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Results 1 - 25 of 66,387
1. J.K. Rowling Featured in the Guardian Weekend Conversation Special

The Guardian announced today, through Twitter, that J.K. Rowling would be one of the many names taking part in their “Conversations Special” of their weekend edition. The tweet released a promotional picture featuring J.K. Rowling and Lauren Laverne.


The Weekend edition of the Guardian is out tomorrow!

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2. Policing concert hall patriotism: consequences

If American orchestras want to be more patriotic, they should program more music by American composers. In context, however, the sentiment is deeply ironic. American composers are absent from today’s concert programs precisely because anti-nationalists consistently shackled them.

The post Policing concert hall patriotism: consequences appeared first on OUPblog.

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3. Prize: DSC Prize shortlist

       They've announced the six-title strong shortlist for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature (in London, of course, because ...).
       It includes one novel in translation, K.R.Meera's Hangwoman, translated from the Malayalam by J.Devika; see the Penguin India publicity page.

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4. Place of the Year 2015 nominee spotlight: Greece

Earlier in the year, Greece faced some unsettling economic troubles. The country voted on a referendum that would decide whether they would pull their membership from the European Union (and thus, the union's currency and economic system). It's a wonder to think that this country, less than a decade ago, was among one of the richer nations.

The post Place of the Year 2015 nominee spotlight: Greece appeared first on OUPblog.

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5. NY Times 100 Notable Books

       The New York Times has announced its 100 Notable Books of 2015
       After a mere three titles in translation in 2013 and eight last year they impressively managed to include what appears to be fourteen this time around.

       Last year I had reviewed five of the titles by the time the list was published, this year it's ... six:

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6. Apocalypse and The Hunger Games

The final installment of The Hunger Games films (Mockingjay: Part Two) is about to be released. Amidst the acres of coverage about Jennifer Lawrence, the on-screen violence (is it appropriate for twelve year-olds?) and an apparently patchy and unconvincing ending, it is worth pausing to consider the apocalyptic nature of the franchise.

The post Apocalypse and The Hunger Games appeared first on OUPblog.

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7. The life of culture

Does culture really have a life of its own? Are cultural trends, fashions, ideas, and norms like organisms, evolving and weaving our minds and bodies into an ecological web? You hear a pop song a few times and suddenly find yourself humming the tune. You unthinkingly adopt the vocabulary and turns of phrase of your circle of friends.

The post The life of culture appeared first on OUPblog.

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8. Life, Only Better review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Anna Gavalda's Life, Only Better, just out in English from Europa Editions.

       I'm always curious about bestselling fiction abroad, and Gavalda is one of the few really popular-in-France domestic authors that is also regularly translated (others like Guillaume Musso or Marc Levy have a much harder time getting translated). This is the fourth of her books under review at the complete review, and that isn't even all of them (I drew the line at Billie).
       I do grudgingly have to admit that she's onto something -- indeed, I think these would be good books to dissect in creative-writing classes. I just wish she'd be a bit more (or is it less ?) ambitious with her subject-matter. (It's also why that other very popular French author, Amélie Nothomb, is so much better: Nothomb's aim isn't first and foremost heartstrings-tugging and crowd-pleasing (as Gavalda's so obviously is); Gavalda is a manipulative writer, playing to the crowd, while Nothomb is largely (and wonderfully hopelessly) only caught up/entangled in herself.)

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9. What I learned about al Qaeda from analyzing the Bin Laden tapes

In the months following the Taliban's evacuation of Kandahar, Afghanistan, in December 2001, cable news networks set up operations in the city in order to report on the war. In the dusty back rooms of a local recording studio, a CNN stringer came across an extraordinary archive: roughly 1,500 audiotapes taken from Osama bin Laden's residence, where he had lived from 1997-2001, during al Qaeda's most coherent organizational momentum.

The post What I learned about al Qaeda from analyzing the Bin Laden tapes appeared first on OUPblog.

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10. What a load of BS: Q&A with Mark Peters

Terms for bullshit in the English language have grown so vast it has now become a lexicon itself. We talked to Mark Peters, author of Bullshit: A Lexicon, about where the next set of new terms will come from, why most of the words are farm related, and bullshit in politics.

The post What a load of BS: Q&A with Mark Peters appeared first on OUPblog.

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11. Mitochondria donation: an uncertain future?

Earlier this year, UK Parliament voted to change the law to support new and controversial in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) procedures known as ‘mitochondrial donation’. The result is that the UK is at the cutting-edge of mitochondrial science and the only country in the world to legalise germ-line technologies. The regulations came into force on 29th October this year, and clinics are now able to apply for a licence.

The post Mitochondria donation: an uncertain future? appeared first on OUPblog.

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12. Climate change and the Paris Conference: is the UNFCCC process flawed?

As representatives from 146 countries gather in Paris for the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference, we’ve turned to our Very Short Introduction series for insight into the process, politics and topics of discussion of the conference. Is the UNFCCC process flawed?

The post Climate change and the Paris Conference: is the UNFCCC process flawed? appeared first on OUPblog.

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13. Is neuroculture a new cultural revolution?

Are we at the birth of a new culture in the western world? Are we on the verge of a new way of thinking? Both humanistic and scientific thinkers suggest as much.

The post Is neuroculture a new cultural revolution? appeared first on OUPblog.

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14. The Great Snape Debate

Ever since J.K. Rowling became more active on Twitter than posting twice a year, it has become almost impossible to report her Twitter activity as news–she’s on so often it’s difficult to keep up. It has also become a commonality in our lives: we sit, settle down with a mug of steaming hot tea, coffee, or coco, and spend too much time scrolling through J.K. Rowling’s Twitter feed, being thoroughly entertained by lively discussions.

J.K. Rowling has also been known to release a lot of Harry Potter “extras”–little tidbits and details from her imagination–and answer many fans’ Harry Potter questions. This morning, the same thing happened, but things got a little more interesting.

As fans, we have engaged in The Great Snape Debate for years and years. Snape is as grey as grey can be when it comes to good vs. evil, white vs. black. It can’t be denied the Snape was a hero, but it also cannot be denied that Snape was a bully. Does he qualify as an anti-hero?

This morning, J.K. Rowling jumped in on the debate–on accident, by simply answering one fan’s question that many of us have asked before–and her time line exploded. It is time to bring it about again, The Great Snape Debate. Check out what happened, and feel free to add your feelings and opinions to the debate in the comments below.

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We didn’t start the fire, but we are sure going to fan the flames a little and add to the discussion. I happen to be a very loyal Hufflepuff with an “I Love Snape” bumper sticker on the back of my car. However, I know that many of my fellow Leaky staffers who feel very differently about the subject matter. What do you think?

UPDATE: She’s just come back to Twitter to add more to the on-going debate….

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Yes, let’s!

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15. HBO to Possibly take on “Comoran Strike” series in US

HBO has teamed up with BBC to bring the US adaptions of J.K. Rowling’s work before, with The Casual Vacancy mini series. The private cable network is once again looking at bringing a J.K. Rowling adaption to the United States: The Cormoran Strike Series . According to TV Wise, who received the story exclusively, HBO is looking to become co-producers of the series.

TV Wise posted the article on their Twitter feed:


The article reports:

The drama series, which is eyed for a 2016 premiere, is based on the first two Cormoran Strike novels, The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm. It was originally commissioned back in April 2014 and then Director of Television Danny Cohen was widely credited with securing the series for the BBC, even as major Hollywood Studios and rival UK broadcasters were chasing, thanks to his close relationship with Rowling and her long-time agent Neil Blair. A formal episode order has not yet been set, with the BBC stating that it would be finalised once the scripts are completed.

The Cormoran Strike Mysteries is described as being “steeped in the atmosphere of contemporary London” and follows war veteran turned private detective Cormoran Strike who investigates shocking crimes together with his female assistant Robin, whose forensic mind and fierce determination he cannot ignore. The murders take them from the hushed streets of Mayfair to the literary haunts of Fitzrovia, exposing the seedy reality lurking beneath seemingly innocent societies. With each crime, they discover a little more about each other and both learn that appearances can be deceptive.

Assuming the deal closes and HBO does in fact board as a co-producer (sources close to the project tell me that they will), this would mark the second such BBC drama from Rowling that the network has co-produced. Last year, just as pre-production was getting into full swing, HBO signed on to co-produce the three-part adaptation of Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy. Representatives of HBO did not immediately respond to TVWise’s request for comment.


As Leaky reported previously, The Cormoran Strike series is shaping up to be very similar to The Casual Vacancy mini series adaptation. Working with BBC 1, J.K. Rowling will be the executive producer, Sarah Phelps (writer of The Casual Vacancy) will be writing the adaption of The Cuckoo’s Calling, and Ben Richards is set to adapt The Silkworm.


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16. Prizes: Irish Book Awards

       They've announced (albeit not very conveniently at the official site) the winners of this year's Irish Book Awards, with The Green Road, by Anne Enright, taking book of the year honors.

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17. Prize: Jan Michalski

       The Jan Michalski Prize for Literature is an impressive (if shockingly poorly publicized) prize, without language or genre restrictions, and they've announced the winner of this year's prize -- Birth Certificate, Mark Thompson's Danilo Kiš biography. (My preference is, of course, always for fiction, but they do always select interesting titles, regardless.)
       See also the Cornell University Press publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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18. Women onstage and offstage in Elizabethan England

Though a Queen ruled England, gender equality certainly wasn't found in Elizabethan society. Everything from dress to employment followed strict gender roles, and yet there was a certain amount of room for play. There are several cases of (in)famous women who dressed as men and crossed the bounds of "acceptable behavior."

The post Women onstage and offstage in Elizabethan England appeared first on OUPblog.

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19. La nave di Teseo

       The big news in Italian publishing this year has been the sale of RCS Libri to Mondadori (see, for ecample, the Mondadori press release), with venerable literary imprints including Bompiani and Rizzoli suddenly swallowed into a 'Mondazzoli' juggernaut (apparently controlling half of the local book market, and seventy percent of the paperback market) -- run by a Berlusconi, no less.
       It doesn't come as much of a surprise that many literary types are apparently jumping ship -- led by Bompiani editor in chief Elisabetta Sgarbi, who has now announced the founding of a new publishing house, to be called 'La nave di Teseo'; see, for example, the (Italian) report at Il libraio.
       I'm not so sure about that name -- suggested by no one less than Umberto Eco, who is fully on board with the new venture -- given that it's the (Rizzoli-published) Italian title of a ... J.J.Abrams book (see the publicity page)
       No real English-language coverage that I've seen so far, but there should be some shortly -- this is a big (and nicely messy) story.

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20. The Fifth Dimension review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Martin Vopěnka's The Fifth Dimension, just out from intrepid Barbican Press.

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21. Social opulence: re-branding Labour

Corbynomics has yet to be unpacked. And when it is, there's danger it will be branded as a return to the bad old days of tax and spend, when the 1983 Labour manifesto was dismissed by pundits as the longest suicide note in history. To avoid this, what Labour needs are some big and positive ideas; ideas that that resonate with the public and which capture that popular mood of radicalism that has put Jeremy Corbyn where he is.

The post Social opulence: re-branding Labour appeared first on OUPblog.

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22. Oral history and childhood memories

During my second semester at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I took an oral history seminar with Dr. Jacquelyn Dowd Hall. It was an eye-opening experience, not only because of what I learned, but how I learned. We had to conduct two interviews, and after spending nearly two months of class time discussing the historiography and methodology of oral history, I thought I was ready to go. My first interview was with civil rights activist Wyatt Tee Walker, and although he agreed to be interviewed, he was not feeling well and had difficulty speaking. Thrown off, my first few questions were poorly constructed, and I sped through his early life hoping he would have more to say about his activist history later in life. Listen as I struggle:

I lost an opportunity during that interview. I could have discovered more about Wyatt Tee Walker based on his early life, but I zoomed ahead. Now, every time I give a workshop on oral history, I hammer home the same message: start with their childhood. What surprises me are the responses from students, who often look incredulous when I tell them. They may think stories about growing up have nothing to do with their project at hand, and they don’t want to waste time talking about childhood memories. They want to cut to the chase and focus on big events later in life. But by leading off your oral history with several questions about what it was like growing up, you will build the foundation for a better interview.

Let’s say you’re interviewing someone for a larger project about an environmental history of Orange County, North Carolina. The long-time director of a local community organization has agreed to talk to you, and from your research, you know this person will have a lot to say about environmentalism in North Carolina over the past twenty years or so. You arrive to interview the person, you chat and get comfortable with one another, and you begin the interview. You may be tempted to launch right in: “Tell me about how you first came to work with ABC Environmental Group…” or “Tell me about how you first became interested in environmentalism.” Resist the temptation, and begin much, much earlier.

Start by asking your interviewee about their childhood. Introduce yourself, the interviewee, mention the date and any other relevant background information, and then ask your first question: “Tell me about your childhood.” Based on how they respond, they will give you the working materials to ask follow-up questions that will give the interview much more substance. Ask about where they grew up, their neighborhood, their family, their education, their religious background, and so on. Ask about individuals in their family: “Tell me about your father/mother/siblings/grandparents or anyone else influential as you were growing up.” (Hint: many people love talking about their grandparents if they knew them well.)

Hopefully by now you’ve forgotten how I opened my interview with Wyatt Tee Walker. Now, consider this example when I interviewed Evelyn Poole-Kober, a local Republican activist in Chapel Hill. How did that one, single question differ from the many incoherent questions I launched at Walker?

Here’s what happened next. Poole-Kober shared stories about her childhood and adolescence for about a third of the total interview, around 45 minutes. Should I consider these stories wasteful because they weren’t directly related to my project at hand? I don’t think so. She opened up, shared intimate details of her life, and led me through her early life to show where she ended up. These memories enhanced the total value of the interview, and they opened the door to more questions, more stories, and a richer interview about her whole life.

Concentrating on childhood questions also helps oral historians move toward curating oral histories rather than just collecting them. As Linda Shopes suggested in a previous blog post, quality and originality should be stressed over quantity when conducting an oral history project. By focusing the beginning of every interview on childhood, no matter the project, you will generate an unpredictable set of stories and information that researchers working on vastly different projects might one day find useful. Curated in a way that crosses projects, time periods, and disciplines, these stories enliven the field of oral history by rooting the past of each person in vivid ways.

Every oral history interview and project is different. You may not have the time, or you might be unable to dedicate an extended period of time to every person’s childhood and adolescence. But if you can, I suggest that you do. The rewards can be great.

Image Credit: “Childhood Pictures” by martinak15. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.

The post Oral history and childhood memories appeared first on OUPblog.

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23. Prize: Finlandia Prize

       They've announced that Oneiron, by Laura Lindstedt, has won the Finlandia Prize, the biggest Finnish literary prize; see, for example, the Yle report, Author Lindstedt slams government after Finlandia win.
       The winning title sounds intriguing both in premise -- "Seven women, each from a different country and unfamiliar to one another, come together in a white, undefined space just seconds after their respective deaths" -- and execution; for more information on the author and the book see the Elina Ahlback Literary Agency information page, and the (Finnish) Teos publicity page.
       Definitely something for US/UK publishers to consider, from the sounds of it; apparently so far only Hungarian rights have been sold.

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24. The life and work of Émile Zola

To celebrate the new BBC Radio Four adaptation of the French writer Émile Zola's, 'Rougon-Macquart' cycle, we have looked at the extraordinary life and work of one of the great nineteenth century novelists.

The post The life and work of Émile Zola appeared first on OUPblog.

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25. Lire books of the year

       French magazine Lire annually selects a top book in twenty different categories -- with one crowned as overall "meilleur livre de l'année". They announced this year's list -- and 2084, by Boualem Sansal, is the not-so-surprising book of the year.
       Other category winners include a two-volume Virginie Despentes as French novel of the year, a Jón Kalman Stefánsson as best foreign fiction (beating out titles by Javier Cercas and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie), and Ryan Gattis' All Involved as best roman noir.
       They also list the finalists in all the catgories, and among the oddities surfacing there: an Elmore Leonard-biography, apparently translated from (though apparently not yet published in) English, by Laurent Chalumeau -- see the Rivages publicity page -- the author of such works as Anne Frank 2, le retour !, and Fuck (see the Grasset publicity page). I wonder whether this will make it (back ?) into English.

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