Speaking of books… Here’s one we can’t wait to get our hands on

The Dispossessed State: Narratives of Ownership in 19th-Century Britain and Ireland
By Sara L. Maurer
The Johns Hopkins University Press
Available February 2, 2012

The question of how property rights were allocated in 19th Century British-occupied Ireland was a hot topic in Victorian literature and political theory. Did ownership of the land rightfully belong to the Irish, who lived on and worked it, or to the often absentee British lords who were granted rights to the land through the British political system?

Victorian novelist Maria Edgeworth tackles the subject directly in The Absentee, but themes relating to property rights also play out in novels by Anthony Trollope, George Moore, and George Meredith, as well as in the political theories of John Stuart Mill, Henry Sumner Maine, and William Gladstone. In The Dispossessed State, Maurer examines how the narratives of ownership that unfolded in the debates surrounding the Irish question influenced Victorian literature and political theory.

Full Disclosure: Michael and I both went to college with Sara Maurer and I later worked with her in a start-up tech company in Houston, Texas, before she became a well-respected college professor. That said, given my obsession with all things Victorian literature and/or history related, there’s every chance this book would be on top of my Valentine’s Day wish list even if I didn’t know firsthand how smart, funny, and talented a writer the author is.

About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book will focus on science, and how parents without a science degree can answer their curious child's questions without enrolling in a college level refresher course. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Eleven-Year-Old at Caterpickles.com, chatting about books and the writing life at BostonWriters.blog, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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