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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Innovation in libraries: the University of Johannesburg Library

Innovation has been a buzzword in all industries amidst this “new normal” and libraries are having to change their approach rapidly in these challenging times. OUP representatives set out to find examples of truly innovative libraries from across the world and the first one in our series is focused on the University of Johannesburg Library, in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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Discoveries from the Fortepiano

Missing the forest for the trees: interpreting the composer’s message

We can get so bogged down with mysterious notation that we miss the point of the score: the composer’s message. Obsession over details—why did the composer use newly available extra keys in one piece but not another? Why did the composer use particular articulation in this spot but fail to maintain consistency later?

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Sandbows and Black Lights

The mermaid in the fishbowl: the rise of optical illusions and magical effects

The nineteenth century saw the publication of several books explaining how magical effects and spectral appearances could be performed using the science of optics. It started in 1831, when Sir David Brewster (famed for his discovery of Brewster polarization and inventing the kaleidoscope) published “Letters on Natural Magic.” In this book, Brewster showed how to produce images of ghosts using partially silvered mirrors and by using a magic lantern to project images onto screens or onto clouds of vapor.

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Saint Napoleon? How Napoleon used religion to bolster his power

Though not a believer himself, Napoleon was well aware that religion was a vital tool for any ruler, especially when many of his subjects were believers. As he said to his secretary, Emanuel Las Cases, on St Helena at the end of his life: “from the moment that I had power, I hastened to re-establish religion. I used it as foundation and root. It became the support of good morals, of true principles, of good manners.”

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He That Dwelleth in the Secret Place of the Most High

Exploring the choral music of Rebecca Clarke

Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979) is most commonly known as a violist and composer, in particular for her famous Viola Sonata (1919), which has remained one of the most significant in the instrument’s repertoire since its composition. Her Shorter Pieces for viola and piano, as well as a number of solo songs, have gained increasing recognition since the turn of the millennium, as more of her music has begun to be published and researched.

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Extraordinary times: revisiting the familiar through the novels of Marilynne Robinson

Last week, after more than a year of living in pandemic lock-down, my husband, my son, and I drove from our home outside Boston to the outer tip of Cape Cod, where we parked in a near empty lot and walked down a steep hill through the dunes to the ocean. “It’s still here,” I said aloud, trying to breathe in the sweeping expanse of the curved shore, the June light illuminating the water, the sound of waves and the sweep of terns. Like the trip we took as a young family to watch the sunset at Race Point Beach just days after 9/11, this encounter with the sublime felt like a blessing, a visceral recollection of the way that beauty opens us up to something larger than ourselves.

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Now in the field with a fieldfare

Last week, I wrote about the troublesome origin of heifer. The oldest recorded form of heifer is HEAHFORE. I promised to return to the equally enigmatic- fore. I even wrote that perhaps the etymology of the bird name “fieldfare” would throw additional light on heifer. Birds often follow herds of cattle for sustenance, so that my idea is, on the face of it, not unreasonable. Just for those who may be not quite sure what bird a fieldfare is, let me explain: it is a thrush.

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Epigeum logo

Career development: shaping future-ready academic researchers

There is pressure on researchers and academics to scale up their impact and reach, and to demonstrate their value. To meet these escalating expectations, they need access to quality learning opportunities that are fit for purpose, capability-focused, flexible, high quality, and impactful.

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Earth’s wild years: the creative destruction of cosmic encounters

We earthlings enjoy the spectacle of shooting stars, small fragments of asteroids and comets that burn in sudden flashes upon entry in the Earth’s atmosphere. The largest of these fragments pose a limited threat to us as their mid-air blasts can produce local damage to buildings and infrastructures. Larger events are increasingly rarer, but their consequences can be devastating on a global scale.

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Still plowing with my heifer

Twenty-five years ago, quite by chance, I looked up the etymology of heifer in a dictionary and discovered the statement: “Origin unknown.” Other dictionaries were not much more informative, and I decided to pursue the subject. Thanks to this chance episode, etymology became my profession.

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The Making of a Terrorist

Thirteen new French history books [reading list]

Bastille Day is a French national holiday, marking the storming of the Bastille—a military fortress and prison—on 14 July 1789, in an uprising that helped usher in the French Revolution. In the lead up to the anniversary of Bastille day, we’re sharing some of the latest French history titles, for you to explore, share, and enjoy. We have also granted free access to selected chapters, for a limited time, for you to dip into.

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Journal of the European Economic Association

Should we be worried about robots taking our jobs? The answer depends on labor market institutions

Do new technologies, such as robots, destroy jobs and cause mass unemployment? Many current and past commentators have forcefully made this point in the public debate, but new research published in the Journal of the European Economic Association suggests that “technological mass unemployment” is indeed not something we should worry about.

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The Shock of America

The rise and fall of the European Super League: when the American challenge backfires

In the long history of America’s influence on the politics of innovation in Europe, the case of the planned football Super League stands out. This is not because of the project as such, but simply because, of all the variety of responses Europe has produced when faced with the latest American novelty, none has provoked enthusiasm and rejection—above all rejection—with such extraordinary intensity, unity, and speed.

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Not only food and drinks: how EU (and UK) law could also protect handicrafts

The most important international agreement on Intellectual Property defines the concept of Geographical Indication as follows: “indications which identify a good as originating in the territory of a Member, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.” Why is it then that the “Kashmir Pashmina” is a protected GI in India while Harris Tweed-cloth is not an EU/UK GI?

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