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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Queen Victoria’s 200th birthday

Few lives have been as heavily documented as Queen Victoria’s, who kept a careful record of her own life in journals from a young age. In celebration of Victoria’s 200th birthday today, discover six facts you may not have known about one of the longest-reigning British monarchs.

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Preaching as teaching in the Medieval church

We have long assumed that medieval sermons were written for the laity, that is, those with no Latin and probably minimal literacy. But most of the sermons that survive in English contain a significant amount of Latin. What did a medieval lay person understand when he or she heard a sermon?

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Eight facts about past poet laureates

The poet laureate has held an elevated position in British culture over the past 350 years. From the position’s origins as a personal appointment made by the monarch to today’s governmental selection committee, much has changed about the role, but one thing hasn’t changed: the poet laureate has always produced poetry for events of national […]

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9 forgotten facts about Leonardo da Vinci

For over 500 years, the masterful works of Leonardo da Vinci have awed artists, connoisseurs, and laypeople alike. Often considered the first High Renaissance artist, Leonardo worked extensively in Florence, Milan, and Rome before ending his career in France, and his techniques and writings influenced artists for centuries after his death. However, to refer to Leonardo da Vinci as just an artist minimizes his role in numerous areas of study; in addition to painting, sculpture, and drawing, the quintessential “Renaissance Man” left an indelible mark on architecture, engineering, science, philosophy, and even music.

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Writing about jazz in the post-modern gig era

How should music reference works deal with jazz in the era of multi-genre freelancing? Back in November 1983, when I asked Stanley Sadie, series editor for Grove Dictionaries of Music, if he’d ever thought of having a New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, jazz seemed to be a reasonably coherent genre with a connected succession of styles. Maybe I was just being young, naive, ignorant. Or maybe the notion of jazz as something coherent hadn’t yet started to completely unravel, even though all sorts of challenges were nipping at it, especially as the fusions emerged (jazz-rock, jazz-funk, and so forth).

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Racist jokes may be worse than racist statements

Jane Austen’s Emma Woodhouse tells her father, “Mr. Knightley loves to find fault with me, you know—in a joke—it is all a joke.” Mr. Knightley isn’t joking, as he and Emma know; he presents his criticisms without a hint of jocularity. But if Emma persuades Mr. Woodhouse to believe Mr. Knightley is joking, he “would not suspect such a circumstance as her not being thought perfect by everyone.” A little over 200 years after Emma was published, the comedian Roseanne Barr defended a racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett, President Obama’s former adviser, in a further tweet, “It’s a joke—”.

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At least in Green Book, jazz is high art

I’m anxiously awaiting the release of Bolden, a film about the New Orleans cornettist Buddy Bolden (1888 – 1933) who may actually have invented jazz. But since Bolden will not be released until May, and since April is Jazz Appreciation Month, now is a good time to talk about the cultural capital that jazz has recently acquired, at least in that […]

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Celebrating notable women in philosophy: Philippa Foot

This March, in honour of Women’s History Month, and in celebration of the achievements and contributions of women to the field of philosophy, the OUP philosophy team honours Philippa Foot (1920–2010) as its Philosopher of the Month. Philippa Foot is widely regarded as one of the most distinctive and influential moral philosophers of the twentieth-century.

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Social Work

The myth of a color-blind justice system in America

Ever wonder why Lady Justice looks the way she does? She is modeled after the Roman goddess Iustitia and is an allegorical personification of the justice system. She is usually depicted with a scale in one hand, a sword in the other, and wearing a blindfold. Why? Well, she is to use the scale to weigh the evidence.

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Letters from the Antebellum

While tensions continued to boil in the United States with the outbreak of the civil war in 1861 on the horizon, those aiming to assist slaves in securing their freedom often used letter correspondences to plan escape routes and share elated stories of their successes.

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Black Press: The advent of the first African American newspapers

In the decades preceding the Civil War, the free black community in the North struggled both for freedom from racial oppression and for the freedom of their enslaved southern brethren. Black newspapers reflected these twin struggles in their own fight for survival—a fight that most black newspapers in the antebellum era lost in a relatively short time.

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Who decides how much the world can warm up? [Video]

Over the past 20 years, scientists and governments around the world have wrestled with the challenge of climate change. The Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement, and other international climate negotiations seek to limit warming to an average of two degrees Celsius (2°C). This objective is justified by scientists that have identified two degrees of warming as the point at which climate change becomes dangerous.

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