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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Spying Through a Glass Darkly: The Ethics of Espionage and Counter-Intelligence

The morality of espionage: do we have a moral duty to spy?

Why spy? . . . For as long as rogues become leaders, we shall spy. For as long as there are bullies and liars and madmen in the world, we shall spy. For as long as nations compete, and politicians deceive, and tyrants launch conquests, and consumers need resources, and the homeless look for land, and the hungry for food, and the rich for excess, your chosen profession is perfectly secure, I can assure you. (John Le Carré, “The Secret Pilgrim”)

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Forms of Astonishment: Greek Myths of Metamorphosis by Richard Buxton

Charlie Chaplin and the art of metamorphosis

Charlie Chaplin was certainly the greatest mime, probably the greatest actor, and arguably the greatest artist in any medium in the twentieth century. As self-transformations go, his personal rags-to riches story is hard to match. But the theme of metamorphosis also permeates his movies.

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After a sun eclipse: bedposts and curtains in sex life and warfare

The phrase in a/the twinkling of a bedpost (with the archaic variant bedstaff) means the same as in a twinkling of an eye, that is, “very quickly,” because twinkle, when used metaphorically, refers to a rapid movement. Agreed: eyes and stars twinkle, but bedposts don’t, and here is the rub.

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Screening the Police: Film and Law Enforcement in the United States by Noah Tsika

Beyond “Copaganda”: Hollywood’s offscreen relationship with the police

Do Hollywood’s portrayals of policing matter as much as the industry’s material entwinement with law enforcement—as much as the working relationships pursued beyond the screen? Instead of conceding that the consumers of popular media are eminently capable of thinking for themselves (and thus of resisting flattering depictions of power), more and more commentators are calling for the complete elimination of cop shows, cinematic police chases, and other, ostensibly entertaining images of law enforcement.

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The Periodic Table: Its Story and its Significance by Eric Scerri

The tree of life and the table of the elements

Darwin’s tree of life and Mendeleev’s periodic table of the elements share a number of interesting parallels, the most meaningful of which lie in the central role that each plays in its respective domain.

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Getting English under control

Any large organization or bureaucracy is likely to have a style guide for its internal documents, publications, and web presence. Some organizations go a step further and develop what is known as a control language.

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Trust and Distrust: Corruption in Office in Britain and its Empire, 1600-1850

Britain’s long struggle with corruption

Corruption has risen to the top of the British political agenda. Even if we agree with Boris Johnson that the UK is “not remotely a corrupt country”, then Britain certainly did struggle with corruption in the past. Indeed it has had a long history of corruption and anti-corruption. This has some lessons for today.

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The scars of old stars

The Oxford Etymologist is out of hibernation and picks up where he left off in mid-December. It may be profitable to return to the origin of “star”, but from a somewhat broader perspective.

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OUPblog

The top 10 religion blog posts in 2021

In 2021, our authors published new research, analysis, and insights into topics ranging from religious tolerance to taboo, atheist stereotypes to the appeal of religious politics, and much more. Read our top 10 blog posts of the year from the Press’ authors featured in our Religion Archive on the OUPblog: 1. Stereotypes of atheist scientists […]

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OUPblog

The top 10 politics blog posts of 2021

How can we help Afghan refugees? What are the challenges facing American democracy? Is Weimar Germany a warning from history? These are just a few of the questions our authors have tackled on the OUPblog this past year. Discover their takes on the big political issues of 2021 with our list of the top 10 politics blog posts of the year.

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OUPblog

The top 10 literature blog posts of 2021

This year on the OUPblog, our authors have marked major anniversaries, championed activism, confronted antisemitism, shattered stereotypes, and sought to understand our post-pandemic world through literature. Dive into the top 10 literature blog posts of the year on the OUPblog:

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OUPblog

The top 10 history blog posts of 2021

Travel back in time to the recent past and explore the OUPblog’s top 10 history blog posts of 2021. From dispelling Euro-centric myths of the Aztec empire to considering humanity’s future through the lens of environmental history, think outside the box with the latest research and expert insights from the Press’s history authors.

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The Oxford Handbook of the Weimar Repulic

The ghosts of Weimar: is Weimar Germany a warning from history?

The ghosts of Weimar are back. Woken up by the rise of populist right-wing parties across Europe and beyond, they warn of danger for democracy. The historical reference point evoked by these warnings is the collapse of the Weimar Republic followed by the Nazi dictatorship. The connection between now and then seems indisputably obvious: democracy died in 1933, and it is under attack again today.

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Charlie Brown's America

A Charlie Brown Christmas: the unlikely triumph of a holiday classic

A Charlie Brown Christmas was never supposed to be a success. It hit on all the wrong beats. The pacing was slow, the voice actors were amateurs, and the music was mostly laid back piano jazz (the opening theme, “Christmas Time is Here,” carried a strange, wintery melody built on unconventional modal chord progressions). It was almost like the program was constructed as a sort of anti-pop statement. In many ways, that’s exactly what it was. And that’s exactly why it so worried the media executives who had commissioned it.

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The Chinese Lady: Afong May in Early America by Nancy E. Davis

Afong Moy on the 21st century stage

The story of Afong Moy, the first known Chinese woman on American soil, and the first Chinese person to come face to face with American audiences across the country has been told recently by both the historian Nancy Davis as well as the playwright LLoyd Suh. Davis explores Afong Moy’s life and the different lessons that can be learned through research as well as fictionalization.

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Twinkle, twinkle, or stars and sparks

Nothing is known about the origin of the phrase “Milky Way.” By contrast, the origin of the word “star” is not hopelessly obscure, which is good, because stars and obscurity have little in common.

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