Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Secession: let the battle commence

By James Ker-Lindsay
There has rarely been a more interesting time to study secession. It is not just that the number of separatist movements appears to be growing, particularly in Europe, it is the fact that the international debate on the rights of people to determine their future, and pursue independence, seems to be on the verge of a many change.

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The familiar face of Winston Churchill

By Christopher M. Bell
Churchill, a tireless self-promoter in his own time, would undoubtedly have taken a great deal of satisfaction from knowing that the legend he helped to craft would endure well into the twenty-first century. Unlike most politicians, he was deeply concerned with how he would be remembered – and judged – by history.

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Summing up Alan Turing

Three words to sum up Alan Turing? Humour. He had an impish, irreverent and infectious sense of humour. Courage. Isolation. He loved to work alone. Reading his scientific papers, it is almost as though the rest of the world — the busy community of human minds working away on the same or related problems — simply did not exist.

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Remembrance Sunday

Remembrance Sunday, falling on 11th November in 2012 and traditionally observed on the Sunday closest to this date, marks the anniversary of the cessation of hostilities in the First World War. It serves as a day to reflect upon those who have given their lives for the sake of peace and freedom. We have selected a number of memorable, meaningful and moving quotes to commemorate the fallen.

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“Remember, remember the fifth of November”

By Daniel Swift
“Remember, remember the fifth of November,” instructs the old nursery rhyme, and offers a useful summary: “Gunpowder, treason and plot.” But we have never been sure quite what, or how, we should be remembering. On 5 November 1605 a small gang of Catholics and minor noblemen plotted to blow up the Houses of Parliament, during the State Opening at which King James I would be present. One of the conspirators, Guy Fawkes, was caught with the gunpowder before he set it off. The other plotters were soon caught, and all were executed.

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Pasqua Rosee and the coffee shop

Coffee shops are in the news, but where did it all begin? Perhaps with this man, Pasqua Rosee (fl 1651-6), who opened London’s first coffee-house at St Michael Cornhill. Rosee’s coffee-house was a shed in St Michael’s churchyard. Here served “two or three dishes” of coffee “at a time twice or thrice a day.” Rosee’s coffee-house was a shed in St Michael’s churchyard.

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The Day Parliament Burned Down in real-time on Twitter

To mark the anniversary of a now little-remembered national catastrophe – the nineteenth-century fire which obliterated the UK Houses of Parliament – Oxford University Press and author Caroline Shenton will reconstruct the events of that fateful day and night in a real-time Twitter campaign on 16 October 2012.

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John Lilburne, footwear, fame, and radical history

By Ted Vallance
Forrest Gump’s momma famously told him that you could tell a lot about a person from their shoes. Footwear features prominently in two images of the Leveller leader John Lilburne, with both the seventeenth- and the nineteenth-century prints depicting Lilburne wearing striking leather boots [link to article]. The Sunderland museum also holds a pair of boots once said to have belonged to Lilburne, though these appear to be of a rather plainer design than those that were so lovingly rendered in his 1649 trial portrait.

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On taste and morality: from William Hogarth to Grayson Perry

By Helen Berry
The artist Grayson Perry recently completed a cycle of six giant tapestries, The Vanity of Small Differences, inspired by William Hogarth’s The Rake’s Progress. In the Turner Prizewinner’s modern rendition, Tim Rakewell (like his Georgian counterpart Tom Rakewell) undergoes a social transformation from humble origins to landed gentry. In Perry’s version, Tim’s life course is transformed by university education and a self-made fortune in computers – which catapults him socially from his humble origins in a Northern council house, via the bourgeois confines of middle-class dinner tables, to owning his own country estate.

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Is America an empire?

By Timothy H. Parsons
The intense controversy that this question engenders is remarkable. On the left, critics of assertive American foreign, military, and economic policies depict these policies as aggressively immoral by branding them “imperial.” On the right, advocates for an even more forceful application of American “hard power,” such as Niall Ferguson and the other members of his self-described “neo-imperialist gang,” argue that the United States should use its immense wealth and military might to impose order and stability on an increasingly chaotic world.

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Jericho: The community at the heart of Oxford University Press

We’re delighted to announce that the Oxford University Press Museum, based at OUP’s Oxford publishing office, reopens today following extensive refurbishment. Archivist Martin Maw celebrates the occasion by taking a look at the historic links between OUP and Jericho, the local area.

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Did we really want a National Health Service?

By Nick Hayes
For most today, it’s difficult to imagine a British hospital system where treatment is not ‘free’ at the point of delivery, paid for out of national taxation, because in our imagination, the alternatives conjure pejorative images of the Americanisation of health. Those today opposed to decentralisation also echo the concerns of earlier health reformers like Dr Stark Murray, who thought the pre-nationalised hospital system simply disparate and chaotic.

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The Demise of the Toff

By William Doyle
Born to tenants of a country squire in Yorkshire, I knew about what my grandmother called ‘toffs’ at an early age. The squire was a toff. As a child I scarcely realised that the squire and his lifestyle were already relics of a fast-disappearing pattern of society.

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15 August 1040: Macbeth kills King Duncan I of Scotland

By Daniel Swift
Susan Sontag wrote that having a photograph of Shakespeare would be like having a piece of the True Cross. We don’t have a photograph, of course, and even the portraits that we do have are unreliable, but in his plays he left snapshots of a different kind.

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London’s Burning!

Today we are celebrating the UK publication of The Day Parliament Burned Down, in which the dramatic story of the nineteenth century national catastrophe is told for the first time. In this blog post, author Caroline Shenton presents the top ten London fires that have changed the face of the capital city.

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Making prisoners work: from hulks to helping victims

By Susan Easton and Christine Piper
In July 2012, two prisoners lost their application for judicial review of two Prison Service Instructions which implement the Prisoners’ Earnings Act 1996. This Act demands that a deduction of up to 40% from the wages of prisoners in open prisons is imposed.

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