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150 Years of the Periodic Table

2019 marks the 150th anniversary of the creation of the periodic table, and it has been declared the International Year of the Periodic by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

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Happy Chinese New Year!

This year, the Chinese New Year begins today, February 5th, and people all around the world will be ringing in the year of the Pig.  Oxford Chinese Dictionary editor, Julie Kleeman, shares some insight into the traditions associated with the Chinese New Year celebrations.

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The Treaty of Versailles: A Very Short Introduction

National self-determination was supposed to be the answer to the so-called “ethnic problem” of the 19th century. The prewar, multi-ethnic Russian, German, and Austro-Hungarian empires, all on the wrong side of history, had disappeared at the end of the First World War never to return.

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The challenges of representing history in comic book form

When I wrote my first graphic history, based on the 1876 court transcript of a West African woman who was wrongfully enslaved and took her case to court, in 2012, I received a diverse and gratifying range of feedback from my fellow historians. Their response was overwhelmingly but not universally positive.

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The rightful heirs to the British crown: Wales and the sovereignty of Britain

The dating and chronology of the tales are problematic – they were probably written down sometime during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, against a background which saw the Welsh struggling to retain their independence in the face of the Anglo-Norman conquest. Although Wales had not developed into a single kingship, it certainly was developing a shared sense of the past, and pride in a common descent from the Britons.

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Music in history: overcoming historians’ reluctance to tackle music as a source

Music histories like these do not offer anything as technical as a musicological analysis, yet they treat music as much more than a soundtrack. They delve deeply into the stylistic attributes, technological production and commercial distribution of music, while situating it within broader contexts shaped by migration, empire, and war, as well as by racial, ethnic, and gender hierarchy.

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Protest songs and the spirit of America [playlist]

In a rare television interview, Jimi Hendrix appeared on a network talk show shortly after his historic performance at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair. When host Dick Cavett asked the guitarist about the “controversy” surrounding his wild, feedback-saturated version of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Hendrix gently demurred.

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How sibling rivalry impacts politics

Was Ed Miliband right to stand against his brother David for the leadership of the Labour party in 2010? Or should he have stepped aside to give his elder brother a clear run? There was much media debate over his decision to challenge David, and relations between the brothers have remained cool and distant to […]

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How women really got the vote

The most important date is 1949, when the populous nations of China, India and Indonesia enfranchised women; that was 40 per cent of the world’s female population. What was driving these enfranchisements? The great movements of women’s suffrage, where tens of nations enfranchised in a few years, are associated with national solidarity and re-organisation.

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A European peace plan turns 325

2018 marks the 325th anniversary of the publication of William Penn’s Essay towards the Present and Future Peace of Europe, which proposed, among other things, the establishment of a European Parliament.

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Brian Eno’s Music for Airports 40 years later

Forty years ago, Brian Eno released Ambient 1: Music for Airports and Virgin-EMI has just given it a deluxe vinyl re-issue. The first work to formally identify itself as “ambient,” it garnered modest attention and a bit of derision; Rolling Stone referred to it as “aesthetic white noise.”

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The evolution of the word “terror”

Terror comes into English in the late fourteenth century, partly from Middle French terreur, and partly directly from Latin terror. The word means both “the state of being greatly frightened” and “the cause of that state,” an ambiguity that is central to its future political meanings. In Early Modern English, terror comes to stand for a state of fear provoked on the very edge of the social.

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Making music American: a playlist from 1917

The entrance of the United States into World War I on April 6, 1917 inspired a flood of new music from popular songwriters. Simultaneously, the first recording of instrumental jazz was released in April 1917, touching off a fad for the new style and inspiring record companies to promote other artists before year’s end.

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Have you heard of René Blum?

Well? Have you? If not, it’s probably because René Blum’s lifelong career in the arts has been safely hidden from the history books.  Only his brother Léon Blum, the first Socialist and Jewish Prime Minister of France, received enormous attention. But Judith Chazin-Bennahum knows why René Blum deserves to be remembered: because he was an extraordinary man. Chazin-Bennahum’s book introduces the reader to the world of the Belle Epoque artists and writers, the Dreyfus Affair, the playwrights and painters who reigned supreme during the late 19th century and early 20th century period in Paris. Below she provides us with just a few of his most impressive accomplishments.

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Forty years of democratic Spain

Spaniards are celebrating with some fanfare the 40th anniversary of their democratic constitution that was approved overwhelmingly in a referendum on 6 December 1978, sealing the end of the 36-year dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, the victor of the country’s civil war. Whichever way one looks at it, Spain has been transformed profoundly since then.

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What Matthew Shepard’s interment taught us about religion

On 26 October 2018, twenty years after two men in Wyoming brutally murdered gay college student Matthew Shepard, the Washington National Cathedral hosted a service to inter Shepard’s ashes in a permanent memorial. More than four thousand people attended the service that was co-led by the Reverend Gene Robinson, the first openly-gay elected bishop of […]

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