aside your doubts about the righftul ownership of some of these pieces (appeased by the promise that the series will deal with the issue), Radio 4’s aptly named new series A History of the World in One Hundred Objects well rewards a listen, or a podcast. Speaking of desirable objects, the new edition of Field Day Review arrived in January, its layout and subject-range as striking as ever, keeping its place as a must-read among Irish academic journals. It also includes an eminently readable article on zoological gardens in Dublin by one of the editors of this parish that’s certainly worth checking out. Finally, anyone in Dublin or passing through should jump on the Luas and head up to IMMA to catch Picturing New York: Photographs from The Museum of Modern Art, a striking collection of photographs of the city from the 1880s to today that runs until 14 February (hat-tip to Patrick Walsh for pointing this one out).