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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Music & Autism

A conversation on music and autism (part one)

In the first part of this two-part interview, author of “Music and Autism,” Michael Bakan speaks to his co-author Graeme Gibson, Dr Deborah Gibson, and legendary science fiction author William Gibson about musical instruments and autism.

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The History of Radiology

Five famous doctors in literature

Doctors have appeared in fiction throughout history. From Dr Faustus, written in the sixteenth century, to more recent film adaptations in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the familiarity of these characters will be profitably read and watched by both experienced and future doctors who want to reflect on the human condition often so ably described by the established men and women of letters.

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Scientism, the coronavirus, and the death of the humanities

The cause of the humanities’ current crisis is far older than critics of postmodern relativism allow—and more baked into the heart of the modern American university. In fact, one must look back to very creation of the American universities in the late nineteenth century to see why their triumph precipitated the marginalization of the modern humanities. The scientizing of our higher education amounts to the root of the problem, and without a deep-seated revolt against this process, the humanities will continue to wither.

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Turn-taking in Shakespeare

And thus Zoom turns us all to fools and madmen

With characteristic aplomb, then, Shakespeare has anticipated—by a good four hundred years—exactly what happens when more than three people try to chat informally via Zoom. The kind of interaction that would be relatively straightforward in person becomes torturously difficult. Everything takes longer. Everything requires more effort. Without careful attention to what linguists call “turn-taking,” things quickly descend into chaos.

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Introducing Shakespeare to young readers

No one has a duty to like Shakespeare, just as no one is obliged to prefer coffee to tea, or classical music to pop, or soap operas to documentaries. On the other hand, just as it is highly inconvenient to know nothing about the internet, or how to boil an egg, so it is liable […]

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How germs (or the fear of them) spawned Modernism

The world’s attention has been fully trained for many months on detecting a microbe that, inevitably, most people will never see for themselves: SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. We take for granted the invisibility of this new enemy. But when scientists first ventured the hypothesis that germs were the cause of many virulent diseases, […]

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What we can learn from tragedy

June 2020 marked the third anniversary of the Grenfell Tower disaster, when 72 people died as a result of a fire in a block of flats in one of the poorest parts of the richest parts of London. Before and since the fire, in recent years the United Kingdom’s most marginalised and vulnerable communities have […]

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Five things to know about F. Scott Fitzgerald

Synonymous with the Jazz Age of the American 1920s which his novels did so much to define, F. Scott Fitzgerald hardly needs any introduction. Reading The Great Gatsby in school has become as much a rite of passage as first kisses and the furtive adolescent rebellion of drinking alcohol before coming of age. Much of […]

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How we decide on cultural canons

Libraries, museums, and galleries are a few of the places where humanity attempts to preserve and transmit its cultural memory. The contents change depending on the period, even the time of the year, the community, and the target audience, but the aim remains the same: to preserve and renew memory and by extension to transfer […]

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How we experience pandemic time

COVID-19 refers not only to a virus, but to the temporality of crisis. We live “in times of COVID” or “corona time.” We yearn for the “Before Time” and prepare for the “After Time.” Where earlier assessments of pandemic time focused on rupture, we are now reckoning with an open-ended, uncertain future. This endeavour would […]

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Five tips for clear writing

Blaise Pascal, the seventeenth century mathematician and philosopher, once apologised for the length of a letter, saying that he had not had time to write a shorter one.  All of us face situations where we need to compress much information into little space. Perhaps we have to fill in an online form with a character limit or write a cover letter for […]

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Don’t vote for the honeyfuggler

In 1912, William Howard Taft—not a man known for eloquence—sent journalists to the dictionary when he used the word honeyfuggle.  Honey-what, you may be thinking. It turns out that honeyfuggler is an old American term for someone who deceives others folks by flattering them.  It can be spelled with one g or two and sometimes with an o replacing the u.  To honeyfuggle is to […]

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India Cooper and the art of copyediting

The editor behind many of Oxford University Press USA’s highest profile titles was not a staff member. But it is impossible to measure the significance of the impact she had on Oxford’s history, biography, and music lists. First hired as a freelance copy editor by OUP’s legendary managing editor, Leona Capeless, she became one of […]

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What literature can teach us about living with illness

The recent interest in the epidemics of the last century coincides with growing media attention to the emotional ramifications of living with mass death and disease. COVID-19 has wrought an extended encounter with acute powerlessness and human frailty—a confrontation with mortality that is perhaps especially unmooring for those of us who live privileged lives. We […]

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Why research needs to be published in new and accessible formats

Technological advancements, accessibility needs, and study practices have and will continue to develop at a rapid pace. We find, use, and publish research completely differently than we did 25 years ago. But Oxford University Press has been publishing Very Short Introductions throughout this period.  Launched in 1995, these publications offer concise introductions to a diverse […]

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