Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Author: Steven Filippi

Nine “striking” facts about the history of the typewriter

The first machine known as the typewriter was patented on 23rd June 1868, by printer and journalist Christopher Latham Sholes of Wisconsin. Though it was not the first personal printing machine attempted—a patent was granted to Englishman Henry Mill in 1714, yet no machine appears to have been built—Sholes’ invention was the first to be practical enough for mass production and use by the general public.

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In celebration of twentieth century African American literature

Since the first poems published by former slaves Phyllis Wheatley and Jupiter Hammon around the time of the American Revolution, African American literature has played a vital role in the history and culture of the United States. The slave narratives of figures such as Frederick Douglass and Harriet Wilson became a driving force for abolitionism before the Civil War, and the tumultuous end of Reconstruction brought about the exploration of new genres and themes during the height of the Jim Crow era.

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What happens when a volcano erupts?

Volcanoes are incredibly complex geological systems. They are capable of generating many dangerous effects in the form of lava follows, fallout, and lahars – as well as associated hazards such as seismic shocks, tsunamis, or landslides. About 500 million people currently live in regions of the world directly subject to volcanic risk, and it is estimated that about 250,000 persons died during the past two centuries as a direct consequence of volcanic eruptions.

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Oxford Reference

5 canon-breaking influences on modern literature

In the modern world, the idea of literature has taken on new meaning as new concepts and technologies have emerged with the changing culture. From internet memes and viral content, to ecocriticism and even the occasional zombie—enjoy a wander through a five captivating and eclectic topics in the world of literature.

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10 great writers from China’s long literary history

China is one of the world’s oldest countries, and its long history goes hand in hand with its rich literary tradition. The names Confucius, Lao Tzu, and Sun Tzu are well-known around the world, but many of China’s poets, philosophers, and novelists remain hidden gems to outsiders. Take a look at the list below and discover 10 of China’s greatest writers, from the Zhou dynasty to the 20th century.

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How does circadian rhythm affect our lives?

The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to American biologists Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael W. Young for their discoveries of the molecular mechanisms that control circadian rhythm in organisms. Their work began in the 1980s with the study of fruit flies, from which they were able to identify the […]

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How well do you know the history of physics? [quiz]

Less than four centuries separate the end of the Renaissance and the theories of Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton from the development of quantum physics at the turn of the 20th century. During this transformative time, royal academies of science, instrument-making workshops, and live science demonstrations exploded across the continent as learned and lay people alike absorbed the spectacles of newfound technologies, devices, and innovations.

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How well do you know the foods of Ramadan? [quiz]

Ramadan is the ninth month of the lunar Muslim calendar and a period of 29 or 30 days each year in which practicing Muslims fast during daylight hours. The morning meal, suhur, must be finished before dawn, and iftar, the evening meal that breaks the fast (sawm), cannot occur until after dusk. While the commitment to prayer and hours of fasting build community, so do the extensive preparations for the breaking of the fast with friends and family at iftar each night.

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Do you know the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright? [quiz]

Frank Lloyd Wright, born on 8 June 1867, was one of the most significant architects of the Western world in the first half of the 20th century. At the height of his prolific career, Wright’s works revealed the architect’s keen insight into American and European culture, as well as an appreciation for indigenous art and architecture and the history and styles of Japan.

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8 groovy facts about Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

The summer of 1967 was a turbulent time. In the middle of the hippie-filled “Summer of Love,” war broke out in the Middle East and the US escalated its bombing of Vietnam. That June also saw the most famous rock band in the world release their magnum opus and change music history and American pop culture forever.

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12 Star Wars facts from a galaxy far, far away

On 25 May 1977, a small budget science fiction movie by a promising director premiered on less than 50 screens across the United States and immediately became a cultural phenomenon. Star Wars, George Lucas’ space opera depicting the galactic struggle between an evil Empire and a scrappy group of rebels, became the highest-grossing movie of the year and changed the course of movie history and American pop culture.

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How well do you know early video game history?

From their genesis in the development of computers after World War II to the ubiquity of mobile phones today, video games have had an extensive rise in a relatively short period of time. What started as the experimental hobbies of MIT students and US government scientists of the 1950s and 60s became a burgeoning industry with the emergence of home consoles and arcades in the 1970s.

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Did you know these 10 fascinating facts about museums?

Collections of art, scientific instruments, historical relics, and peculiarities have attracted the curiosity and imaginations of people around the world since ancient times. The museum as an institution developed in antiquity and evolved over the years to encompass and celebrate all aspects of human society, science, art, and history. Museums are vital to the study […]

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The end of the Cold War and the End of History?

Twenty-five years ago today, the Soviet Union of Socialist Republics collapsed, effectively ending the Cold War that had defined the latter half of the twentieth century and had spanned the globe. The previous day, 25 December 1991, General Secretary of the Communist Party Mikhail Gorbachev had resigned, transferring the Soviet nuclear codes to Russian president Boris Yeltsin.

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