African Religions examines religious traditions on the African continent and diaspora. It focuses on the diversity of people, ethnic groups, languages, cultures, ethos, and worldviews. The book provides balanced and in-depth material that enables the reader to comprehend the breadth, depth, and range of African religious traditions.
This stimulating Very Short Introduction throws open the doors on a remarkably diverse musical genre, with a world-wide reach that goes far beyond America's shores to discuss folk music of every possible kind and in every corner of the globe.
Aristocracies dominated the social, economic, and institutional history of all European countries until only a few generations ago. William Doyle strips away the myths and beliefs which have always surrounded them, looking at how these very distinctive governing elites held onto power, and analyses when, how, and why they eventually lost it.
This Very Short Introduction introduces the ways in which Spanish literature has been read, in and outside Spain, explaining misconceptions, outlining the insights of recent scholarship, and suggesting new readings. It explores the relationship between Spanish literature and modernity and issues of gender and sexuality.
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.
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.
From its origins to the present day, Owen Davies explores ideas about paganism that have existed over the last two millennia. He takes a chronological look at changing attitudes towards its beliefs, its practices, and its relationship with the Church.
Throughout history, to the present day, witchcraft raises questions about the distinction between reality and fantasy, faith and proof. This Very Short Introduction explores witchcraft, both as a contemporary phenomenon and a historical subject. It looks at witch-beliefs and accusations around the world, from pre-history to the present.
The Druids have been known and discussed for over 2,000 years; few figures flit so elusively through history. Enigmatic and puzzling, the lack of knowledge about them has resulted in a wide spectrum of interpretations. Barry Cunliffe examines their origins, the evidence for their beliefs and practices, and how we interpret them today.
Epidemiology is the study of the changing patterns of disease. It is a vital field, central to the health of society, to the identification of causes of disease, and to their management and prevention. This Very Short Introduction dispels some of the myths relating to clinical trials, vaccination campaigns, and statistics concerning disease.
How did Islam arise from the obscurity of seventh century Arabia to the headlines of the twenty first century? This Very Short Introduction answers that question; exploring the cultural and religious diversity of Islamic history. Adam Silverstein explains its significance and considers its impact on Islamic society today.
Has multiculturalism failed? Is it time to move on? What is the alternative? Ali Rattansi explores the issues, from national identity and social cohesion to cultural fragmentation and 'political correctness'. Providing a balanced assessment of the truth and falsity of the charges against multiculturalism, he explores new ideas for the future.
The time known as Late Antiquity (c.300-c.800) was a fascinatingly diverse and important period which saw the 'Fall of Rome' and the growth of Christianity and Islam. Gillian Clark explores its historical controversies, introducing the main characters and themes, and demonstrating the transition between the medieval and ancient.
What are angels? Where were they first encountered? Can we distinguish angels from gods, fairies, ghosts, and aliens? And why do they remain so popular? This Very Short Introduction investigates stories and speculations about angels in religions old and new, in art, literature, film, and the popular imagination.
Lie detection, offender profiling, insanity in the law, the minds of serial killers, and many other topics that fill news and fiction are all aspects of the rapidly developing area of Forensic Psychology. David Canter shows how these often controversial topics bridge the gaps between academics and practitioners, behavioural sciences, and the law.
Luciano Floridi unpacks this fundamental concept - what information is, how it is measured, its value and meaning - cutting across the sciences and humanities, from DNA to the Internet, and the ethical issues related to privacy, copyright, and accessibility.
The collapse of communism was one of the most defining moments of the twentieth century. This Very Short Introduction examines the history behind the political, economic, and social structures of communism as an ideology.
What is humanism? Can there be morality without God? Without religion, are our lives left without meaning? Stephen Law considers all these questions in this Very Short Introduction. Discussing the arguments for and against religious belief, and examining the value and meaning of life, he explores humanism as a positive alternative to religion.
David Seed examines how science fiction has emerged as a popular genre of literature in the 20th century, and discusses it in relation to themes such as science and technology, space, aliens, utopias, and gender. Looking at some of the most influential writers of the genre he also considers the wider social and political issues it raises.
Forensic science, with its connections to crime and detective work, is a subject of wide fascination. This Very Short Introduction looks at the nature of forensic science, how forensic scientists work, the different techniques involved, and the broader legal issues it raises.
In this fresh and clear history of Protestantism, Mark A. Noll looks at the era from Martin Luther to the present day. Focussing on developments worldwide and including a range of well-known figures including Luther, John Calvin, and F.D.E Schleiermacher, he considers the recent decline of Protestantism in the West and its expansion elsewhere.
Landscapes are all around us, but most of us know very little about how they have developed, what goes on in them, and how they react to changing climates, tectonics, and human activities. This Very Short Introduction discusses the key ideas and methods used to study and examine landscapes, and their importance in cultural terms.
Cancer is a problem that touches virtually everyone either directly or indirectly. As one of the biggest killers in the Western world it is feared by many people. In this Very Short Introduction, Nick James examines the trends and treatment of cancer, looking at efforts to develop treatments, research into cures, and the future of cancer care.
In this lively discussion Kim Reynolds looks at what children's literature is, why it is interesting, how it contributes to culture, and how it is studied as literature. Providing examples from across history and various types of children's literature, she introduces the key debates, developments, and people involved.
Adolescence can be a turbulent period. Encompassing both classic and modern research, Smith explores its cultural and historical context, the biological changes to the adolescent brain, and the difficulties - the search for identity, relationship changes, risk-taking and anti-social behaviours - that adolescence brings.
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.
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.
Although the great historic imperial systems have collapsed during the past, their legacies shape almost every aspect of life on a global scale. What has replaced the old territorial empires in world politics? Do the United States and its allies - the forces of 'globalization', constitute a new imperial system?
Presenting an introduction to ethics, this work tackles the moral questions surrounding birth, death, happiness, desire, and freedom. It also shows us how we should think about the meaning of life, and how we should mistrust the soundbite-sized absolutes that often dominate moral debates.
The Celts have long been a subject of enormous fascination, speculation, and misunderstanding. This title seeks to reveal this fascinating people, exploring subjects such as trade, migration, and the evolution of Celtic traditions, and examining such characters as St Patrick, Cu Chulainn, and Boudica.
Do you think of atheists as immoral pessimists who live their lives without meaning, purpose, or values? Think again! Atheism: A Very Short Introduction sets out to dispel the myths that surround atheism and show how a life without religious belief can be positive, meaningful, and moral.
Sartre, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Kierkegaard, de Beauvoir, Merleau-Ponty, and Camus were some of the most important existentialist thinkers. This book provides an account of the existentialist movement, and of the themes of individuality, free will, and personal responsibility which make it a 'philosophy as a way of life'.
What is socialism? Does it have a future, or has it become an outdated ideology in the 21st century? Michael Newman examines and explains the successes and failures of modern socialism, taking an international perspective, and discussing its evolution from the 19th century to the present day.
Racism exists in many different forms, in almost every facet of society. This book demystifies the subject and explores its history, science, and culture. Shedding light on how racism has evolved since its earliest beginnings, it examines the notion of race from a modern genetic viewpoint.
The Viking reputation is of bloodthirsty seafaring warriors. Yet Vikings were also traders, settlers, and farmers, with a complex artistic and linguistic culture. Using archaeological evidence, this book attempts to reveal the whole Viking world: their history, society and culture, and their expansion overseas for trade, colonization, and plunder.
The WTO has a deep and far reaching impact on people's everyday lives, and in its short lifetime has generated debate, controversy and outrage. This VSI provides an essential and accessible explanation of the political, economic, and ethical controversies: What the WTO is, what it does, and whether it works.
What is 'contemporary' about contemporary art? Who is really running the art world? This controversial and witty exploration of the dramatic changes that have taken place in the art world since the fall of the Berlin Wall provides a critical look at the reasons for the current art boom, and reveals the politics behind the business.
The Crusades were one of the most extraordinary, vivid episodes in world history. But were they motivated by spiritual reward or by greed? Were they an early experiment in European colonialism? How were they organized? This work presents a clear discussion of the Crusades.
This Very Short Introduction brings together the latest research in neuroscience and psychology - weaving in case-studies, anecdotes, literature, and philosophy - to explore and explain the science of memory - how it works, and why we can't live without it.
What is Anglicanism? How is it different from other forms of Christianity, and how did it come to have so many different versions throughout the world? This title highlights the diversity of Anglicanism by exploring its history, theology, and structure, and examines what is it that holds Anglicanism together despite the crises.
Talks about the invention of Western philosophy, and the first thinkers to explore ideas about the nature of reality, time, and the origin of the universe. This book invites readers to understand the fragmentary remains of thinkers from Thales to Pythagoras, Heraclitus, to Protagoras.