Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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1914-1918: the paradox of semi-modern war

By Dennis Showalter
The looming centennial of the Great War has inspired a predicable abundance of conferences, books, articles, and blog posts. Most are built on a familiar meme: the war as a symbol of futility. Soldiers and societies alike are presented as victims of flawed intentions and defective methods, which in turn reflected inability or unwillingness to adapt to the spectrum of innovations (material, intellectual, and emotional), that made the Great War the first modern conflict.

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Josephine Baker, the most sensational woman anybody ever saw

By Melanie Zeck
Perhaps Ernest Hemingway knew best when he claimed that Josephine Baker was the “most sensational woman anybody ever saw. Or ever will.” Indeed, Josephine Baker was sensational–as an African American coming of age in the 1920s, she took Paris by storm in La Revue Nègre and relished a career in entertainment that spanned fifty years. On what would be her 108th birthday, Baker’s fans on both sides of the Atlantic still celebrate her legendary charisma.

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Football arrives in Brazil

By Matthew Brown
Charles Miller claimed to have brought the first footballs to Brazil, stepping off the boat in the port of Santos with a serious expression, his boots, balls and a copy of the FA regulations, ready to change the course of Brazilian history. There are no documents to record the event, only Miller’s own account of a conversation, in which historians have picked numerous holes.

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Mary Lou Williams, jazz legend

Wednesday, 28 May marks the 33rd anniversary of Mary Lou William’s death. Mary Lou Williams, an African-American keyboardist, composer, arranger, and contemporary of both Ella Fitzgerald and Lena Horne, is often overlooked as a key contributor to the jazz movement of the 20th century.

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Make your own percussion instruments

By Scott Huntington
You’d probably be lying if you said that you didn’t spend at least a moderate amount of time during your childhood banging on various and sundry items that happened to be within reach. If we’re being honest, this particular sort of self-expression doesn’t seem to lessen with age; thankfully, our methods tend to get more sophisticated over time.

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Consequences of the Truman Doctrine

By Christopher McKnight Nichols
On 22 May 1947, President Harry Truman signed the formal “Agreements on Aid to Greece and Turkey,” the central pillars of what became known as the “Truman Doctrine.” Though the principles of the policy were first articulated in a speech to a joint session of Congress on 12 March 1947, it took two months for Truman to line up the funding for Greece and Turkey and get the legislation passed through Congress.

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Why we love libraries: the Aussie way

This week is National Library and Information Week in Australia — a week-long celebration of library and information professionals across the country. To celebrate the wonderful work of Australian libraries and librarians, here are a few thoughts on why libraries are so important, from those at the very heart of them.

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Celebrating Victoria Day

Monday, 19 May is Victoria Day in Canada, which celebrates the 195th birthday of Queen Victoria on 24 May 1819. On 20 June 1837, at the age of 18, Queen Victoria took the throne as Monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, as the Empire was called at that point.

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Ros Bandt, Grove Music Online

The Biography of Ros Brandt, from Grove Music Online. An interest in experimental music is apparent from her earliest compositions, many of which involve performance in specific places, improvisation, electronics, graphic notation, and the use of self-built and specially built instruments. These include Improvisations in Acoustic Chambers, 1981, and Soft and Fragile: Music in Glass and Clay, 1982.

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Ricky Swallow, Grove Art Online

Ricky Swallow from Grove Art Online. Australian conceptual artist, active also in the USA. Swallow came to prominence only a few years after completing his Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne, by winning the prestigious Contempora 5 art prize in 1999

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Photography and social change in the Central American civil wars

By Erina Duganne
Many hope, even count on, photography to function as an agent of social change. In his 1998 book, Photojournalism and Foreign Policy: Icons of Outrage in International Crises, communications scholar David Perlmutter argues, however, that while photographs “may stir controversy, accolades, and emotion,” they “achieve absolutely nothing.”

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Brian Eno, the influential “non-musician” at 66

By Cecilia Sun
Brian Eno turns 66 today. It has become a cliché to start every profile of Eno by noting the eclecticism and longevity of his musical career. After all, here is a man who made his performance debut smashing a piece of wood against an open piano frame (La Monte Young, X (Any Integer) for Henry Flynt) and went on to produce award-winning albums for chart-topping bands.

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“There Is Hope for Europe” – The ESC 2014 and the return to Europe

By Philip V. Bohlman
4–10 May 2014. The annual Eurovision week offers Europeans a chance to put aside their differences and celebrate, nation against nation, the many ways in which music unites them. Each nation has the same opportunity—a “Eurosong” of exactly three minutes, performed by no more than six musicians or dancers, in the language of their choice, national or international—to represent Europe for a year.

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