Why make New Year’s Resolutions you don’t want to keep? This year the Very Short Introductions team have decided to fill the gaps in their knowledge by picking a VSI to read in 2016. Which VSIs will you be reading in 2016? Let us know in the comment section below or via the Very Short Introductions Facebook page.
The horrific attacks in Paris and San Bernardino have captured headlines and triggered responses from journalists, politicians, and religious leaders. Some Western heads of government have once again threatened a global war against terrorism, while some political commentators have even invoked World War III.
The nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are a key period in the history of modern scholarship on ancient Greek religion. It was in nineteenth-century Germany that the foundations for the modern academic study of Greek religion were laid and the theories formulated by German scholars as well as by their British colleagues in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century exercised a profound influence on the field which would resonate until much later times.
Without Islam there would be no Shakespeare. This may seem surprising or even controversial to those who imagine a “national bard” insulated from the wider world. Such an approach is typified in the words of the celebrated historian A.L. Rowse, who wrote that when it came to creatively connecting with that world, Shakespeare, the “quiet countryman,” was “the least engaged writer there ever was.”
For some time now, I have been among those who have argued that the fandom associated with the Star Wars franchise is akin to a religion. There are those who will quarrel with the word choice, but it is hard to gainsay the dedication of fans to the original films
Shortly after her coronation in 1558 Queen Elizabeth I reasserted and maintained royal supremacy within the English church, thus confirming her power as a Protestant leader. Shakespeare’s writing flourished under her reign, when Catholic and Protestant doctrines developed distinct methods of worship, mediation, and, perhaps most significantly, power and authority.
With the devastating earthquake in Nepal on 25 April 2015, not only humans but also gods became shelterless. The famous Car Narayan or Fourfold Vishnu Temple in Patan is one of the many temples that completely collapsed. It was constructed in the classical Newar “pagoda” style with two pyramidal roofs and an inner ambulatory by a local ruler, Purandara Simha, in 1565.
On 19 October 2015, the tech culture website Geek published another installment of procrastination-inducing click-bait lists, namely a rundown of “The 11 best Satanists.” Here, writer Aubrey Sitterson introduced 11 people associated with Satanism, from Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey to music icons Marilyn Manson and King Diamond.
Though the winter season in the northern hemisphere doesn’t officially begin until Monday, 21 December, many of us anticipate the joyful holidays and the not-so-joyful cold weather with bated breath. To get you prepped with some trivia arsenal for holiday parties, we’ve pulled some interesting facts about winter from our Very Short Introductions Online resource.
Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries was marked by years of political and religious turmoil and change. From papal authority to royal supremacy, Reformation to Counter Reformation, and an endless series of persecutions followed by executions, England and its citizens endured division, freedom, and everything in between.
‘Divine command theory’ is the theory that what makes something morally right is that God commands it, and what makes something morally wrong is that God forbids it. There are many objections to this theory. The four main ones are that it makes morality arbitrary, that it cannot work in a pluralistic society, that it makes morality infantile, and that it is viciously circular.
From 21-24 November, our religion and Bibles team was in Atlanta attending the joint American Academy of Religion / Society of Biblical Literature annual meeting. We had a great time interacting with customers and meeting authors. Here’s a slide show of some of the authors who stopped by the booth with their new books.
Nepal has had an extraordinarily eventful 2015. It has been rocked by catastrophic earthquakes and burdened by a blockade from India, but it has also (finally) passed a new constitution and elected its first female head of state, Bidya Devi Bhandari, who took office in October.
With the most widely-celebrated winter holidays quickly approaching, test your knowledge of the cultural history and traditions that started these festivities. For example, what does Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer have to do with Father Christmas? What are the key principles honored by lighting Kwanzaa candles?
Music has a long tradition of being associated with winter holidays, something we’re mindful of in the music departments of Oxford University Press. As Hanukkah is already in full swing, we asked members of our editorial, marketing, and publicity departments, for their favorite Hanukkah songs.
We want to know what Shakespeare believed. It seems to us important to know. He is our most important writer, and we want to know him from the inside. People regularly tell us that they do know what he believed, though mainly by showing what his father believed, or his contemporaries believed or, more accurately, what they said they believed—by demonstrating, that is, what was possible to believe.