Close Reading Continues…

All is as been rather quiet on the public engagement front since my first full academic year at Cambridge began back in October. But whilst in person I have been absorbed by the pleasures and demands of teaching and administration, the ‘Close Reading’ broadcasts for BBC Radio 4’s Open Book programme have been going out steadily every month or so and have been received very well by the public, which is wonderful. The fifth episode will be broadcast this Sunday 24th May, in which I wrestle with a challenging passage from near the opening of Ian McEwan’s disturbing novel Enduring Love. Check out my radio pages for links to all the aired broadcasts in the Close Reading Series, covering Elizabeth Bowen, Aldous Huxley, Muriel Spark and Katherine Mansfield. The final broadcast in July will take a close look at Pat Barker’s Regeneration. 

BBC Radio 3 Night Waves Column on Analogy, Science and Literature

I was down in London yesterday to record my first column for BBC Radio 3 Night Waves. The science media is all a-buzz about ‘analogy’ at the moment after the publication of the new book by Pulitzer prize winning cognitive scientist Douglas Hofstadter and his collaborator, French psychologist Emmanuel Sander: Surface and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking. They argue that rather than analogy just being a part of reasoning, it it actually the key to cognition – the only way we understand anything is by comparing it to something we already know. Interested by their arguments, I take a look at how analogy figures in literature and science and what is can tell us about the relationship between them. It’ll be broadcast sometime next week – I’ll post the link when it comes out, so watch this space.