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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Dying to prove themselves

The Wonder, the latest work of Irish-Canadian author Emma Donoghue to light up the fiction best sellers’ list (Donoghue’s prize-winning 2010 novel Room was the basis for the 2015 Academy-Award winning film), draws upon a very real, very disturbing Victorian phenomenon: the young women and men—but mostly pubescent females—who starved themselves to death to prove some kind of divine or spiritual presence in their lives.

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Net neutrality and the new information crossroads

Despite the rapidly expanding collections of information, the nation’s information is at risk. As more of it comes in digitized form and less in printed or verbalized formats, it can be corralled and viewed more easily by groups or institutions concerned with only their interests.

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8 groovy facts about Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

The summer of 1967 was a turbulent time. In the middle of the hippie-filled “Summer of Love,” war broke out in the Middle East and the US escalated its bombing of Vietnam. That June also saw the most famous rock band in the world release their magnum opus and change music history and American pop culture forever.

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Law and order fundamentalism and the US-Mexico border

Today, the United States is experiencing a surge of law and order fundamentalism in the US-Mexico borderland. As it pertains to the international divide, law and order fundamentalism as a political ideology has a long genealogy that stretches back to the late nineteenth century. It is grounded in anti-Mexicanism as well as the abiding conviction that the border is inherently dangerous and “needs” to be policed.

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Building on the legacy of Andrew Jackson

This March, President Trump paid a visit to the Hermitage, the Tennessee home of his favorite predecessor, Andrew Jackson. Trump was uncharacteristically modest. He stood at the grave of Old Hickory, saluting for the cameras. Then he sent this beyond-the-grave message: “We thank you for your service. We honor your memory. We build on your legacy and we thank God for the USA!” What legacy does Trump want to build on?

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Remembering veterans

With Memorial Day in the U.S. right around the corner, we’re bringing you a glimpse into a handful of oral history projects focused on collecting and preserving the memories of military veterans.

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Emerson’s canonization and the perils of sainthood

Ralph Waldo Emerson — who died 135 years ago in Concord, Massachusetts–was a victim of his own good reputation. Essayist, poet, lecturer, and purported leader of the American transcendental movement, he was known in his lifetime as the “Sage of Concord,” the “wisest American,” or (after one of his most famous early addresses) the “America Scholar.”

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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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Why are world food problems so hard to solve?

More than 20 million people in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and northeast Nigeria are now facing extreme hunger, with the potential for not just widespread death, but also the deepening of long-term political and military crises in East Africa. United Nations humanitarian coordinator Stephen O’Brien has called this food crisis the world’s greatest humanitarian crisis since 1945.

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Looking for Toussaint Louverture

I have a confession to make: I have a personal obsession with the Haitian revolutionary hero Toussaint Louverture, which has taken me from continent to continent in search of the “real” Toussaint Louverture. My pilgrimage started outside Cap-Haïtien, Haiti’s second-largest town, in the suburb of Haut-du-Cap, where Toussaint Louverture was born a slave in what was then known as French Saint-Domingue.

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Did you know these 10 fascinating facts about museums?

Collections of art, scientific instruments, historical relics, and peculiarities have attracted the curiosity and imaginations of people around the world since ancient times. The museum as an institution developed in antiquity and evolved over the years to encompass and celebrate all aspects of human society, science, art, and history. Museums are vital to the study […]

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David Hume: friendships, feuds, and faith

Who exactly was David Hume? He was a Scottish historian and philosopher (best known today for his radical empiricism), who prided himself on his reputation as a man of the utmost moral character.

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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on birds, poetry, and immigration

On 26 February this year, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the most popular poet America has ever had, turned 210. The lines from Longfellow everyone remembers, often without knowing who actually wrote them (“into each life a little rain must fall”; “Let us, then, be up and doing”; “Each thing in its place is best”), point to an author who wanted to help us live our lives, not exactly change them.

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Learning to read emotions in oral history

The most recent issue of the OHR featured two stories on understanding emotion in oral history interviews. In one piece, Julian Simpson and Stephanie Snow asked what role humor plays in healthcare, and how to locate it in oral history. In another piece, Katie Holmes asks how to locate historical emotion during an interview and how to interpret these feelings.

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