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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Visions of Wagner

By Barry Millington
Few composers embrace such a span of disciplines — musicological, philosophical, historical, political, philological — as Richard Wagner. To what extent does the wide-ranging, comprehensive nature of Wagner’s works militate against a true understanding of them? How close are we, in his bicentenary year, to an understanding that does them justice? The following illustrations from The Sorcerer of Bayreuth: Richard Wagner, his Work and his World demonstrate the variety of perspectives on Wagner, from outdated stereotypes to new reappraisals.

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The life of a nation is told by the lives of its people…

America has a rich and diverse history which shows itself in its music, politics, film, and culture. The power of biography helps to illuminate larger questions of war, peace, and justice and in exploring the lives of the figures that helped to shape America’s history we can discover more about our past.

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11 facts about penguins

Happy World Penguin Day! And what better way to celebrate than by looking at photos of penguins waddling, swimming, diving, and generally looking adorable. Penguin facts are lifted from the Oxford Index’s overview page entry on penguins (on the seabird, not the 1950s R&B group).

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By William Sims Bainbridge
Cleora Emily Bainbridge was born 8 November 1868, and passed away on 14 April 1870. Her father was a clergyman, and her mother, Lucy Seaman Bainbridge, was director of the Woman’s Branch of the New York City Mission Society. In 1883, her father, William Folwell Bainbridge, imagined what her life might have been like by casting her as the heroine of his novel Self-Giving, where she became a Christian missionary and died a martyr.

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A very short slideshow of our very short soapboxes

We had 13 wonderful Very Short Introductions authors taking part in our series of Very Short Soapboxes at the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival last week. The change of venue, from the usual marquee at Christ Church to the warmth and comfort of Blackwell’s bookshop, was a blessing (who wants to stand in a tent with a snow blizzard outside? Although some would say our authors are that good). From Medical Law to The Napoleonic Wars, from The Gothic to The British Empire, there was a subject for everyone to enjoy. Here are a few highlights.

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Virginia Woolf on Laurence Sterne

The 18th century novelist Laurence Sterne died on March 18 1768. During a recent trip to OUP’s out of print library in Oxford, we came across the 1928 Oxford World’s Classics edition of his novel A Sentimental Journey, which included an introduction by none other than Virginia Woolf.

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Images of Ancient Nubia

For most of the modern world, ancient Nubia seems an unknown and enigmatic land. Only a handful of archaeologists have studied its history or unearthed the Nubian cities, temples, and cemeteries that once dotted the landscape of southern Egypt and northern Sudan. Nubia’s remote setting in the midst of an inhospitable desert, with access by river blocked by impassable rapids, has lent it not only an air of mystery, but also isolated it from exploration.

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Gerard Wolfe at the Tenement Museum

Thirty years after the first edition was published, Synagogues of New York’s Lower East Side: A Retrospective and Contemporary View, Second Edition (Fordham University Press) was released earlier this year. The author Gerard Wolfe shows how the Jewish community took root on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the late 19th and early 20th century by focusing on these beautiful buildings and houses of worship.

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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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Place of the Year 2012: Then and now

Oxford University Press hopes you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Following a weekend of food comas and couch potato-ing, here’s a slideshow celebrating the Place of the Year (POTY) shortlist nominees that hopefully will perk you up this morning. See how our ten finalists have changed over the years. We’re excited to announce the location that will join Yemen, South Africa, Warming Island, Kosovo and Sudan as a Place of the Year winner on December 3rd! Stay tuned!

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Giant pumpkins

By Cindy Ott
At this year’s Topsfield Fair in Massachusetts, Ron Wallace broke the world record for the biggest pumpkin yet with a specimen weighing in at 2009 pounds. Photographs of Wallace next to this colossal body of orange flesh made headlines not only in the regional Boston Globe but also the nationwide Huffington Post. Yet every year in the popular press scenes of a pickup truck with its bed filled to the brim or a grown adult comfortably nestled inside a single giant pumpkin document the variety’s comically huge size.

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Place of the Year 2012 in pictures

Fresh off the heels of an exciting “Word of the Year” week, OUP geographers are still debating what should be recognized as the Place of the Year 2012. This slideshow highlights the POTY shortlist, full of contenders that may have to duel this out.  Unless….if you make your vote below, we’ll be able to select the place that has inspired the majority of readers this year, sparing the planet World War POTY.

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The top ten dramatizations of Moby-Dick

By George Cotkin
Moby-Dick draws readers into it. And many of its more creative readers have sought to capture its grandeur on film and stage. From the first film in 1926 to the present, these attempts have taken liberties with the novel, sometimes for good, sometimes for ill. But that is the challenge that Moby-Dick offers its readers, a text that is deep and wide, an ocean of issues and concerns that we must all, in some fashion, navigate

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