Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Bizarre is who bizarre does: part two

This post continues the discussion of “bizarre.” After the Basque etymology of this Romance adjective was rejected on chronological grounds, “bizarre” joined the sad crowd of “words of unknown (disputable, uncertain, undiscovered) origin.” However, several good scholars have tried to penetrate the darkness surrounding it. Each offered his own solution, a situation, as we will see, that does not bode well.

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Athens After Empire

Down but never out

The Athenians were in a panic in 490 BC. A Persian army had landed at Marathon, on the coastline east of Athens, intent on capturing the city and even conquering all Greece. The famous battle of Marathon was Athens’ coming of age as a military power; a decade later its navy helped to block another Persian invasion (led by Xerxes), a stepping-stone to Athens’ rise as a wealthy imperial power.

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Brahms's Violin Sonatas

Playing the opposite of what Brahms wrote

The first movement of Brahms’s Violin Sonata No. 1 in G, op. 78, has led many violin-piano duos either to ignore Brahms’s tempo markings or actually play the opposite of what he wrote. Joel Lester considers the what might we learn from this oddity.

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Music & Autism

A conversation on music and autism (part two)

In the second and final part of this interview, author Michael B. Bakan speaks to his co-author Graeme Gibson, Dr Deborah Gibson, and legendary science fiction author William Gibson about writing science fiction, musical influences, and essential lessons autism has taught them.

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Oxford Research Encylopedias

Teaching peace in a time of violence

In September 2020, President Trump signed an order calling for a commission on “patriotic education,” in response to what he considered anti-American sentiments seeping into school curricula around the United States. He accused teachers of teaching a “twisted web of lies” by including lessons from the New York Times’ 1619 Project, which examines American history through the lens of the African slave trade.

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Music & Autism

A conversation on music and autism (part one)

In the first part of this two-part interview, author of “Music and Autism,” Michael Bakan speaks to his co-author Graeme Gibson, Dr Deborah Gibson, and legendary science fiction author William Gibson about musical instruments and autism.

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Parliamentary Affairs

What can the Conservatives’ 2019 election win tell us about their current leadership?

It’s an old truism that a week is a long time in politics, which would probably make 11 months an absolute age during even the most halcyon times. So, reflecting on the lessons to be drawn from the victory of the Conservative Party in the 2019 general election does rather feel like a job for ancient historians rather than political scientists. But there remains much that we can learn from the recent past…

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The History of Radiology

Five famous doctors in literature

Doctors have appeared in fiction throughout history. From Dr Faustus, written in the sixteenth century, to more recent film adaptations in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the familiarity of these characters will be profitably read and watched by both experienced and future doctors who want to reflect on the human condition often so ably described by the established men and women of letters.

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Reimagining our music classes for Zoom

All of us who are devoted to music education are facing new challenges due to the pandemic, and while we are lucky and grateful to have extraordinary technology at our disposal, it is undeniably frustrating to be isolated from each other, to deal with inadequate sound quality, poor connections, and time delays. We need to temporarily but urgently reinvent how we teach and connect with students.

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Etymology gleanings for October 2020

It is better to be hanged for a sheep than for a lamb. The proverb has a medieval ring, but it was first recorded in 1678. The context is obvious: since the punishment is going to be the same (hanging), it pays off to commit a greater crime and enjoy its benefits while you are alive.

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MNRAS

Supermassive black holes: monsters in the early Universe

When matter is squashed into a tiny volume the gravitational attraction can become so huge that not even light can escape, and a black hole is born. A star such as the Sun will never leave a black hole because the quantum forces between matter stop this squeezing into a sufficiently small volume.

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When deterrence doesn’t work

No one likes to be threatened, and yet we threaten and are threatened all the time. From animal self-defence to how we raise our children, from religious teaching to gun ownership, capital punishment and nuclear deterrence, threat is an ever-present tool employed to influence an often-unpredictable external environment. But does it always work? And what are the consequences when it doesn’t?

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