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1. Top five hip hop references in poetry

By David Caplan


Hip hop has influenced a generation of poets coming to prominence, poets I call “The Inheritors of Hip Hop.” Signaling how the music serves as a shared experience and inspiration, they  mention performers and songs as well as anecdotes from the genre’s development and the artists’ lives, while epigraphs and titles quote songs. The influence of hip hop can be heard in the work of many poets including (but certainly not limited to): Kevin Coval, Erica Dawson, LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs, Matthew Dickman, Major Jackson, Terrance Hayes, Dorothea Lasky, John Murillo, Eugene Ostashevsky, D.A. Powell, Roger Reeves, and Michael Robbins.

640px-Turntable_spinning

In no particular order, here are my five favorite hip hop references in poetry:

(1)   Kevin Young, “Expecting”
To capture the experience of first hearing his child’s heartbeat during a sonogram exam, Young develops a wildly inventive simile followed by metaphors borrowed from hip hop:

And there
it is: faint, an echo, faster and further

away than mother’s, all beat box
and fuzzy feedback. You are like hearing
hip-hop for the first time–power

hijacked from the lamppost–all promise.
You couldn’t sound better, break-
dancer, my favorite song bumping

from a passing car. You’ve snuck
into the club underage and stayed!

(2)   Rowan Ricardo Phillips, “Mappa Mundi
Describing his hometown of the Bronx, Phillips combines Wu Tang Clan’s Raekwon’s verse in “Triumph,” “Aiyyo, that’s amazing gun-in-your-mouth talk,” and Samuel Coleridge’s “Frost at Midnight,” “the redbreast sit and sing”:

Whether red birds sit and sing from rooftops

Or rappers cypher deep into the night,
The gun-in-your-mouth talk of a ransomed
God, nature is a lapse in city life.

(3)   Harryette Mullen, “Dim Lady”
Hip hop is nearly everywhere in Mullen’s earlier collection, Muse and Drudge, but my single favorite reference in her work to hip hop appears in “Dim Lady,” collected in Sleeping with the Dictionary. The prose poem rewrites and updates Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130. In the place of Shakespeare’s lines,

“I love to hear her speak, yet well I know / That music hath a far more pleasing sound,”

Mullen offers,

“I love to hear her rap, yet I’m aware that Muzak has a hipper beat.” 

(The poem’s ending always makes me laugh, “And yet, by gosh, my scrumptious Twinkie has as much sex appeal for me as any lanky model or platinum movie idol who’s hyped beyond belief.”

(4)   A. Van Jordan, “R&B
A subgenre of poems about hip hop criticizes the music. A rare exception to the ignorance such work typically show (see, for instance, Tony Hoagland’s “Rap Music”), “R & B” offers a well-informed, thoughtful critique. “Listen long enough to the radio, and you’ll think / maybe C. Dolores Tucker was right,” the poem opens and an endnote reminds readers of Tucker’s significant contributions to the black civil rights movement.

(5)   Michael Cirelli, “Dead Ass”
“I am not afraid of dope lyrics,” Michael Cirelli writes in “Dead Ass.” Several poems in Lobster with Ol’ Dirty Bastard retell moments from hip hop history. To describe teens grooving to the music, “Dead Ass” borrows from Oakland slang, “hyphy,” meaning “crazy” in a good sense, “hyphy / music makes their bodies dip up and down / like oil drills.” (My favorite line in the book, though, describes eighties pop, not hip hop, “We danced incestuously to Michael and Janet that night.”)

Bonus Tracks


(6)   Adrien Matejka, “Wheels of Steel
“I got me two songs instead of eyes,” the poem opens then swaggering quotes five songs in twenty-seven lines.

(7)   Marcus Wicker, “Love Letter to Flavor Flav” tries to make sense of Public Enemy’s most puzzling member:

How you’ve lived saying nothing
save the same words each day
is a kind of freedom or beauty.
Please, tell me I’m not lying to us.

David Caplan is Charles M. Weis Chair in English and Associate Director of Creative Writing at Ohio Wesleyan University. He is the author of Rhyme’s Challenge: Hip Hop, Poetry, and Contemporary Rhyming Culture. His previous books include Questions of Possibility: Contemporary Poetry and Poetic Form and the poetry collection In the World He Created According to His Will.

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Image credit: turntable spinning. Photo by Tengilorg, 2005. CC-BY-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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2. Initiation into America’s original megachurch

By David Yamane


The American religious landscape is ever changing. The rise of religious nones, the spiritual not religious, thoughtful spirituality, the emerging church, online religion, megachurches, and on and on.

As a sociologist of religion who specializes in Roman Catholicism, it is easy to feel old-fashioned in the face of so much novelty. But in its typically deliberate way, the original megachurch in America continues to make its mark on the religious landscape.

Photo of adult being baptized

Easter Vigil Baptism, April 11, 2009. Image Credit: Photo by IC MONROVIA RCIA, CC 2.0 via Flickr.

On Saturday night, April 19th, at Easter Vigil Masses in most of the 17,000+ parishes in the United States, tens of thousands of individuals will join the Catholic Church. On average over the past ten years, 67,000 adults annually have been baptized Catholic and 83,000 baptized Christians annually have been “Received into Full Communion” with the Roman Catholic church in the United States.

To put these numbers in perspective, these 1.5 million people becoming Catholic over the past decade in themselves would comprise one of the 20 largest religious bodies in America. Catholic converts collectively are about 11% of all Catholics in the United States today. These 5.85 million individuals would be the fifth largest religious body in America, just ahead of the Church of God in Christ and behind the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormon Church).

These numbers are impressive, but even more notable is that most adults who become Catholic in America today do so through an elaborate initiation process that is both ancient and modern: the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).

Fresco of Baptism of St Augustine

Baptism of St Augustine, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

In the ancient church, adult baptism was preceded by a structured period of instruction (“catechesis”), which could last as long as three years. Individuals undergoing instruction were called “catechumens” (“hearers of the word”) and the period of instruction was called the “catechumenate.” The process also called for a number of pre-baptismal rites associated with purification and exorcism in preparation for initiation.

As the church’s attention shifted to infant baptism, these rich traditions of adult initiation fell by the wayside. By the mid-20th century in the United States, the process of adult initiation was brief, private, and focused on doctrinal instruction. But the church would soon “modernize” the process of adult initiation, not by looking to the future, but by looking to the past.

French theologians call this ressourcement – looking to the ancient church for models of liturgy and practice to be implemented in the contemporary church. In this way, the church uses tradition to renew tradition. This is exemplified by the call to restore the ancient catechumenate for adults in the Second Vatican Council’s 1963 Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium, nos. 64-66).

That call led to the publication in 1972 of a new book of rites for adult initiation, in Latin of course, called Ordo Initiationis Christianae Adultorum (the Latin editio typica or “typical edition”). A provisional English translation of this new “order of initiation” was introduced into the Catholic Church in the United States in 1974 and the final official American English translation of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (the “vernacular typical edition”) was published in 1988. At that time, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops also issued guidelines for and mandated the use of the new process.

Like the ancient model, the modern RCIA takes individuals through distinct periods of formation with public ritual transitions that move individuals from one period to the next. The process can take anywhere from months to years to complete. (Tomorrow, I will discuss in greater detail the nuts and bolts of the process.)

Since it was mandated in 1988, at least two million adults have been initiated into the Catholic Church through the RCIA process. But the Catholic Church does not only make its mark on the American religious landscape numerically. The RCIA has also become an influential model of initiation for other Christian traditions. Among the denominations that have implemented a catechumenal process of initiation are the Episcopal Church USA, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Mennonite Church USA. In 1995, the North American Association for the Catechumenate was founded as an ecumenical group to support and promote the catechumenal process of initiation outside the Catholic Church. Denominational partners include the Anglican Church of Canada, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed Church in America, and the United Methodist Church.

The influence of the RCIA both inside and outside the Catholic Church suggests that it is one of the most fruitful — if one of the least recognized — legacies of the Second Vatican Council.

David Yamane teaches sociology at Wake Forest University and is author of Becoming Catholic: Finding Rome in the American Religious Landscape. He is currently exploring the phenomenon of armed citizenship in America as part of what has been called “Gun Culture 2.0″ — a new group of individuals (including an increasing number of women) who have entered American gun culture through concealed carry and the shooting sports. He blogs about this at Gun Culture 2.0. Follow him on Twitter @gunculture2pt0.

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3. Identifying unexpected strengths in adolescents

By Johanna Slivinske


Think for a moment, back to when you were a teenager. What were you like? What did you enjoy doing? In what did you excel? The positive activities in which we partake in adolescence shape our adult lives. In my case, playing the clarinet in band and competing in extemporaneous speaking on the speech team molded me the most, and became my personal strengths.

360px-Chambre_adolescentMusic and the creative arts continue to influence my writing and speaking, and many of these facets of my professional life can be traced back to strengths developed and built upon in my youth. Another strength was the fact that I had a loving, kind, and caring family. This provided me with a solid foundation for life, and in a sense, these protective factors in my life made me resilient. However, strengths can also be found in unexpected venues, perhaps peering through the cracks of hardship.

  1.   Adolescents might find strengths through their failures in discovering that they are able to get back up after falling. When teens fail, and continue to try despite the failure, they show a level of resilience, diligence, and perseverance.
  2.   The communities of adolescents, even if less than perfect, can be a source of strength. Creating dialogues about community leaders may benefit teens that need role models in their lives. It can help them figure out whom they aspire to be similar to in character and in positive personal qualities. A community leader can be anyone who functions as a responsible person in the community, or anyone else who cares about the well-being of the community as a whole.
  3.   Acting out behaviors may be viewed through a strengths lens if those behaviors are a response to traumatic experiences such as community violence or sexual assault. The nonproductive response of acting out behaviors during adolescence may be reframed therapeutically as a survival mechanism or a stepping-stone leading toward a more productive path of healing and growth.
  4.   Instead of viewing quirks, eccentricities, or diagnoses as negative qualities, these may sometimes be perceived as qualities that foster the creation of unique perspectives and promote divergent ways of understanding the world.
  5.   When everyday necessities are lacking from adolescents’ lives, they may learn to be resourceful. Resourcefulness may entail surviving under extremely stressful circumstances or learning how to “make due” with limited resources. Teens may have learned how to cook for themselves, or they may have asked friends to share clothing with them. These are examples of using the strength of resourcefulness under difficult circumstances.


When working with adolescents and their families, it is essential to focus not only on their problems, but also on their strengths. This may sometimes present as a challenge, but if you search intensely, with an open mind, strengths may be identified and built upon as a solid foundation for life. This contributes to the fostering of resilience in adolescents and their families.

Hidden or obscured strengths, when perceived in a positive manner, may serve as methods of coping or means of survival during times of stress. Even when strengths are obvious to professionals, adolescent clients may not be aware of their own strengths, and may benefit from therapists’ ability to identify, recognize, and name them. Through working with adolescents, it’s possible to identify strengths and help them learn more about themselves and what makes them unique, so that they can grow to become productive members of their communities.

Johanna Slivinske is co-author of Therapeutic Storytelling for Adolescents and Young Adults (2014). She currently works at PsyCare and also teaches in the Department of Social Work at Youngstown State University, where she is also affiliated faculty for the Department of Women’s Studies.

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Image credit: Chambre de jeune français. Photo by NdeFrayssinet. CC-BY-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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4. Very short talks

vsi banner

By Chloe Foster


We have seen an abundance of Very Short Introductions (VSI) authors appearing at UK festivals this year. Appearances so far have included at Words by the Water festival in Keswick, Oxford Literary Festival, and Edinburgh Science festival. The versitility of the series and its subjects means our author talks are popular at a variety of different types of festivals. First up, Words by the Water:



Later this month, we’ll have talks from VSI authors at Chipping Norton Literary Festival on the 26th and 27th April. This is followed by a series of talks at Ways with Words festival in Devon on the 12th July, Kings Place festival in London on the 14th September, and Cheltenham Literature festival from 3rd -12th October.

The Very Short Introductions (VSI) series combines a small format with authoritative analysis and big ideas for hundreds of topic areas. Written by our expert authors, these books can change the way you think about the things that interest you and are the perfect introduction to subjects you previously knew nothing about. Grow your knowledge with OUPblog and the VSI series every Friday, subscribe to Very Short Introductions articles on the OUPblog via email or RSS., and like Very Short Introductions on Facebook.

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5. A conversation with Craig Panner, Associate Editorial Director of Medicine Books

Few fields develop as rapidly as medicine, with new breakthroughs in research, tools, and techniques happening everyday. This presents an interesting challenge for many medical publishers — trying to get the latest information to students, practitioners, and researchers as quickly and accurately as possible. So we are delighted to present a Q&A with Associate Editorial Director of Medicine Books, Craig Panner. Craig began his career at Oxford University Press eight years ago, and currently works across Oxford University Press’s medicine titles. In the interview below, Craig talks not only about his role, but also the medical publishing landscape in general, both past and future.

Could you tell us about your position as Associate Editorial Director?

My role is something of an interdepartmental liaison between the Medicine UK office and the psychology and social work group here at Oxford University Press. Collectively, we all work very closely together and when you have departments on both sides of the Atlantic, I think it is imperative to maintain and promote open lines of communication which is what I strive to do on a daily basis. Additionally, as Associate Editorial Director, I am also the commissioning editor for neurology and neuroscience, a role which I not only love, but I think helps keep me connected to, and informed about, what the other commissioning editors encounter on a daily basis.

In your experience, what are some of the challenges of transitioning medical books to an online environment?

Work in the computer lab by MCPearson CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Work in the computer lab by MCPearson. CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

I think one of the biggest challenges is that everyone has ideas of what they want, what functionality they expect, and how to be able to use that material. But like many things, we can’t please everyone so it becomes a matter of identifying the greatest common need and how to meet those requirements. Another large challenge is that the online environment is a constantly moving target, if you will: new functionalities are introduced, the “it” product is rolled out, and other similar bells and whistles are discovered and customers often want that too. But when we’re talking about a platform product like Oxford Medicine Online and the huge amount of data that is available, it’s often too difficult to demonstrate why instant changes can’t be incorporated.

What was the state of medical publishing when you began your career vs. how it is done now?

When I started in the publishing world (as a proofreader) back in 1992, everything was print. I remember when the company received its first apple computer: it was kept in an open office and you had to sign up to book time to use it. And, oddly, it was never in use: everyone was more comfortable using the mimeograph machine and the typewriters by their desk. But, in about the next five or six years, the online explosion happened and journals suddenly became available electronically, first via consortia only, then as individual subscriptions, and then individual articles.

Could you discuss Oxford’s relationship with the Mayo Clinic, and how it has grown or changed over the years?

Mayo Clinic is the largest integrated, not-for-profit group practice in the world, with nearly 4000 physicians and scientists at their three primary sites in Minnesota, Florida, and Arizona. And given that Oxford University Press is the largest and oldest university press in the world, it seemed like a natural fit for the two organizations to work together. For almost five years now, Mayo Clinic and Oxford University Press have continued to work together to create, prepare, and disseminate medical reference works that any practicing clinician, anywhere in the world, would find useful for their continued professional development. When we first began working together, the Mayo Clinic Scientific Press series of books was predominantly print. But with the launch of Oxford Medicine Online, and the subsequent development of the Oxford eLearning Platform, the Mayo titles now have the added functionality of utilizing the questions and answers that accompany many of the Mayo Clinic Board Review books for a truly interactive experience that more fully prepares doctors preparing to take their board exam, as well as doctors maintaining their certification, in a real time environment.

What are some of the greatest challenges of medical publishing?

Everyone is busy and everyone works more than a 40-hour week. Finding the time to develop and undertake, much less publish, a medical text is a real juggling act. Thankfully, with the history of Oxford University Press and the quality publications that we produce, we are a trusted publishing house where authors and editors can go with confidence. Another challenge in medical publishing is the time that it takes to produce a work. Not only does it take a fair amount of time to develop, to write or collate chapters, and to deliver the work, but in the old days, it would take a year to publish a book. Medical research and techniques move far more quickly than that time-frame would permit which is why the Medicine group now publishes works between 3.5 months to 5.5 months from receipt. All to better meet the needs of our readers.

Where do you think medical publishing is headed in the future?

I wish I knew! The electronic environment will obviously play a huge role for the rest of my career but given that it, literally, changes daily and the needs and expectations of our readers changes with it, it is impossible to guess where things are going. And that’s what makes publishing so much fun. I can say that I think that immediate access to point of care information, along with suggested secondary and tertiary information will become second nature. The online environment won’t do the thinking for the clinician, but it will certainly supplement their decision making and knowledge base far more completely than anything that we’ve had previously.

How has the process of actually doing medical research changed over the years? In other words, how are people accessing the content then vs. now?

Medical research has definitely changed over the years. When I first started out, clinicians and researchers had offices lined with books and journals, filing cabinets filled with journal reprints, and personal databases (for the electronically savvy) of key articles. Much of that is gone now and when you speak with a junior doc they will often say that everything they need is available to them electronically. Searching the web is obviously faster but the ability to utilize the web to link journals, books, databases, and the like has expanded the available knowledge base of today’s clinician, no matter where in the world they are located. And because of how we do research and how we follow up with patients, a doctor can now check up on, and advise upon, a patient from anywhere that they are traveling to. Geographic boundaries really no longer exist.

How have extra online features, like multimedia, changed the way medical research is done?

The various additional features that the online environment facilitates are amazingly useful in this busy world we live in. Not only do these extra features teach the reader on their own schedule, but these features can help facilitate the decision making process. If we are talking about videos that show two different, but somewhat similar, symptoms the multimedia material can help show, literally, how the two disorders are different. Likewise, being able to quickly reference additional material via a third party database–let’s say genotypes, for instance–you negate the need to stop what you’re doing, go to a book, a journal, or even the library but, instead, go directly to the source, find what you need, make the judgment and continue with your work. Medical research really is nothing like it was five years ago and will not be the same five years from now.

Craig Panner is the Associate Editorial Director of Medicine Books, and works in Oxford’s New York office.

Oxford Medicine Online is an interconnected collection of over 500 online medical resources which cover every stage in a medical career. Our aim is to ensure that the site delivers the highest quality Oxford content whilst meeting the requirements of the busy student, doctor, or health professional working in a digital world.

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6. Creative ways to perform your music: tips for music students

By Scott Huntington


Many music students have difficulty finding new venues in which to perform. A lot of the time it’s because we let our school schedule our performances for us. We’ll start the semester and circle the dates on the calendars that include our concerts and recitals, and that will be it. That’s fine, and can keep you pretty busy, but I’m here to tell you to get out there and plan on your own. You’ll become much more confident and even perform better at your concerts once you get a few smaller gigs under your belt. Here’s a few tips to help you along the way:

Don’t let nerves get in the way of gigging

You’ve likely heard this from countless professors, teachers, friends, and family members, but everyone experiences nervousness. It’s the result of our animal instincts, our fight or flight response, and it’s natural. The solution is simply to gain experience. Think of each instance of nervousness as a new chance to conquer and control the sensation. After enough repetitions, nervousness will no longer seem like such a big deal, just an expected and regular part of performance. Nerves will probably never go completely away, but by the time you get to a huge concert you’ll be getting used to it.

Develop your personal brand

Whether you like it or not, self-advertising, or creating your own brand, has become more and more doable thanks to the Internet. Read up on creating a web presence. Unless you’re famous, you’re going to need to market your talents. Sites like BandCamp and SoundCloud tend to be synonymous with popular music, but this trend is slowly changing. In fact, many classical musicians are uploading recordings of their gigs to SoundCloud.

On top of the benefits of a clean, easy to navigate repository of gig recordings, having a SoundCloud is like having a deluxe portfolio. What do I mean by “deluxe”? Well, it’s like having a resume with a built in audience of employers ready to look at it 24/7. And SoundCloud isn’t just a social network; it’s a social network of people who actively create and/or listen to music.

Think outside the box when looking for gigs

But where can you look for gigs? At first glance you’re at a slight disadvantage from all the rock bands that can play cover shows at bars or parties. Somehow playing solo clarinet music at the local bar just isn’t going to go over well. So, here are a few places you may not have thought of:

1. University events

Keep tabs on ongoing events at your university. Many students and faculty would love to have their events spiced up with some “sophisticated” music. There are plenty of fundraisers and galas that are always looking for entertainment. It even gives them a bragging point to have a student performing and could lead to more donations for the school.

2. Elementary schools

Music education is an important aspect of many children’s lives, and choosing an instrument to pick up can be quite a meaningful decision, even if it may seem superfluous to us at the time. Check with local elementary schools to find out when they start their students off in band and orchestra programs. They may very well be looking for people to come in and explain and play their instruments to students. You never know when you could be the one to inspire the next great performer.

elementary school music

Children from Kaneohe Elementary School clap to the beat of one of the many jazzy songs the US Marine Corps Forces Pacific Party Band played during their performance as part of the Music in the Schools program. Photo in the public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

3.  Retirement communities

Playing at a retirement community may not be very glamorous, but it will leave you with experience and the feeling that you’ve done a good service. One of the most rewarding times of my musical career was playing at a nursing home. A deaf woman rolled her wheelchair up to my marimba and put her hand on the side to feel the vibrations. Seeing her smile is something I will never forget. To me, this small gig was right up there with playing in Orchestra Hall in Chicago.

4. Play for small businesses and company functions

A gig at a barber shop didn’t give me a huge audience, but it’s not always the size that matters. Through it I was able to meet some people from a mattress store called Dr. Snooze, and eventually led to me getting to play at one of their open houses. I met several more people through it that led to even more performance opportunities, including corporate retreats and even a wedding. I can also use them as a reference when telling others about my music. It’s amazing how one “little” gig can turn into so much more.

5. Play on the street

Now you should look into the legality of this strategy before pursuing it, but playing in the street (even for no money) can be an incredible source of publicity. Who knows who might be looking? It also helps to strategically pick your location so that people who might be more likely to need musicians may listen. Another idea you could try would be to upload recordings of your performances to YouTube to be able to show them to others.

Finnish bluegrass buskers in Helsinki, Finland. June 2006. Photo by Cory Doctorow from London, UK. Creative Commons License via Wikimedia Commons.

Finnish bluegrass buskers in Helsinki, Finland. June 2006. Photo by Cory Doctorow from London, UK. Creative Commons License via Wikimedia Commons.

All of these ideas will give you some great experience and help you become a better musician. And when you come to the bigger events, you’ll be well prepared.

 is a percussionist specializing in marimba. He’s also a writer, reporter and blogger. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and son and does Internet marketing for WebpageFX in Harrisburg. Scott strives to play music whenever and wherever possible. Follow him on Twitter at @SMHuntington.

Oxford Music Online is the gateway offering users the ability to access and cross-search multiple music reference resources in one location. With Grove Music Online as its cornerstone, Oxford Music Online also contains The Oxford Companion to Music, The Oxford Dictionary of Music, and The Encyclopedia of Popular Music.

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7. What’s the secret to high scores on video games?

By Siu-Lan Tan


When playing video games, do you play better with the sound on or off? Every gamer may have an opinion, but what has research shown?

Some studies suggest that music and sound effects enhance performance. For instance, Tafalla (2007) found that male gamers scored almost twice as many points while playing the first-person shooter game DOOM with the sound on (chilling music, weaponfire, screams, and labored breathing) compared to those playing with the sound off.

On the other hand, Yamada et al. (2001) found that people had the fastest lap times in the racing game Ridge Racer V when playing with the music off. Interestingly, 10 different music tracks were tested—and the lowest scores were earned when playing with the soundtrack built into the game (Boom Boom Satellite’s “Fogbound”).

Sometimes the results are more complex. Cassidy and MacDonald (2009) tested people playing a driving game with car sounds effects alone or with car sound effects plus different kinds of music. People playing with music that had been shown to be ‘highly arousing’ (in previous research) drove the fastest—but also made the greatest number of mistakes, such as hitting barriers or knocking over road cones!

800px-Dubaj

In our own research (published 2010 and 2012), my colleagues John Baxa and Matt Spackman and I found that people playing Twilight Princess (Legend of Zelda) performed worst when playing with both music and sound effects off. This game provides the player with rich auditory cues that function as warnings, clues for access points, feedback for correct moves such as successful attacks on enemies, and more. Many of these don’t just “double” what you see on the screen.

As we progressively added more game audio, performance improved. However, surprisingly, our participants performed best when playing with background music playing on a boombox that was unrelated to the game! (This would be like playing a game with the game sound switched off—while your roommate’s music is playing in the background.)

How to boost your game play?

So how do we make sense of these findings? And do they shed light on what distinguishes the top gamers?

A closer look at the individuals in our 2010/2012 study suggested that the majority of our participants—but not all—played better with unrelated background music until they “got the hang of” the game.

We used a game that was new to everybody. As Twilight Princess is a pretty complex adventure role-playing game, the average player seemed to have to focus attention on the visual information when first navigating the game. So music and sound effects built into the game may have interfered with their concentration, as they had to “tune it out” to focus on visual cues to guide their actions at first.

800px-Dataspel

However, our top players (who concluded four days of play in our Videogame Lab with the highest scores) were different. They tended to play better with the game sound on (full music and sound effects coming from both screen and Wiimote) from the very beginning.

The best players seemed to be better at paying attention to and meaningfully integrating both audio and visual cues effectively—thus benefitting from the richest warnings/clues/feedback. While the typical player strongly favored one sense, the best players were truly playing an audio-visual game from the beginning.

So…one secret to being a successful gamer may be to sharpen your attention to audio cues (in sound effects and music) within a game. Paying more attention to and integrating cues to both ear and eye may boost your game!

More than just high scores…

I’m also reminded of what a participant in our study expressed so well: “There’s more to a game than just high scores. It’s also about being transported and immersed in another world, and music and sound effects are what bring you there.”

Indeed, the lush cinematic scores take us through the emotional highs and lows of the journey of a game. Atmospheric tracks immerse us in other worlds. Rhythmic tracks serve as an engine to drive the action, the propulsion of the music making the virtual environment appear deeper and the visual array seem to whizz by faster (motion parallax).

When you have a great soundtrack, music can be the soul of a game.

Postscript: Sonic Mayhem!

Recently I had a chance to speak with composer Sonic Mayhem (Sascha Dikiciyan) when we were both interviewed on video game music by Sami Jarroush for Consequence of Sound. Sonic Mayhem is one of the most sought-after video game music composers today. He scored Quake III Arena, Tron: Evolution, Mass Effect 2 & 3, Borderlands, Space Marine, James Bond: Tomorrow Never Dies, Mortal Kombat vs DC, and a ton of other monumental games.

Click here to view the embedded video.

 Siu-Lan Tan is Associate Professor of Psychology at Kalamazoo College in Michigan, USA. She is primary editor of The Psychology of Music in Multimedia (Oxford University Press 2013), the first book consolidating the research on the role of music in film, television, video games, and computers. A version of this article also appears on Psychology Today. Siu-Lan Tan also has her own blog, What Shapes Film? Read her previous blog posts.

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Image credits: (1) Dubaj, by Danik9000, CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. (2) Dataspel, by Magnus Fröderberg/norden.org, CC-BY-2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

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8. Prime Minister’s Questions

By Andrew Dobson


“Noisy and aggressive,” “childish,” “over the top,” “pointless.” These are just a few recent descriptions of Prime Minister’s Questions – the most watched event in the Parliamentary week.

Public dismay at PMQs has led the Speaker, John Bercow, to consult with party leaders over reform.  The Hansard Society asked focus groups what they thought of PMQs as part of its annual look at public engagement. Nearly half said the event is “too noisy and aggressive”, the same proportion as those who felt that MPs behave unprofessionally. Meanwhile, a majority of 33% to 27% reported that it put them off politics. Only 12% said it made them “proud of our Parliament”.

John Bercow. By Office of John Bercow CC-BY-SA-3.0

Both the Deputy Prime Minister Clegg and Labour leader Ed Miliband agreed that the baying and screeching gave politics and politicians a bad name, and while Prime Minister David Cameron was a little more guarded, he too thought that Mr Bercow’s ideas were interesting and worth looking at.

So would it help if politicians listened to each other little bit more and shouted at each other a little bit less? The fact that PMQs is simultaneously the most watched and the least respected Parliamentary event is significant. No doubt we watch it precisely because we enjoy the barracking and the bawling, and there is always the possibility of grudging admiration for a smart bit of wordplay by one or other of the combatants. Parliamentary sketch writers nearly always judge the winner of PMQs on the basis of which of the party leaders has bested the other in terms of quips and ripostes – and very rarely on the basis of political substance.

So it’s hardly an informative occasion. Indeed the Hansard’s respondents’ main gripes are that questions are scripted, and that there are too many planted questions and too few honest answers.

Once again, though, maybe this misses the point. Some will say that the civilised and serious political work is done behind the scenes in committee rooms, where party loyalty is less obviously on display, and where considered debate often takes place. On this account, PMQs occupy a very small amount of parliamentary time, and anyway, the sometimes angry jousting that takes place between party leaders on Wednesdays is as much a part of politics as the polite exchange of views we find in Parliamentary committees. Where would politics be without disagreement? Would it be politics at all?

But then there are different ways of disagreeing – and some ways could turn out to be exclusionary. One of the ideas floated by John Bercow was that the flight of women from the House of Commons was in part a result of the way in which debate is conducted there.

David Cameron

David Cameron. By World Economic Forum/Moritz Hager (Flickr) CC-BY-SA-2.0

And it’s a fact that although good listening is much prized in daily conversation, it’s been almost completely ignored in the form of political conversation we know as democracy. While PMQs show that politicians aren’t always very good at listening to each other, they’re not much better at listening to the public either. Politicians instinctively know that listening in a democracy is vital to legitimacy. That’s why when they’re in trouble they reach for the listening card and initiate a “Big Conversation,” like the one Tony Blair started in late 2003, not so many months after the million people march against the Iraq war.

But won’t a government that listens hard and changes its mind just be accused of that ultimate political crime, the U-turn? In 2012, the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, announced some radical changes in UK secondary school education, including a return to an older style assessment regime. Then in February 2013 he suddenly announced that the changes wouldn’t take place after all. Predictably, the Opposition spokesman called this a ‘humiliating climbdown’. Equally predictably, Gove’s supporters played the listening card for it was worth, with Nick Clegg saying effusively that, “There is no point having a consultation if you’ve already made up your mind what you’re going to do at the end of it.”

So it looks as though, as far as listening goes, governments are damned if they do and damned if they don’t: accused of weakness if they change their mind and of pig-headedness and a failure to listen if they don’t. On balance, I’d rather have them listening more – both to each other and to us. John Dryzek is surely right to say that, “the most effective and insidious way to silence others in politics is a refusal to listen.”

As the ancient Greek philosopher Epictetus says: “Nature hath given men and one tongue but two ears, that we may hear from others twice as much as we speak.”

Andrew Dobson is Professor of Politics at Keele University, UK. His most recent book is Listening for Democracy: recognition, representation, reconciliation (OUP, 2014). He is a member of the England and Wales Green Party and he co-wrote the Green Party General Election Manifesto in 2010. He is a founder member of the thinktank Green House.

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Image credit: John Bercow, by Office John Bercow, CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. (2) David Cameron, by World Economic Forum/Mortiz Hager (Flickr), CC-BY-SA-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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9. Henry Bradley on spelling reform

By Anatoly Liberman


Last week I wrote about Henry Bradley’s role in making the OED what it is: a mine of information, an incomparable authority on the English language, and a source of inspiration to lexicographers all over the world. New words appear by the hundred, new methods of research develop, and many attitudes have changed in the realm of etymology since the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century, but nothing said in the great dictionary has become useless, even though numerous conjectures and formulations have to be revised.

Unfortunately, the world knows little about those who did all the work. It will probably not be an exaggeration to say that before Katharine Maud Elisabeth Murray wrote a book on her grandfather (1977) and gave it the wonderful title Caught in the Web of Words, few people outside the profession had any notion of who James A. H. Murray, the OED’s senior editor, was. Samuel Johnson’s definition of a lexicographer as a harmless drudge has been trodden to death by authors who live on borrowed wit. Alas, very often the only way to honor a distinguished “drudge” is to publish a short obituary, usually forgotten on the same day. As I mentioned last time, Bradley had better luck: a posthumous volume of his collected works appeared in 1928. I was happy to see his archival picture in my post. Many eminent scholars of that epoch were photographed in the same position, so that they look like venerable old twins, writing desk, glasses, beard and all. Yet this picture is different from the one reproduced in the 1928 book.

How harmless lexicographers are I cannot tell. It seems that, with regard to character, this profession, like any other, is, to use the most popular word of our time, diverse. In any case, lexicographers do not only shuffle index cards and sit at computers, trying to disentangle themselves from the web of words: they have opinions about many things, not related directly to the art of dictionary making. For example, both Bradley and Skeat had non-trivial ideas about spelling reform. Today I will summarize Bradley’s views. Skeat’s turn will come round next Wednesday. To begin with, Bradley, who made his thoughts public in 1913, was an opponent of Simplified Spelling, but he addressed only one side of the reform, namely the proposal that phonetic spelling should be adopted. In making his position clear, he advanced several perfectly valid arguments but overlooked perhaps the most important aspect of the problem.

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In one respect, Bradley was decades ahead of his time. He insisted that the written form of Modern English and of any language using letters, far from being a mechanical transcript of oral speech, has a life of its own. This is perfectly true. Much later, the members of the Prague Linguistic Circle, a great school of European structuralism, made the same point. Bradley wrote: “Among peoples in which many persons write and read much more than they speak and hear, the written language tends to develop more or less independently of the spoken language.”  He referred with admiration to the epoch of ideographic writing, when characters were pictures. Even today, he stated, we never read letter by letter, but grasp whole words. So we do, and for this reason we tend to overlook typos. Bradley did not object to many English words being ideograms, or images that have to be memorized and remain independent of the sounds of which they consist. Many scholarly words are familiar to us only from books; they are hardly ever pronounced, so may they preserve their familiar form, he said.

Bradley made his attitude clear: English spelling is an heir to an age-long tradition and should be reformed with care. Sounds, he added, change, and, “when change of pronunciation had made a spoken word ambiguous, the retention of the old unequivocal written form is a great practical convenience. It makes the written language, so far, a better instrument of expression than the spoken language.” Sometimes he was forcing open doors, but in his days there was no theory of orthography, and his point is well taken. Indeed, modern spelling has several (though hardly equally important) functions. For example, it may connect related words, in violation of the phonetic principle. Thus, k- in know ~ knowledge is a nuisance (I was almost tempted to write knuisance), but it should probably be retained by reformers because k- is pronounced in acknowledge (however, I am afraid that aknowledge would be quite enough).

It may be convenient that in some situations we bow to the ideographic principle and have write, wright ~ Wright, and rite. The recent invention of phishing is characteristic: it designates fishing for customers in muddy waters, fishing with an evil flourish (phlourish?). Bradley did not cite rite and its kin, but referred to hole and whole, son and sun, night and knight among numerous other homophones, which are not homographs. (Homophones sound alike; homographs are spelled alike.) He quoted the line Nor burnt the grange, no buss’d the milking-maid (buss means “kiss”) and remarked that Tennyson would not have agreed to write bust for bus’t; hence the virtue of the apostrophe.  When words are spelled differently, we are apt to ascribe different meanings to them. This is again correct. Bradley recalled the case of grey versus gray (see my post on this word): many people, especially artists, when asked about their thoughts on those adjectives, replied that they associate gray and grey with different colors.

Bradley agreed that the spelling of some words should be changed. He admitted that it may be useful to teach children some variant of phonetic spelling before introducing them to letters, for this would make them aware of the sounds they pronounce. But phonetic spelling as the aim of a sweeping reform was unacceptable to him. I am all for simplifying English spelling, but I think Bradley was right—not so much for theoretical as for practical reasons.  The English speaking world will never agree to a revolution, and promoting a hopeless cause is a waste of time. But the most interesting aspect of Bradley’s attack on the reform is his general attitude. He addressed only the needs of those who had already mastered the intricacies of English spelling. Obviously, to someone who learned that choir is quire and a playwright is not a playwrite, even though this person writes plays, any change will be an irritation. But the advocates of the reform have the uneducated in mind. They and Bradley speak at cross-purposes.

Strangely, only one aspect of English spelling worried Bradley: the existence of many words like bow as in make a low bow and bow in bow and arrow. This situation, he thought, had to be changed, even though he could not offer any advice. In his opinion, words that sounded differently had to be spelled differently. “The task of rectifying these anomalies, and of making the many readjustments with their correction will render necessary, will require great ingenuity and thought.” Consequently, homophones may be spelled differently (right, write, wright, Wright, rite), but homographs should be homophones (for this reason, bow1 and bow2, read and its past read, etc. need different visual representations).

The rest of Bradley’s argumentation against the reformers is traditional (English speakers pronounce words differently: for example, lord and laud are not homophones with 90% of English speakers, and so forth) and need not be discussed here, but we will return to it in connection with Skeat’s passionate defense of the reform.

Anatoly Liberman is the author of Word Origins And How We Know Them as well as An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology: An Introduction. His column on word origins, The Oxford Etymologist, appears on the OUPblog each Wednesday. Send your etymology question to him care of blog@oup.com; he’ll do his best to avoid responding with “origin unknown.” Subscribe to Anatoly Liberman’s weekly etymology articles via email or RSS.

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Image credit: Theodore Roosevelt cartoon via Almanac of Theodore Roosevelt.

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10. Breastfeeding and infant sleep

By David Haig


A woman who gives birth to six children each with a 75% chance of survival has the same expected number of surviving offspring as a woman who gives birth to five children each with a 90% chance of survival. In both cases, 4.5 offspring are expected to survive. Because the large fitness gain from an additional child can compensate for a substantially increased risk of childhood mortality, women’s bodies will have evolved to produce children closer together than is best for child fitness.

Sleeping baby by Minoru Nitta. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.

Sleeping baby by Minoru Nitta. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.

Offspring will benefit from greater birth-spacing than maximizes maternal fitness. Therefore, infants would benefit from adaptations for delaying the birth of a younger sib. The increased risk of mortality from close spacing of births is experienced by both the older and younger child whose births bracket the interbirth interval. Although a younger sib can do nothing to cause the earlier birth of an older sib, an older sib could potentially enhance its own survival by delaying the birth of a younger brother or sister.

The major determinant of birth-spacing, in the absence of contraception, is the duration of post-partum infertility (i.e., how long after a birth before a woman resumes ovulation). A woman’s return to fertility appears to be determined by her energy status. Lactation is energetically demanding and more intense suckling by an infant is one way that an infant could potentially influence the timing of its mother’s return to fertility. In 1987, Blurton Jones and da Costa proposed that night-waking by infants enhanced child survival not only because of the nutritional benefits of suckling but also because of suckling’s contraceptive effects of delaying the birth of a younger sib.

Blurton Jones and da Costa’s hypothesis receives unanticipated support from the behavior of infants with deletions of a cluster of imprinted genes on human chromosome 15. The deletion occurs on the paternally-derived chromosome in Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS). Infants with PWS have weak cries, a weak or absent suckling reflex, and sleep a lot. The deletion occurs on the maternally-derived chromosome in Angelman syndrome (AS). Infants with AS wake frequently during the night.

The contrasting behaviors of infants with PWS and AS suggest that maternal and paternal genes from this chromosome region have antagonistic effects on infant sleep with genes of paternal origin (absent in PWS) promoting suckling and night waking whereas genes of maternal origin (absent in AS) promote infant sleep. Antagonistic effects of imprinted genes are expected when a behavior benefits the infant’s fitness at a cost to its mother’s fitness with genes of paternal origin favoring greater benefits to infants than genes of maternal origin. Thus, the phenotypes of PWS and AS suggest that night waking enhances infant fitness at a cost to maternal fitness. The most plausible interpretation is that these costs and benefits are mediated by effects on the interbirth interval.

Postnatal conflict between mothers and offspring has been traditionally assumed to involve behavioral interactions such as weaning conflicts. However, we now know that a mother’s body is colonized by fetal cells during pregnancy and that these cells can persist for the remainder of the mother’s life. These cells could potentially influence interbirth intervals in more direct ways. Two possibilities suggest themselves. First, offspring cells could directly influence the supply of milk to their child, perhaps by promoting greater differentiation of milk-producing cells (mammary epithelium). Second, offspring cells could interfere with the implantation of subsequent embryos. Both of these possibilities remain hypothetical but cells containing Y chromosomes (presumably derived from male fetuses) have been found in breast tissue and in the uterine lining of non-pregnant women.

David Haig is Professor of Biology at Harvard University. he is the author of “Troubled sleep: Night waking, breastfeeding and parent–offspring conflict” (available to read for free for a limited time) in Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health. The arguments summarized above are presented in greater detail in two papers that recently appeared in Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health.

Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health is an open access journal, published by Oxford University Press, which publishes original, rigorous applications of evolutionary thought to issues in medicine and public health. It aims to connect evolutionary biology with the health sciences to produce insights that may reduce suffering and save lives. Because evolutionary biology is a basic science that reaches across many disciplines, this journal is open to contributions on a broad range of topics, including relevant work on non-model organisms and insights that arise from both research and practice.

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11. Money matters

By Valerie Minogue


Money is a tricky subject for a novel, as Zola in 1890 acknowledged: “It’s difficult to write a novel about money. It’s cold, icy, lacking in interest…” But his Rougon-Macquart novels, the “natural and social history” of a family in the Second Empire, were meant to cover every significant aspect of the age, from railways and coal-mines to the first department stores. Money and the Stock Exchange (the Paris Bourse) had to have a place in that picture, hence Money, the eighteenth of Zola’s twenty-novel cycle.

The subject is indeed challenging, but it makes an action-packed novel, with a huge cast, led by a smaller group of well-defined and contrasting characters, who inhabit a great variety of settings, from the busy, crowded streets of Paris to the inside of the Bourse, to a palatial bank, modest domestic interiors, houses of opulent splendour — and a horrific slum of filthy hovels that makes a telling comment on the social inequalities of the day.

Dominating the scene from the beginning is the central, brooding figure of Saccard. Born Aristide Rougon, Saccard already appears in earlier novels of the Rougon-Macquart, notably in The Kill, which relates how Saccard, profiting from the opportunities provided by Haussman’s reconstruction of Paris, made – and lost – a huge fortune in property deals. Money relates Saccard’s second rise and fall, but Saccard here is a more complex and riveting figure than in The Kill.

Émile Zola painted by Edouard Manet

It is Saccard who drives all the action, carrying us through the widely divergent social strata of a time that Zola termed “an era of folly and shame”, and into all levels of the financial world. We meet gamblers and jobbers, bankers, stockbrokers and their clerks; we get into the floor of the Bourse, where prices are shouted and exchanged at break-neck speed, deals are made and unmade, and investors suddenly enriched or impoverished. This is a world of insider-trading, of manipulation of share-prices and political chicanery, with directors lining their pockets with fat bonuses and walking off wealthy when the bank goes to the wall — scandals, alas, so familiar that it is hard to believe this book was written back in 1890! Saccard, with his enormous talent for inspiring confidence and manipulating people, would feel quite at home among the financial operators of today.

Saccard is surrounded by other vivid characters – the rapacious Busch, the sinister La Méchain, waiting vulture-like for disaster and profit, in what is, for the most part, a morally ugly world. Apart from the Jordan couple, and Hamelin and his sister Madame Caroline, precious few are on the side of the angels. But there are contrasts not only between, but also within, the characters. Nothing and no-one here is purely wicked, nor purely good. The terrible Busch is a devoted and loving carer of his brother Sigismond. Hamelin, whose wide-ranging schemes Saccard embraces and finances, combines brilliance as an engineer with a childlike piety. Madame Caroline, for all her robust good sense, falls in love with Saccard, seduced by his dynamic vitality and energy, and goes on loving him even when in his recklessness he has lost her esteem. Saccard himself, with all his lusts and vanity and greed, works devotedly for a charitable Foundation, delighting in the power to do good.

Money itself has many faces: it’s a living thing, glittering and tinkling with “the music of gold”, it’s a pernicious germ that ruins everything it touches, and it’s a magic wand, an instrument of progress, which, combined with science, will transform the world, opening new highways by rail and sea, and making deserts bloom. Money may be corrupting but is also productive, and Saccard, similarly – “is he a hero? is he a villain?” asks Madame Caroline; he does enormous damage, but also achieves much of real value.

Fundamental questions about money are posed in the encounter between Saccard and the philosopher Sigismond, a disciple of Karl Marx, whose Das Kapital had recently appeared — an encounter in which individualistic capitalism meets Marxist collectivism head to head. Both men are idealists in very different ways, Sigismond wanting to ban money altogether to reach a new world of equality and happiness for all, a world in which all will engage in manual labour (shades of the Cultural Revolution!), and be rewarded not with evil money but work-vouchers. Saccard, seeing money as the instrument of progress, recoils in horror. For him, without money, there is nothing.

If Zola vividly presents the corrupting power of money, he also shows its expansive force as an active agent of both creation and destruction, like an organic part of the stuff of life. And it is “life, just as it is” with so much bad and so much good in it, that the whole novel finally reaffirms.

Valerie Minogue has taught at the universities of Cardiff, Queen Mary University of London, and Swansea. She is co-founder of the journal Romance Studies and has been President of the Émile Zola Society, London, since 2005. She is the translator of the new Oxford World’s Classics edition of Money by Émile Zola.

For over 100 years Oxford World’s Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford’s commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more. You can follow Oxford World’s Classics on Twitter, Facebook, or here on the OUPblog.

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Image credit: Émile Zola by Edouard Manet [public domain] via Wikimedia Commons.

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12. A conversation with Alodie Larson, Editor of Grove Art Online

We are delighted to present a Q&A with the Editor of Grove Art Online, Alodie Larson. She began at Oxford last June, coming from JSTOR, where she spent four years as part of their editorial team, acquiring new journals for the archive. In the below interview, you’ll get to know Alodie as Editor, and also learn her thoughts on art history research and publishing. You can also find her Letter from the Editor on Oxford Art Online.

Can you tell us a little about your background?

When I was young, I would draw house plans (with elevations in the shape of animals) and make artwork with whatever I could find. In college, I studied architecture and the history of art; I completed my MA at the Courtauld Institute of Art, focusing on the architecture of Georgian England. Afterward, I moved to New York and lived in a comically small apartment with my brilliant friend who studied with me in London. She worked at Christie’s, and she kept me from straying too far from the art world while I worked at Random House. I began in the audio/digital department and later moved to the children’s division; I was lucky to learn from talented editors who were generous with their time. I became intimately familiar with Louis L’Amour novels, and I read Twilight when it was a stack of 8 ½ x 11 copy paper. I joined JSTOR in 2009, where I managed their list of journals in art and architecture. I contributed to a project to digitize a group of rare art journals like 291 and The Crayon, as well as to an effort to build a database of historical auction catalogs, all of which JSTOR made freely available along with their other content in the public domain. I also worked on business and sociology, which helped me to appreciate how research methods differ between disciplines. I am delighted to be here at Oxford as the steward of the Grove Dictionary of Art. In my free time I like to travel, visit museums, go to the opera, and refinish furniture. I am still somewhat disappointed that my current house plan is not shaped like a giraffe.

What is your favorite piece of art, of all time, and why?

I love Bernini’s David – the artist’s skill and inventiveness make this sculpture a singularly perfect object. In Bernini’s hands, marble seems to melt, as if it could be smoothed and stretched to his design. Grove’s biography explains this gift: “He felt that one of his greatest achievements was to have made marble appear as malleable as wax and so, in a certain sense, to have combined painting and sculpture into a new medium, one in which the sculptor handles marble as freely as a painter handles oils or fresco.” Unlike Michelangelo’s calm, anticipatory David, Bernini’s figure projects determination and energy. His body twists in motion, and as you circle him, you feel you are both being wound up together. I leave this sculpture feeling as if I have been flung out of the gallery, propelled by his purposeful strength.

David stands in my favorite museum, the Galleria Borghese, which adds to its grandeur as it is the original location intended for the sculpture. In the early 17th< century, Cardinal Scipione Borghese oversaw construction of the building—then the Villa Borghese—and commissioned David as well as a number of other stellar works from Bernini including Apollo and Daphne and Pluto and Proserpina. I relish seeing these sculptures in the magnificent home of Scipione’s original collection.

NLW Larson

Galleria Borghese, Rome. Photo courtesy of the Alodie Larson.

Since it’s impossible to get someone with an art background to answer this question briefly, I must add that I also particularly admire the work of Eduard Vuillard, Mark Rothko, Grant Wood, James Turrell, William Morris, Daniel Burnham, Raymond Duchamp-Villon, Franz Kline, Xu Bing, and McKim, Mead & White. Closer to home, I have two favorite works of art that belong to me. The first is a watercolor sketch of Piccadilly Circus that I bought at a market in the courtyard of the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio in Milan. With minimal strokes it evokes the London crossroads on a rainy night in the late 50s (back when Gordon’s Gin and Wrigley’s Chewing Gum took up prime real estate in the neon collage).

Piccadilly_Circus_in_London_1962_Brighter

Piccadilly Circus in London, 1962. Photo by Andrew Eick. Creative Commons license via Wikimedia Commons.

The second is a watercolor illustration of “Dradpot the Inverted Drool” drawn by my grandfather, Max V. Exner. He devoted his life to music but was a terrific artist as well, and our family lore has it that he was offered a job with Walt Disney Studios in the 1930s when a member of the company saw him doodling in a restaurant.

Also, in a beautiful, financially responsible future, I will have enough disposable income to buy an original work by David Shrigley. I urge him to try to become less famous so that I can afford this.

What is your favorite article in Grove Art Online?

I’m grateful that this role allows me to learn about artists I’ve never studied, and my favorite articles to read are those on subjects with which I’m not particularly familiar. Our forthcoming update includes new biographies on an outstanding group of contemporary artists from Nigeria, Kenya, Sudan, Ghana, Senegal, and South Africa, which I have enjoyed.

I am partial to the articles written by some of my favorite architectural historians, particularly Leland M. Roth, whose Understanding Architecture (1993) is, I think, one of the most engaging introductory texts. His Grove article on the urban development of Boston gives a great overview of the subject. I also like David Watkin’s article on Sir John Soane. An excellent summary of Soane’s life and work, it is an absorbing narrative with entertaining flourishes. (“Despite Soane’s high professional standing, his idiosyncratic style was often ridiculed by contemporaries in such phrases as ‘ribbed like loins of pork’.”) I have always admired Soane’s work and his unconventional museum.

The breakfast parlour at Sir John Soane's Museum as pictured in the Illustrated London News in 1864

The breakfast parlour at Sir John Soane’s Museum as pictured in the Illustrated London News in 1864. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

What are some of the challenges of transitioning art history resources to an online environment?

Together, Grove and Benezit contain over 200,000 entries and images, and it is a challenge to organize that much information online in a clear, intuitive way that ensures researchers will find the articles they need. Many Grove entries first appeared in the print publication, The Dictionary of Art, and the article titles weren’t designed to fit well with modern keyword searches. Important essays can be buried within several layers of subheadings in long articles, sometimes with only date ranges as section titles. For a print work, it makes sense; you’d want all of the articles on a topic or region to be gathered together and located within the same physical volume. However, in an online environment, ideal heading structure would aid successful keyword matches and avoid cumbersomely long entries.

Despite the challenges, an online environment offers more powerful research options. Both Grove and Benezit are organized under a robust taxonomy, and this information allows users to narrow content by categories such as art form, location, or period. Rich search functionality and linking helps users to move between topics more swiftly than print research would permit. An online environment also allows our resource to respond quickly to new developments. We constantly update and expand the body of articles in our encyclopedia (though updates are not instantaneous, as our content is peer-reviewed, supervised by our distinguished Editorial Board and Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Nicola Courtright).

Oxford Art Online hosts thousands of images. Are there any challenges in hosting these on the site?

Yes, as with our articles, the volume of objects presents a challenge. Grove Art contains over 7,000 images, including many well-known artworks that would be discussed as part of an introductory survey course. Keyword searches usually connect researchers with the images relevant to their work, but we’re working to develop more powerful tools with which to both search and view images.

Obtaining image permissions can also be a challenge, but we are grateful for our partnerships with organizations like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Art Resource, Bridgeman Art Library, and the National Gallery of Art, which have brought a rich group of images to GroveBenezit, too, benefits from important partnerships with the Frick Art Reference Library and ArtistSignatures.com, which provide thousands of artists’ portraits and signatures on Oxford Art Online.

How do you envision art history research being done in 20 years?

I believe research in art history will become more collaborative, interdisciplinary, and international. Art libraries have undertaken enormously useful digitization projects, making objects in their collections available to scholars in far flung locations. I’m impressed with primary source projects like the collaboration between the Met and the Frick libraries to digitize the exhibition materials of the Macbeth Gallery, and Yale’s Blue Mountain Project, which digitized a collection of avant-garde art, music, and literary periodicals from 1848-1923. A number of other university libraries have excellent digital collections for art research, including the University of Washington, the Harry Ransom Center at UT Austin, Harvard University, University of Wisconsin, and Columbia University, which hosts the addictively interesting Robert Biggert Collection of Architectural Vignettes on Commercial Stationery.

Courtesy of The Biggert Collection of Architectural Vignettes on Commercial Stationery, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

Courtesy of The Biggert Collection of Architectural Vignettes on Commercial Stationery, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

Whether through local collections or collaborative projects like the HathiTrust, JSTOR, and the DPLA, libraries and publishers are bringing a terrific breadth of important materials online. As content becomes more accessible, I think researchers will select online resources based on the caliber of their material and on the functionality provided the platform. Even as publishers’ brands may fall further behind the façade of library discovery services, I believe scholars will continue to value sources they can trust to maintain high standards of quality.

Art has always been an interdisciplinary field, involving history, politics, economics, and cultural exchange. In the coming years, I think it will be important to emphasize how art connects with these other fields. With the current national focus on careers in science and technology, art is sometimes cast as an academic luxury, but it is not. Its study involves issues fundamentally relevant to all of us. In the words of Albert Einstein: “All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man’s life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual toward freedom.”

Alodie Larson is the Editor of Grove Art and Oxford Art Online. Before joining Oxford, she studied the architecture of Georgian England at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London and worked for Random House and JSTOR.

Libraries are a vital part of our communities. They feed our curiosity, bolster our professional knowledge, and provide a launchpad for intellectual discovery. In celebration of these cornerstone institutions, we are offering unprecedented free access to our Online Resources, including Oxford Art Online, in the United States and Canada to support our shared mission of education.

Oxford Art Online offers access to the most authoritative, inclusive, and easily searchable online art resources available today. Through a single, elegant gateway users can access — and simultaneously cross-search — an expanding range of Oxford’s acclaimed art reference works: Grove Art Online, the Benezit Dictionary of Artists, the Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, The Oxford Companion to Western Art, and The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms, as well as many specially commissioned articles and bibliographies available exclusively online.

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13. Leonardo da Vinci myths, explained

By Kandice Rawlings


Leonardo da Vinci was born 562 years ago today, and we’re still fascinated with his life and work. It’s no real mystery why – he was an extraordinary person, a genius and a celebrity in his own lifetime. He left behind some remarkable artifacts in the form of paintings and writings and drawings on all manner of subjects. But there’s much about Leonardo we don’t know, making him susceptible to a number myths, theories, and entertaining but inaccurate representations in popular culture. The following are some of my favorites.

Leonardo_da_Vinci_-_presumed_self-portrait_-_WGA12798

Leonardo da Vinci, Presumed Self Portrait, circa 1512. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Myth #1 – Leonardo was gay.

Leonardo’s possible homosexuality is one of the more prevalent – and more plausible – myths circulating about the artist, and has the backing of none other than Sigmund Freud. There’s no way of knowing Leonardo’s sexual orientation for sure, but he isn’t known to have had romantic relationships with any women, never married, and in 1476 was accused (but later cleared) of charges of sodomy – then a capital crime in Florence. Scholars’ opinions on the issue fall along a spectrum between “maybe” and “very probably”.

Conclusion: Maybe true.

Myth #2 – Leonardo wrote backward to keep his ideas secret, and his notebooks weren’t “decoded” until long after his death.

For all his skill, Leonardo was not a prolific painter – the major part of his surviving output is in the form of his notebooks filled with theoretical and scientific writings, notes, and drawings. His strange habit of writing backward in these notebooks has been used to perpetuate the image of the artist as a mysterious, secretive person. But in fact it’s much more likely that Leonardo wrote this way simply because he was left-handed, and found it easier to write across the page from right to left and in reverse. No decoding is necessary – just a mirror. Leonardo’s theoretical writings and other notes were preserved by his follower and heir Francesco Melzi, and were widely known, at least in artistic circles, during the 16th and 17th centuries. Published extracts began appearing in 1651.

Conclusion: False.

Myth #3 – Leonardo put “secret” codes and symbols in his works.

I’d rather not get into all the problems with The Da Vinci Code too much, but I have to credit this 2003 book, by renowned author Dan Brown, for a lot of these theories. Aside from the fact that the book is full of factual errors (example: Leonardo’s “hundreds of Vatican commissions,” which actually number in the vicinity of zero) and twists the historical record, its readings of Leonardo’s artworks are based on some fundamentally flawed conceptions about the making, meaning, and purpose of art in the Italian Renaissance. In Leonardo’s world, paintings like the Last Supper in Milan were made according to patrons’ requirements, with very specific Christian meanings to be conveyed. Despite Leonardo’s artistic innovations, the content of his religious paintings and portrayal of religious figures (with the exception of some details in an altarpiece from the 1480s) were not untraditional.

Conclusion: False.

396px-Mona_Lisa

Leonardo da Vinci, The Mona Lisa, between 1503-1505. Louvre. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Myth #4 – The Mona Lisa is a self-portrait/male lover in disguise/woman with high cholesterol.

Martin Kemp has observed, “The silly season for the Mona Lisa never closes.” The ridiculous theories about this painting abound. Here’s what we can say with reasonable certainty: Leonardo started the painting, probably a portrait of Lisa Gherardini, a merchant’s wife, while in Florence around 1503. For unknown reasons, he didn’t deliver it to the patron, however, and it ended up in the possession of his workshop assistant Salai (who some think was Leonardo’s lover – again, without evidence). There’s no reason to think that Leonardo recorded in this painting his own features or those of Salai, even if, as many art historians believe, he continued to work on the painting after he left Florence for Milan and then France. In a theory that deviates from the usual speculation about the identity of the sitter, an Italian scientist thinks that the way Leonardo portrayed the sitter shows she had high cholesterol. Right, because Renaissance paintings are straightforward, scientific images, pretty much just like MRIs and X-rays.

Conclusion: False.

Myth #5 – Leonardo made the image of Christ on the Shroud of Turin.

The Shroud of Turin is a relic purported to be the shroud that Christ’s body was buried in after the Crucifixion. According to its legend, the image of his body was miraculously transferred to the cloth when he was resurrected. The idea that Leonardo forged it depends on claims that the proportions of Christ’s face as depicted on the shroud match those in a drawing that is thought to be a self-portrait by the artist, and that Leonardo devised a photographic process that transferred the image of his face to the shroud. The fact that the shroud dates to at least the mid-14th century, a hundred years before Leonardo’s birth, just makes this already kooky theory even harder to buy. I’ll admit, though, that I haven’t read the whole book explaining it … and I’m not going to.

Conclusion: False.

Myth #6 – Leonardo was a vegetarian.

Vegetarianism would have been pretty unthinkable in Renaissance Italy (and veganism just plain absurd); people probably ate about as much meat as they could afford. The most commonly cited quote used to back up this claim is taken from a novel (see p. 227) and often misattributed to Leonardo himself. None of Leonardo’s own writings or early biographies mentions any unconventional eating habits. There’s really only one documentary source that might be relevant, a letter written by a possible acquaintance of the artist, who compares Leonardo to people in India who don’t eat meat or allow others to harm living things. Pretty tenuous, but vegetarians love to claim him.

Conclusion: Probably false.

Myth #7 – Leonardo invented bicycles, helicopters, submarines, and parachutes.

It’s true that Leonardo was fascinated with mechanics, aerodynamics, hydrodynamics, flight, and military engineering, which he touted in his famous letter to Ludovico Sforza seeking a position at the court of Milan. Leonardo’s notebooks contain many designs for machines and devices related to these explorations. But these were, for the most part, probably not ideas that Leonardo considered thoroughly enough to actually build and demonstrate. In the case of the bicycle, the drawing was likely made by someone else, and might even be a modern forgery.

Conclusion: Not so much.

Leonardo_Design_for_a_Flying_Machine,_c._1488

Leonardo da Vinci, Design for a Flying Machine, 1488. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Myth #8 – Leonardo built robots.

While it sounds nutty, this one’s not so far off the mark, if you consider automatons – mechanical devices that seem to move on their own – to be robots. In a plot line of the cable fantasy drama Da Vinci’s Demons, Leonardo constructs a flying mechanical bird to dazzle the crowds gathered in the Cathedral piazza for Easter. A reliable historical record instead points to a lion that Leonardo made for the King of France’s triumphal entry into Milan in 1509. One observer’s description reads:

When the King entered Milan, besides the other entertainments, Lionardo da Vinci, the famous painter and our Florentine, devised the following intervention: he represented a lion above the gate, which, lying down, got onto its feet when the King came in, and with its paw opened up its chest and pulled out blue balls full of gold lilies, which he threw and strewed about on the ground. Afterwards he pulled out his heart and, pressing it, more gold lilies came out … Stopping beside this spectacle, [the King] liked it and took much pleasure in it.

Wow.

Conclusion: True.

If you’re interested in learning more about Leonardo, including the current locations of his works, read his biography from the Benezit Dictionary of Artists, or, for a longer treatment, pick up the accessible but smart book by leading expert Martin Kemp.

Kandice Rawlings is Associate Editor of Oxford Art Online and the Benezit Dictionary of Artists. She holds a PhD in art history from Rutgers University.

Oxford Art Online offers access to the most authoritative, inclusive, and easily searchable online art resources available today. Through a single, elegant gateway users can access — and simultaneously cross-search — an expanding range of Oxford’s acclaimed art reference works: Grove Art Online, the Benezit Dictionary of Artists, the Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, The Oxford Companion to Western Art, and The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms, as well as many specially commissioned articles and bibliographies available exclusively online.

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14. Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan from Grove Art Online

In celebration of World Art Day, we invite you to read the biography of Ludovico Sforza, patron of Leonardo Da Vinci among other artists, as it is presented in Grove Art Online.

(b Abbiategrasso, 3 Aug 1452; reg 1494–99; d Loches, Touraine, 27 May 1508).

Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan. Sforza Altarpiece, 1495

Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan. Sforza Altarpiece, 1495

Son of (1) Francesco I Sforza and (3) Bianca Maria Sforza. In 1480, several years after the death of his brother (4) Galeazzo Maria Sforza in 1476, he succeeded in gaining control of the regency but did not become duke in name until his nephew Gian Galeazzo Sforza died in 1494. His commissions, both public and private, were divided between Lombard and Tuscan masters. Milanese architects were responsible for many of his most important projects, including the construction of the Lazzaretto (1488–1513) and S Maria presso S Celso (begun 1491 by Giovanni Giacomo Dolcebuono) in Milan, and a farm complex, known as the Sforzesca, outside Vigevano. Several prominent Lombard sculptors, in particular Giovanni Antonio Amadeo, were commissioned to work on the façade of the Certosa di Pavia. Of the artists Ludovico encouraged to come to Lombardy, an undated letter reveals that he was considering Botticelli, Filippino Lippi, Perugino and Ghirlandaio as court artists. About 1482 Leonardo da Vinci arrived in Milan, where he remained as an intimate member of Ludovico’s household for 18 years. As court painter, Leonardo is documented as having portrayed two of Ludovico’s mistresses, Lucrezia Crivelli and Cecilia Gallerani. The latter may be identified with the painting Portrait of a Lady with an Ermine (c. 1490–91; Kraków, Czartoryski Col.). Much of his work was for such courtly ephemera as the designs for the spectacle Festa del Paradiso, composed in 1490. Another commission of which nothing survives was for a bronze equestrian statue honouring Ludovico’s father, which Leonardo worked on in the 1490s. A surviving work by Leonardo for the Duke is the Sala delle Asse (1498) in the Castello Sforzesco, Milan, where motifs of golden knots are interspersed among vegetation and heraldic shields.

Other Tuscans at work in Milan during the 1490s included Donato Bramante. As a painter, Bramante produced an allegorical figure of Argus (1490–93) in the Castello Sforzesco (in situ). The development of the piazza, tower and castle at Vigebano in the 1490s, one of the most important campaigns of urban planning in the Renaissance, was the work of Bramante, working perhaps with Leonardo, under Ludovico’s supervision. Ludovico also took day-to-day responsiblity for projects financed by his brother (6) Cardinal Ascanio Maria Sforza, for example Bramante’s work on the new cathedral in Pavia and the monastic quarters (commissioned 1497) at S Ambrogio, Milan. The illuminator Giovanni Pietro Birago was also active in Ludovico’s court, producing, among others, several copies (e.g. London, BL. Grenville MS. 7251) of Giovanni Simonetta’s life of Francesco Sforza I, the Sforziada.

Ludovico’s plans were destroyed by the invasion of Louis XII, King of France, in August 1499. Ludovico escaped, to return in February 1500, but following his final defeat and capture in April that year, he was confined to a prison in France for the remainder of his life.

Bibliography

E. Salmi: ‘La Festa del Paradiso di Leonardo da Vinci e Bernardo Bellincioni’, Archv Stor. Lombardo, xxxi/1 (1904), pp. 75–89
F. Malaguzzi Valeri: La corte di Ludovico il Moro: La vita privata e l’arte a Milano nella secunda metà del quattrocento, 4 vols (Milan, 1913–23)
S. Lang: ‘Leonardo’s Architectural Designs and the Sforza Mausoleum’, J. Warb. & Court. Inst., xxxi (1968), pp. 218–33
A. M. Brivio: ‘ Bramante e Leonardo alla corte di Ludovico il Moro’, Studi Bramanteschi. Atti del congresso internazionale: Roma, 1970, pp. 1–24
C. Pedretti: ‘The Sforza Sepulchre’, Gaz. B.-A., lxxxix (1977), pp. 121–31
R. Schofield: ‘Ludovico il Moro and Vigevano’, A. Lombarda, n. s., lxii/2 (1981), pp. 93–140
M. Garberi: Leonardo e il Castello Sforzesco di Milano (Florence, 1982)
Ludovico il Moro: La sua città e la sua corte (1480–1499) (exh. cat., Milan, Archv Stato, 1983)
Milano e gli Sforza: Gian Galeazzo Maria e Ludovico il Moro (1476–1499) (exh. cat., ed. G. Bologna; Milano, Castello Sforzesco, 1983)
Milano nell’età di Ludovico il Moro. Atti del convegno internazionale: Milano, 1983
C. J. Moffat: Urbanism and Political Discourse: Ludovico Sforza’s Architectural Plans and Emblematic Imagery at Vigevano (diss., Los Angeles, UCLA, 1992)
R. Schofield: ‘Ludovico il Moro’s Piazzas: New Sources and Observations’, Annali di architettura, iv–v (1992–3), pp.157–67
L. Giordano: ‘L’autolegittimazione di una dinastia: Gli Sforza e la politica dell’ immagine’, Artes [Pavia], i (1993), pp. 7–33
P. L. Mulas: ‘”Cum apparatu ac triumpho quo pagina in hoc licet aspicere”: I’investitura ducale di Ludovico Sforza, il messale Arcimboldi e alcuni problemi di miniatura Lombarda’, Artes [Pavia], ii (1994), pp. 5–38
V. L. Bush: ‘The Political Contexts of the Sforza Horse’, Leonardo da Vinci’s Sforza Monoument Horse: The Art and the Engineering, ed. D. C. Ahl (London, 1995), pp. 79–86
A. Cole: Virtue and Magnificence: Art of the Italian Renaissance Courts (New York, 1995)
L. Giordano, ed.: Lucovicus dux (Vigevano, 1995)
G. Lopez: ‘Un cavallo di Troia per Milano’, Achad. Leonardo Vinci: J. Leonardo Stud. & Bibliog. Vinciana, viii (1995), pp. 194–6
E. S. Welch: Art and Authority in Renaissance Milan (New Haven, 1995)
L. Giordano: ‘Ludovico Sforza, Bramante e il nuovo corso del Po 1492–1493′, Artes (Pavia), v (1997), pp. 198–205
G. Cislaghi: ‘Leonardo da Vinci: La misura del borgo di Porta Vercellina a Milano’, Dis. Archit., xxv–xxvi (2002), pp. 11–17
E. McGrath: ‘Ludovico il Moro and his Moors’, J. Warb. & Court. Inst., lxv (2002), pp. 67–94
L. Syson: ‘ Leonardo and Leonardism in Sforza Milan’, Artists at Court: Image-making and Identity: 1300–1550, ed. S. J. Campbell (Chicago, 2004), pp. 106–23
L. Giordano: ‘ In capella maiori: Il progetto di Ludovico Sforza per Santa Maria delle Grazie’, Demeures d’éternité: églises et chapelles funéraires aux XVe et XVIe siècles, ed. J. Guillaume (Paris, 2005), pp. 99–114

E. S. Welch

Oxford Art Online offers access to the most authoritative, inclusive, and easily searchable online art resources available today. Through a single, elegant gateway users can access — and simultaneously cross-search — an expanding range of Oxford’s acclaimed art reference works: Grove Art Online, the Benezit Dictionary of Artists, the Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, The Oxford Companion to Western Art, and The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms, as well as many specially commissioned articles and bibliographies available exclusively online.

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15. Are you a tax expert?

Tax calculator and penToday is 15 April or Tax Day in the United States. In recognition of this day we compiled a free virtual issue on taxation bringing together content from books, online products, and journals. The material covers a wide range of specific tax-related topics including income tax, austerity, tax structure, tax reform, and more. The collection is not US-centered, but includes information on economies across the globe. Be sure to take a moment to view this useful online resource today.

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Oxford University Press has compiled a new virtual issue on taxation that brings together content from books, online products, and journals. Start browsing this timely and useful resource today!

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16. Leonardo da Vinci from the Benezit Dictionary of Artists

In celebration of World Art Day and Leonardo da Vinci’s birthday, we invite you to read the biography of da Vinci as it is presented in the Benezit Dictionary of Artists.

Italian, 15th – 16th century, male.

Active from 1515 in France.
Born 15 April 1452, in Anchiano, near Vinci; died 2 May 1519, in Clos-Lucé, near Amboise, France.
Painter, sculptor, draughtsman, architect, engineer. Religious subjects, mythological subjects, portraits, topographic subjects, anatomical studies.

Leonardo da Vinci was the illegitimate son of the Florentine notary Ser Piero da Vinci, who married Albiera di Giovanni Amadori, the daughter of a patrician family, in the year Leonardo was born. Little is known about the artist’s natural mother, Caterina, other than that five years after Leonardo’s birth she married an artisan from Vinci named Chartabriga di Piero del Veccha. Leonardo was raised in his father’s home in Vinci by his paternal grandfather, Ser Antonio. Giorgio Vasari discusses Leonardo’s childhood at length, noting his aptitude for drawing and his taste for natural history and mathematics. Probably around 1470, Leonardo’s father apprenticed him to Andrea del Verrocchio; two years later,Leonardo’s name appears in the register of Florentine painters. Although officially a painter in his own right, Leonardo remained for a further five years or so in Verrocchio’s workshop, where Lorenzo di Credi and Pietro Perugino numbered among his fellow students.

signature da vinci

In 1482, Leonardo went to Milan to work in the court of Duke Ludovico Sforza and remained there until 1499, returning to Florence after brief visits to Venice and Mantua. During his second Florentine period, Leonardo gained notoriety, primarily as the result of two cartoons he worked up and put on public display. In 1508, Leonardo returned to Milan to work for the French rulers there and complete an altarpiece commission he had begun during an earlier stay. The artist made his first trip to Rome in 1513 and was involved there with military projects for Giuliano de’ Medici (the duke of Nemours and brother of Pope Leo X). Through the pope, Leonardo may have met the French king Francis I, who was Leonardo’s patron in the last few years of his life. The artist died near Amboise and was buried there, in the church of St Florentin. Because of these circumstances, several of Leonardo’s most treasured works, including the Mona Lisa, ended up in the French royal collection and are now preserved in the Louvre.

A few works can be attributed to the period of Leonardo’s training with Verrocchio: a landscape drawing dated 1473 and part of Verrocchio’s Baptism of Christ (both Uffizi Gallery), namely the angel at the far left of the composition. In January 1478, now an independent painter, he was commissioned by the city of Florence to paint an altarpiece for the S Bernardo Chapel in the Palazzo Vecchio, which he did not complete. The following year, Leonardo made a drawing of the hanged body of an assassin involved in the Pazzi Conspiracy to overthrow the Medici government, which may have been connected with another state commission. In March 1480, he was retained to paint an altarpiece for the main altar in the monastery of S Donato a Scopeto, most likely the unfinished Adoration of the Magi, a dynamic reimagining of the subject. It appears that around this time he also produced numerous Madonna studies and his Portrait of Ginevra dei Benci, the first of his many captivating portraits of women.

In 1481, Leonardo wrote a letter to the new ruler of Milan, Ludovico Sforza, asking for a position at court. It is almost entirely devoted to his knowledge of military engineering and ideas for new weapons; the last paragraph briefly mentions that he is an able painter and can also assist in the completion of an equestrian monument of Ludovico’s father, Francesco, which had been planned but not begun. Leonardo arrived in Milan by 1483, perhaps with Medici assistance, and was contracted to paint an image of the Virgin for an altarpiece for the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception’s chapel in S Francesco Grande. This commission resulted in a protracted legal battle and two versions of the painting, the so-called Virgin of the Rocks; the first version, painted between 1483 and 1486, is in the Louvre, and the second, painted primarily in the 1490s, is in the National Gallery, London. The history of the two paintings and the authorship of the later version are much disputed.

During this period, Leonardo received commissions across a wide spectrum. He built stage equipment and devices used for the marriage ceremony of Gian Galeazzo Sforza; he travelled to Padua to supervise construction of the cathedral; he designed costumes for the festivities arranged to celebrate the marriage of Ludovico Sforza to Beatrice d’Este; and he drew a design for the crossing tower of the Milan Cathedral (1487). He made two portraits of women supposed to be Ludovico’s mistresses, Cecilia Gallerani (or Lady with an Ermine) and Lucrezia Crivelli (or La Belle Ferronnière).

Around 1495, Leonardo set to work planning decorations for the Castello Sforzesco. At the start of 1496, Leonardo and Ludovico, by that time the duke of Milan, quarrelled, and the duke repeatedly tried to entice Pietro Perugino as a replacement for Leonardo. Some two years later, the duke andLeonardo reconciled, and Leonardo started working again on the ducal palace and supervising fresco decorations for the Sala delle Asse. While out of favour with the duke, Leonardo had occupied himself with painting a monumental fresco of the Last Supper for the refectory of the Milan monastery of S Maria delle Grazie. In his life of Leonardo, Vasari asserts that execution of this fresco was fraught with difficulty. Leonardo’s use of an experimental medium in order to achieve the naturalistic effects of oil painting caused the fresco to deteriorate rapidly, with much of the original composition quickly being lost. By 1545, it was reported to have already been partially destroyed; three centuries later it was evident that years of neglect, humidity, and inept restorations (attempts at complete restoration were recorded in 1726 and 1770) had only served to make matters worse. A further and more successful attempt at restoration was undertaken in the early years of the 20th century, and the spirit of the original was recaptured, at least partially. The most recent restoration, begun in 1979, was completed in 1999. Fortunately, the original appearance of the Last Supper survives in the form of excellent copies made by students of Leonardo, possibly under his supervision. Among these is a copy reproducing the dimensions of the original (15 by 28 feet [4.5 by 8.60 metres]), painted around 1510 by Giovanni Pietro Rizzoli for the Carthusian church in Pavia and now in London’s Royal Academy. Another detailed reproduction was made by Marco d’Oggiono, commissioned by Connétable de Montmorency for the chapel at the castle of Écouen and now in the Louvre. Despite the fresco’s condition problems, it is one of Leonardo’s best-known and most influential works. The painting is admired for the variety of expressions and poses, the mastery with which Leonardocaptured the most dramatic moment of the biblical story, and the mathematical clarity and regularity of the space, which is conceived as an extension of the refectory (dining hall) it decorates.

Although in 1483 Leonardo had made a clay model of an equestrian sculpture of Francesco Sforza that was erected for the wedding celebrations of Bianca Maria Sforza and Emperor Maximilian, he did not begin work in earnest on the bronze Sforza monument until the 1490s. In fact, Ludovico wrote in a 1489 letter to Lorenzo de’ Medici that he feared Leonardo would not be able to cast the sculpture and requested Lorenzo to provide him with expert bronze sculptors as replacements. Although no finished sculptures by Leonardo have been identified, his training in Verrocchio’s workshop meant he would have received some degree of instruction on techniques of bronze casting; during the 1470s and 1480s, Verrocchio was occupied with various projects in bronze, including an equestrian monument in Venice. Later, during a stay in Florence in 1506–1507, Leonardo may have been involved the design of Giovanni Francesco Rustici’s bronze group St John the Baptist Preaching for the exterior of the Florence Baptistery. In any case, the Sforza monument was never cast, and the largest clay model that Leonardo completed suffered serious damage when French troops entered Milan in September 1499 and archers elected to use it for target practice. However, many drawings, both studies for the composition and technical designs for the casting, survive. The monument, if completed, would no doubt have been a major achievement, both artistically and technically.Leonardo planned a dynamic and highly innovative composition with a rearing horse and a fallen enemy beneath its forelegs, and the statue was to be colossal in scale. The project was abandoned when Leonardo fled the French invasion.

In December 1499, Leonardo went to Mantua with the mathematician Fra Luca Pacioli. There,Leonardo produced a highly finished drawing for a portrait of Isabella d’Este that was either never executed or has been lost. He then spent a short time in Venice before returning to Florence in April 1500. That same month, he finished a cartoon for a major work entitled Virgin and Child with St Anneand displayed it to adoring crowds at SS Annunziata. The cartoon is untraced but is thought the have been related to a drawing now in the National Gallery, London, and a painting of the same subject now in the Louvre. It was around this period (1500-1503) that Leonardo also began painting the portrait of Mona Lisa (or La Gioconda), generally believed to have been the wife of the Florentine merchant Francesco del Giocondo. According to Vasari, Leonardo worked on the Mona Lisa for the better part of four years, but he never delivered it to its patron, bringing it with him to France and perhaps working on it intermittently into his late years. He also made studies for Leda and the Swanthat were copied by his students and Raphael; the final painting is untraced and may have been finished much later, during Leonardo’s sojourn in Rome.

The end of 1502 saw Leonardo inspecting fortifications in the Romagna in his new capacity as senior military architect and general engineer in the service of Cesare Borgia. He was abruptly removed from this post in October of the same year when a rebellion broke out in the duchy. April 1503 foundLeonardo back in Florence and, in July of that year, the Republic of Florence dispatched him to an encampment near Pisa to conduct a survey on how the Arno River could be diverted behind Pisa (so that the city, then under siege by Florence, could be deprived of access to the sea). Later that year, in October, he embarked on a major decorative composition for the new Salone dei Cinquecento (Hall of the Five Hundred) in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. The chosen theme was the victory of Florence over Milan at the Battle of Anghiari in 1440. This monumental work, like its intended complementary painting by Michelangelo of the Battle of Cascina, remained unfinished. Leonardowas commissioned to paint the mural in 1502 and was working on the fresco by 1504. Once again, technical problems frustrated him, notably the poor state of the wall surface he painted and again another experimental technique using oils, and he abandoned the project in 1506. Both the cartoon and the mural were avidly studied by younger artists and some of its appearance can be surmised from drawn and engraved studies. In 1563, Vasari covered the ruinous painting with a new fresco. A project to discover Leonardo’s painting beneath the later fresco using infrared and laser technology was launched in 2005, in the hopes that Vasari preserved it by leaving a gap between the Battle of Anghiari and the plaster for his own fresco.

Leonardo then spent a short time in Milan, perhaps to settle his long-standing commission for theVirgin of the Rocks, before returning to Florence, where he painted a Virgin and Child commissioned by a secretary of the French king Louis XII. At the insistence of Chaumont, the French governor of Milan, Leonardo returned to the Lombard capital and remained there until 1507, when he was obliged to return to Florence to assert his rights of inheritance under the terms of an uncle’s will. During this time, he painted two Madonnas that he took with him on his return to Milan. Leonardo was still in Milan when Louis XII arrived in that city after his victory at Agnadello. Based on a manuscript sketch, he probably also painted around this time the St John the Baptist now in the Louvre. Not least, he is believed to have painted around this date (and possibly in collaboration with one of his pupils) theVirgin and Child with St Anne, also in the Louvre. His preparatory sketches for the work strongly suggest that his initial intention was to paint an intimate ‘family portrait’, but that he subsequently elected for a composition that became widely acclaimed for the innovative contrapposto technique whereby Leonardo twisted a figure on its own axis, with a movement to the left counterbalanced by an equal and opposite movement to the right. The result is a pleasing dynamic symmetry.

During this period, Leonardo also began designing another equestrian monument, this one to commemorate Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, the governor of Milan under the French. When the Sforza returned to power, the project was abandoned. Leonardo remained in Milan after the withdrawal of the French in 1512 and it has often been speculated that Massimiliano Sforza may have been displeased and bitter at Leonardo’s decision to work there for the French occupiers. Whether that was the case,Leonardo recorded in his journal on 24 September 1513 that he was about to leave for Rome in the company of his pupils Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio, Francesco Melzi, Lorenzo, and Il Fanoia. In Rome, he was made very welcome by Pope Leo X and duly housed in the Belvedere. Demand for his services proved slight, however, and his output during this period seems inconsiderable. He may have worked there on his Leda and the Swan, together with a Madonna and Child and a Portrait of a Young Boy. There was also a rumour that his preoccupation with scientific studies, notably anatomy, did not endear him to the pontiff.

July 1515 saw Leonardo in the train of the papal army commanded by Giulio de’ Medici, and there are indications that he travelled with the army as far as Piacenza and that he was in Bologna in December 1515 for the signing of the concordat between the pope and Francis I of France. Shortly afterwards, Leonardo’s services as ‘first painter, architect and mechanic of the King’ were retained by Francis I in exchange for a pension amounting to 700 gold crowns and a private residence at Clos-Lucé (Cloux) near Amboise. After settling in Clos-Lucé, Leonardo’s artistic output came to a virtual standstill. He drew up plans for the canal and gardens at the palace of Romorantin and for the construction of a palace near Amboise; he was also credited with having had a major hand in the plans for the Château of Chambord. Much of Leonardo’s time in France seemed to have been devoted to scientific studies and writings in his notebooks.

Leonardo was an avid and highly skilled draughtsman, and the large quantity of his surviving drawings (approximately 4,000 sheets) and notebooks far outweigh his finished paintings and sculptures. These drawings reveal the breadth of Leonardo’s intellect, his innovative mind, and his artistic process. In addition to many technical drawings for machines; anatomical, zoological, and botanical studies; sketches; and figural studies, Leonardo also made architectural drawings of centrally planned churches, many of them contemporary with Donato Bramante’s remodeling of S Maria delle Grazie and Leonardo’s execution of the Last Supper at the same complex. The notebooks also include fragments of a planned treatise on painting, which were compiled by Leonardo’s student Francesco Melzi after his death (Codex Urbinas) and first printed in 1651. Leonardo’s practice of writing backwards has been proposed as either motivated by secrecy or, perhaps more plausibly, a practical solution to the difficulty of writing left-handed.

Leonardo da Vinci’s genius extended across many fields: painting, sculpture, architecture, and various complex scientific research disciplines, including not only anatomy and physics but also highly specialised areas such as military technology and civil engineering. One might have expected that such a technically oriented mind would have been reflected in an artistic style that was precise, not to say meticulous. In effect, quite the contrary is true. Leonardo preferred to render the subtleties and vagaries of light and shade and the mysterious sfumato that is the basis of his style. He strove to create the effect of light not in terms of colour but rather as form so there is no sharp contrast between light and shade but, instead, a long and sustained transition from light towards shade. His figures are bathed in an ‘atmosphere’ that has a presence of its own; they emerge and merge back into the whole without sacrificing the constructive value of their form. In addition to his rendering of spontaneous movement and his ability to capture the serenity of facial expression, Leonardo achieves monumentality by often eliminating detailed settings. Leonardo’s commitment to naturalism in his painting goes hand in hand with his intense scientific study of all aspects of the natural world. Although he is considered the first of the ‘high’ Renaissance artists, in his scientific approach to painting he is quite distinct from his contemporaries, whose naturalism was so often tied to antique precedents.

Group Exhibitions

1979, From Leonardo to Titian: Italian Renaissance Paintings from the Hermitage, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and Knoedler Gallery, New York
2001, Virtue and Beauty: Leonardo’s Ginevra de’ Benci and Renaissance Portraits of Women, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
2004, Painters of Reality: The Legacy of Leonardo and Caravaggio in Lombardy, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Solo Exhibitions

1989, Leonardo da Vinci, Hayward Gallery, London
1989, Leonardo da Vinci: Studies of Drapery, Louvre, Paris
1996–1997, Leonardo’s Codex Leicester: A Masterpiece of Science, American Museum of Natural History, New York
1997, Leonardo da Vinci: Scientist, Inventor, Artist, Institut für Kulturaustausch, Tübingen, Museum of Science, Boston
2000, Leonardo da Vinci: The Codex Leicester, Notebook of a Genius, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney
2002, Leonardo da Vinci: Inventor (Léonard de Vinci: l’inventeur), Pierre Gianadda Foundation, Martigny, Switzerland
2003, Leonardo da Vinci, Master Draftsman, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
2003, Leonardo da Vinci: Drawings and Notebooks (Léonard de Vinci. Dessins et Manuscrits) Louvre, Paris
2006, The Treatise on Painting: Manuscripts and Editions between the 16th and 19th Century, Castello Sforzesco, Milan
2006–2007, Leonardo da Vinci: Experience, Experiment, and Design, Victoria and Albert Museum, London
2007, The Mind of Leonardo: The Universal Genius at Work, Uffizi Gallery, Florence
2011, Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan, National Gallery, London

Museum and Gallery Holdings

Cambridge (Fitzwilliam Mus.): A Rider on a Rearing Horse (c. 1481, metalpoint reinforced with pen and brown ink/pinkish prepared surface)
Edinburgh (Nat. Gal. of Scotland): Studies of Paws of a Dog or Wolf (c. 1400-1495, silverpoint drawing)
Florence (Gal. dell’Accademia): Vitruvian Man(c. 1487, pen and ink with metalpoint on paper)
Florence (Uffizi): Adoration of the Magi (c. 1480, oil/wood); Annunciation (1470s, oil/wood)
Krakow (Czartoryski Mus.): Portrait of Cecilia Gallerani (or Lady with an Ermine)
London (British Library): Arundel Codex
London (NG): Virgin of the Rocks (or Virgin with the Infant Saint John Adoring the Infant Christ Accompanied by an Angel) (c. 1491-1508, oil/wood);Virgin and Child with St Anne and St John the Baptist (c. 1499-1500, black and white chalk/brownish paper/canvas)
London (Victoria and Albert Mus): Forster Codex
Madrid (Biblioteca Nacional): two codices
Milan (Ambrosiana): Portrait of a Musician (c. 1485, oil/wood); Codex Atlantico
Milan (Biblioteca Trivulziano): Trivulziano Codex
Milan (S Maria delle Grazie): Last Supper
Holy Family
Munich (Alte Pinakothek): Madonna with the Carnation (1470s, oil/wood)
New York (Metropolitan MA): several drawings
Oxford (Christ Church College): seven drawings
Paris (Institut de France): Codices A through M; Ashburnham Codex
Paris (Louvre): La Gioconda (or Mona Lisa);St John the Baptist;Virgin and Child with St AnneVirgin of the RocksLa Belle Ferronnière (Lucrezia Crivelli?)Virgin Offering a Bowl of Fruit to the Infant Jesus (drawing); Isabella d’Este(drawing)
Parma (NG): Female Head
St Petersburg (Hermitage): Virgin and Child (Litta Madonna); Benois Madonna
Turin (Royal Library): Study for the Angel for ‘The Virgin of the Rocks’ (drawing)
Vatican (Pinacoteca Vaticana): St Jerome(1480s, tempera and oil/wood); Urbanis Codex
Washington, DC (NGA): Ginevra de’ Benci (c. 1474-1478, oil/panel, two-sided portrait)
Windsor (Windsor Castle, Royal Collection): Study for St James the Elder; notebooks

Auction Records

Paris, 1742: St Jerome, FRF 1,900
London, 1773: Christ and the Virgin with St Joseph, FRF 7,075
London, 1801: Laughing Infant, FRF 34,120
London, 1811: Female Portrait, FRF 78,700
Paris, June 1825: Leda and the Twins Castor and Helen, Pollux and Clytemnestra, FRF 175,000
Paris, 1850: La Colombine (Mistress of Francis I), FRF 81,200; Various Saints: Study for ‘The Last Supper’ (red and black chalk) FRF 16,600
Paris, 1865: Virgin Stooping towards Her Son, FRF 83,500
Paris, 1875: Initial Study for ‘The Adoration of the Magi’ (pen drawing) FRF 12,900; Study for ‘st Anne’ (black chalk, Indian ink, and wash) FRF 13,000
London, 1881: Virgin of the Rocks, FRF 225,000
London, 1888: Virgin in Low Relief, FRF 63,000
Paris, 1900: Draperies (study), FRF 12,500
Paris, 26-27 May 1919: Head of Old Man (silverpoint drawing heightened with white) FRF 6,000
London, 22 May 1925: Infant Jesus and Saint with a Lamb, GBP 1,890
London, 29 June 1926: Hermina: Emblem of Purety (pen) GBP 800; Study Folio (pen) GBP 760
London, 15 July 1927: Virgin with Flowers, GBP 2,100; Head of Leda, GBP 1,785
Paris, 25 Feb 1929: Profile Study of Old Man (pen) FRF 15,400
London, 10-14 July 1936: Wild Horse (pen) GBP 4,305
London, 23 May 1951: Head of the Virgin (charcoal, heightened with colour, study for the painting in the Louvre of The Virgin and St Anne) GBP 8,000
London, 26 March 1963: Head of an Old Man (caricature) (ink drawing with bistre wash) GNS 44,000
London, 21 May 1963: Virgin and Child with a Dog (pen drawing and wash) GBP 19,000
Paris, 12 June 1973: Horse (patinated bronze) FRF 160,000
New York, 17 Nov 1986: Three Child Studies and (recto) Three Lines of TextStudies: Child, Head of Old Man, and Machine with (verso) Several Lines of Text (black chalk, pen, and brown ink, 8 × 5½ ins/20.3 × 13.8 cm) USD 3,300,000
Monaco, 1 Dec 1989: Draperies with Kneeling Figure Facing Left (brush and brown-grey wash, heightened with white gouache, 11¼ × 7¼ ins/28.8 × 18.1 cm) FRF 35,520,000; Draperies: Study with Figure Standing and Facing Right(brush and brown-grey wash, heightened with white gouache on canvas prepared with grey gouache, 11 × 7¼ ins/28.2 × 18.1 cm) FRF 31,080,000
London, 10 July 2001: Horse and Rider (silverpoint, 5 × 3 ins/12 × 8 cm) GBP 7,400,000

Bibliography

Bode, Wilhem von: Studien über Leonardo da Vinci, G. Grote, Berlin, 1921.
Sirén, Osvald: Leonardo da Vinci, G. Van Oest, Paris, 1928.
Suida, Wilhem: Leonardo und sein Kreis, F. Bruckmann, Munich, 1929.
Verga, Ettore: Bibliografia Vinciana 1493-1930, Zanichelli, Bologna, 1930.
Richter, Jean Paul: The Literary Works of Leonardo da Vinci, Oxford University Press, London and New York, 1939.
Goldschieder, Ludwig: Leonardo da Vinci, Phaidon, London: Oxford University Press, New York, 1943.
Popham, Arthur Ewart: The Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci, Reynal and Hitchcock, New York, 1945 (2nd ed., Jonathan Cape, London, 1946).
Heydenreich, Heinrich Ludwig: Leonardo da Vinci, 2 vols., Holbein-Verlag, Basel, 1954.
Freud, Sigmund: Leonardo da Vinci: A Memory of His Childhood, Routledge, London, 1957 (reprinted2006).
Chastel, André (ed.)/Callmann, Ellen (trans.): The Genius of Leonardo da Vinci: Leonardo da Vinci on Art and the Artist, Orion Press, New York, 1961.
Huard, Pierre/Grmek, Mirko Dražen: Léonard de Vinci. Dessins scientifiques et techniques, R. Dacosta, Paris, 1962.
Pedretti, Carlo: A Chronology of Leonardo da Vinci’s Architectural Studies after 1500, E. Droz, Geneva,1962.
Gombrich, Ernst Hans: ‘Leonardo’s Methods of Working Out Compositions’, in Norm and Form: Studies in the Art of the Renaissance, Phaidon, London, 1966.
Clark, Kenneth: The Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen at Windsor Castle, Phaidon, London, 1968–1969.
Panofsky, Erwin: The Codex Huygens and Leonardo da Vinci’s Art Theory, Greenwood, Westport (CT),1971.
Pedretti, Carlo: Leonardo da Vinci: A Study in Chronology and Style, Thames and Hudson, London, 1973.
Kemp, Martin: Leonardo da Vinci: The Marvellous Works of Nature and Man, Dent, London, 1981 (2nd rev. ed. 1988).
Calvi, Gerolamo: I Manoscritti di Leonardo da Vinci: dal punto di vista cronologica, storico e biografico,Bramante Editrice, Busto Arsizio, 1982.
Clark, Kenneth/Kemp, Martin: Leonardo da Vinci: An Account of His Development as an Artist,Harmondsworth, Middlesex; Viking, New York, 1988 (new rev. ed.).
Batkin, Leonid M.: Leonardo da Vinci, Laterza, Rome, 1988.
Viatte, Françoisee/Pedretti, Carlo/Chastel, André: Leonardo da Vinci: les études de draperies, exhibition catalogue, Réunion des Musées Nationaux, Paris, 1989.
Maiorino, Giancarlo: Leonardo da Vinci: The Daedalian Mythmaker, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, 1992.
Turner, Richard: Inventing Leonardo, Alfred A. Kopf, New York, 1993.
Frère, Jean Claude: Léonard de Vinci, Du Terrail, Paris, 1994.
Cole Ahl, Diane (ed.): Leonardo da Vinci’s Sforza Monument Horse: The Art and the Engineering, Lehigh University Press, Bethlehem (PA), Associated University Presses, Cranbury (NJ) and London, 1995.
Letze, Otto/Buchsteiner, Thomas/Guttmann, Nathalie: Leonardo da Vinci: Scientist, Inventor, Artist, exhibition catalogue, Institut für Kulturaustausch, Tübingen; G. Hatje, Ostfildern-Ruit, 1997.
Arasse, Daniel: Leonardo da Vinci: The Rhythm of the World, Konecky and Konecky, New York, 1998(French ed., Hazan, Paris, 1997).
Zöllner, Frank: La ‘Battaglia di Anghiari’ di Leonardo da Vinci fra mitologia e politica, Giunti, Florence,1998.
Zwijnenberg, Ribert: The Writings and Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci: Order and Chaos in Early Modern Thought, Cambridge University Press, New York, 1999.
Chastel, André: Leonardo da Vinci. Studi e ricerche 1952-1990, Phaidon, London, 1999.
Villata, Edoardo/Marani, Pietro C.: Leonardo da Vinci: i documenti e le testimonianze contemporanee,Castallo Sforzesco, Milan, 1999.
Farago, Claire: Leonardo da Vinci: Selected Scholarship, 5 vols, Garland, New York, 1999.
Brown, David Alan: Leonardo da Vinci: Origins of a Genius, Yale University Press, New Haven (CT), 1998.
Desmond, Michael/Pedretti, Carlo: Leonardo da Vinci: The Codex Leicester, Notebook of a Genius, exhibition catalogue, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney; Powerhouse Publishing, Haymarket (Australia),2000.
Nuland, Sherwin: Leonardo da Vinci, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 2000.
Léonard de Vinci: l’inventeur, exhibition catalogue, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Martigny, 2002.
Goffen, Rona: Renaissance Rivals: Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, Titian, Yale University Press, New Haven (CT), 2002.
Bambach, Carmen C. (ed.), and others: Leonardo da Vinci, Master Draftsman, exhibition catalogue,Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2003.
Zöllner, Frank/Nathan, Johannes: Leonardo da Vinci, 1452–1519: The Complete Paintings and Drawings, catalogue raisonné, Taschen, Cologne and London, 2003.
Kemp, Martin: Leonardo, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2004.
Kemp, Martin: Leonardo da Vinci: Experience, Experiment and Design, exhibition catalogue, Princeton University Press, Princeton (NJ), 2006.
Bernardoni, Andrea: Leonardo e il monumento equestre a Francesco Sforza: Storia di un’opera mai realizzata, Giunti, Florence, 2007.
Farago, Claire (ed.): Re-reading Leonardo: The Treatise on Painting across Europe, 1550–1900, Ashgate, Burlington (VT) and Farnham (England), 2009.
Syson, Luke, and others: Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan, exhibition catalogue, National Gallery, London, 2011.

Oxford Art Online offers access to the most authoritative, inclusive, and easily searchable online art resources available today. Through a single, elegant gateway users can access — and simultaneously cross-search — an expanding range of Oxford’s acclaimed art reference works: Grove Art Online, the Benezit Dictionary of Artists, the Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, The Oxford Companion to Western Art, and The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms, as well as many specially commissioned articles and bibliographies available exclusively online.

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17. 25 recent jazz albums you really ought to hear

By Ted Gioia


Jazz Appreciation Month gives us an opportunity to celebrate musical milestones of the past. But it also ought to serve as a reminder that jazz is a vibrant art form in the current day. Here are 25 recordings released during the last few months that are well worth hearing.

Ambrose Akinmusire1. Ambrose Akinmusire – The Imagined Savior Is Far Easier To Paint
Akinmusire is one of the most talented young trumpeters on the jazz scene. This release also represents a ‘return to its roots’ for the Blue Note label, which has increasingly strayed from mainstream jazz in recent years, but shows here that it hasn’t forgotten its heritage.

2. Greg Amirault – East of the Sun
Many of the most interesting new jazz albums are self-produced or issued by small indie labels. Montreal guitarist Amirault’s new CD is a case in point. He is hardly a household name in the jazz world, but this is one of the best guitar albums released in recent months.

3. The Bad Plus – The Rite of Spring
Stravinsky has been inspiring jazz artists for decades, but this ranks among the most creative reinterpretations of his work that I’ve heard.

4. Jeff Ballard – Time’s Tales
Check out the funky 9/4 groove that opens this leader date for drummer Jeff Ballard—joined byguitarist Lionel Loueke and saxophonist Miguel Zenon.

5. Joe Beck5. Joe Beck – Get Me
Guitarist Joe Beck died in 2008, but this posthumous release (coming out in a few days) is likely to reignite interest in a very talented and underrated artist.

6. George Cables – Icons and Influences
I’ve been a fan of Cables’ piano work since I was a teenager. He has been in poor health in recent years, but this new albums finds him playing at top form.

7. Regina Carter – Southern Comfort
Carter combines jazz with traditional Southern music on her latest release. Even listeners who don’t think they like jazz might find themselves enjoying this appealing album.

8. Matt Criscuolo – Blippity Blat
This is another self-produced album that merits close listening. Criscuolo is formidable saxophonist with a sweet tone and supple phrasing.

9. Karl Denson's Tiny Universe9. Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe – New Ammo
With this high-octane funk-oriented release, Denson proves that jazz can still work as dance music. This album might make a good entry point into jazz for rock fans who want to broaden their tastes and expand their ears.

10. Nir Felder – Golden Age
The recently revived OKeh label is releasing a number of outstanding jazz albums, but this CD from up-and-coming guitarist Nir Felder may be its most ambitious project of 2014, pushing beyond conventional boundaries of jazz and popular music.

11. Craig Handy – Craig Handy & 2nd Line Smith
Handy mixes elements of New Orleans party music and Hammond organ soul jazz in a very exciting hybrid. In a fair and hip world, this album (and the Denson release mentioned above) would be generating lots of radio airplay.

12. Vijay Iyer – Mutations
Iyer’s debut album with the ECM label is one of his best to date, revealing his maturity not just as a jazz player but also as a composer of jazz-oriented chamber music.

13. Christian Jacob13. Christian Jacob – Beautiful Jazz
Here’s another smart self-produced jazz album that you could easily miss. Pianist Jacob is a master at updating and reharmonizing the traditional jazz repertoire.

14. Erik Jekabson – Live at the Hillside Club
Jekabson is one of the most promising young trumpeters on the West Coast, and continues to impress with this new album.

15. John Lurie – The Invention of Animals
John Lurie has never gotten the respect he deserves for his jazz work with the Lounge Lizards. He subsequently abandoned music to focus on painting, but these rediscovered tracks testify to his brilliance as a jazz improviser.

16. Pete McGuinness Jazz Orchestra – Strength in Numbers
I have heard several outstanding jazz big band albums this year, but this one is the best of breed.

17. The North17. The North – Slow Down (This Isn’t the Mainland)
Fans of mid-period Keith Jarrett and E.S.T. will enjoy this trio album. This band is still a well-kept secret in the jazz world, but their music has clear crossover potential.

18. Danilo Pérez – Panama 500
Pérez has long ranked among the leading Latin jazz artists. Here he draws on the Panamanian music tradition for a theme album commemorating the 500th anniversary of Balboa crossing the Isthmus of Panama.

19. Matthew Shipp – Root of Things
Pianist Shipp possesses an expansive vision of jazz that, over the years, has encompassed everything from hip-hop to electronica. In his latest album, he returns to the acoustic trio format, where he is joined by bassist Michael Bisio and drummer Whit Dickey.

20. Revolutionary Snake Ensemble – Live Snakes
This Boston-based band is a throwback to the earliest roots of jazz, when hornplayers often performed in parades and brass bands entertained at social gatherings.

21. (718) – Sputnik
The group’s name comes from its phone area code, and the album title honors a 1950s spacecraft. But the music here is rock-oriented funk jazz in the spirit of the best 1970s fusion bands.

22. Helen Sung – Anthem for a New Day
I’ve been following Sung’s career with interest for a number of years, but this is her best album to date.

23. Daniel Szabo23. Daniel Szabo – A Song From There
Daniel Szabo is one of the most impressive young pianists on the scene today, but even in jazz circles most won’t recognize his name. I suspect they will soon. I highly recommend his new album.

24. Norma Winstone – Dance Without Answer
Norma Winstone has been a major force on the British jazz scene since the 1960s. At an age when many jazz singers start showing wear and tear in their voices, Winstone is recording some of her finest work.

25. John Zorn – Psychomagia
It’s easy to take John Zorn for granted. He records prolifically, and puts very little effort into marketing and promoting his projects. But this 2014 release deserves your attention.

Ted Gioia is a musician, author, and leading jazz critic and expert on American music. The first edition of his The History of Jazz was selected as one of the twenty best books of the year in The Washington Post, and was chosen as a notable book of the year in The New York Times. He is also the author of The Jazz Standards, Delta Blues, West Coast Jazz, Work Songs and The Birth (and Death) of the Cool.

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18. Passover in Jewish Eastern Europe

By Glenn Dynner


Today, observant Jews the world over are selling off their leavened foodstuffs (chametz) in preparation for the Passover holiday, which begins with a seder this evening and is followed by eight days of eating matzah, macaroons, and other unleavened products.

But in Eastern Europe, where the vast majority of American Jews have roots, the sale of leavened products not only used to be more widespread, it was more complicated. Many East European Jews—almost 40%—made their living selling beer, wine, and rye-based vodka in taverns leased from the Polish nobility. Passover was a forced holiday for them.

Henryk Rodakowski, “Karczmarz Jasio,” z cyklu Album Pałahickie, 1867, akwarela na papierze, 32 x 23 cm.

Henryk Rodakowski, “Karczmarz Jasio,” z cyklu Album Pałahickie, 1867, akwarela na papierze, 32 x 23 cm.

During the eight days of Passover, Jewish tavernkeepers had to “sell” all of their leavened products to non-Jewish neighbors. Rabbis drew up contracts for the fictitious sales similar to those utilized today, a loophole meant to prevent economic ruin.

Problems emerged in the early nineteenth century, when the government attempted to drive Jews out of rural tavernkeeping (ostensibly to protect the peasants from drunkenness and ruin) by imposing heavy concession fees on them. The Hasidic master Moses Eliyakim Beriyah of Kozienice lamented that “several of the [Jewish] villagers were forced to apostatize because of their need to make a living.”

The main issue for the numerous traveling Jewish merchants, who relied on Jewish-run taverns for hospitality, was not that those proprietors had converted to Christianity. It was that, according to Jewish law, the proprietors were technically still Jewish. Yet who could be sure that they were “selling off” their leaven products to gentiles during the intermediate days of Passover? This cast doubt on the ritual fitness of everything they sold. A governmental investigation, preserved in Polish archival records, confirms that most Jewish customers refused to purchase liquor from apostate tavernkeepers on these grounds.

Thus, conversion to Christianity did not turn out to be much of a solution for Jewish tavernkeepers struggling under the weight of discriminatory legislation. Instead, many began to evade concession fees by going underground—permanently installing Christians as “fronts” for their taverns. They did this with the full knowledge and participation of their Christian neighbors, a beautiful reflection of Jewish-Christian coexistence at the local level during the rise of absolutism!

Glenn Dynner is Professor of Jewish Studies at Sarah Lawrence College and the author of Yankel’s Tavern: Jews, Liquor, and Life in the Kingdom of Poland. He has been a Fellow at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, a member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University, and is currently the NEH Senior Scholar at the Center for Jewish History in New York.

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19. Parent practices: change to develop successful, motivated readers

Oxford University Press is a proud sponsor of the 2014 World Literacy Summit, taking place this April. The Summit will provide a central platform for champions of literacy from around the globe to come together and exchange points of view, knowledge, and ideas. We asked literacy experts Jamie Zibulsky and Anne E. Cunningham to discuss the importance of literacy on this occasion.

By Jamie Zibulsky and Anne E. Cunningham


Being literate involves much more than the ability to sound out the words on a page, but acquiring that skill requires years of development and exposure to the world of words. Once children possess the ability to sound out words, read fluently, and comprehend the words on a page, they have limitless opportunities to learn about new concepts, places, and people. To say that becoming a reader gives one the power to change is an understatement. In fact, attempting to detail the many ways that reading can foster personal growth and development without writing an entire book on the topic is truly challenging!

Children’s capacities to build the many skills required to access text are, to a large degree, determined by their environments. Parents and teachers play a critical role in introducing children to the sounds of words, the print on a page, the ideas and concepts that provide the background for comprehension, and the structure of stories. For these reasons, if we want to ensure that all children have the opportunity to become successful, motivated readers, we need to think about the power the adults in their lives have to change children’s literacy trajectories.

The language and literacy experiences of young children are largely social in nature, and both the environment and the adults that care for them initially guide children’s development. In fact, psychologists point out that language development occurs first as a social act between people and then later as an individual act, as we gradually internalize the directions, strategies, and advice of more skilled others by verbalizing them to ourselves. Similarly, to make sense of the written symbols used to convey any language, children need guidance from the adults in their lives. Talking and reading together with children is a powerful way to help them gain entry to the world of words, and doing so most effectively may require parents to change their current practices.

The kids reading together. photo by Valerie Everett. CC BY-SA 2.0 via valeriebb Flickr.

The kids reading together. Photo by Valerie Everett. CC BY-SA 2.0 via valeriebb Flickr.

Here are some powerful tips that families can use to make shared reading time supportive and effective for young children learning a variety of languages:

  • Let your child take the lead during reading time. We often think of reading together as a time when a parent reads a story to a child straight through, page by page. Instead, let your child take more of an active role by using the pictures to narrate the story, answering your questions about aspects of the book, or sounding out some words independently. This may feel like you and your child are swapping your regular reading roles. And that’s exactly what we want you to do. Even before children are able to read independently, they are ready to be active participants in book reading experiences. Giving them these opportunities helps children build stronger language skills, and provides some insight into their skills and interests.
  • Give your child hints, rather than providing the answer, when he is struggling. This support helps the child solve the problem in a way that allows him to feel competent and to learn from the situation, but also lets the adult to guide the child through the problem-solving process. In addition, it gives him the chance to successfully experience tasks he would not have been able to tackle alone, or that would otherwise make him become frustrated and give up.
  • Identify your child’s strengths, and those reading skills he or she already possesses. Providing experiences that build on the skills your child already possesses will allow her to enhance her learning capacities. If you think about almost any activity you expect your child to complete, you can probably think back to a time when you completed that activity for her. Gradually, over time, she took more responsibility and was able to do more of the task independently. This is not only true for activities like getting dressed and tying shoes, but also for language and literacy tasks, as well as tasks that require memory and concentration.
  • Label the behavior that you want your child to display, and praise it specifically.  Praise and encouragement from parents is a powerful motivational tool. Because shared reading is such a social activity, much of your child’s initial pleasure in reading together may come not primarily from the stories that he hears, but from the joy of sitting in your lap and spending time together. Your child values the time you spend together and will, over time, begin to value the books in front of him and the strategies needed to make sense of them. You can help him build his reading motivation by praising specific skills he displays, like listening carefully, sounding out words, and making great predictions.


Each of these tips helps set the stage for a successful shared reading experience, but may require change on the part of parents to help foster a powerful and engaged reader. These changes, though, help empower children to identify themselves as readers from the time they are young. And this strong foundation prepares them for so many challenges they will face in the future, so doing everything one can to raise a successful, motivated reader is one of the best gifts a parent can give any child.

Anne E. Cunningham, Ph.D. and Jamie Zibulsky, Ph.D. are the authors of Book Smart: How to Develop and Support Successful, Motivated Readers. Anne Cunningham is Professor of Cognition and Development at University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Education and Jamie Zibulsky is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Learn more at Book Smart Family.

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20. The quest for ‘real’ protection for indigenous intangible property rights

By Keri Johnston and Marion Heathcote


Intellectual property rights (IPRs) and the regimes of protection and enforcement surrounding them have often been the subject of debate, a debate fuelled in the past year by the increased emphasis on free-trade negotiations and multi-lateral treaties including the now-rejected Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and its Goliath cousin, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). The significant media coverage afforded to these treaties, however, risks thrusting certain perspectives of IPR protection and enforcement into the spotlight, while eclipsing alternative, but equally crucial voices that are perhaps in greater need of legitimate dialogue to safeguard their own collection of intangible rights. Caught in the vortex of inadequate recognition and ineffective protection, are the communal intellectual property rights of indigenous communities, centred on traditional knowledge (TK), traditional cultural expressions (TCE), expressions of folklore (EoF), and genetic resources (GR).

The fundamental incompatibility between current intellectual property rights regimes and the rights of indigenous peoples stems largely from the lack of understanding of the driving forces that have led to the development of traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions, expressions of folklore, and genetic resources – that of the protection of whole indigenous cultures through the preservation of the traditional knowledge acquired by these communities as a whole.

The issues are complex. Professor James Anaya’s 2014 keynote speech at the 26th Session of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore at WIPO highlighted the differences governing the intangible rights of indigenous peoples generally, and why these world views have so often been left out of the current mainframe of intellectual property rights. Whereas, the majority view of IPRs tends to focus on the rights of the individual and their protection as such, indigenous cultures are inherently built over centuries and across generations on communal understandings and organic exchanges of knowledge, making it practically impossible to ascribe the ownership of a certain set of IPRs to one or a few individuals.

Apache Dancers at the Exhibit 'Dignity - Tribes in Transition'. United States Mission Geneva Photo: Eric Bridiers. CC-BY-ND-2.0 via US Mission Geneva Flickr.

Apache Dancers at the exhibit ‘Dignity – Tribes in Transition’. United States Mission Geneva Photo: Eric Bridiers. CC-BY-ND-2.0 via US Mission Geneva Flickr.

As Professor Anaya articulates and the other contemplate, the similarities between the inadequacies of the protection of tangible rights of indigenous peoples (e.g. indigenous land rights) and that of their intangible rights protection (including intellectual property rights) tend to stem from a common source – the failure to acknowledge the “inherent logic of indigenous peoples’ world views”.

Perhaps the solutions lie not just in finding ways to include indigenous intellectual property rights in current IPR regimes, but through the facilitation of an entire paradigm shift to capture the nuances of these issues both effectively and precisely. How, for instance, can indigenous IPRs be valued commercially, and how may adequate compensation models be developed in exchange for the commercial use of these rights? A key to increasing the recognition of the inherent value of indigenous IPRs within their traditional cultural settings may lie in developing methods to properly value this worth in tangible terms. What seems necessary is a model to adequately measure the significance of indigenous IPRs, starting at the source (the indigenous community), and finding ways of translating this value into benefit systems that can be returned to the communities from which the IPRs were sourced. Hence recognition is attributed to the crucial part these IPRs play within the cultures from which they are derived.

The strength of intellectual property law lies in its ability to meet the demands of a frenetically changing world, thus affording it vast amounts of power in shaping the law of the future; but this brings with it the challenge – can that power be harnessed to adequately protect rights of the past? Even if the answer is in the affirmative, it does not necessarily follow that the purpose of intellectual property rights protection should be to reduce IPRs to protectable commodities solely for the purpose of commercial exploitation. Protection of IPRs might be secured for any number of reasons, including the recognition of the right for ownership of those rights to be retained within the community. IPRs thus have the capacity to function both as shields and swords. Such weaponry however brings with it obligations: “With great power, comes great responsibility.”

Keri Johnston and Marion Heathcote are the guest editors of the Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice special issue on “The Quest for ‘Real’ Protection for Indigenous Intangible Property Rights”. The authors would like to thank Mekhala Chaubal, student-at-law, for her assistance. It is reassuring to know that a new generation of lawyers is willing and able. Keri AF Johnston is managing partner of Johnston Law in Toronto and Marion Heathcote is a partner with Davies Collison Cave in Sydney.

The Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice (JIPLP) is a peer-reviewed journal dedicated to intellectual property law and practice. Published monthly, coverage includes the full range of substantive IP topics, practice-related matters such as litigation, enforcement, drafting and transactions, plus relevant aspects of related subjects such as competition and world trade law.

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21. The Defamation Act 2013: reflections and reforms

How can a society balance both the freedom of expression, including the freedom of the press, with the individual’s right to reputation? Defamation law seeks to address precisely this delicate equation. Especially in the age of the internet, where it is possible to publish immediately and anonymously, these concerns have become even more pressing and complex. The Defamation Act 2013 has introduced some of the most important changes to this area in recent times, including the defence for honest opinion, new internet-specific reforms protecting internet publishers, and attempts to curb an industry of “libel tourism” in the U.K.

Dr Matthew Collins SC introduces the Defamation Act 2013, and discusses the most important reforms and their subsequent implications.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Dr Matthew Collins SC is a barrister based in Melbourne, Australia. He is a Senior Fellow at the University of Melbourne, a door tenant at One Brick Court chambers in London, and the author of Collins On Defamation.

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22. An interview with Brian Hughes, digital strategist

Library Week banner

This week is National Library Week in the United States. Oxford University Press is celebrating the contributions of these institutions to communities around the world in a variety of ways, including granting free access to online products in the United States and Canada. To better understand the work that goes into these reference works, we sat down with Senior Marketing Manager Brian Hughes to discuss the challenges and opportunities of the digital space; how Oxford strives to provide knowledge to students, scholars, and researchers; and the hidden considerations that must be made.

What do you do here at Oxford University Press?

I’ve been with OUP for 14 years now and have seen many of our products develop from ideas on paper to the dynamic research and teaching tools they are today. After working in academic marketing for well over a decade, I moved to the global online team and I’m extremely lucky that my current role is diverse and ever-changing. That’s the exciting part of working with digital products.

Much of my time does involve working with the User Experience Platform Management (UXPM) Group, which looks at the functionality and design enhancements for our digital products. I’m also very involved in the Future Business Models Group, which looks at how we can better serve our customers in the near and distant future. The group discusses options and scopes out pilots that will help the business make evidence-based decisions about viable new sales models. For example, later this year we’ll be piloting a Pay-Per-View option on some of our products. In this case we are partnering with a third party but we will have reliable data that will aid us in determining whether building the option ourselves would be feasible. I’m also working with a group that’s looking to make our presence at academic conferences more efficient and further integrate our digital products in the day-to-day discipline marketing. It’s rewarding to work in so many areas and see how the digital program impacts them in a positive way.

What’s the dynamic of the product marketing team?

The biggest difference from my previous positions in academic marketing is that my daily interactions are strictly with those within OUP. Each of the groups and teams that I work with now are made up of an impressive cross-section of the organization: sales, market research, technology, finance, and design. Whether it’s deciding on a site change to Oxford Bibliographies or testing a new price for Grove Art, there’s a team of people helping to ensure the decision is the right one for the Press, both now and in the future.

How do you choose which enhancements to make or prioritize?

There’s a small assessment group that reviews all enhancement requests that come from different parts of the business. First and foremost, we think about how the enhancement is going to help the user. We ask ourselves a lot of questions:

  • Will this change improve the user journey?
  • How will it impact users coming from other Oxford digital products?
  • Are users expecting this functionality because it’s common on competitors’ products?


Of course, we always have to look at the cost. Generally the business case is strong and the benefits will outweigh the cost and the enhancement is approved. But when that’s not the case, it’s important that we in the assessment group provide context for the rejection and provide feedback. Just saying no isn’t fair. But in the end, if it’s good for the user and is cost effective, the change does get approved. Implementation isn’t always immediate. We have to design, test, and schedule the enhancement, which can take a few months, so it’s also important to explain that timeline to my colleagues throughout the business.

What makes excellent online reference from a user experience or web perspective?

Users expect digital products to be intuitive, information to be served up quickly, and finally, information to be as relevant as possible. It’s important once a user engages with any of our digital products that they are able stay within the OUP ecosystem. They came to us as a trusted resource, so we try to create connections between our online products — giving them all the information they need. We have a very short window in which to capture the users’ attention before they move on in their research. We are constantly working to provide them with the best online experience possible. It sounds like a simple task, but it takes a lot of work and a lot of people to make it happen.

What kinds of new tools or technologies would you love to explore further?

One very exciting tool we’re looking to implement within the next six months is an A/B testing system. This will be a very important piece of business intelligence that we’ll be able to use when it comes to enhancements and product development. Currently, we’re unable to test in a live environment, and being able to serve up attributes like availability markers or style changes to different groups will help us make the right decision for our users. I think this is going to be one of the most exciting and important pieces of UX in the next year for the digital program.

What should new users of Oxford’s online resources should know?

Oxford digital products are extremely dynamic. Not just when it comes to functionality or technology, but also content. Our content is being updated on a regular basis; we don’t just replicate the print in an online environment. New types of content are also being added, for instance, we’re adding timelines and commentary to supplement what has appeared in print.

Is there anything loyal users would be surprised to learn about our online resources?

One thing I was surprised to learn is just how much goes on “behind the scenes” to make our digital products better for users. Helping students and researchers along their digital journeys involves a lot more than site design. The team of people working to improve search results, linking, and deliver the best and most relevant content to our users. There’s a lot more than data feeds and style sheets when it comes to digital products.

Professionally speaking, I come from a print background and until I started in my new role, I had no idea how much work and effort went into any one of our products. In 2003, when Oxford Scholarship Online launched, there was nothing like it in the market. Someone once commented that “Oxford has the ability to see around the corner” when it comes to digital publishing. I think that’s pretty telling when it comes to our development and commitment to academic research.

Brian Hughes is Senior Marketing Manager for Oxford University Press’s online program, and oversees advancements on over 40 online products. He has worked at Oxford for 14 years.

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23. A bookish slideshow

From ancient times to the creation of eBooks, books have a long and vast history that spans the globe. Although a book may only seem like a collection of pages with words, they are also an art form that have survived for centuries. In honor of National Library Week, we couldn’t think of a more fitting book to share than The Book: A Global History. The slideshow below highlights the fascinating evolution of the book.



In celebration of National Library Week we’re giving away 10 copies of The Book: A Global History, edited by Michael F. Suarez, S.J. and H.R. Woudhuysen. Learn more and enter for a chance to win.

Michael F. Suarez, S.J. and H. R. Woudhuysen are the authors of The Book: A Global History. Michael F. Suarez S.J. is Professor and Director of the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia. H. R. Woudhuysen is Rector of Lincoln College, Oxford.

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24. Shakespeare’s 450th birthday quiz

480px-Shakespeare_Droeshout_1623William Shakespeare was born 450 years ago this month, in April 1564, and to celebrate Oxford Scholarly Editions Online is testing your knowledge on Shakespeare quotes. Do you know your sonnets from your speeches? Find out…

Your Score:  

Your Ranking:  

Need a clue or two? Then take a look at our Shakespeare birthday infographic!

Oxford Scholarly Editions Online (OSEO) is a major publishing initiative from Oxford University Press, providing an interlinked collection of authoritative Oxford editions of major works from the humanities, including the complete Oxford Shakespeare series.

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Image credit: The Droeshout portrait of William Shakespeare. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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25. Jus post bellum and the ethics of peace

By Carsten Stahn, Jennifer S. Easterday, and Jens Iverson


Whenever there is armed conflict, international lawyers inevitably discuss the legality of the use of armed force and the conduct of the warring parties. Less common is a comprehensive legal analysis, informed by ethics and policy concerns, of the transition from armed conflict to peace. The restoration of peace after conflict is often sidelined in post-conflict legal analysis. Interventions and peace operations seeking to build a just and sustainable peace frequently suffer from a misalignment between ‘means’ and ‘ends.’ There can be stark discrepancies between the immediate reaction to conflict and post-conflict engagement. It is true that concepts such as ‘humanitarian intervention,’ the ‘Responsibility to Protect,’ (R2P) or the ‘protection of civilians’ (POC) have been used to establish capacity and political will to respond to atrocity situations. But attention shifts quickly to other situations of crisis once a cease-fire or peace agreement has been reached. Some of the underlying premises of engagement, such as ideas of responsibility or the ethics of care, receive limited attention in the aftermath of crisis and during the lengthy process of peacebuilding.

An old idea that seeks to mitigate these dilemmas is the concept of jus post bellum. The basic idea emerged in classical writings (e.g., Alberico Gentili, Francisco Suarez, Immanuel Kant) and has its most traditional and systemic rooting in just war theory. In this context, it is part of a structural ‘framework’ to evaluate the morality of warfare, and in particular the ‘right way to end a war’, including ’post-war-justice’ (Michael Walzer, Brian Orend). Outside just war theory, jus post bellum is largely unexplored. The notion was used sporadically in different contexts over the past decade: peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction, transformative occupation, transitional justice, and the law of peace (lex pacificatoria) more generally. But the concept has lacked consistency; there are almost as many conceptions of jus post bellum as scholars, within and across disciplines.

A modern understanding of jus post bellum requires a fresh look at each of the core components of the classical concept, namely the meanings of ‘jus,’ ‘post,’ and ‘bellum.’ In traditional scholarship, jus post bellum has mostly been understood as ‘justice after war’. However, in modern scholarship, the concept of ‘jus’ is debated. Does it mean ‘law,’ ‘justice,’ or a complicated mix of the two? The concept of time and what it means to be ‘post’ conflict, and even that of ‘war’ itself, with blurred distinctions between modern armed conflicts, are now more and more contested.

Functions of jus post bellum

Classical scholarship tied jus post bellum to the vindication of ‘rights’ and ‘duties,’ military victory, and the distinction between ‘victors’ and ‘vanquished’. Today, such conceptions require re-consideration. The experience of the two World Wars has confirmed the Kantian postulate that peace remains fragile if it contains tacitly reserved matter for a future war’ (Perpetual Peace). But in modern conflicts (e.g. Afghanistan, Iraq), the entire concept of ‘victory’ has become open to challenge.

Insights from contemporary conflict research indicate that it is not enough to deal with the formal ending of conflict or the ‘pacification’ of violence. Distinctions between ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ become muddied, making it more difficult to mitigate the risk of a return to violence. Structural approaches to peacebuilding require engagement with social injustices, the ‘violence of peace,’ the establishment of ‘trust’ in norms and institutions and other factors that make a society more  ‘resilient’ against conflict.

This makes it necessary to re-think the concept of ‘jus’ beyond its traditional focus on rights and post-war justice (i.e. punishment, responsibility). Past decades have witnessed a rapid rise of the ‘liberal justice model’ and norms and instruments of criminal justice. Core challenges of modern transitions lie therefore not so much in the definition of proper accountability mechanisms, but rather in their coordination with other rationales and priorities (i.e. protection of socio-economic rights) and their perception as elements of ‘just peace.’ This creates space for a modern function of jus post bellum. A modern jus post bellum may pursue different rationales beyond rights vindication or punishment:

(i) it may have a certain preventive function, by requiring actors to look into the consequences of action before, rather than ‘in’ and ‘after’ intervention.
(ii) it may serve as a constraint on violence in armed conflict; and
(iii) it may facilitate a succession to peace, rather than a mere ‘exit’ from conflict.

System, framework, or interpretative device?

The branding of jus post bellum as a modern concept comes with its own problems and politics. The very use of the label creates some risks (e.g. fears of abuse and instrumentalization) and concerns relating to the function and reach of law. But there is some space to ‘think outside the box.’ A modern jus post bellum does not necessarily have to be framed in the structure and form of established concepts, such as jus ad bellum or jus in bello. There is virtue in diversifying the foundations of jus post bellum.

First, Jus post bellum may be said to form a system of norms and principles applicable to transitions from conflict to peace. It provides, in particular, substantive norms and guidance for the organization of post-conflict peace. Some voices have even called for new codification, i.e. a fifth Geneva Convention. But more law and abstract regulation do not necessarily suffice to address tensions arising in the aftermath of conflict. There may a greater need for a better application of the existing law, and its adjustment to context, rather than the articulation of new norms and standards. Some promise may lie in the strengthening of informal mechanisms and flexible principles.

A second and more ‘modest’ conception of jus post bellum is its qualification as a ‘framework.’ This conception emphasizes the functionality of jus post bellum, such as its capacity to serve an instrument to evaluate action (e.g., legitimate ending of conflict) and to establish a public context for debate. Jus post bellum might be construed as an ‘ordering framework,’ or as a tool to coordinate the application of laws, solve conflicts of norms, and balance conflicting interests.

Thirdly, jus post bellum may constitute an interpretative device. The concept might inform a context-specific interpretation of certain normative concepts, such as ‘military necessity’ or the principle of proportionality. It might, for instance introduce a novel end in relation to the conduct of hostilities, namely the objective not to defeat the goal of sustainable peace through the conduct of warfare.

In moral philosophy, the idea of jus post bellum has been associated with the struggle for ‘justice’ and ‘just peace’ for centuries. It has been driven by ambitions to reconcile ideas of justice and punishment with moderation towards the vanquished. These dilemmas continue today. But underlying tensions have received increased attention in the legal arena since the 1990s. Many of the unexplored strengths and new opportunities lie in the broader role of the concept in relation to peacebuilding. It is here where the concept provides new prospects to rethink some of the fundamental elements of the table of contents and institutions of international law, not necessarily in the form of the ‘liberal’ peace idea, but in a novel, pluralistic way.

Carsten Stahn, Jennifer S. Easterday, and Jens Iverson are the editors of Jus Post Bellum: Mapping the Normative Foundations. Carsten Stahn is Professor of International Criminal Law and Global Justice and Programme Director of the Grotius Centre for International Studies, Universiteit Leiden. Jennifer S. Easterday is a Ph.D Researcher, Faculteit Rechtsgeleerdheid, Instituut voor Publiekrecht, Internationaal Publiekrecht, Universiteit Leiden. Jens Iverson is a Researcher for the ‘Jus Post Bellum’ project and an attorney specializing in public international law, Universiteit Leiden.

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