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Magic: A Very Short Introduction

Magic: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Owen Davies
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0199588023
Pages: 135
Year: 2012-01-26
A wide-ranging overview of how magic has been defined, understood and practiced over the millennia introduces it in today's world as a real force that helps people overcome misfortune, poverty and illness. By the author of Grimoires: A History of Magic Books. Original.
Witchcraft: A Very Short Introduction

Witchcraft: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Malcolm Gaskill
Publisher: OUP Oxford
ISBN: 0191613681
Pages: 168
Year: 2010-03-25
Witchcraft is a subject that fascinates us all, and everyone knows what a witch is - or do they? From childhood most of us develop a sense of the mysterious, malign person, usually an old woman. Historically, too, we recognize witch-hunting as a feature of pre-modern societies. But why do witches still feature so heavily in our cultures and consciousness? From Halloween to superstitions, and literary references such as Faust and even Harry Potter, witches still feature heavily in our society. In this Very Short Introduction Malcolm Gaskill challenges all of this, and argues that what we think we know is, in fact, wrong. Taking a historical perspective from the ancient world to contemporary paganism, Gaskill reveals how witchcraft has meant different things to different people and that in every age it has raised questions about the distinction between fantasy and reality, faith and proof. Telling stories, delving into court records, and challenging myths, Gaskill examines the witch-hunts of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and explores the reinvention of witchcraft - as history, religion, fiction, and metaphor. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Paganism: A Very Short Introduction

Paganism: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Owen Davies
Publisher: OUP Oxford
ISBN: 0191620017
Pages: 160
Year: 2011-05-26
'Paganism' is an evocative word that, even today, conjures up deep-seated emotions and prejudices. Until recently, it was primarily a derogatory term used by Christians to describe the non-Christian cultures confronted and vanquished by their Churches. For some it evokes images of sacrifice and barbaric behaviour, while for others it symbolises a peace-loving, nature-worshipping spiritual relationship with the earth. This Very Short Introduction explores the meaning of paganism - through a chronological overview of the attitudes towards its practices and beliefs - from the ancient world through to the present day. Owen Davies largely looks at paganism through the eyes of the Christian world, and how, over the centuries, notions and representations of its nature were shaped by religious conflict, power struggles, colonialism, and scholarship. Despite the expansion of Christianity and Islam, Pagan cultures continue to exist around the world, whilst in the West new formations of paganism constitute one of the fastest-growing religions. Focussing on paganism in Europe, but exploring the nature of paganism globally, Davies looks at how Europeans discovered new cultures through colonial expansion, missionary work, and anthropological study. Contemporary social paganism can be a liberating and social force, and the idea of a global Pagan theology is now on the religious map. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Bacteria: A Very Short Introduction

Bacteria: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Sebastian G.B. Amyes
Publisher: OUP Oxford
ISBN: 0199578761
Pages: 152
Year: 2013-05-30
In this Very Short Introduction, Sebastian Amyes explores the nature of bacteria. As a fundamental branch of life, they inhabit every part of the Earth's surface. Amyes examines their origin and evolution, bacteria in the environment, and bacteria and disease, to demonstrate the fundamental role they play in our existence.
Science and Religion: A Very Short Introduction

Science and Religion: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Thomas Dixon
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0199295514
Pages: 150
Year: 2008-07-24
The debate between science and religion is never out of the news: emotions run high, fuelled by polemical bestsellers like iThe God Delusion/i and, at the other end of the spectrum, high-profile campaigns to teach 'Intelligent Design' in schools. Yet there is much more to the debate than the clash of these extremes. As Thomas Dixon shows in this balanced and thought-provoking introduction, a whole range of views, subtle arguments, and fascinating perspectives can be taken on this complex and centuries-old subject. He explores not only the key philosophical questions that underlie the debate, but also highlights the social, political, and ethical contexts that have made 'science and religion' such a fraught and interesting topic in the modern world. Along the way, he examines landmark historical episodes such as the Galileo affair, Charles Darwin's own religious and scientific odyssey, the Scopes 'Monkey Trial' in Tennessee in 1925, and the Dover Area School Board case of 2005, and includes perspectives from non-Christian religions and examples from across the physical, biological, and social sciences.
Fossils: A Very Short Introduction

Fossils: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Keith Thomson
Publisher: OUP Oxford
ISBN: 0191578029
Pages: 160
Year: 2005-10-13
Fossils have been vital to our understanding of the formation of the earth and the origins of all life on it. However, their impact has not been limited to debates about geology and evolution: attempts to explain their existence has shaken religion at its very roots, and they have remained a subject of ceaseless fascination for people of all ages and backgrounds. In this delightful book, Keith Thomson provides a remarkably all-encompassing explanation of fossils as a phenomenon. How did Darwin use fossils to support his theory of evolution? What are 'living fossils'? What fossils will we leave behind for future generations to examine? Building on the scientific aspects, he places fossils in a very human context, highlighting their impact on philosophy and mythology, our concept of time, and today's popular culture. What quickly becomes obvious is that the discovery of fossils and the ways in which they have been interpreted over time makes for fascinating reading. From the black market to the Piltdown Man, and from mythological dragons to living dinosaurs, fossils hold a permanent place in the popular imagination. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Water: A Very Short Introduction

Water: A Very Short Introduction

Author: John Finney
Publisher: OUP Oxford
ISBN: 0191019054
Pages: 144
Year: 2015-08-27
Water dominates the surface of Earth and is vital to life on our planet. It is a remarkable liquid which shows anomalous behaviour. In this Very Short Introduction John Finney introduces the science of water, and explores how the structure of water molecules gives rise to its physical and chemical properties. Considering water in all three of its states as ice and steam as well as liquid, Finney explains the great importance of an understanding of its structure and behaviour to a range of fields including chemistry, astrophysics, and earth and environmental sciences. Finney describes the role of water in biology, and ends with a discussion of the outstanding controversies concerning water, and some of the 'magical' properties which have been claimed for it. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Christian Art

Christian Art

Author: Beth Williamson
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 019280328X
Pages: 132
Year: 2004-06-24
This work decodes the key themes, signs and symbols found in Christian art - the Eucharist, the Crucifixion, the Virgin Mary. It also explores the theological and historical background of Christian imagery, from the devotional works of the medieval and Renaissance periods, to the 21st century.
Branding: A Very Short Introduction

Branding: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Robert Jones
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0191066990
Pages: 144
Year: 2017-06-09
Branding is possibly the most powerful commercial and cultural force on the planet. Iconic names such as Coca-Cola, Nike, Manchester United, Harry Potter, and Google are known and recognized by millions of people worldwide. As the market economy spreads across the world, brands are becoming ever more prevalent. The Apple brand has been valued at $98 billion - more than the GDP of Slovakia. Every day, we're exposed to more than 3500 brand messages. And even though people are increasingly brand-aware and brand-sceptical, they are nevertheless seduced by brands. We may reject the whole brand system, but we still wouldn't be parted from our Apple Macs. Brands are impossible to escape. In this Very Short Introduction Robert Jones discusses the rising omnipresence of brands, and analyses how they work their magic. He considers the incredible potency of brands as a commercial, social, and cultural force, and looks at the many different kinds of brands that exist - from products, services, and artistic properties, to companies, charities, sports clubs, and political parties. Defining what we mean by the word 'brand', he explores both the positive and negative aspects of brands. Finally Jones considers the business of branding, and asks whether the idea of brands and branding is starting to decline, or whether it has a long future ahead. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Complexity

Complexity

Author: John H. Holland
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
ISBN: 0199662541
Pages: 95
Year: 2014
In this Very Short Introduction, John Holland presents an introduction to the science of complexity. Using examples from biology and economics, he shows how complexity science models the behaviour of complex systems.
Myth

Myth

Author: Robert Alan Segal
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
ISBN: 0198724705
Pages: 142
Year: 2015
This title introduces a wide array of approaches to understanding myth from varied disciplines. It uses the famous ancient myth of Adonis to analyse the ideas and individual approaches and theories of theorists such as Sigmund Freud, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Albert Camus, and Roland Barthes. This new edition considers the interactions of myth theory with cognitive science, the implications of the myth of Gaia, and the differences between story-telling and myth, as well as the future study of myth.
The Scientific Revolution: A Very Short Introduction

The Scientific Revolution: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Lawrence Principe
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0199567417
Pages: 148
Year: 2011-04-28
Lawrence M. Principe takes a fresh approach to the story of the scientific revolution, emphasising the historical context of the society and its world view at the time. From astronomy to alchemy and medicine to geology, he tells this fascinating story from the perspective of the historical characters involved.
Children's Literature: A Very Short Introduction

Children's Literature: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Kimberley Reynolds
Publisher: OUP Oxford
ISBN: 0191620122
Pages: 160
Year: 2011-10-06
Children's literature takes many forms - works adapted for children in antiquity, picture books and pop-ups - and now includes the latest online games and eBooks. This vast and amorphous subject is both intimately related to other areas of literary and cultural investigation but also has its own set of concerns, issues and challenges. From familiar authors including Beatrix Potter and Roald Dahl, classic books such as Pooh, Alice in Wonderland, and The Secret Garden, to modern works including Harry Potter and the Twilight series, thisVery Short Introduction provides an overview of the history of children's literature as it has developed in English, whilst at the same time introducing key debates, developments, and figures in the field. Raising questions about what shape the future of literature for children should take, and exploring the crossover with adult fiction, Reynolds shows that writing for children - whether on page or screen - has participated in shaping and directing ideas about culture, society and childhood. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Egyptian Myth: A Very Short Introduction

Egyptian Myth: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Geraldine Pinch
Publisher: OUP Oxford
ISBN: 0191577790
Pages: 160
Year: 2004-04-22
The complex world of Egyptian myth is clearly illuminated in this fascinating new approach to ancient Egypt. Geraldine Pinch explores the cultural and historical background behind a wide variety of sources and objects, from Cleopatra's Needle and Tutankhamun's golden statue, to a story on papyrus of the gods misbehaving. What did they mean, and how have they been interpreted? The reader is taken on an exciting journey through the distant past, and shown how myths of deities such as Isis and Osiris influenced contemporary culture and have become part of our cultural heritage. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Crystallography

Crystallography

Author: A. M. Glazer
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0198717598
Pages: 140
Year: 2016-03
Crystals have fascinated us for centuries with their beauty and symmetry, and have often been invested with magical powers. The use of X-ray diffraction, first pioneered in 1912 by father and son William and Lawrence Bragg, enabled us to probe the structure of molecules, and heralded the scientific study of crystals, leading to an understanding of their atomic arrangements at a fundamental level. The new discipline, called X-ray crystallography, has subsequently evolved into a formidable science that underpins many other scientific areas. Starting from the determination of the structures of very simple crystals, such as that of common salt, today it has become almost routine to determine the positions of tens of thousands of atoms in a crystal. In this Very Short Introduction Mike Glazer shows how the discoveries in crystallography have been applied to the creation of new and important materials, to drugs and pharmaceuticals and to our understanding of genetics, cell biology, proteins, and viruses. Tracing the history of crystallography, he analyses astonishing developments in new sources of X-rays, as well as of neutrons, and in electron microscopy, and considers the impact they have on the study of crystals today. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.