Methodism began as renewal movement within Anglicanism in the eighteenth century, dominated the Protestant landscape of the USA in the nineteenth, and continues to be one of the most vibrant forms of Christianity worldwide today. William J Abraham traces its history, describes its particular identity and emphases, and looks to its future prospects.
Recent archaeological discoveries from China and central Asia have changed our understanding of how human civilization developed in the period of some 4 million years before the start of written history. In this new edition of his Very Short Introduction, Chris Gosden explores the current theories on the ebb and flow of human cultural variety.
This book is about the central role of evolution in shaping the nature and diversity of the living world. It describes the processes of natural selection, how adaptations arise, and how new species form, as well as summarizing the evidence for evolution.
From dinosaurs to lizards, snakes, and turtles, Tom Kemp considers the range of reptiles which have walked our Earth. Exploring how evolutionary adaptions have fitted them to their individual niches, he discusses their biology, such as cold bloodedness and feeding habits, and analyses why reptiles have been so successful throughout history.
Geoff Cottrell explores matter, from its familiar forms as solids, liquids, and gases to plasmas, exotic forms of quantum matter, and antimatter. Discussing the origins of matter in the Big Bang, he looks at atoms, energy, mass, and the mysterious forms of dark matter and dark energy.
Covering some of science's most divisive topics, such as philosophical issues in genetics and evolution, the philosophy of biology also encompasses more traditional philosophical questions, such as free will, essentialism, and nature vs nurture. Here, Samir Okasha outlines the core issues with which contemporary philosophy of biology is engaged.
Extinction has occurred throughout the history of life, and nearly all the species that have ever existed have now disappeared. In this Very Short Introduction, Paul B. Wignall looks at the causes and nature of extinction events, what makes a species vulnerable, and the debates in modern science of the role of climate and humans.
Is terrorism crime or war? Can there be a 'war against terrorism'? In this fully updated edition, Charles Townshend unravels the questions at the heart of the problem of terrorism - its causes, methods, effects, and limitations - suggesting that it must be understood as a political strategy whose threat can be rationally grasped and answered.
From modern pandemics such as HIV, Ebola, and Zika, to stories of vaccination and antiviral drugs, this Very Short Introduction charts our struggle against viruses. Outlining their origins, structure, and method of infection, Dorothy Crawford explores the vast variety of viruses, and asks if we can live in harmony with them in the future.
Energy supply is foundational to modern society, but damaging to the environment. This book takes a 'systems view', from extraction of primary fuel, through conversion to usable energy, and transportation to point of use. It explores initiatives to generate electricity in an environmentally benign manner, and decarbonise the supply of energy.
Leo Tolstoy is one of the greatest novelists ever to have lived, whose books have stood the test of time to remain widely recognised as literary masterpieces today. This Very Short Introduction explores his celebrated novels and nonfiction writings to reveal the core themes and thought at the heart of Tolstoy's work.
Physics encompasses all levels of nature from the subatomic to the cosmic, and underlies much of the technology around us. From modern quantum mechanics to cosmology, digital electronics, and energy production, this book discusses why physics is worth doing and how physicists do it.
Dealing with some of the thorniest problems in medicine, from euthanasia to the distribution of health care resources, this book introduces the reasoning we can use to approach medical ethics. Exploring how medical ethics supports health professionals' work, it also considers the impact of the media, pressure groups, and legal judgments.
Dyslexia is gaining increasing recognition as a relatively common learning disorder. Margaret Snowling introduces the exciting research surrounding dyslexia, considering potential causes, the neuroscience behind it and attempts to understand how it works, and the various strategies and interventions which can help people with dyslexia today.
What is innovation? How can it be used? Why is failure so common in the process of innovation? This Very Short Introduction looks at what innovation is, what it has done for us, and why it has been so important in the last 150 years.
Kathleen Taylor offers a clear guide to dementia, covering its history and its definition, different types and their symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, and the underlying science. She also explains why we still have no cure for dementia, and looks at current research which could soon change that.
The tide is important to Earth's climate, the biological productivity of our seas, and our hunt for renewable energy sources. It is also thought to have played a role in the evolution of life on Earth. This book explains the nature and cause of the tide, its observation and prediction, unusual tides, and their relevance to us.
'Identity' as a concept has many faces, and its very versatility in different contexts can make it hard to define. Florian Coulmas discusses the many meanings of this slippery concept, considering why individual and collective identities are important to us, and discussing the problems asserting individual identities can create.
In this Very Short Introduction Bernard O'Donoghue explores the many different forms of writing which have been called 'poetry', from the Greeks to the present day. He considers the varying status and uses of poetry, and engages with contemporary debates as to what value poetry holds today.
The Iliad and the Odyssey are the cornerstones of Western literature, inspiring artists, writers, philosophers, musicians, playwrights, and film-makers throughout history. Barbara Graziosi introduces Homer's key works and discusses the main literary, historical, and archaeological issues at the heart of Homeric studies.
This concise guide explains the history, theory, potential, application, and limitations of Artificial Intelligence. Boden shows how research into AI has shed light on the working of human and animal minds, and she considers the philosophical challenges AI raises: could programs ever be really intelligent, creative or even conscious?
From murder to theft to drug gangs, crime and criminal justice affect the lives of millions of people worldwide. Tim Newburn considers how we can study trends in crime, and use them to inform preventative policy and criminal justice. Analysing the history of crime, he discusses the role of criminology in crime control and politics.
Gordon Campbell embraces the beauty and practicality of gardens in their many forms, in history and culture across the world. He also look at variations on the modern garden, including the suburban garden, the city garden, the guerrilla garden, and the vegetable garden, and considers the future of gardens.
An essay about how we study and understand history, this book begins by inviting us to think about various questions provoked by our investigation of history. It explores the ways these questions have been answered in the past. It also introduces the concepts of causation, interpretation, and periodization, through examples of how historians work.
Rene Descartes had a short working life, and his output was small, yet he made significant contributions to philosophy and science. This book shows that Descartes was, above all, an advocate and practitioner of a new mathematical approach to physics, and that he developed his metaphysics to support his programme in the sciences.
Ethnomusicology, an academic discipline founded in 1950, has been defined as the study of the music of others. This definition, at once whimsical and very nearly true, is incomplete. Many of its strongest threads have emerged because a person or a people have wanted to understand themselves, their history, and their identity.
The Norman Conquest in 1066 was the last time England was successfully invaded, and was one of the most profound turning points in English history. This fascinating Very Short Introduction focuses on the differing ways the invasion was viewed by those who witnessed it, and how its legacy has been interpreted by generations since.
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) revolutionized the way in which we think about ourselves. From its beginnings as a theory of neurosis, Freud developed psycho-analysis into a general psychology which became widely accepted as the predominant mode of discussing personality and interpersonal relationships.
In a startling reinterpretation of the evidence, Stillman Drake advances the hypothesis that Galileo's trial and condemnation by the Inquisition was caused not by his defiance of the Church, but by the hostility of contemporary philosophers.
This book will transform the way you think about design by showing how integral it is to our daily lives, from the spoon we use to eat our breakfast cereal to the medical equipment used to save lives. John Heskett goes beyond style and taste to look at how different cultures and individuals personalise objects.
A. C. Grayling's accessible introduction to Wittgenstein's work describes both his early and later philosophy, the differences and connections between them, and gives a fresh assessment of Wittgenstein's continuing influence on contemporary thought.
Attempts to take readers from no knowledge about the science of human intelligence to a stage where they are able to make judgements for themselves about some of the key questions about human mental ability differences. Each chapter deals with a central issue, and is structured around a diagram, which is explained in the course of the chapter.
What do we mean by 'tragedy' now? When we turn on the news, does a report of the latest atrocity have any connection with Sophocles and Shakespeare? Addressing questions about belief, blame, revenge, pain, witnessing and ending, this book demonstrates the enduring significance of attempts to understand terrible suffering.
Thomas Hobbes, the first great English political philosopher, has had the reputation of being a pessimistic atheist. This study evaluates Hobbes's philosophy, describing him to have been passionately concerned with the refutation of scepticism, and to have developed a theory of knowledge, which rivalled that of Descartes in its importance.
In this Very Short Introduction, Ritchie Robertson provides the newcomer with an up-to-date and accessible examination of this fascinating author. Beginning with an examination of Kafka's life, he then goes on to discuss some of the major themes that emerge in Kafka's work, using his short story Metamorphosis as a recurring example.
Arguably, nationality is the most important social phenomenon in the world today. But what is the nation? Why is it so important to human beings? What is its relation to religion and commerce? Steven Grosby shows how closely linked the concept of nationalism is with being human.
Few Americans and even fewer citizens of other nations understand the electoral process in the United States. The second edition of this Very Short Introduction offers an up-to-date overview of American political parties and elections, providing an insider's view of how the system actually works while shining a light on some of its flaws.
In this Very Short Introduction Jonathan A. Brown presents both the Muslim version of Muhammad's life, as well as the efforts of Western scholars to uncover the historical Muhammad. He considers the prominent roles that Muhammad's persona has played in the lives of Muslims throughout history, looking at his life and legacy.
In its heyday in the late 1990s, neoliberalism emerged as the world's dominant economic paradigm. But the global financial crisis of 2008-9 fundamentally shocked a globalized economy built on neoliberal assumptions. This VSI examines the origins, core claims, and considerable variations of neoliberalism with examples from around the world.
In this Very Short Introduction to the gene Jonathan Slack explores the discovery, nature, and role of genes in evolution and development. Looking at how genes are understood as a concept, the nature of genetic variation, and how their mutation can lead to disease, this is an ideal guide for anyone curious about what genes are and how they work.
Law touches every aspect of our daily lives, and yet the main concepts, terms, and processes of the legal system remain obscure to many. This Very Short Introduction, in its second edition, provides a lucid, accessible guide to modern legal systems, explaining how the law works across our contemporary digital world.
Fundamentalism is seen as the major threat to world peace today, a conclusion impossible to ignore since the events in New York on September 11 2001. But what is fundamentalism? Malise Ruthven tackles the polemic and stereotypes surrounding this complex phenomenon - one that eludes simple definition, yet urgently needs to be understood.
Psychology influences the way we think about everything, from education and intelligence to relationships and advertising. This updated Very Short Introduction by Gillian Butler and Freda McManus provides an exploration of the leadings ideas and theories of psychology for anyone interested in understanding the human mind.
This book tells the story of modern drama through its seminal, groundbreaking plays and performances, and the artistic diversity that these represent. Exploring the new note of artistic hostility between dramatists and their audience, Shepherd-Barr draws on a range of theories and performances to reveal what makes modern drama "modern".
English Literature: A Very Short Introduction discusses why literature matters, how narrative works, and what is distinctly English about English literature. Jonathan Bate considers how we determine the content of the field, and looks at the three major kinds of imaginative literature - English poetry, English drama and The English novel.