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“Take control”: delusions of sovereignty

The phrase “take control” served as a mantra for the Vote Leave campaign in the United Kingdom’s referendum of 2016 about its membership of the European Union. The country was held to the same constraints and obligations as the EU’s other twenty-seven members. the United Kingdom, as the campaigners declared, could not manage its own borders, organise its own trade, define and regulate the rights of its own citizens ,and, above all, determine its own laws.

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Q&A with R. Andrew Chesnut on Santa Muerte

Santa Muerte, a skeleton saint, has attracted millions of devotees over the past decade. In the US she’s become especially popular among Euro-American LGBTQ individuals. We spoke to R. Andrew Chesnut, author of Devoted to Death, about the history and origins of Santa Muerte, why she has gained popularity recently, and the process and challenges of his research on the Bony Lady.

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How well do you know Confucius? [quiz]

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. His lessons emphasized moral cultivation, stressed literacy, and demanded that his students be enthusiastic, serious, and self-reflective.

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Horror films reinforce our fear instincts: Q&A with John Carpenter

John Carpenter’s classic suspense film Halloween from 1978 launched the slasher subgenre into the mainstream. The low-budget horror picture introduced iconic Michael Myers as an almost otherworldly force of evil, stalking and killing babysitters in otherwise peaceful Haddonfield. It featured a bare-bones plot, a simple, haunting musical score composed by Carpenter himself, some truly nerve-wracking editing and cinematography

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Apparitions in the archives: haunted libraries in the UK

This Halloween we turn our sights to the phantoms haunting the libraries and private collections of Britain. From a headless ghost, to numerous abnormalities surrounding a vast collection of magical literature from a late ghost hunter, here are some stories around apparitions that have been glimpsed among the stacks – you can choose whether or not you believe them to be true….

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Doing the right thing: ethics in the Zombie Apocalypse [video]

From popular television shows like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones to countless films, video games, and comics, stories of the Zombie Apocalypse have captivated modern audiences. With horror and fascination, we watch, read, and imagine the decimation of human society as we know it at the hands of the undead.

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J. S. Bach and the celebration of the Reformation

The figure most closely identified with the Protestant Reformation is, of course, Martin Luther. But after him probably comes Johann Sebastian Bach, who spent much of his musical career in the service of Luther’s church. As the world marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation on 31 October 2017, we can remember that Bach and his contemporaries also took careful note of Reformation anniversaries, commemorating them in liturgy and music.

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From segregation to the Supreme Court: the life and work of Thurgood Marshall

Marshall (2017) recounts one of the most contentious Supreme Court cases in American history, represented by Thurgood Marshall, who would later serve as the first African American Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Directed by Reginald Hudlin, with Chadwick Boseman playing the title role, the film establishes Marshall’s greatest legal triumph, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, in which the Court declared the laws allowing for separate but equal public facilities (including public schools) inherently unconstitutional. The case, handed down on 17 May 1954, signalled the end of racial segregation in America and the beginning of the American civil rights movement. In 2013, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Editor in Chief of the Oxford African American Studies Center, spoke with Larry S. Gibson, Professor of Law at the University of Maryland, whose book Young Thurgood: The Making of a Supreme Court Justice recounts the personal and public events that shaped Marshall’s work.

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9.5 myths about the Reformation

Did the The Reformation laid the foundations of the modern world? This year marks the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation and Martin Luther’s nailing of his 95 Theses to the doors of Wittenberg Castle Church. But how much of what we think about it is actually true? To coincide with this occasion, Peter Marshall addresses 9.5 common myths about the Reformation.

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Are we all living in the Anthropocene?

In 2000, atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen and biologist Eugene Stoermer published a short but enormously influential article in Global Change Newsletter. In it, they proposed the adoption of a brand new geological epoch: the Anthropocene. Their argument: humans have had and will continue to have a drastic impact on the planet’s climate, biodiversity, and other elements of the Earth system, and the term “Anthropocene” – from the Greek anthropos, or “human” – most accurately describes this grim new reality.

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When rivers die – and are reborn

Most of the great cities of the world were built on rivers, for rivers have provided the water, the agricultural fertility, and the transport links essential for most great civilizations. This presents a series of puzzles. Why have the people who depend on those rivers so often poisoned their own water sources? How much pollution is enough to kill a river? And what is needed to bring one back to life?

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Hop heads and locaholics: excerpt from Beeronomics

Beer drinkers across the United States observe the National American Beer Day annually on 27 October. Over the last decade two IPAs, craft beer and microbreweries have taken over the American beer market and continue their steady growth. This extract from Johan Swinnen and Devin Briski’s Beeronomics discusses some of the strategies of the American craft beer movement.

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Stage fright and mental ghosts: managing stage fright as a growth process

William: I played in a violin recital a couple of weeks ago. I had played the music many times before but in that concert I really messed up my finger work passages – one in particular – and then I started feeling that my memorization was shaky. I was a nervous wreck and couldn’t wait to finish. I cannot figure this out. I feel haunted that it is going to happen again and again.

JJN: This sounds terribly upsetting – both your concerns about your playing and your worries about trying to figure it out on your own and not being able to do that. Has this kind of thing happened before? Do you typically try to figure things out on your own?

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Hannah Arendt and the source of human values

Hannah Arendt was a literary intellectual, defined by Thomas Pynchon as, “people who read and think.” Like Socrates, Hannah Arendt thought and went where thought took her. Arendt’s thinking led her many places, but one of the more interesting topics she thought about was the source of human values.

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The Protestant Reformation and the upside of historical amnesia

On October 31, the Western world will mark a momentous date: 500 years since an obscure German monk, Martin Luther, putatively nailed his 95 Theses to the Castle Church door of Wittenberg, Saxony, thereby launching Protestant Christianity and, if you believe some historians, the modern world. That many people can’t remember what the Protestant Reformation was all about might not please scholars.

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