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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Rhetorical fireworks for the Fourth of July

By Russ Castronovo
Ever since 4 July 1777 when citizens of Philadelphia celebrated the first anniversary of American independence with a fireworks display, the “rockets’ red glare” has lent a military tinge to this national holiday. But the explosive aspect of the patriots’ resistance was the incendiary propaganda that they spread across the thirteen colonies.

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Gods and men in The Iliad and The Odyssey

The Ancient Greek gods are all the things that humans are — full of emotions, constantly making mistakes — with the exception of their immortality. It makes their lives and actions often comical or superficial — a sharp contrast to the humans that are often at their mercy. The gods can show their favor, or displeasure; men and women are puppets in their world.

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A Canada Day reading list

By Tara Kahn
This Canada Day, we thought this would be an excellent opportunity to look back on some historical and fundamental books from the Canadian literary corpus.

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The Book of Common Prayer Quiz

By Alyssa Bender
We print many different types of bibles here at Oxford University Press, one popular line being our Book of Common Prayer. While this text is used worldwide, you may not know about its interesting history. Take our quiz below to learn more.

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Wars and the lies we tell about them

By Jessica H. Clark
Just east of downtown Tallahassee, Florida, there is a small city park known as “Old Fort.” It contains precisely that – a square of softly eroding earthworks (all that’s left of the fort) along with a few benches placed benignly in the shade of nearby oak and pine trees.

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Is there an American culture of Ramadan?

By Abdullahi An-Na‘im Immigrant Muslims continue to rely on the Ramadan culture of their regional origins (whether African, Middle East, South Asian, etc.). What is the culture of Ramadan for American Muslims? Is that culture already present, or do American Muslims have to invent it? Whether pre-existing or to be invented, where does that culture […]

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A map of Odysseus’s journey

Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey is a classic adventure filled with shipwrecks, feuds, obstacles, mythical creatures, and divine interventions. But how to visualize the thrilling voyage? The map below traces Odysseus’s travel as recounted to the Phaeacians near the end of his wandering across the Mediterranean.

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On Great Expectations

By Maura Kelly
Great Expectations is arguably Charles Dickens’s finest novel – it has a more cogent, concise plot and a more authentic narrator than the other contender for that title, the sprawling masterpiece Bleak House. It may also enjoy another special distinction – Best Title for Any Novel Ever. Certainly, it might have served as the name for any of Dickens’s other novels, as the critic G. K. Chesterson has noted before me.

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How much do you know about The Three Musketeers ?

The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas, celebrates its 170th birthday this year. The classic story of friendship and adventure has been read and enjoyed by many generations all over the world, and there have been dozens of adaptations, including the classic silent 1921 film, directed by Fred Niblo, and the recent BBC series. Take our quiz to find out how much you know about the book, its author, and the time at which it was written.

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Telemachos in Ithaca

How do you hear the call of the poet to the Muse that opens every epic poem? The following is extract from Barry B. Powell’s new free verse translation of The Odyssey by Homer. It is accompanied by two recordings: one of the first 105 lines in Ancient Greek, the other of the first 155 lines in the new translation. How does your understanding change in each of the different versions?

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Faith and science in the natural world

By Tom McLeish
There is a pressing need to re-establish a cultural narrative for science. At present we lack a public understanding of the purpose of this deeply human endeavour to understand the natural world. In debate around scientific issues, and even in the education and presentation of science itself, we tend to overemphasise the most recent findings, and project a culture of expertise.

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Torture: what’s race got to do with it?

By Rebecca Gordon
June is Torture Awareness Month, so this seems like a good time to consider some difficult aspects of torture people in the United States might need to be aware of. Sadly, this country has a long history of involvement with torture, both in its military adventures abroad and within its borders.

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A thought on poets, death, and Clive James. And heroism.

By Andrew Taylor
Whatever else we think of poets, we don’t tend to see them as heroes. There are exceptions, of course – Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon famously won the Military Cross, and some three hundred years earlier, Sir Philip Sidney was praised for his dash and gallantry at the Battle of Zutphen.

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The appeal of primitivism in British Georgia

By Geordan Hammond
The ideal of primitivism was common feature in eighteenth-century British society whether in architecture, art, economics, landscape gardening, literature, music, or religion. Nicholas Hawksmoor’s six London neo-classical churches are one example of the primivitist ideal in architecture and religion.

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The decline of evangelical politics

By Steven P. Miller
Has the evangelical era of American politics run its course? Two terms into the Obama administration, and nearly four decades since George Gallup Jr. declared 1976 the “Year of the Evangelical,” it is tempting to say yes.

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