Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

9780190280024

Father and son, inspired: Joshua and Paul Laurence Dunbar

Despite the biographical clues that historical fact and fiction may afford in excavating Joshua’s life, the investigation itself rests on a set of assumptions that implicate literary studies of slavery and, in particular, the social and intellectual historiography by which we delineate the agency of slaves themselves. The attractive notion that we can access the life of Joshua by way of the literature of Paul betrays the complexity of that actual investigation.

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5 reasons why a library is the best place to hide during a Zombie Apocalypse

May is known as International Zombie Awareness Month. After witnessing many poor comrades lose their lives in Hollywood zombie uprisings, we’ve decided that we need to prepare for any eventuality. Suppose the living dead do come calling, where is the best place to hide, and, as Simon Pegg hopes, “wait for the whole thing to blow over”? There is but one option, a library. Here’s five reasons why.

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Sykes-Picot: the treaty that carved up the Middle East

The 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement has long been regarded as a watershed – a pivotal episode in the history of the Middle East with far-reaching implications for international law and politics. A product of intense diplomacy between Britain and France at the height of the First World War, this secret agreement was intended to pave the way for the final dissolution of Ottoman power in the region.

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Evangelicals, politics, and theocracy: a lesson from the English revolution

The current cycle of primary elections has re-ignited old debates about the place of religion in American political life. Those candidates identified as evangelicals, such as Ted Cruz, are often represented as proposing a top-down reconstruction of American society, encouraging a “moral minority” to take power in order to impose its expectations upon the culture at large.

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Ten facts about the sousaphone

Any American can recognize the opening notes of “Stars and Stripes Forever” and that most essential instrument of the American marching band — the sousaphone. How did this 30 pound beauty come to be? Despite its relative youth, the sousaphone has an extensive (and sometimes controversial) history.

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Which planet are you? [quiz]

Whilst learning about the planets in our Solar System, and then hearing all that has befallen them in the news over the past decade, have you ever wondered which one you might best get on with? Or which planet you would be? We certainly have, which is why we’ve created the quiz below, to help you find out.

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A timeline of the dinosaurs [infographic]

Dinosaurs, literally meaning ‘terrible lizards’, were first recognized by science, and named by Sir Richard Owen (who preferred the translation ‘fearfully great’), in the 1840’s. In the intervening 170 years our knowledge of dinosaurs, including whether they all really died out 65 million years ago, has changed dramatically. Take a crash course on the history of the dinosaurs with our infographic.

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How well do you know your quotes from Down Under?

“What a good thing Adam had. When he said a good thing he knew nobody had said it before.” Mark Twain put his finger on one of the minor problems for a relatively new nation: making an impact in the world of famous quotations. All the good lines seem to have already been used somewhere else, by somebody else.

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Cervantes’s pen silenced today

His words still shape our consciousness, even if we fail to read him. This is not due to some hackneyed idealism (“tilting at windmills”), but rather to his pervasive impact on the genre that taught us to think like moderns: the novel. He pioneered the representation of individual subjectivity and aspiration, which today undergirds the construction of agency in any narrative, whether in novels, films, television, or the daily self-fashioning by millions of users of social media.

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10 facts about the “king of instruments”

The organ is a complex, powerful instrument. Its history is involved and wide-ranging, and throughout the years it has commanded respect as it leaves its listeners in awe. To celebrate the organ, we compiled a list of 10 facts you may or may not know about this magnificent instrument.

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Show me the bodies: A monumental public policy failure

In the 21st century, “show-me-the-bodies” seems a cruel and outdated foundation for public policy. Yet history is littered with examples—like tobacco and asbestos—where only after the death toll mounts is the price of inaction finally understood to exceed that of action.

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Homer: inspiration and controversy [Infographic]

Although a man named “Homer” was accepted in antiquity as the author of the poems, there is no evidence supporting the existence of such an author. By the late 1700s, careful dissection of the Iliad and Odyssey raised doubts about their composition by a single poet. Explore more about the “Homeric question” and the influence of these epics in the infographic below.

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Hate crime and anti-immigrant “talk”

Republican Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have called for the mass deportation of undocumented workers, the majority of whom hail from Mexico. To many liberals, the anti-immigrant rhetoric of these Republican candidates seems oddly anachronistic—a terrible throwback to an earlier America when we were less in touch with our melting pot roots.

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Unnatural disasters and environmental injustice

The recent tragedy involving toxic, lead-laced tap water in Flint, Michigan highlights the growing gulf between rich and poor, and majority and minority communities. In an ill-fated measure to save costs for the struggling city of Flint, officials stopped using Detroit’s water supply system and switched to the Flint River.

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