Of the many known unknowns about the life of Phillis Wheatley (1753?–1784), the first published African American poet, one of the greatest has been her husband’s character. Until very recently, all we’ve had to go on were two very brief nineteenth-century accounts of John Peters (1746?–1801). The first depicts him as a failed grocer with an aspiration to gentility, who married Phillis in April 1778, and who abandoned her as she lay dying in desperate poverty six years later.
Whether you dub accordion music annoying or enticing, you cannot deny the instrument’s persistence. The earliest version of the accordion emerged in the early 1800’s and one can still find it on many street corners today. Certain universities, museums, and soloists have assisted in the accordion’s longevity.
Lacking in love or not, the Greeks’ and Romans’ celebration of marriage was still marked by particular customs. Some of their marital traditions form the roots of modern practices today. For instance, while the Romans might not have gifted diamonds and other “bling” as frequently as suitors do now, an intending husband did solemnize his engagement with a kiss and an iron ring.
The hack of the Democratic National Committee by the Russian government and the subsequent publication of confidential emails during the 2016 US presidential election elevated cyber security in the context of international affairs to an unprecedented level in the public’s consciousness, not only in the United States but around the world.
While today’s business media (and business schools) are much enamored with Silicon Valley-style start-up entrepreneurship, only those startups able to grow into large, complex enterprises (e.g., Google, Facebook, Linkedin, Netflix) materially impact the evolution of the global industrial system. The average lifespan of such large, complex enterprises, however, is on the decline.
This time of year is often filled with images of romance, hearts, and cupid’s bows, but not all love stories end in happily ever after. Who among us hasn’t had their heart broken, or felt the sting of rejection once (or twice)? But we all know that life without love (even if it’s painful) isn’t much of a life. As Charles Darwin once said, ‘Much love much trial, but what an utter desert is life without love’.
We know more about Geoffrey Chaucer’s life than we do about most medieval writers. Despite this, it’s a truism of Chaucer biography that the records that survive never once describe him as a poet. Less often noticed, however, are the two radically different views of Chaucer as an author we find in roughly contemporaneous portraiture, although the portraits in which we find them are themselves well known.
Christopher Marlowe was born in February of 1564, the same year as Shakespeare. He was the son of a Canterbury shoemaker, and attended the King’s School there. With fellowship support endowed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, young Marlowe matriculated at Corpus Christi College in Cambridge University in 1580 and received the BA degree in 1584.
On 6 February 2017, François Truffaut (1932-1984) would have been 85 years old. As it was, he died tragically from a brain tumor at the age of 52, thus depriving the world of cinema of one of its brightest stars. His legacy, nevertheless, continues, being particularly evident in his influence on the current generation of filmmakers.
The role of party movements in the 2016 presidential election reflected the electorate’s deep discontent and confirmed the endemic problems faced by both major political parties. The Democrats failed to articulate a unifying and persuasive message; while, the Republicans failed to control the candidate nomination process. Out of those failures, party movements, on the Left and Right found space to operate.
Democracy is under threat everywhere. Growing numbers of citizens prefer authoritarian ideas, and politicians nurturing those wishes are on the rise in Hungary, Poland, France, Turkey, Germany, and the United States—to mention only the most salient examples. By now pundits everywhere have expressed concern about “populism” and the cementation of “illiberal” or “defected” democracies.
In present-day Western Europe and North America, the dementia research field is in as much political turmoil as mainstream politics. And the struggling forces at play in both domains are often the same: individual activity or collective solidarity, technological solutions or community development/public health, for-profits versus nonprofits, unbridled capitalism or regulatory constraint.
Bill Murray fought tirelessly to combat the ennui and frustration that accompanied repeating the same day over and over and over again in the film “Groundhog Day.” For him, repetition was torture, but for several of us at Oxford University Press, it’s not so bad…when it comes to reading!
Langston Hughes, whom Carl Van Vechten memorably called “the Poet Laureate of the Negro race,” was born on 1 February 1902 in Joplin, Missouri; he died in New York City on 22 May 1967. This year, then, we celebrate Hughes’ birthday at the beginning of what is now Black History Month, and we honor the 50th anniversary of his untimely passing. Remembering Hughes will no doubt lead to more books, articles, and conferences, which is as it should be.
If you have ever tried to learn another language you already know that, even for beginners, translation is never simply a matter of looking the “foreign” words up in a dictionary and writing them down. The result is gibberish, because no two languages work in exactly the same way at the level of grammar (what the rules are) and syntax (how the sentence puts them to work).
The history of English grammar is shrouded in mystery. It’s generally thought to begin in the late sixteenth century, with William Bullokar’s Pamphlet for Grammar (1586)—but where did Bullokar’s inspiration come from? In these times, the structure and rules of English grammar were constructed and contrasted with the Latin.