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Energy and contagion in Durkheim’s The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life

Emile Durkheim was a foundational figure in the disciplines of sociology and anthropology, yet recapitulations of his work sometimes overlook his most intriguing ideas, ideas which continue to have contemporary resonance. Here, I am going to discuss two such ideas from Durkheim’s The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (originally published in 1912 and then in English in 1915), his concept of energy and contagion.

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American personhood in the era of Trump

After the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia on 12 August, 2017, the people of the United States waited anxiously for a response from their president. Sure enough, the first response came that day, denunciatory but equivocal. He condemned the violence coming from “many sides,” a response many found dissatisfactory considering that it was not counterprotesters but the alt-right who were responsible.

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Philosopher of the month: Confucius [infographic]

This October, the OUP Philosophy team honors Confucius (551 BC–479 BC) as their Philosopher of the Month. Recognized today as China’s greatest teacher, Confucius was an early philosopher whose influence on intellectual and social history extended well beyond the boundaries of China. Born in the state of Lu during the Zhou dynasty, Confucius dedicated his […]

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Does anyone know what mental health is?

The concept of mental health lives a double life. On the one hand it denotes a state today universally valued. Not simply valued but newly prioritised by governments, hospitals, schools, employers, charities and so on. Expressions such as “mental capital” or “mental wealth of nations” appear in official reports and high profile articles emphasising the […]

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Composer David Bednall in 23 questions- part 1

David Bednall is Organist of the University of Bristol, Sub Organist at Bristol Cathedral and conducts the Bristol University Singers. He has a busy career as a composer also, and has published many works. In this occasional series we ask Oxford composers questions based around their musical likes, influences, and challenges. We spoke with David about his composing habits, and his most difficult work to write.

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Why do so many people believe in miracles?

Belief in miracles is widespread. According to recent surveys 72% of people in the USA and 59% of people in the UK believe that miracles take place. Why do so many people believe in miracles in the present age of advanced science and technology? Let us briefly consider three possible answers to this question. The first possible answer is simply that miracles actually do take place all the time.

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How Twitter enhances conventional practices of diplomacy

The attention given to each “unpresidential”tweet by US President Donald Trump illustrates the political power of Twitter. Policymakers and analysts continue to raise numerous concerns about the potential political fall-out of Trump’s prolific tweeting. Six months after the inauguration, such apprehensions have become amplified. Take for instance Trump’s tweet in March 2017 that “North Korea is behaving very badly.

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Buddhist nationalists and ethnic cleansing in Myanmar part I: an introduction to the current crisis

Who are the Rohingya and what is exactly happening to them right now? Since August over 420,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar, citing human rights abuses and seeking refuge in Bangladesh. Sarah Seniuk and Abby Kulisz interview Michael Jerryson, a scholar who works on Buddhist-Muslim relations in Southeast Asia, in order to learn more about the background to this current crisis.

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World literature: what’s in a name?

What is world literature, and why are (some) people saying such bad things about it? You might think world literature would be easy to define. You might think it should refer to all the literature in the world, past and present. And you might think that the study of world literature — which goes back […]

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Mapping Reformation Europe

Maps convey simple historical narratives very clearly–but how useful are simple stories about the past? Many history textbooks and studies of the Reformation include some sort of map that claims to depict Europe’s religious divisions in the sixteenth century.

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The 21st Century Music Curriculum- Why Guitar?

In her keynote speech at Vision 2020: The Housewright Symposium on the Future of Music Education held at Florida State University in 1999, composer Libby Larson shared the story of her daughter’s experience playing saxophone in middle school band.

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Love, Madness, and Scandalous Women in Politics [timeline]

In Love, Madness, and Scandal, author Johanna Luthman chronicles the life of Frances Coke Villiers, Viscountess of Purbeck. Forced by her father into marrying Sir John Villiers; the elder brother of royal favorite, the Duke of Buckingham; Frances then fell for another man, Sir Robert Howard. While her husband succumbed to mental illness, she gave birth to Robert’s child.

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The life and works of Elizabeth Gaskell

On 29 September 2017, we celebrate the 207th birthday of Elizabeth Gaskell, a nineteenth century English novelist whose works reflect the harsh conditions of England’s industrial North. Unlike some of her contemporaries, whose works are told from the perspectives of middle class characters, Gaskell did not restrict herself, and her novels Mary Barton and Ruth feature working class heroines.

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A Conversation With ALSCW President Ernest Suarez, Part 2

Last week, we shared an interview with Ernest Suarez, president of the Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers (ALSCW), the society who publishes Literary Imagination. Today, we continue the conversation, and with it, we are able to get an even closer and more personal look into the life of a literary academic.

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