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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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The contemporary significance of the dead sea scrolls

Many people have heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls, but few know what they are or the significance they have for people today. This year marks the seventieth anniversary of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and it gives us an opportunity to ask what are these scrolls and why they should matter to anyone.

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H. G. Wells and science

The Island of Doctor Moreau is unquestionably a shocking novel. It is also a serious, and highly knowledgeable, philosophical engagement with Wells’ times–with their climate of scientific openness and advancement, but also their anxieties about the ethical nature of scientific discoveries, and their implications for religion.

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The sound of the Steel City: Orwell, Attercliffe, and the afterlife

There are some sounds in life that simply cannot be put into words. One of them is the sound I heard this morning as I ran along the canal in that very special part of Sheffield known as Attercliffe. The sound shook me to my soul and reminded me of George Orwell’s visit to the city in 1936 when he had been shocked by the realities of hard industrial life. For me, however, it was a glorious sound – the heartbeat of the Steel City.

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Marvellous murmurations

Shortly before sunset, especially in winter from October to February, flocks of tens of thousands of European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) fly in aerobatic displays called murmurations. The flocks swirl and morph, transforming from, for example, a teardrop shape into a vortex, and then into a long rope. The spontaneous synchronised flock turns as if of one mind.

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The Honourable Members should resign

On 16 March, less than nine months after the public voted to leave the European Union (EU) in a hotly contested referendum, Britain enacted a law authorizing the government to begin the process of negotiating “Brexit,”— Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. Although there was much talk of “Bregret” following the referendum, recent polling suggests that British attitudes have not changed much since June.

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Filling Supreme Court vacancies: political credentials vs. judicial philosophy

In the current, hyper-partisan environment, relatively few individuals publicly supported the confirmations to the US Supreme Court of both Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., and Justice Sonia Sotomayor. I know because I am one of these lonely souls. Now, the same considerations which led me to support their confirmations lead me to support the confirmation to the Court of Judge Neil Gorsuch.

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Speaking truth to power: poetry of the First World War [extract]

The well-worn argument that poets underwent a journey from idealism to bitterness as the War progressed is supported by [poet and veteran David] Jones, who remembered a “change” around the start of the Battle of the Somme (July 1916) as the War “hardened into a more relentless, mechanical affair.”

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What has happened to environmental protection?

Fast forward to 2017: with a few possible exceptions, Congress hasn’t addressed any significant environmental problems for over a quarter century and has blocked important environmental legislation; President Trump has promised to gut the EPA; and its new administrator, Scott Pruitt, as Attorney General of Oklahoma, sued the Agency over and over again to kill major environmental regulations.

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The OUPblog team have created literary board-games

Every year, on 1 April, the OUPblog team rack their brains for inspiration. We try to figure out if there is something else we should be doing, other than providing academic insights for the thinking world and daily commentary on nearly every subject under the sun. We should be creating new board-games based on literary figures.

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Where we rise: LGBT oral history in the Midwest and beyond

In early March, ABC released a much-anticipated mini-series that followed a group of activists who played important roles in the emergence of LGBTQ political movements. The show, When We Rise, was based in large part on a memoir by veteran activist Cleve Jones.

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Global future challenges, twists, and surprises

From time immemorial, humans have yearned to know what lies ahead. Setting the context is a three-thousand-year romp through the ‘history of the future’ illustrating how our forebears tried to influence, foretell or predict it. Examples extend from the prophets and sibyls to Plato and Cicero, from the Renaissance to the European Enlightenment.

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Etymology gleanings for March 2017

Many thanks for the comments. One of the questions was about the dialect that could be used for the foundation of a new norm. No spelling can reflect the pronunciation of all English speakers.

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Orlando: An audio guide

In honor of Virginia Woolf’s death (March 28, 1941), listen to Dr Michael Whitworth, editor of the Oxford edition of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, introduce the novel, and discuss Woolf’s life and times in this Oxford World’s Classics audio guide.

“I feel the need of an escapade after these serious poetic experimental books…I want to kick up my heels and be off.”

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