Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

September 2012

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Connecting with Law Short Film Competition Winners

We’re pleased to share the winning entries to Oxford University Press Australia and New Zealand’s annual film competition for law students. Now in its fifth year, the Connecting with Law Short Film Competition 2012 was open to all students currently enrolled in an Australian law school. To enter, students chose at least one definition from the Australian Law Dictionary and created a 2-5 minute film based around the definition/s to educate and help students connect with the law

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The September Surprise

By Elvin Lim
Mitt Romney definitely did not count on foreign policy becoming a major issue two weeks after he chose budget hawk, Paul Ryan, to be his running mate, making his the weakest ticket on foreign policy for decades. What is even more perverse is that Romney himself chose to go off message.

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When “Stuff happens.”

By Andrew J. Polsky
The killing of US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other American diplomats in Benghazi, Libya on 11 September 2012 serves as a vivid reminder that unexpected events often intrude on presidential elections. Sometimes these events have a significant impact on how voters view the parties and the candidates. But often the electorate shrugs off breaking news. As former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld famously put it, “Stuff happens.”

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Is America an empire?

By Timothy H. Parsons
The intense controversy that this question engenders is remarkable. On the left, critics of assertive American foreign, military, and economic policies depict these policies as aggressively immoral by branding them “imperial.” On the right, advocates for an even more forceful application of American “hard power,” such as Niall Ferguson and the other members of his self-described “neo-imperialist gang,” argue that the United States should use its immense wealth and military might to impose order and stability on an increasingly chaotic world.

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New term / New season

By Anwen Greenaway
It’s September, which means back-to-school in the world of education, but for classical music it’s a different start, that of the 2012-13 opera season. In the old days opera was a grand affair; the first night of a production meant black tie and opera cloaks. These days its far more relaxed, and you won’t be frowned upon if you’re wearing jeans at the Royal Opera House.

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Occupied by Images

By Carol Quirke
Media buzz about Occupy Wall Street’s first anniversary began by summer’s end. That colorful, disbursed social movement brought economic injustice to the center of public debate, raising questions about free-market assumptions undergirding Wall Street bravado and politicians’ pious incantations. Most watched from the sidelines, but polling had many cheering as citizens marched and camped against the corrosive consequences of an economically stacked deck.

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The garbled scholarship of the American Civil War

By Donald Stoker
How can we frame a discussion? What terminologies give us a basis for common understanding? While many deplore arguing semantics, it is often essential to argue the meaning of words. Scholars aren’t immune to speaking to opposite ends when they don’t share common definitions. The American Civil War does not lack for books, but they aren’t all talking on the same terms. For example, what do we mean by “strategy”?

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How will US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan affect Central Asia?

Earlier this summer, NATO leaders approved President Obama’s plan to end combat operations in Afghanistan next year, with the intention of withdrawing all US troops by the end of 2014. The war in Afghanistan, which begun in 2001 as a response to the events of September 11, has turned Central Asia into one of the most volatile regions in the world, with the US, Russia, and China all vying for influence among the former Soviet republics.

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The mathematics of democracy: Who should vote?

By Joseph C. McMurray
An interesting, if somewhat uncommon, lens through which to view politics is that of mathematics. One of the strongest arguments ever made in favor of democracy, for example, was in 1785 by the political philosopher-mathematician, Nicolas de Condorcet.

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Nouvelle Cuisine in Old Mexico

By Jeffrey M. Pilcher
Mexican cuisine has experienced a renaissance in the past few decades. In the United States, taco trucks and immigrant family restaurants have replaced Americanized taco shells and chili con carne with Oaxacan tamales and carne asada. Meanwhile, celebrity chefs have embraced Mexican food, transforming it from street food into fine dining.

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Why do people hate teachers unions? Because they hate teachers.

By Corey Robin
Like Doug Henwood, I’ve spent the last few days trying to figure out why people—particularly liberals and pseudo-liberals in the chattering classes—hate teachers unions. One could of course take these people at their word—they care about the kids, they worry that strikes hurt the kids, and so on—but since we never hear a peep out of them about the fact that students have to swelter through 98-degree weather in jam-packed classes without air conditioning, I’m not so inclined.

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Political dramaturgy and character in 2012

By Jeffrey C. Alexander
In the wake of the party conventions, the shape of the Presidential contest has crystallized. Shocking to pundits and purveyors of conventional wisdom, Barack Obama has stretched his lead, narrowly in the national polls, more decisively in the critical swing states. Campaigns are all about hope and bluff. Though “no one will hear a discouraging word” from the Romney campaign, the writing is on the wall.

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Theodore Roosevelt, family man as political strategy

By Lewis L. Gould

Theodore Roosevelt was forty-two years old when he became the twenty-sixth president of the United States. He had been a Republican since his boyhood, but his allegiance to the Grand Old Party was not that of a regular partisan. He had little interest in the protective tariff and was not a fan of businessmen or the process by which they made their money. Instead, as a member of the New York aristocracy, he saw his duty as representing the American people in their adjustment to the promises and perils of industrial growth.

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When law is part of the problem

By John Gardner
The law is often an ass. More often than ever. Modern governments, their hands tied by the robber-barons of global finance, often try to assert their power with their feet: by kicking out at another supposed social problem with another big policy initiative. Usually they come up with an accompanying raft of new laws. Legislative incontinence prevails.

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Empathizing toward human unity

By Louis René Beres
According to ancient Jewish tradition traced back to the time of Isaiah, the world rests upon thirty-six just men — the Lamed-Vov. For these men who have been chosen and must remain unknown even to themselves, the spectacle of the world is insufferable beyond description. Eternally inconsolable at the extent of human pain and woe, so goes the Hasidic tale, they can never even expect a single moment of real tranquility.

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Keeping movies alive

Film is considered by some to be the most dominant art form of the twentieth century. It is many things, but it has become above all a means of telling stories through images and sounds.

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