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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

This Land Is My Land

Republicans at a crossroads? Probably not

How did the Republican Party arrive at such a confused and divided state that Sen. John Thune had to ask whether it wanted “to be the party of limited government and fiscal responsibility, free markets, peace through strength and pro-life” or “the party of conspiracy theories and QAnon”? In reality, the party is both, and it has been so for some time.

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Defending God in Sixteenth-Century India

Beyond polemics: debating God in early modern India

The early modern period in India (roughly from 1550 to 1750) has been increasingly understood as a time of heightened religious self-awareness—the fertile soil from which Hinduism emerged as a unified world religion. Yet it was also a tumultuous period of intense rivalry across scholarly and religious communities.

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Darwin's Psychology

Darwin’s theory of agency: back to the future in evolutionary science?

Was Darwin a one-trick pony? The scientists who most laud him typically cite just one of his ideas: natural selection. Do any know that his theory of evolution—like his take on psychology—was drawn from a comprehensive analysis of organisms as agents? This fact has long been eclipsed by the “gene’s-eye view” of adaptation which gained a strangle-hold over biology during the twentieth century—and hence over sociobiology and today’s “evolutionary” psychology.

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The Louvre and its environs

What is the origin of the name Louvre? Dictionaries and websites say unanimously that the sought-for etymology is unknown or uncertain. Perhaps so, but we will see.

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Black History Month square

Ten empowering books to read in celebration of Black History Month

In observance of Black History Month, we are celebrating our prize-winning authors and empowering scholarship spanning a variety of topics across African American history, the civil rights movement, Black Lives Matter, the Harlem Renaissance, jazz, and more. Explore our reading list and update your bookshelf with the most recent titles from these eminent authors.

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Live after gravity

Isaac Newton’s London life: a quiz

Isaac Newton is known as the scientist who discovered gravity, but less well-known are the many years he spent in metropolitan London, and what precisely he got up to in that time…

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The skin of etymological teeth

Is English “skin” related to Greek “skēnē”? The story of “skin” and some other words, partly synonymous with it, is worthy of attention.

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Shakespeare and East Asia

Five themes in Asian Shakespeare adaptations

Since the 19th century, stage and film directors have mounted hundreds of adaptations of Shakespeare drawn on East Asian motifs, and by the late 20th century, Shakespeare had become one of the most frequently performed playwrights in East Asia.

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The ruins of the post-Covid city—and the essential task of rebuilding

We are in the midst of a Covid economy that has decimated the cities of America. It’s essential for us all to recognize that we’re in this together and to support local and national efforts to rebuild, on the basis of a unified public consciousness that has been markedly absent from our divided nation in recent years.

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“Gig” and its kin

I received a query from my colleague, who asked me what I think about a possible tie between “Sheela na gig” and the English word “gig.” Therefore, I decided to devote a special post to it.

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Darwin's Historical Sketch: An Examination of the 'Preface' to the Origin of Species

Ten things you didn’t know about Darwin

Charles Darwin’s birthday on 12 February is widely celebrated in the scientific community and has come to be known as “Darwin day.” In recognition of Darwin’s 212th birthday this year we have put together a list of ten interesting facts about the father of evolution.

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Etymology gleanings for December 2020 and January 2021

Impulses behind word formation never change. This statement surprised one of our readers. However, if we assume that most “natural” words are, at least to some degree, sound-symbolic and/or sound-imitative (onomatopoeic), such monosyllabic complexes as kob, kab, keb, kub, kid, kat, and their likes must have arisen again and again in the course of language history, even if every time they were tied to different objects.

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