Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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10 facts about the maracas

The simple design and intuitive process of the maracas have made it a familiar favorite around the world, but may often lead to an underestimation of its value in creating variety of rhythmic expression.

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Hinduism

Portraying Krishna in X-Men: Apocalypse

Another summer, another season of superhero movies. Big budgets, big muscles, big explosions: Each release only strengthens the genre’s domination of Hollywood—and the sense that comic-book franchises make up a contemporary mythology, and superheroes are its gods. Among this year’s offerings is X-Men: Apocalypse, which opened the last week of May.

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The EU referendum: a reading list

On 23rd June 2016, a referendum will be held in order to decide whether Britain should leave or remain in the European Union. In light of this, we have put together this reading list.

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Making the case for quality: research quality assurance in academic training programs

Successful scientific research requires an enormous investment of resources, education and effective mentoring. Scientists must be innovative, organized, flexible and patient as they conduct their research. Those entrusted to contribute to the research body of knowledge also rely on a support structure that recognizes and accepts the role of setbacks in the discovery process. In scientific research, three steps forward may rapidly result in two steps back.

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“A dream, which was not all a dream”: dark reflections from June 1816

Two hundred years ago, on 16 June 1816, one of the most remarkable gatherings in English literary history occurred in a villa just outside Geneva. Present at the occasion were Lord Byron, who had left England in April to escape (unsuccessfully, in the event) the scandal surrounding his separation from Lady Byron; John Polidori, whom Byron had engaged as his personal physician.

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Professional skills and problem solving: the undergraduate research movement

I was recently asked to comment on “who benefits from research with students, and particularly how do undergraduates who do research benefit?” Like many of us, I have a set of answers in my pocket that I often use when I speak to colleges and universities about engaging undergraduate students in research. However, the audience for this question was not the group of like-minded peers who already believe in research as a fundamentally important thing in higher education.

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Revealing lives of women in science and technology: the case of Sarah Guppy

Guppy, as a patent-holding female inventor, is a rare type for the early 19th century but one that we are clearly eager to hear about today. It is the kind of life that (mostly women) historians have been researching since the 1970s and, more recently, has been transformed into popular role model: the archetypical example is Ada Lovelace, whose name has been adopted for a day celebrating and encouraging women in science and technology.

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The mysterious search for the Cardinal’s girlfriend

From the goosebump-producing thrills of Wilkie Collins’s fiction and the melodramas on offer at the Royal Princess’ Theatre to the headlines blaring in the Illustrated Police News, the Victorians savoured the sensational. The attention-seeking title above is patently untrue, yet, for more than five decades, John Henry Newman (the Cardinal) was emotionally, spiritually, and textually connected with Maria Rosina Giberne, a wholly intriguing figure.

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Reading list for World Oceans Day

When the Earth is viewed from space, it’s mostly blue. In fact, the ocean covers over 70% of our planet. Life began in the world’s oceans, and today – billions of years later – we’re no less dependent on it. From the diverse organisms which call it home, to the complex ways it helps keep global climates in check, our own survival is undeniably linked to that of the ocean.

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World Turtle Day: a reading list

World Turtle Day is celebrated on 23 May every year since its inception in 2000. In honour of these grandiose creatures, we have compiled a reading list of biology titles and articles that have helped to further research into the conservation biology of all chelonians.

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“We could build a future where people are free”: reflections on the Eurovision Song Contest

Spectacle at its grandest has long been crucial to the Eurovision Song Contest’s projection of its own importance for Europe and, increasingly in the past two decades, a unified Europe’s position in the world. Each year’s competition outstrips that of the year before, as song styles multiply and nations are added to the spectacle of nation competing against nation with the hope of representing Europe musically to the world.

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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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