Recommended Reads By Your A&H Profs

Kathyrn Brush

Department of Visual Arts

Recommended Read: Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres by Henry Adams (printed privately in Washington, 1904; published commercially in Boston, 1913)

Why: The American historian and scholar Adams imaginatively journeys back in time to the medieval cathedrals of northern France, contrasting the “coherence” of the thirteenth century with the uncertainties of his own day; this highly evocative book played a seminal role in promoting the appreciation of Europe’s Middle Ages in North America.

Taiwo Adetunji Osinubi
Department of English and Writing Studies
Recommended Read: Black Boy by Richard Wright

Why: It is a compelling read about the history of race relations in the American South.

Anthony Skelton
Department of Philosophy

Recommended Read: Practical Ethics, third edition (Cambridge, 2011) by Peter Singer

Why: Singer argues for controversial views on a range of ethical issues, including killing and eating animals, abortion, euthanasia, our treatment of the global poor, climate change, and our obligations to the environment. Reading it will likely dislodge many of your current ethical opinions. Enjoy!

Mary Helen McMurran
Department of English and Writing Studies

Recommended Read: Tenth of December (2013), George Saunders’ short-story collection

Why: Recommended for its mastery of the narrative form and its striking alignment of cheerfulness with precarity and gloom.

Christopher Keep
Department of English and Writing Studies

Recommended Read: The Renaissance by Walter Pater

Why: All students in the Arts & Humanities face the question of why one should devote their lives, or at least a part of their lives, to the study of novels, poems, plays, paintings, films, and the other arts. Pater provides the best answer. And the most beautifully written.

Manina Jones
Department of English and Writing Studies

Recommended Read: Birding, or Desire by Don McKay

Why: I'd recommend his book Birding, or Desire, because not enough people read poetry. This book takes you unawares and swoops into your life like the swallows in the tunnel leading to UCC -- surprisingly feisty, shockingly beautiful, and often laugh out loud funny, McKay asks readers to bring "poetic attention" to the natural world, wherever they find it.

Kim Veryaawen
Department of Women's Studies and Feminist Research

Recommended Read: Pale as Real Ladies by Joan Crate

Why: It is one of the most powerful things in literature.

Gabrielle Ceraldi
Department of English and Writing Studies

Recommended Read: Atonement by Ian McEwan

Why: If you put Agatha Christie in a blender with Virginia Woolf and then added in a bit of Harriet the Spy, you might get something like this book, a postmodern fairy-tale/old-fashioned whodunit.

Jonathan Boulter
Department of English and Writing Studies

Recommended Read: The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett

Why: This is a novel that questions the very grounds of fiction and being; read it at your peril.

Sarah Bassnett
Department of Visual Arts

Recommended Read: 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep by Jonathan Crary

Why: This book is an eye-opener for the sleep deprived and a glimpse at the extreme consequences of neoliberal globalization.

Kirsty Robertson
Department of Visual Arts

Recommended Read: Mounting Frustration: The Art Museum in the Age of Black Power by Susan E. Cahan

Why: This book draws on impressively in-depth archival research to analyze a series of contested exhibitions that took place in the late 1960s, aimed at integrating African American art into elite New York museums. One review notes "Cahan gives a detailed and at times surprising picture of the institutional and social forces that both drove and inhibited racial justice in New York's museums." It is an important and timely read.

Tricia Johnson
Department of Visual Arts

Recommended Read: Dubliners by James Joyce

Why: He is so visual in his story-telling.

Mark Stephenson
Department of English and Writing Studies

Recommended Read: Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake (1946)

Why: Hyper-Gothic fantasy set in the imaginary castle of Gormenghast and its environs, it's a massive Dickensian grotesquery of place and characterization and the foundation of Peake's Gormenghast Trilogy that continues with *Gormenghast* and concludes with *Titus Alone;* anti-hero and proto-punk Steerpike, sometimes held up as being one of the greatest villains of English literature, is the anti-Harry Potter - Potter from under the stairs, Steerpike, an orphan found skulking in Gormenghast's kitchens - and is all the better for it.

James Purkis
Department of English and Writing Studies

Recommended Read: The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy

Why: This book exposes a horribly misogynistic world, and is the best fictional exploration of obsessive sexual desire. A very nasty book, but incredibly well written.

Jo Devereux
Department of English and Writing Studies

Recommended Read: I love all of Barbara Pym's novels.

Why: They are like Jane Austen's but more pared-down, and with beautiful subtle humor about gender relations and the austerity of life in Britain after the Second World War.  I have a hard time choosing my favorite novel of hers!  So here are four I love to reread: Some Tame Gazelle (1950), Excellent Women (1952), Jane and Prudence (1953), and The Sweet Dove Died (1978).

Bernd Steinbock
Department of Classical Studies

Recommended Read: Herodotus Histories

Why: I highly recommend Herodotus' Histories, the first historian's gripping account of the conflict between Greeks and Persians, from the inception of the Persian Empire to the Battle of Marathon and Xerxes' large-scale invasion of Greece. You will notice that Herodotus is not only a great historian, but also a masterful storyteller, who never fails to surprise and amaze you.
Here is a link to the Penguin edition, but any modern translation of Herodotus' Greek original will do:

Joel Faflak
Department of English and Writing Studies

Recommended Reads: Angels in America, both parts: Millennium Approaches and Perestroika. By Tony Kushner.

Kathryn Mockler
Department of English and Writing Studies

Recommended Read: Not Anyone's Anything by Ian Williams

Why: The book I would recommend is Not Anyone's Anything by Ian Williams who was recently a guest in the English and Writing Studies speaker series course Write Now! Not Anyone's Anything is described by the publisher Freehand Books as a collection of "three sets of three stories, with three of those stories further divided into thirds." The collection not only has fresh characters and compelling narratives, but also each story is conceptually original. Williams plays with structure, visuals, and typography rarely seen in fiction. Since he was recently a guest at Western, his books are currently available at the Western Bookstore.

Charles Stocking
Department of Classical Studies

Recommended Read: The Mahabharata:  Bhagavad-Gita specifically. 

In our current academic environment, which forces students to obsess over their GPA, Goals, and other metrics of performance, the Bhagavad-Gita offers an important alternative perspective, one that may provide some vital stress relief and allows students to live more in the moment. As Krishna says to Arjuna "You have a right to action, but never to the fruits of action" (Bhagavad-Gita 2.47). 

Gabrielle Ceraldi
Department of English and Writing Studies

Recommended Read: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Why: Warning: Finishing this book may create severe withdrawal symptoms. Nothing makes me happier than reading another chapter of Cath's first year of university, in which she copes with anxiety and estrangement from her twin with a mixture of fanfiction addiction and Starbucks Pumpkin Mocha Breve.