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Henry Cowell

New appreciation for composer Henry Cowell

The extraordinarily innovative American composer Henry Cowell took Europe by storm as a touring pianist in the 1920s, playing his unforgettable compositions that often required using the entire forearm to play dozens of keys simultaneously. In later years he returned to give talks about his music and American music under the auspices of the State Department.

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Gershwin and color: how blue is the Rhapsody?

Everyone knows George Gershwin as a composer, songwriter, pianist and icon of American music. But few know of his connections to the world of paintings and fine art. As a practicing artist himself, Gershwin produced over 100 paintings, drawings, and photographs.

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Wine globalization set to continue

The past two decades have seen globalization of the world’s wine markets proceed like never before, in both speed and comprehensiveness. There was a degree of trade expansion in the five decades to World War I but, until the late 20th century, interactions across continents involved little more than the exporting of vine cuttings and traditional production expertise.

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Our exhausted (first) world: a plea for 21st-century existential philosophy

Consider: a lecture hall of undergraduates, bored and fidgety (and techne-deprived, since I’ve banned computers and devices in class) in distinctive too-cool-for-school Philosophy 101 style.—Ah, but today will be different: the current offering is not Aristotle on causation, or Cartesian dualism, or Kant’s transcendental unity of apperception—no.

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Shakespeare’s encounter with Michel de Montaigne

Some people sign their books but never read them. Others devour books without bothering to inscribe their names. Shakespeare falls in the latter category. In fact we don’t truly know whether he owned books at all; just six Shakespearean signatures are considered authentic, and they appear exclusively in legal documents.

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OUP Philosophy Creast

How much do you know about Hannah Arendt? [quiz]

This September, the OUP Philosophy team have chosen Hannah Arendt as their Philosopher of the Month. Hannah Arendt was a German political theorist and philosopher best known for coining the term “the banality of evil.” She was also the author of various influential political philosophy books.

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Forum for Modern Language Studies cover

Why does the European Day of Languages matter?

Each year, the European Union celebrates the European Day of Languages on 26 September. To mark this celebration of linguistic diversity, we asked the editors of Forum for Modern Language Studies to tell us why they think people should study some of the major European languages.

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Five astonishing facts about women in Shakespeare

What would Macbeth be without Lady Macbeth? Or Romeo and Juliet with only Romeo? Yet there’s an enormous disparity between female and male representation in Shakespeare’s play. Few, great female characters deliver as many lines or impressive speeches as their male counterparts. While this may not be surprising considering 16th century society, literature, and theater, data can reveal a wider disparity than previously thought.

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A crisis of commitment

A reasonable line of thought can give rise to a crisis of commitment: Many a commitment requires persistence or willpower, especially in the face of temptation. A straightforward example is the decision to quit smoking; another is the promise to be faithful to someone for the rest of one’s life.

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Top ten facts about Buddhism

Damien Keown, author of Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction, tells us ten things we need to know about buddhism. From the Sangha to reincarnation, discover fascinating facts about Buddhism below.

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James Baldwin and the fire this time

As the fires burned in Baltimore, following the arrest and subsequent death of Freddie Gray in April 2015, protesters brandished placards with quotations from James Baldwin’s work, and thousands of blogs and twitter feeds invoked the legendary writer.

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9780199689170 Cunliffe - By Steppe Desert nad Ocean - final

A history of firsts [slideshow]

We live in a globalized world, but mobility is nothing new. Set on a huge continental stage, By Steppe, Desert and Ocean tells the story how human society evolved across the Eurasian continent from Europe to China.

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Ten fun facts about the xylophone

You’d probably recognize the rainbow-patterned, lap-size plastic xylophone in the playroom, popular among music-minded toddlers. But what do you know about the real thing? The xylophone is a wooden percussion instrument with a range of four octaves, and can be used in a variety of musical genres.

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Beyond the ‘God Wars’

For many years – running into decades, even centuries – the idea of a fundamental opposition between believers and non-believers has anchored public discussion about religion. The metaphors are of battles: these are ‘God Wars’, with ‘zealous religionists’ mounting their defences against ‘militant atheists’.

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French History cover

Subversive voting, or how the French spoil their ballot papers

You might not guess, but the image below celebrating the Second Republic of 1848 was cast at Dijon as a negative vote in the referendum of 1851, which sought approval for the coup d’état that brought Louis-Napoleon (nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte) to power in France. The overwhelming majority voted positively but, among a minority of dissenters, there were those who chose to graphically illustrate their opposition. Others made adverse written comments on their papers and still more defaced the ballot they had been instructed to use by the newly installed Napoleonic authorities, or submitted blank pieces of paper to the ballot box.

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