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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

The life and work of Herman Melville

August 1st marks the 200th anniversary of Herman Melville’s birth. We have put together a timeline of Melville’s life to celebrate the event.  Feature Image credit: “Arrowhead farmhouse Herman Melville” by United States Library of Congress. Public domain via Wikimedia.

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Why Anna Burns’ Milkman is such a phenomenon

Few contemporary novels will have had a year like Milkman by Anna Burns. It was published, without a great deal of fanfare or advance publicity, in May 2018. But then it began to attract attention by dint of being longlisted, and then shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Some were surprised when it won. I wasn’t. In the course of a long commute to work, I had listened to the remarkable audiobook of Milkman twice.

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How Germany’s financial collapse led to Nazism

The summer of 1931 saw Germany’s financial collapse, one of the biggest economic catastrophes of modern history. The German crisis contributed to the rise of the Nazi Party. The timeline below shows historic events that led up to Adolf Hitler’s taking control of Germany.

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The evolution of the book to the digital page

Ever the early-adopter, I recently bought myself a Kindle. The e-reader is now available in a variety of models pitched at a variety of price points. Mine is called a Paperwhite. The name, like much about the digital reading experience, looks to elide the gap between reading on paper and reading on a plastic screen.

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How well do you know your fictional fathers?

The relationship between parent and child is intricate and has been widely explored in literature through the ages. Particularly complicated is the role of the father. They are often portrayed as abusive or absent while the mother takes on the traditional nurturing role, but that’s not to say literature doesn’t have its fair share of gentle […]

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Quiz: How well do you know Albert Camus?

The Nobel Prize winner, Albert Camus (1913-1960) is one of the best known French philosophers of the twentieth century, and also a widely-read novelist, whose works are frequently referenced in contemporary culture and politics. An active figure in the French underground movement, a fearless journalist, and an influential thinker in the post-war French intellectual life, Camus’s experience of growing up in troubled and conflicted times during the World War I and Nazi occupation of France permeate his philosophical and literary works.

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What early modern theater tells us about child sexual abuse

The sexual abuse of children endemic in the Roman Catholic Church is once again in the news, with Pope Francis mandating reporting within the Church. The Catholic Church is not alone; investigative journalists have revealed a pattern of sexual misconduct among Southern Baptist pastors and deacons over a twenty-year period, involving more than seven hundred victims.

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Bryant Park Reading Room 2019

Oxford University Press has once again teamed up with the Bryant Park Reading Room on their summer literary series.
Established in 1935, the Bryant Park Reading room was created by the New York Public Library as a refuge for thousands of unemployed New Yorkers during the Great Depression.

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Imitation in literature: inspiration or plagiarism?

Imitation is a complex word with a long and tangled history. Today, it usually carries a negative charge. The Oxford English Dictionary’s second definition of the word is “a copy, an artificial likeness; a thing made to look like something else, which it is not; a counterfeit.” So an imitation of a designer handbag might be a tatty […]

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Should the people always get what they want from their politicians?

Should we listen to the voice of “the people” or the conviction of their representatives? Britain’s vote to leave the European Union has inspired virulent debate about the answer. Amidst Theresa May’s repeated failure to pass her Brexit deal in the House of Commons this spring, the Prime Minister appealed directly to the frustrations and feelings of the people. “You the public have had enough,” she asserted in a speech of March 20.

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Looking at Game of Thrones, in Old Norse

The endtime is coming. The night is very long indeed; sun and moon have vanished. From the east march the frost-giants, bent on the destruction of all that is living. From the south come fiery powers, swords gleaming brightly. A dragon flies overhead. And, terrifyingly, the dead are walking too.

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Preaching as teaching in the Medieval church

We have long assumed that medieval sermons were written for the laity, that is, those with no Latin and probably minimal literacy. But most of the sermons that survive in English contain a significant amount of Latin. What did a medieval lay person understand when he or she heard a sermon?

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Eight facts about past poet laureates

The poet laureate has held an elevated position in British culture over the past 350 years. From the position’s origins as a personal appointment made by the monarch to today’s governmental selection committee, much has changed about the role, but one thing hasn’t changed: the poet laureate has always produced poetry for events of national […]

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Why Robinson Crusoe is really an urban tale

Robinson Crusoe (1719) was Daniel Defoe’s first novel and remains his most famous: a powerful narrative of isolation and endurance that’s sometimes compared to Faust, Don Quixote or Don Juan for its elemental, mythic quality.

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Celebrate National Poetry Month with Bernard O’Donoghue

For National Poetry Month, we sat down with Bernard O’Donoghue, author of Poetry: A Very Short Introduction. O’Donoghue discusses the importance of poetry, the influence social media has, and his own process when it comes to writing. Eleanor Chilvers: Why is poetry important? Bernard O’Donoghue: Poetry seems to have been thought important in all known societies, […]

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