Tag Archives: book launch

It’s hard work being a smart girl: How today’s schools and screens retell some very old stories about gender and learning

Senior Lecturer at Oxford Brookes University Michele Paule explores real and media worlds of the high-achieving girl at the start of the 21st Century to show how girls are still struggling with some persistent myths about how they learn and how they should be.

In a study conducted across English secondary schools, internet forums and teen TV, Paule explores how girls respond and relate to stories—both experienced and fictional—about ‘smart’ girls:

“One of the most surprising findings of the research was how far back ideas about brilliant, erratic boys and dull, conscientious girls reach—right back to ancient Greece—and also how little actual scientific evidence there is underlying these ideas, even in an age of popularized neuroscience.”

“One of the most surprising findings of the research was how far back ideas about brilliant, erratic boys and dull, conscientious girls reach—right back to ancient Greece.”

Michele Paule, Senior Lecturer in Media, Culture and Communication

“Yet girls, and those who work with them, still form the impression that their success is due to diligence rather than intelligence, that girls’ hard work somehow skews exam results, defrauding boys of their rightful place at the top.

“Girls themselves are aware of how limiting popular stereotypes of feminine achievement can be: geek is not necessarily chic, and intelligence has to be balanced with a hefty dose of femininity if a girl is not to risk social exclusion. As one participant noticed ‘even Hermione gets her teeth fixed’.

“The stereotypes are limited in other ways too. On the project’s forum, one girl asks, ‘Do you have to be posh to be smart?’ The answer is, depressingly, ‘yes’. For example, Dr Who companion Rose Tyler is excluded because ‘she is blonde and off a council estate’. Another respondent describes how she herself was sent to elocution lessons by her parents to combat prejudice against her regional accent. The project’s findings suggest that schools and the media still have a way to go to create conditions in which girls find it easy to thrive intellectually. As one school interviewee neatly summed up: ‘We need better stories’. Teachers and TV producers, over to you.”

A former secondary schoolteacher, Michele Paule is Senior Lecturer in Media, Culture and Education at Oxford Brookes University. She is currently researching girls’ ideas about leadership across different European contexts.Girlhood, Schools, and Media: Popular Discourses of the Achieving Girl is published by Routledge and is available for pre-order.

Oxford Brookes Historian offers a new take on the making of modern public health

Dr Tom Crook, Postgraduate research tutor

This month sees the launch of a new book by an Oxford Brookes historian on the development of public health in the nineteenth century.

In Governing Systems: Modernity and the Making of Public Health in England, 1830-1910, Tom Crook explores the world of Victorian Britain, and revisits a basic question: ‘when and how did public health become modern?’

“For me, the Victorian period marks a critical threshold in British history. It’s during this period when you see Britain’s entrance into the modern world; but you also see Britain’s role in making that world modern – for me, that’s why it’s such an exciting period.”


Tom said: “It’s not just about Victorian public health; it’s also about trying to understand what made modern public health modern, and I wanted to offer a fresh perspective on that.”

“I felt that the whole history of Victorian public health had been very well studied from multiple perspectives. For example, there is an enormous amount of literature on sewerage systems, small pox vaccination, the management of food, sanitary inspection, and so on; but I thought that there was still this important new story that could be told about Victorian public health.”

“It’s a book that I hope will encourage debate, and not just about public health, but also how we might think again about other fields of governance, such as education, the poor law, penal reform and policing.”

Governing Systems: Modernity and the Making of Public Health in England, 1830-1910 is published by University of California Press

Tom Crook is the Postgraduate Research Tutor for the Department of History, Philosophy and Religion at Oxford Brookes University.



Creative Writing alumni returns to Oxford for Waterstones book signing

CatherineChanter - The Well 2015

Catherine Chanter, MA Creative Writing graduate, will be signing copies of her new novel, The Well. The event is being held at Waterstones bookshop on Broad Street, Oxford, on Thursday 16th April at 7.30pm.

The Well is a dark and devastating tale of obsession, motherhood and the complexity of female relationships, wrapped inside a gripping whodunit. The Well is Catherine Chanter’s debut novel and its publication comes on the back of her success last year in winning the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize. The novel has proven to be real publishing sensation and has sold all over the world. Remarking on her journey from creative writing student to published author, Catherine commented:

Initially the poacher turned gamekeeper analogy sprang to mind, thinking about how I seemed to have rather miraculously made the move from student on the MA Creative Writing at Oxford Brookes to the writer actually giving the talk at Waterstones.  But in fact all the students on that course were writers and all writers are – or should be – students.  In many ways, I’d go back and do my Masters all over again because it was such a rich experience and because there is so much left to learn.

Dr James Hawes, Reader in Creative Writing at Oxford Brookes, added: “For us at Brookes, the greatest pleasure, and the most powerful confirmation of what we are doing on the Creative Writing MA, is to see a former student breaking through internationally with an out-and-out literary novel. It’s why we do it.”

Book launch celebration in the School of Education

Screen-Shot-2015-02-11-at-13.28.21-1024x452The School of Education recently celebrated the launch of several new publications across various subjects. Exhibiting the School’s expertise in research, the books centre on a range of research interests across the education field, from teaching science with drama to the impact of culture on teaching and learning the English language. Each author briefly presented their book by explaining the main themes and their process of writing.

Mary Wild and Alison Street’s Themes and Debates in Early Childhood is designed to help students understand and engage with current themes in early childhood, supporting the development of critical thinking skills. Key themes include children’s voice, child wellbeing, identities and professional relationships. Linking theory to practice, thought-provoking activities help readers get a deeper understanding of contemporary themes in early childhood.

Any teachers wishing to hone their practice to motivate children and improve their science learning and attainment will find Debra McGregor and Wendy PreciousDramatic Science an invaluable resource. It is a resourceful tool for any teachers and primary science leaders who have classes of 5-10 year olds. It provides the busy professional with a range of tried and tested techniques to use drama as a support and aid to the teaching of science to young children.

Graham Butt’s MasterClass in Geography Education, published in January of this year, is the most recently published of the books celebrated. It provides a comprehensive exploration of the major themes in geography education research and pedagogy, drawing on international research. This book will be essential reading for all studying the teaching and learning of geography on PGCE and Education MEd/MA courses.

Mary BriggsTeaching and Learning Early Years Mathematics is essential reading for all those teaching or training to teach Early Years mathematics, providing comprehensive subject and pedagogic knowledge for those responsible for the youngest children in school and their vital first experiences of learning mathematics. This text enables the reader understand and support how children learn to count and calculate, recognize shapes and begin to generalize their findings about problems.

Covering core topics from vocabulary and grammar to teaching, writing speaking and listening, Jane Spiro’s Changing Methodologies in TESOL shows you how to link research to practice in TESOL methodology. It is the first book to teach methods and practice in a global context (and in an accessible way), including links to the latest developments in the field.

Mary Wild, Head of School of Education, attended the launch and said:

It was a great opportunity to celebrate the diversity of our research expertise. The texts ranged from philosophical reflections on the aims and purpose of education through to more practical classroom guides and textbooks. A common thread was the commitment to practice that is informed by evidence, balanced with theory that is illuminated through practice.

Celebration of newly published authors in Humanities and Social Sciences


The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences recently celebrated the launch of six new publications across various subjects. Ranging from using indigenous knowledge in modern science to the concerns and consequences of counter-terrorism, the books present a range of research interests across the Faculty. Each author briefly explained the main themes of their book and their process of writing.

Mary BriggsCreative Teaching: Mathematics in the Primary Classroom (School of Education) enables teachers to see and teach in creative ways that will develop their pupil’s mathematical thinking potential. It encourages students, trainees and practicing teachers to envision and develop a classroom where children can take risks, enjoy and experiment with mathematical thinking, and discover and pursue their interests and talents in an imaginative yet purposeful way.

Science and Sustainability: Learning from Indigenous Wisdom (Social Sciences), by Joy Hendry, is a personal account of an anthropologist, originally trained as a scientist specialising in physics and astronomy, with extraordinary examples of long-standing scientific knowledge held by Indigenous peoples in several countries of the world. Although often ignored by settlers and national governments, this knowledge offers sustainable solutions to living within a range of local environments, and the book considers subjects such as fire, water, architecture, health, calendars and climate change, astronomy and navigation skills. It also reports on recent efforts of education systems in Australia, Canada and New Zealand to include this traditional knowledge within the regular curricula.

Constantine SandisCultural Heritage Ethics: Between Theory and Practice (History, Philosophy and Religion) provides cutting-edge arguments built on case studies of cultural heritage and its management in a range of geographical and cultural contexts. This intra-disciplinary book bridges the gap between theory and practice by bringing together a stellar cast of academics, activists, consultants, journalists, lawyers, and museum practitioners, each contributing their own expertise to the wider debate of what cultural heritage means in the twenty-first century.

The Commonwealth Caribbean comprises a group of countries (mainly islands) lying in an arc between Florida in the north and Venezuela in the south. Varying widely in terms of their size, population, ethnic composition and economic wealth, these countries are, nevertheless, linked by their shared experience of colonial rule under the British Empire and their decision, upon attaining independence, to adopt a constitutional system of government based on the so-called ‘Westminster model’. Derek O’Brien’s The Constitutional Systems of Commonwealth Caribbean (School of Law) examines the constitutional systems of these countries in their context and questioning how well the Westminster model of democracy has successfully adapted to its transplantation to the Commonwealth Caribbean.

Michael Lister’s Critical Perspectives on Counter-Terrorism (Social Sciences) examines the rationale, effectiveness and consequences of counter-terrorism practices from a range of perspectives and cases. Drawing on a range of timely and important case studies from around the world including the UK, Sri Lanka, Spain, Canada, Australia and the USA, it focuses on three questions of vital importance to any assessment of counter-terrorism. First, what do counter-terrorism strategies seek to achieve? Second, what are the consequences of different counter-terrorism campaigns, and how are these measured? And, third, how and why do changes to counter-terrorism occur?

Marius Turda’s Latin Eugenics in Comparative Perspective (History, Philosophy and Religion) offers a comparative approach to eugenics as a scientific programme as well as a cultural and political phenomenon. It examines the commonalities of eugenics in ‘Latin’ Europe and Latin America. As a program to achieve the social and political goals of modern welfare systems, Latin eugenics strongly influenced the complex relationship of the state to the individual. Drawing on a wide range of primary and secondary sources in many languages, this book offers the first history of Latin eugenics in Europe and the Americas.

In closing, Professor Gary Browning, Associate Dean (Research and Knowledge Exchange) noted:

“The range of books celebrated at the launch showcase the breadth of what we offer. Academics produce interesting things to read and we certainly do in this Faculty”.