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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

9780195337136

Six features of hip hop poetry

Hip hop has increasingly influenced a new generation of American poets. For instance, the current issue of Poetry excerpts poems and essays from the recently published anthology, The BreakBeat Poets, edited by Kevin Coval, Quraysh Ali Lansana, and Nate Marshall. In the anthology’s introduction, Marshall asserts: “This is the story of how generations of young people reared on hip-hop culture and aesthetics took to the page and poem and microphone to create a movement in American letters in the tradition of the Black Arts, Nuyorican, and Beat generations and add to it and innovate on top.”

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9780199920730

Crazy Horse and Custer

Fifteen years ago, not long after publishing Anthology of Modern American Poetry with Oxford, I began to receive the typical mix of complimentary and complaining letters. In the latter category, faculty members wanted to know why a favorite poem or poet was left out and some poets who were not included wrote pointed letters to let me know they weren’t happy with the fact. But one poet, William Heyen, took a different approach.

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trollope_autobiography

How well do you know Anthony Trollope?

Next week, 24 April 2015 marks the bicentenary of one of Britain’s great novelists, Anthony Trollope. He was an extremely prolific writer, producing 47 novels, as well as a great deal of non-fiction, in his lifetime. He also worked for the Post Office, and introduced the pillar box to Britain. So, do you think you know Anthony Trollope? Test your knowledge with our Trollope bicentenary quiz.

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OWC Reading Group

Before Bram: a timeline of vampire literature

There were many books on vampires before Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Early anthropologists wrote accounts of the folkloric vampire — a stumbling, bloated peasant, never venturing far from home, and easily neutralized with a sexton’s spade and a box of matches. The literary vampire became a highly mobile, svelte aristocratic rake with the appearance of the short tale The Vampyre in 1819.

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9780198703297

Who was the first great Shakespearean actress?

The first female Juliet appears to have been Mary Saunderson, to Henry Harris’s Romeo in 1662 when her future husband, Thomas Betterton, played Mercutio. Later she acted admirably as Ophelia and Lady Macbeth but nothing I have read characterizes her as great. Elizabeth Barry (c.1658–1713) succeeded her as Betterton’s leading lady, excelling in pathetic roles and achieving her greatest successes in the heroic tragedies of her own time.

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9780198700852_450

Whig literary culture and the canon: the legacy of the Tonsons

Jacob Tonson the elder (1656-1736) was, as has long been recognized, one of the most influential and pioneering booksellers of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries and, as such, is the subject of four major biographies of the past hundred years. The leading publisher of his day, Tonson published writers such as Joseph Addison, Aphra Behn, William Congreve, John Dryden, Laurence Echard, John Gay, John Oldmixon, Alexander Pope, Matthew Prior, Nicholas Rowe, Richard Steele, George Stepney, and John Vanbrugh.

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Anthony Trollope: not as safe as we thought he was?

Anthony Trollope. Safe, stodgy, hyper-Victorian Anthony Trollope, the comfort reading of the middle classes. As his rival and admirer Henry James said after his death ‘With Trollope we were always safe’. But was he really the most respectable of Victorian novelists?

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OWC Reading Group

The birth of the vampyre: Dracula and mythology in Early Modern Europe

Although occultists like the antiquarian Montague Summers would like to claim that the belief in vampires is global and transhistorical (and therefore probably true), the vampire is a thoroughly modern being. Like the Gothic genre itself, stories of vampires emerge in the Age of Enlightenment, as instances of primitive superstition that help define the rational scepticism of northern, Protestant Europe.

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OCCL

Do you know your Potter from your Paddington?

The last three decades have seen arguably the most fertile periods in the history of children’s literature, across the field. The phenomenon that is Harry Potter, the rise of YA, and books that tackle difficult subjects for younger readers are just a few examples of the material included in the new edition of The Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature by Daniel Hahn.

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9780198703297

Who are the forgotten Shakespearean actors?

Stanley Wells’ latest book, Great Shakespeare Actors, offers a series of beautifully written, illuminating, and entertaining accounts of many of the most famous stage performers of Shakespeare from his time to ours. In a video interview, Wells revealed some of the ‘lesser’ remembered actors of the past he would have loved to have seen perform live on stage. The edited transcript below offers an insight into three of these great Shakespeare actors.

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Anthony Trollope and ‘The Story of a Cheque for £20, and of the Mischief Which It Did’

One of the more affordable forms in which it is possible to acquire the manuscript signatures of Victorian writers today is the used cheque. Quantities of these minor, sometimes biographically revealing, documents left the archives of banks and went onto the open market in the 1990s; they now circulate through the catalogues of manuscript dealers and in the online pages of eBay, some of them leaving traceable e-narratives of their patterns of ownership.

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OWC Reading Group

Oxford World’s Classics Reading Group Season 2: Dracula

Tales of vampire-like creatures, demonic consumers of human flesh and blood, have permeated the mythology of almost every culture since the dawn of time. Yet while the vampire as we now know him became a popular source of folklore terror in Eastern Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries, it was not until 1897 that Bram Stoker introduced the world to the most famous vampire of all.

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9780199689484_450

Vergil in Russia: milestones of identity

In 1979, one of the most prominent Russian classical scholars of the later part of the twentienth century, Mikhail Gasparov, stated: “Vergil did not have much luck in Russia: they neither knew nor loved him.” Gasparov mostly blamed this lack of interest on the absence of canonical Russian translations of Vergil, especially when it came to the Aeneid.

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scienceinwonderland

Cinderella science

Imagine a plant that grew into a plum pudding, a cricket bat, or even a pair of trousers. Rather than being a magical transformation straight out of Cinderella, these ‘wonderful plants’ were instead to be found in Victorian Britain. Just one of the Fairy-Tales of Science introduced by chemist and journalist John Cargill Brough in his ‘book for youth’ of 1859, these real-world connections and metamorphoses that traced the origins of everyday objects were arguably even more impressive than the fabled conversion of pumpkin to carriage (and back again).

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9780198723721_450

Jerome: a model scholar?

The Renaissance vision of Jerome (c. 347-420 AD), as depicted by Albrecht Dürer in a world-famous engraving of 1514, seems to represent an ideal type of the scholar: secluded in the desert, far removed from the bustle of ordinary life (with a lion to prove it), well-established in his institution (as shown by the cardinal’s hat), and devoted to his studies.

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9780199695140_450

Who is your favourite character from children’s literature?

In order to celebrate the launch of The Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature in March, we invited OUP staff to dress up as their favourite characters from children’s books. The result was one surreal day during which our Oxford offices were overrun with children’s literature characters, ranging from the Cat in the Hat to Aslan, from Pippi Longstocking to the Tiger Who Came to Tea, and from Little Red Riding Hood to the Very Hungry Caterpillar. It was a brilliant and brave effort by all those who attended. Particularly those who commuted to and from work in their costumes!

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