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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

The robin and the wren

In Surrey (a county bordering London), and not only there, people used to say: “The robin and the wren are God’s cock and hen” (as though the wren were the female of the robin, but then the wren is indeed Jenny). In Wales, the wren is also considered sacred.

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The tortures of adapting Samuel Richardson’s ‘Pamela’

The term “bestseller” is a bit of a stretch for the eighteenth century, when books were expensive (though widely shared), and information about print-runs is hard to come by. But if any early novel deserves the title, it’s Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, which on publication in 1740 rapidly caught the imagination of Britain, Europe, and indeed America (the Philadelphia printing by Benjamin Franklin was the first unabridged American edition of any novel).

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Music in history: overcoming historians’ reluctance to tackle music as a source

Music histories like these do not offer anything as technical as a musicological analysis, yet they treat music as much more than a soundtrack. They delve deeply into the stylistic attributes, technological production and commercial distribution of music, while situating it within broader contexts shaped by migration, empire, and war, as well as by racial, ethnic, and gender hierarchy.

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Protest songs and the spirit of America [playlist]

In a rare television interview, Jimi Hendrix appeared on a network talk show shortly after his historic performance at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair. When host Dick Cavett asked the guitarist about the “controversy” surrounding his wild, feedback-saturated version of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Hendrix gently demurred.

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Cervical cancer and the story-telling cloth in Mali

Around the world, the arts are being used within communities to address local needs. For such projects to be most effective, program participants must: ensure that their program goals are locally-defined; research which art forms, content, and events might best feed into their program goals; develop artistic products that address their goals; and evaluate these products to ensure their efficacy.

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Life as a librarian in the Māori community

I wanted to make a difference and support a growing shift to acknowledging and reclaiming Māori language, history, traditions and culture. Due to my work as a Kaitiakipukapuka Māori, I have made many connections with local iwi (tribal groups) and their marae (community spaces). There is a growing awareness that libraries are not just about books; they are community spaces where people can share, learn, and engage with each other.

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On Robin and robin

“Then the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake scuffled down from the bank and said: ‘My young friend, if you do not now, immediately and instantly, pull as hard as ever you can, it is my opinion that your acquaintance in the large-pattern leather ulster’(and by this he meant the Crocodile) ‘will jerk you into yonder limpid stream before you can say Jack Robinson’.

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A new geological epoch demands a new politics

Young people have become increasingly vocal in castigating older generations for their failure to act on climate change. University students are at the forefront of campaigns to divest from fossil fuels. A group of 21 young Americans launched a high-profile court case against the US government to pursue a legal right to a stable climate.

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How sibling rivalry impacts politics

Was Ed Miliband right to stand against his brother David for the leadership of the Labour party in 2010? Or should he have stepped aside to give his elder brother a clear run? There was much media debate over his decision to challenge David, and relations between the brothers have remained cool and distant to […]

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How women really got the vote

The most important date is 1949, when the populous nations of China, India and Indonesia enfranchised women; that was 40 per cent of the world’s female population. What was driving these enfranchisements? The great movements of women’s suffrage, where tens of nations enfranchised in a few years, are associated with national solidarity and re-organisation.

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The continuing life of science fiction

In 1998 Thomas M. Disch boldly declared in The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of: How Science Fiction Conquered the World that science fiction had become the main kind of fiction which was commenting on contemporary social reality. As a professional writer, we could object that Disch had a vested interest in making this assertion, but virtually every day news items confirm his argument that SF connects with an amazingly broad range of public issues.

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How to use the passive voice

Writing instructors and books often inveigh against the passive voice. My thrift-store copy of Strunk and White’s 1957 Element of Style says “Use the Active Voice,” explaining that it is “more direct and vigorous than the passive.” And George Orwell, in his 1946 essay on “Politics and the English Language,” scolds us to “Never use the passive where you can use the active.”

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Top ten developments in international law in 2018

This year was, once again, one of great political turmoil. The international legal order is not immune from the impact of the rise of populism and increasingly strained relations between many of the world’s most powerful states. A positive view is that we are witnessing a period of global re-adjustment. A more negative take is that there is a real risk of the fabric of the international legal order, created so carefully in the aftermath of the First and Second World Wars, unravelling.

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OUP Philosophy

Philosophy in 2018: a year in review [timeline]

2018 has been another significant year for the philosophy world and, as it draws to a close, the OUP philosophy team reflects on what has happened in the field. We’ve compiled a selection of key events, awards, and anniversaries, from the bicentenary of the birth of Karl Marx to Martha Nussbaum winning the Berggruen Prize and the death of the philosopher Mary Midley.

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