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Latest Alumni Publications

Here you’ll find the latest round-up of publications written by Catz alumni. If you’ve recently published a book, or have any other news, please share it with us.

Publications are added throughout the year, find the latest whenever you like by visiting our publications page.

Bernard Hughes (1992, Music)

Precious Things (Delphian, 2022)

Devoted to Bernard Hughes’s choral music and programmed in close collaboration between the composer and The Epiphoni Consort, this portrait recording reveals a composer for whom musical style grows naturally out of the provenance of his commissions and their chosen texts.

Himself a wordsmith, text setting and delivery are at the forefront of Hughes’s creative thinking, and Epiphoni, making a name for themselves in recordings of music by living British composers, are ideally suited to the delivery of Hughes’s diverse language, in performances that showcase their trademark luxuriant sound.

The album includes the title work, Precious Things, which is a setting of words by three poet friends of Hughes’s, two of whom he met at Catz. Bernard describes it as, ‘a real celebration of the friends I made at Oxford’.

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Keith Jacobsen (1967, Modern Languages)

Shadows of Fury (The Book Guild, 2022)

A dying woman is suffocated in her hospital bed. Her last visitor, Madeleine Reed, is accused of the crime. There are no witnesses. Madeleine cannot recall committing the murder and has no motive. She claims to be pursued by the Furies, punitive figures from Greek mythology, who alone can bring the truth to light. But can she bear to uncover the horrific, distant memories she has repressed for so long?

Shadows of Fury is the final instalment of the ‘Furies Trilogy’, of which the previous volumes are Place of a Skull (Thames River Press, 2013) and Sisters of Fury (Book Guild Ltd, 2015). Though independent of each other in terms of plot and character, they share the same focus on the psychological aspects of crime, vengeance and retribution.

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David Jaffe (1982, PPE)

The Frictionless Organization (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2022)

The businesses that many of us admire most are companies like Amazon, Uber, Airbnb, Tesla and Xero. They are businesses that have made themselves easy to deal with and ones that we rarely have to contact for the ‘wrong’ reasons. They are examples of what this book calls ‘frictionless organizations’. These companies have worked hard to make their products and services easy for customers to use and by doing so have also lowered their costs and improved their reputations. In order to compete with these businesses, all organisations need to drive out friction.

The book defines a complete methodology that organisations can follow to reduce friction. It shows that every contact customers have with an organisation is telling the business something and can help drive improvement, if used properly. Now that customers can interact by using a range of mechanisms like websites, apps, phone, chat and email it’s become a complex problem to integrate and understand what these interactions are about and how to use all this data. Many organisations are so busy dealing with these interactions that they don’t have time to ask why they are there, understand the costs or consider which areas of the business need to change to remove these points of friction. They are also busy asking, ‘how did we go on that interaction’ rather than, ‘why did the customer need to do that?’

The book provides techniques on how to understand the information and then work out who, in the business is accountable to drive out friction. It describes a range of strategies that organisations can follow to become more frictionless and then make this a permanent way of operating.

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David Mabberley (ed) (1967, Botany)

A Cultural History of Plants (Bloomsbury, 2022)

A Cultural History of Plants presents a global exploration of how plants have shaped human culture. Covering the last 12,000 years, it is the definitive history of how we have cultivated, traded, classified, and altered plants and how, in turn, plants have influenced our ideas of luxury and wealth, health and well-being, art and architecture.

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David Mabberley (1967, Botany)

The Robert Brown Handbook (IAPT, 2022)

In the middle of the nineteenth century, Robert Brown (1773–1858) was considered a scientific titan and dubbed ‘Jupiter Botanicus’, the greatest botanist of his time, with broad interests in plant science. Yet today, beyond Brownian Movement and the ‘R.Br.’ after hundreds of plant-names, he and his ground-breaking work are little appreciated, largely because, on the one hand, his pioneering discoveries have become a familiar part of mainstream biology and, on the other, his work was to be sidelined by his botanical successors bent on pure systematics and inventory as part of the British imperial endeavour.

This book draws together for the first time published materials on Brown’s work together with information contained in his unpublished manuscripts and associated specimens, predominantly those in the Natural History Museum London.

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Arturo Soto (2016, Fine Art)

A Certain Logic of Expectations (The Eriskay Connection, 2022)

A Certain Logic of Expectations proposes a counter-narrative of the British city of Oxford that resists the visual imperatives of its ancient university. For the past five years, Mexican photographer Arturo Soto explored the longstanding division between town and gown through a careful selection of spaces and objects.

His visual narrative is loosely structured around the following thematic strands: notions of home and homelessness, the looming presence of Brexit, the conflicted local economy, and the diversity of the city’s neighbourhoods. In short texts Soto describes his experience of the city, and his fascination with its history and myths. The work challenges an easy judgment on Oxford and its established narratives of tradition, influence, and power. In his photography as well as his written observations, Soto proves that his pen is as sharp as his eye.

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28 November, 2022

The Alan Tayler Lecture 2022