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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Extreme makeover: England’s new defamation law

By Matthew Collins
Britain’s complicated and claimant-friendly defamation laws, honed in important respects in the Star Chamber, have rightly attracted worldwide criticism. In 2008, the New York State legislature condemned their deployment against American nationals as ‘libel terrorism’. In 2010, the US Congress passed a law with the express purpose of preventing British defamation judgments from being recognized and enforced in the land of the First Amendment.

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Exploring the seven principles of Kwanzaa: a playlist

Beginning the 26th of December, a globe-spanning group of millions of people of African descent will celebrate Kwanzaa, the seven-day festival of communitarian values created by scholar Maulana Karenga in 1966. The name of the festival is adapted from a Swahili phrase that refers to “the first fruits,” and is meant to recall ancient African harvest celebrations.

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Looking for clues about OUP Canada in an early photograph

By Thorin Tritter
I had the pleasure of writing the chapter about Oxford University Press’s early operations in Canada, Australia and New Zealand for volume three of the new History of Oxford University Press. A photo editor added an early photograph of the first home to the Canadian branch as the cover image for my chapter. It is a photograph I have seen before, but to be honest, I had previously not looked at it very closely.

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Speaking of India…

By S. Subramanian
In one way or another, the question ‘How is India Doing?’ has been one of great interest down the decades, and not only from the mid-1980s when Amartya Sen wrote an article, with that title, in the New York Review of Books.

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AHA 2014: You’ve been to Washington before, but…

The American Historical Association’s 128th Annual Meeting is being held in Washington, D.C., 2-5 January 2014. For those of you attending, we’ve gathered advice about what to see and do in the Capital from author and DC resident Don Ritchie as well as members of Oxford University Press staff. And be sure to stop by Oxford’s booth #901-907.

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Q&A with Claire Payton on Haiti, spirituality, and oral history

About a month ago, when we celebrated the release of the Oral History Review Volume 40.2, we mentioned that one of the goals in putting together the issue was to expand the journal’s geographical scope. Towards that end, we were excited to publish Claire Payton’s “Vodou and Protestantism, Faith and Survival: The Contest over Spiritual Meaning of the 2010 Earthquake in Haiti.” The following, is an interview with the author.

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Scenes from The Iliad in ancient art

Given its central role in Ancient Greek culture, various poignant moments in Homer’s The Iliad can be found on the drinking cups, water jars, mixing bowls, vases, plates, jugs, friezes, mosaics, and frescoes of ancient art. Each depiction dramatizes an event in the epic poem in a different way (sometimes inaccurately).

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Coherence in photosynthesis

By Jessica M. Anna, Gregory D. Scholes, and Rienk van Grondelle
Photosynthesis is responsible for life on our planet, from supplying the oxygen we breathe to the food that we eat. The process of photosynthesis is complex, involving many protein complexes and enzymes that work together in a concerted effort to convert solar energy to chemical bonds.

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Lost writings of Latin literature

By Peter Knox and J.C. McKeown
Once upon a time, the Greek city of Cyrene on the coast of Libya grew prosperous through the export of silphium, a plant much used in cookery and medicine. But then the farmers learned that there was more money to be made through rearing goats.

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Doctor Who at fifty

Doctor Who was first broadcast by BBC Television at 5.16pm on Saturday 23 November 1963. This weekend the BBC marks the fiftieth anniversary with several commemorative programmes on television, radio, and online—as well as a ‘global simulcast’ of the anniversary adventure, which places the two actors who’ve most recently played ‘the Doctor’…

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Violet-blue chrysanthemums

By Naonobu Noda and Yoshikazu Tanaka
Chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum morifolium) are the second best-selling flowers after roses in worldwide. In Japan they are by far the most popular and the 16 petal chrysanthemum with sixteen tips is the imperial crest. Cultivated chrysanthemums have been generated by hybridization breeding of many wild species for hundreds or possibly thousands of years.

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Lincoln’s rhetoric in the Gettysburg Address

Perhaps no speech in the canon of American oratory is as famous as the “Dedicatory Remarks” delivered in a few minutes, one hundred and fifty years ago, by President Abraham Lincoln. And though school children may no longer memorize the conveniently brief 272 words of “The Gettysburg Address,” most American can still recall its opening and closing phrases.

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Characters from The Iliad in ancient art

The ancient Greeks were enormously innovative in many respects, including art and architecture. They produced elaborate illustrations on everything from the glory of the Parthenon to a simple wine cup. Given its epic nature and crucial role in Greek education, many of the characters in the Iliad can be found in ancient art. From the hero Achilles to Hector’s charioteer, these depictions provide great insight into Greek culture and art.

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The “brave” old etymology

By Anatoly Liberman
One of the minor questions addressed in my latest “gleanings” concerned the origin of the adjective brave. My comment brought forward a counter-comment by Peter Maher and resulted in an exchange of many letters between us, so that this post owes its appearance to him. Today I am returning to brave, a better-informed and more cautious man.

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