Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Arts & Humanities

Involving kids in music: a lifelong gift

“My status as a musician hasn’t been a large part of my public identity since the beginning of high school. I took lessons and practiced at home, and that was it. But even that yielded other, more private lessons that my flute seemed to teach me. Those lessons will stay with me for much longer,”

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Three top tips for writing sociology essays

Give the reader a guide to your argument. Much as you would give someone directions in how to get to where they’re going, tell your reader what steps you will take, what the key turning points will be, why it is important to take this route and, ultimately, where you will end up. In other words, tell your reader exactly what you will conclude and why, right at the beginning.

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Singing resistance on the border

At an early age, Américo Paredes was preoccupied with the inexorable passing of time, which would leave an imprint in his academic career. Devoting his academic career to preserving and displaying Mexican-American traditions through thorough analysis and recording of folk-songs, it is clear that Paredes kept his focus on beating back the forces of time and amnesia. Indeed, Paredes’ lessons are still very much relevant today.

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Challenging ageism through burlesque performance [video]

Five years ago, Kaitlyn Regehr and Matilda Temperley, documentarian and photographer respectively, set off for Las Vegas to interview members of the League of Exotic Dancers. At the Burlesque Hall of Fame, these legends—thriving sixty years past the supposed prime of burlesque—have created a community in “Old Vegas” where they continue to perform half-century-old routines.

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Silas Marner, Threads, and Weaving [an excerpt]

Repetition and storytelling are bound in the novel’s representation of weaving, a theme that exemplifies the manner in which Silas Marner deftly moves between fable and realism. Classical mythology and fairy tales are crowded with weavers. Silas’s insect-like activity (he is reduced ‘to the unquestioning activity of a spinning insect’ and ‘seemed to weave, like the spider, from pure impulse, without reflection’ (p. 14)) calls to mind the myth of Arachne, who boldly challenged a goddess to a weaving contest.

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William Dean Howells and the Gilded Age [excerpt]

Through his writing, novelist and critic William Dean Howells captured the political and social aftermath of the Civil War. Given his limited involvement in politics, Howells’ works focused on the lives of common people over the uncommon, whom he deemed “essentially unattractive and uninteresting.” In the following excerpt from The Republic For Which It Stands, […]

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Should bluegrass go to college? yes

On July 5, 2017, Ted Lehmann’s weekly bluegrass column in No Depression asked this provocative question: Bluegrass goes to college, but should it? Through deft turn of phrase, Lehmann hints that the answer may be no, and that perhaps both the music’s historical integrity and today’s aspiring performers might not be best served via the college route.

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The coinage of the Roman Emperor Nerva (AD 96-98)

On 18 September, in AD 96, the 65 year-old senator, Nerva, became emperor of Rome (Figure 1). His predecessor, Domitian, was assassinated in the culmination of a palace conspiracy; there is no evidence that Nerva had anything to do with the plot.

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The independence of Anne Bradstreet

When the eighteen year old Anne Bradstreet first arrived in the New World in 1630, she confessed that “her heart rose.” She had made the voyage on the Arbella from England to Salem, Massachusetts with her extended family as part of the Puritan “Errand into the Wilderness.” Bradstreet’s resolution to write from her personal experience as a woman is the wellspring of her most memorable poetry.

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Aesthetics and politics: Donald Trump’s idea of art and beauty

President Donald Trump’s description of Confederate statues as “beautiful” merely mirrors his previously-mentioned objects of aesthetic preference. Before the statues, there was the “beautiful wall,” an oddly-conceived barrier prospectively bedecked with a “beautiful door.” But it’s not just about walls and buildings. Mr. Trump’s most frequent references to beauty have had to do with women.

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Boredom’s push

There are crimes of passion, those of rage and of love. And then, there are crimes of boredom. Arson, animal abuse, and murder have all been committed in the name of boredom.

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Who is the expert on your well-being?

The “science of well-being” (aka positive psychology, quality of life or happiness studies) applies scientific method to what was previously personal, inscrutable, philosophical–happiness and good life.

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A Q&A with composer Malcolm Archer

Malcolm Archer’s career as a church musician has taken him to posts at Norwich, Bristol, Wells Cathedrals, and St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. As a composer, Malcolm has published many works; his pieces are widely performed, recorded and broadcast and are greatly enjoyed for their approachable nature and singability. We spoke with Malcolm about his writing, his inspiration, and his career ambitions besides being a composer.

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Strategy challenged, part 2

An overlooked aspect of the conductor’s rehearsal procedure is the precise planning of any given rehearsal and of the rehearsal trajectory, from first reading to final dress, toward the end of “peaking” at the concert.

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