From prehistoric times to the origins of astrophysics in the mid nineteenth century, this title offers an introduction to the history of Western astronomy. It focuses on topics as the merging of Babylonian and Greek astronomy in later Antiquity, Kepler's conversion of astronomy into a branch of dynamics, and the explorations of the universe.
Exploring the geological research, this title explains how advances in the understanding of plate tectonics, seismology, and satellite imagery have enabled us to see the Earth for what it is. It introduces the concepts of continental drift, the earth's structure, sea floor spreading, and the relationship between the atmosphere and the oceans.
Benedict de Spinoza (1632-77) was at once the father of the Enlightenment and the last sad guardian of the medieval world, who attempted to reconcile the conflicting moral and intellectual demands of his epoch. This book presents an analysis of Spinoza's thought, and shows its relevance to the intellectual preoccupations in the modern times.
Christian images have a long history within the Western art tradition from the devotional works of the Renaissance period, to the interpretations of the 21st century. This book explores the changing nature of the representation of themes and subjects found in Christian art, covering the Eucharist, the crucifixion, the Virgin Mary, and the saints.
Simon Glendinning explores Jacque Derrida's work, from his engagement with the history of metaphysics to his views on law and justice and ethics and politics. Confronting and refuting claims that Derrida was an irresponsible 'postmodernist' or 'nihilist' he instead reveals Derrida's significant contributions to philosophy.
Adopting a different approach to ancient Egypt, this book aims to illuminate the complex world of Egyptian myth. It explores the cultural and historical background behind a variety of sources and objects, from Cleopatra's Needle and Tutankhamun's golden statue, to a story on papyrus of the gods misbehaving.
Film is considered to be the dominant art form of the twentieth century. It can be considered many other things; a record of events, a modern mythology, a career, an industry, an art, a hobby, and much else. Michael Wood explores the history of film, its venture into the digital age, and its role and impact on modern society.
Botticelli, Holbein, Leonardo, Durer, Michelangelo: the names are familiar, as are the works. But, who were these artists, why did they produce such memorable images, and how would their beholders have viewed these objects? This book answers such questions by considering famous and lesser-known artists, patrons, and works of art from the period.
As public interest in modern art continues to grow, there is a real need for a book that will engage general readers, offering them not only information and ideas about modern art, but also explaining its contemporary relevance and its history. This book does just that.
Amid the catastrophes of the twentieth century, the Spanish Civil War continues to exert a particular fascination. The Spanish Civil War: A Very Short Introduction provides a powerfully-written explanation of the war's complex origins and course, and explores its impact on a personal and an international scale.
The Roman Empire was a remarkable achievement. This introduction covers the history of the empire at its height, looking at its people, religions and social structures. It explains how it deployed violence, 'romanisation', and tactical power to develop an astonishingly uniform culture from Rome to its furthest outreaches.
Shows how John Locke, a great English philosopher of 18th century, arrived at his theory of knowledge. This work also shows how the liberal values of toleration formed the backbone of European thought of the 18th century. It looks at the questions which he addressed with such tenacity: 'how Man can know' and 'how Man should try to live'.
Postmodernism has been a buzzword of contemporary society for the last decade. But how can it be defined? In this Very Short Introduction Christopher Butler challenges and explores the key ideas of postmodernists, and their engagement with theory, literature, the visual arts, film, architecture, and music.
Intended for those interested in the African continent and the diversity of human history, this work looks at Africa's past and reflects on the changing ways it has been imagined and represented. It illustrates key themes in modern thinking about Africa's history with a range of historical examples.
Explores the issues and debates about Northern Ireland in the historical context of hundreds of years of conflict. This book tackles many questions, such as: what accounts for the perpetuation of ethnic and religious conflict in Ireland? Why has armed violence proven so hard to control? And, who are the major figures and issues in the conflict?
Covers topics such as foreign policy, the world economy, and globalization, showing how many disciplines come together in the study of international events. This book explains the theories underlying the subject of International Relations and uses them to investigate issues of foreign policy, arms control, the environment, and world poverty.
Roland Barthes was the leading figure of French Structuralism, the theoretical movement of the 1960s which revolutionized the study of literature and culture, as well as history and psychoanalysis. But Barthes was a man who disliked orthodoxies. This book surveys Barthes' work in prose.
Many people regard Hegel's work as obscure and extremely difficult, yet his importance and influence are universally acknowledged. Peter Singer eliminates any excuse for remaining ignorant of the outlines of Hegel's philosophy by providing a broad discussion of his ideas and an account of his major works.
Rousseau was both a central figure of the European Enlightenment and its most formidable critic. This study of his works, across a range of disciplines, shows how his thinking and writing were inspired by an ideal of humanity's self-realization in a condition of unfettered freedom.
This wide-ranging exploration of the Renaissance sees the period as a time of unprecedented intellectual excitement and cultural experimentation and interaction on a global scale. It guides the reader through the key issues that defined the period, from art, architecture, and literature, to advances in science, trade and travel.
Photographs are an integral part of our daily lives - from snapshots and tabloid newspapers to art photography in galleries and exhibitions. Edwards combines a sense of the historical development of photography with an insightful analysis of its purpose and meaning within a wider cultural context.
How, when, and why did the Cold War begin? What impact did it have on the United States, the Soviet Union, Europe, and the Third World? Finally, what difference did it make to the history of the second half of the twentieth century? This overview of the Cold War aims to invite debate and encourage investigation.
This highly original and sophisticated look at architecture helps us to understand the cultural significance of the buildings that surround us. It avoids the traditional style-spotting approach in favour of giving an idea of what it is about buildings that moves us, and what it is that makes them important artistically and culturally.
Poststructuralism changes the way we understand the relations between human beings, their culture, and the world. Culture invests us with agency and choice, but also limits the possibilities. But the cultural script is not fixed, so we can intervene to increase the options. This introduction explains how, with illustrations from art and culture.
This clear and concise new introduction examines all the major debates and issues using a wide range of well-known examples. Importantly, this book explains how the traditional emphasis on periods and styles originates in western art production and can obscure other approaches, as well as art from non-western cultures.
Explores the place and importance of literature in Russian culture. How and when did a Russian national literature come into being? What shaped its creation? How have the Russians regarded their literary language? This book uses the figure of Pushkin, 'the Russian Shakespeare', as an example.
Behavioural economics blends insights from economics and psychology to explain how people make everyday decisions. Analysing the forces that drive everyone's behaviour it helps us understand what people are motivated by, our impulse purchases, why we struggle to save, and how supermarkets can manipulate what and how much we buy.
Ian Stewart considers the concept of infinity and the profound role it plays in mathematics, logic, physics, cosmology, and philosophy. He shows that working with infinity is not just an abstract, intellectual exercise, and analyses its important practical everyday applications.
Organic chemistry concerns the properties and synthesis of carbon-based molecules. Carbon atoms can concatenate into long chains and cyclic compounds, bonding with a variety of other elements, so the possible structures are almost limitless. Graham Patrick explores the world of organic chemistry and its wide applications.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are one of the most important finds in biblical archaeology, and have profound implications for our understanding of Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity. Timothy Lim discusses the leading interpretations of the scrolls, and how they have changed the way we understand the emergence of the Old Testament.
'Globalization' is one of the defining buzzwords of our time, describing a variety of accelerating economic, political, and cultural processes that constantly change our experience of the world. The fourth edition of this Very Short Introduction provides an exploration of both the causes and effects of the phenomenon.
This Very Short Introduction describes the new field of cognitive neuroscience - the study of what happens in the brain when we perceive, think, reason, remember, and act. Focusing on the human brain, Passingham looks at the most recent research in the field, the modern brain imaging technologies, and what the images can and can't tell us.
The Habsburg Empire reached at various times across most of Europe and the New World. At all the critical moments of European history it is there - confronting Luther, launching the Thirty Years War, repelling the Ottomans, and taking on Napoleon. Martin Rady introduces the fascinating and colourful history of the Habsburgs.
The Mexican Revolution was a 'great' revolution, decisive for Mexico, important within Latin America, and comparable to the other major revolutions of modern history. Alan Knight offers a succinct account of the period, from the initial uprising against Porfirio Diaz and the ensuing decade of civil war, to the enduring legacy of the Revolution.
In this second edition, Les Iversen presents an introductory account of what drugs are, how they work, and the advances made over the past 100 years in the field of pharmacology. Looking at pharmaceutical drugs and both legal and illegal recreational drugs, Iversen reflects on how twentieth-century drugs have changed our lives.
Branding is possibly the most powerful commercial and cultural force on the planet. Robert Jones discusses the vast variety of brands, and why we still fall for them even as we are becoming more brand-aware. Looking at the philosophy and story behind brands, he considers how they work their magic, and what the future for brands might be.
In this Very Short introduction Paul Palmer looks at the structure and basic physics and chemistry of the Earth's atmosphere, comparing it to the atmospheres of other planets, particularly our neighbours, Venus and Mars. Palmer looks at the effects of pollutants and climate change, and what may happen to our atmosphere in the future.
In this Very Short Introduction Bart Van Es analyses Shakespeare's comedic plays, picking out the family resemblances across these works. He considers their shared themes such as confusion and cross dressing, misguided love, twins and substitutions, and explores the bard's verbal artistry and wit.
This Very Short Introduction explores different approaches to myth from several disciplines, including science, religion, philosophy, literature, and psychology. In this new edition, Robert Segal considers both the future study of myth as well as the impact of areas such as cognitive science and the latest approaches to narrative theory.
In this Very Short Introduction, Steven Beller explores the historical and political intricacies of Antisemitism, an issue which has been a worryingly persistent presence in the last millennium, and one that continues to provoke debate and discussion.
Games are played everywhere: from economics and online auctions to social interactions, and game theory is about how to play such games in a rational way, and how to maximize their outcomes. This VSI reveals, without mathematical equations, the insights the theory can bring to everything from how to play poker optimally to the sex ratio among bees.
What is 'nothing'? What remains when you take all the matter away? Can empty space - a void - exist? This Very Short Introduction explores the science and history of the elusive void: from Aristotle's theories to black holes and quantum particles, and why the latest discoveries about the vacuum tell us extraordinary things about the cosmos.
This Very Short Introduction presents a succinct and accessible guide to the key episodes in the story of life on earth - from the very origins of life four million years ago to the extraordinary diversity of species around the globe today.
Psychoanalysis has been hailed as an indispensible starting point for understanding neuroses and psychoses. In this Very Short Introduction, Daniel Pick offers an account of the present-day practice of analysis, highlighting the benefits, whilst also shedding light on the problems, risks and failings in the long history of the movement.
From Botticelli to birdsong, Mozart, and the Turner Prize, Roger Scruton explores what it means for something to be beautiful. This thought-provoking introduction to the philosophy of beauty draws conclusions that some may find controversial, but, as Scruton shows, help us to find greater sense of meaning in the beautiful objects around us.
This Very Short Introduction explores the key themes from more than 1,000 years of Scotland's fascinating history. Covering everything from the Jacobites to devolution to the modern economy, this concise account presents a fully-integrated picture of what Scottish society, culture, politics and religion look like, and why.
The Reformation was a seismic event in European history, and one which changed the medieval world. Much which followed in European history can be traced back to this event. In this Very Short Introduction Peter Marshall seeks to explain the causes and consequences of religious and cultural division and difference in western Christianity.
In this Very Short Introduction to Italian Literature, Peter Hainsworth and David Robey examine Italian literature from the Middle Ages up to the present day, looking at themes and issues which have recurred throughout its history and continue to be of importance today.
How important is free speech? Should it be defended at any cost? Or should we set limits on what can and cannot be said? This Very Short Introduction offers a lively and thought-provoking guide to these questions, exploring both the traditional philosophical arguments as well as the practical issues and controversies facing society today.
Statistics has evolved into an exciting discipline which uses deep theory and powerful software to shed light on the world around us: from clinical trials in medicine, to economics, sociology, and countless other subjects vital to understanding modern life. This Very Short Introduction explores and explains how statistics works today.
Galaxies are the building blocks of the Universe: standing like islands in space, they are where the stars are born and where many extraordinary and little-understood phenomena can be observed. Here, renowned science writer John Gribbin explores what we have learnt about the cosmos through studying both our own galaxy and our distant neighbours.