A new page? Libraries, austerity and the shifting boundaries of civil society

My journey to studying libraries was unexpected. For my doctorate I was exploring young people’s experiences of antisocial behaviour. Within the housing estate where my research was based, I was drawn to the public library, described locally as a hotspot for youth-related crime. It was a contested space in which young people’s behaviour was controlled – but it was also a place where young people choose to be. “It gives the young people a safe space to be” I was told by one librarian. “there are so few spaces where they can just be.

Anatomising the body: art, science and the humanities in modern China, 1851–1949

The discipline of anatomy, situated at the intersection of art, science and medicine, has been a longstanding and well researched topic in the historiography of western art, yet has been largely overlooked in scholarship on Chinese Art. Though a complex and advanced system, Chinese medicine is not predicated on anatomy, and the same goes for Chinese figure painting over the centuries. As a result, the critical role of anatomy in redefining the parameters and possibilities of artistic practice in modern China remains unacknowledged. 

The hatters' blues: a microglobal history of new world dyes in Early Modern Spain

The Atlantic trade in dyes, including some of the most valuable goods from the Indies – Mexican cochineal, Caribbean logwood, and Central American indigo – had a large and lasting impact on the European textile industries, stimulating technological development and contributing to broader transformations within the sector. Yet these changes were neither smooth nor immediate. Over the course of the sixteenth century, increasing access to New World dyes generated enthusiasm, but also resistance and conflict.

Examining Islamic State’s state-building strategy

On 4 July 2014, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi ascended the pulpit of An-Nabi mosque in Mosul, Iraq, and announced the establishment of a new Islamic Caliphate, stretching across 35,000 square miles of territory from Raqqa in Syria to beyond Baghdad in Iraq. The so-called Islamic State (IS) has since expanded significantly across the Middle East, Africa and Asia as eight militant groups have sworn loyalty to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and have been accepted as new provinces of the expanded Islamic Caliphate. 

Anthropogenic electromagnetic noise and magnetic compass sense in free-ranging birds

About 60 years ago, it was discovered that birds can use the Earth’s magnetic field for finding directions (the magnetic compass sense). Since then, the magnetic compass has been demonstrated in many species, mainly by behavioural responses of birds (shift in oriented activity in round arenas) to a changed magnetic field. However, it is still poorly understood how exactly the magnetic sense is working and where magnetoreceptors reside in the bird’s body. Recent studies have suggested that a bird’s magnetic compass is a part of vision.

Kingship, court and society at the dawn of the modern age: the chamber books of Henry VII and Henry VIII, 1485–1521

Much has been written on Henry VIII, though less on Henry VII, and the former is an established presence in the National Curriculum, on TV, film, and in novels. Many students are inspired to take up the study of history because of interest in the Tudor dynasty. Yet some of the key information about the early Tudor state, its first two kings, their style of kingship, their daily lives and their magnificent court, is little used, available only in fragile manuscripts which are accessible only under certain conditions onsite at the National Archives and the British Library in London. 

Linking functional and epigenetic plasticity at the single-neuron level

Your everyday experiences, such as reading the paper, enjoying a meal or even catching a cold, change your brain to allow learning and adaptation in a constantly-changing world. These changes are collectively known as ‘plasticity’, and occur via a huge array of mechanisms ranging from alterations in the structure of individual molecules through to changes in the strength of connections between entire brain regions.

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