Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

George Romero, Game of Thrones, and the zombie apocalypse

When George Romero, director of Night of the Living Dead, died on 16 July, the world was gearing up for the season opener of Game of Thrones. Game of Thrones owes its central storyline—the conflict between the Night’s Watch and the White Walkers—and a great measure of its success to Romero, as do other popular and critically-acclaimed versions of the story, whether television, film, fiction, or comics.

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What’s in the message?

Once upon a time, it could be believed that each advance in communications technology brought with it the probability, if not the certainty, of increased global harmony. The more that messages could be sent and received, the more the peoples of the world would understand each other. Innovators have not been slow to advance comprehensive claims for their achievements. Marconi, for example, selected 1912 as a year in which to suggest that radio, in apparently making war ridiculous, made it impossible.

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The long history of political social media

One of the key stories of the last US presidential election was the battle of words and images fought by supporters of the candidates on social media, or what one journalist has called “The Great Meme War” of 2016. From hashtag slogans like #FeelTheBern and #MakeAmericaGreatAgain to jokey internet memes like “Nasty Women”, public participation in political advocacy and promotion has reached a fever pitch in the age of networked digital technologies.

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Did branding predict Brexit?

Branding predicted Brexit. This bald assertion points to a fascinating truth about the art of branding. Because branding feeds on, and feeds into, popular culture, it’s often a leading indicator of bigger, political phenomena. Where branding leads, the rest of us follow. Let me explain. 2016 was the year of populism. Among other things, the phenomenon of Brexit and Trump was a popular backlash against the globalisation.

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The news media: are you an expert? [Quiz]

The news media has long shaped the way that we see the world. But with the rise of social media and citizen journalism, it can be difficult to determine which stories are fake news and which are simply the product of the evolving media. Inspired by The Death of Expertise, in which Tom Nichols explores the dangers of the public rejection of expertise, we’ve created a series of quizzes to test your knowledge.

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How well do you know the Hollywood musical? [quiz]

In Hollywood Aesthetic: Pleasure in American Cinema, film studies professor Todd Berliner explains how Hollywood delivers aesthetic pleasure to mass audiences. The following quiz is based on information found in chapter 11, “Bursting into Song in the Hollywood Musical.”

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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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Analyzing genre in Star Wars

Inaugurating the most financially successful franchise in the history of entertainment, the original Star Wars (1977) has become one of the most widely and intensely loved movies of all time. Film scholars, however, lambasted Star Wars for its simplicity.

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The Walking Dead and the security state

Did The Walking Dead television series help get President Donald J. Trump elected? During the presidential campaign, pro-Trump ads regularly interrupted episodes of the AMC series. Jared Kushner, who ran the campaign’s data program, explained to Forbes that the campaign’s predictive data analysis suggested it could optimize voter targeting by selectively buying ad-space in shows such as The Walking Dead.

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Analyzing “Expressiveness” in Frankenstein (1931)

In Hollywood Aesthetic: Pleasure in American Cinema, film studies professor Todd Berliner explains how Hollywood delivers aesthetic pleasure to mass audiences. Along the way, Professor Berliner offers numerous aesthetic analyses of scenes, clips, and images from both routine Hollywood movies and exceptional ones. His analyses, one of which we excerpt here, illustrate how to study […]

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Photographer Helen Muspratt through the eyes of her daughter

Helen Muspratt (1905–2001) was a pioneering photographer. Her unique techniques with different forms of exposure made her a driving force in naturalistic portraiture and social documentation. Throughout her illustrious career, Helen photographed the likes of Dorothy Hodgkin, Nobel Prize winning chemist; Roger Fry and Julian Bell of the Bloomsbury Group; painter Paul Nash; journalist Alistair Cooke; and many others.

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Brando, Obama, and The Brando

Just days before Marlon Brando’s 93rd birthday on 3 April, Barack Obama announced that he will write his presidential memoirs at an exotic South Pacific hideaway once owned by Brando. Thirty miles north of Tahiti and accessible only by boat or small aircraft, the island of Tetiaroa was transformed into a high-end resort after Brando […]

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The critical role of race in John Cassavetes’ first film

Shadows is the first film John Cassavetes directed and, regarding the version he released in 1959, it is the only film he created that distinctly explores themes of Blackness and Black identity in an American urban landscape. Too Late Blues, A Woman Under the Influence, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, and Love Streams all depict identity and race in different and attention-worthy ways as well, but none of Cassavetes’ directorial work after 1959 engages with these topics to the same degree or with the same immediacy.

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Remembering Charlie Chaplin, citizen of the world

Early in the 1957 film A King in New York, the second-to-last feature that Charlie Chaplin would write and direct and the last in which he would star, an unusual debate erupts between the two principal characters, one an exiled monarch and the other a precocious schoolboy.

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