From baristas preparing pumpkin spiced lattes to grocery store aisles lined with bags of candy, the season has arrived for all things sweet-toothed and scary. Still, centuries after the holiday known as “Halloween” became cultural phenomenon, little is known to popular culture about its religious, artistic, and linguistic dimensions.
Aside from announcing the start of another academic semester, September also marks an essential, if lesser-known, national holiday celebrated since 1987: Library Card Sign-up Month. Once a year, the American Library Association (ALA)—working in conjunction with public libraries across the country—makes an effort to spotlight the essential services provided by libraries now and throughout history. But what, exactly, are the origins of the American public library?
Much mystery surrounds Elizabeth I, the last monarch of the Tudor dynasty. It’s said that the beloved Queen, for centuries immortalized in private letters and state papers, portraits and poetry, remains more myth than memory in the canon of British history. How, then, can we begin to uncover the personal and political dimensions that made up Elizabeth’s life? And what is it like—as writers, students, and scholars of history—to attempt to understand a legend of the royal kind?
What truly awaits us on the ‘other side?’ From heaven to hell (and everything in between), our conceptions of the afterlife are more likely to be shaped by shows like The Walking Dead than biblical scripture. Speculation about death, it seems, has permeated every aspect of our everyday experience, manifesting itself in lyrics, paintings, and works of literature.
Often described as ‘business in front, party in the back,’ most everyone is familiar with this infamous hairstyle, which is thought to have been popularized in the 1980s. How, then, could the term have originated as early as 1393, centuries before David Bowie ever rocked it? We embarked on an etymological journey, figuratively traveling back in time to answer what seemed like a simple question: What, exactly, is a mullet? And does it really mean what we think it means?
As 2.6 million men and women return home from war, the prevalence of veteran suicide and post-traumatic stress is something that is frequently discussed by civilians, politicians, and the media, but seldom understood. These changes extend beyond psychological readjustment, physical handicap, and even loss of life. The greatest wounds, in fact, may not even be visible to the naked eye. While the traditional dialogue concerning veteran assistance typically involves the availability of institutional services, military hospitals, and other resources, there is an increasing need to address what many call the “moral injuries” sustained by soldiers during combat.
How did the Federalist Society manage to revolutionize the jurisprudence for the most important issues of our time? The conservative legal establishment may claim 40,000 members, including four Supreme Court Justices, dozens of federal judges, and every Republican attorney general, but its strength extends beyond its numbers. From gun control to corporate political speech, the powerful organization has exerted its influence by legitimizing novel interpretations of the constitution and acting as a credentialing institution for conservative lawyers and judges.
Everything is connected. Animals and asteroids, bodies and stardust, heart valves and supernovas—all of these rise from the same origin to form the expanse of the universe, the fiber of our being. So say our guests of this month’s Oxford Comment, Karel Shrijver, an astronomer who studies the magnetic fields of stars, and Iris Schrijver, a physician and pathologist. We sat down for a captivating discussion with the co-authors of Living with the Stars: How the Human Body is Connected to the Life Cycles of the Earth, the Planets, and the Stars.
After a long hiatus, we’re excited to announce the re-launch of The Oxford Comment, a podcast originally created by OUP’s very own Lauren Appelwick and Michelle Rafferty in September 2010. In this month’s episode, Max Sinsheimer, a Trade & Reference Editor at the New York office, chats with a few authors to discuss their work on The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets.
As our nation’s birthday approaches, The Oxford Comment pays tribute to an institution that has influenced American identity from the very beginning: the bar. Over lunch at The Ginger Man in New York City, Christine Sismondo discusses American vs. Canadian drinking culture (can you guess whose is better?) and why prohibition doesn’t actually increase drinking.
Are Israel and the United States still a dynamic duo? According to Daniel Byman the debate isn’t about whether or not the United States should support Israel, but how we can encourage them with “tough support.”
Are you capable of listening to a podcast? Are you also capable of taking a quiz? Great. That means you have a chance to win a copy of Elizabeth Knowles’ How to Read a Word.
The Oxford Comment speaks with a teenage crossword genius and then takes you on a tour of the OED archive.
How do you write a smash first novel? Author (and OUP Law Editor) Matthew Gallaway comes to Oxford book club to discuss his book The Metropolis Case (Crown Publishers). Topics include: Pittsburgh, advice for writers…and what’s up with the incest scene?
Are we living in the “anti-60s”? This episode compares the counterculture movement to the blogosphere and pop music today….Bieber vs. Beatles! Hippies vs. Hipsters! Let the showdown begin.
This week the IFC is playing Barbara Kopple’s Oscar winning film Harlan County USA, so we thought it would be a good time to share an interview with Alessandro Portelli, the oral historian who spent 25 years gathering the stories of the Appalachian community subject in Kopple’s film. The people of Harlan are mostly known for their history of intense labor battles.