Recommended Reading

So, who gives a $#%& about an Oxford comma? The answer, according to a UK court, is officially: anyone who’s interested in clarity. The much maligned Oxford Comma (“I like reading, writing, and lectures!”) has been vindicated after drivers for Oakhurst Dairy sued the company over its failure to grant them overtime pay. The drivers’ access to approximately $10 million in overpay hinged on the oft-debated piece of punctuation. Join the punctuation party here.

Fleas are not the only thing preserved in medieval books (see below for that interesting story) – recipes for novel antibiotics also lurk! In light of the issue of bacteria resistance to many of our main antibiotics, scientists have once again delved into history for inspiration. Today, the word “medieval” is used as a derogatory term, indicating cruel behaviour, ignorance or backwards thinking. This perpetuates the myth that the period is unworthy of study. Historians and scientists alike can change this perception – and help us fight infections at the same time. Read about these “ancientbiotic” recipes, and how they can affect the “medicynes” and “oynements” of the future here.

At Cornell University, students study two-thirds of their coursework outside of their major. This has resulted in fantastic interdisciplinary thinking. “Philosophy has taught me how to look at big questions and break them down, examining all of the different parts and factors that are affecting how we might find solutions,” Kevin Beaulieu said. “That’s something you can apply to any field.” Watch students talk about how the humanities have expanded their horizons here.

Australians have commemorated Anzac Day on 25 April for more than a century, but the ceremonies and their meanings have changed significantly since 1915. “These kinds of myths and legends, they’re a mirror,” Dr Carolyn Holbrook (Deakin University) said. “If you want to get a picture of Australian society, you can look at things like this, because they reflect contemporary values.” This article traces the start of commemoration, the beginning of Anzac AFL games, and the social rebellion and questions of identity in the Anzac Day protests of the 70s and 80s. Today’s celebrations stems from a political rekindling of the Anzac spirit in the 90s, and the WWI Centenary. Trace the history of our national holiday here.


Dr Kat Ellinghaus and Dr Rebe Taylor, with Professor Kate Darian-Smith, will discuss their most recent work. Ellinghaus will talk about the many ways in which Native American people resisted, challenged and shaped the U.S. government’s efforts to categorise them, as well as the methodological and ethical challenges of writing about this fraught political topic. Taylor will discuss an English colonialist, Ernest Westlake, who encountered living Indigenous communities and unwittingly documented what he could not perceive: an Aboriginal people with a complex culture and a deep past. Monday 8 May 2017, from 3:15pm to 5:00pm, University of Melbourne. Free, bookings required. More info here.

Her birth spelled the end of a German princely dynasty; her marriage resulted in the partial loss of her social position; the wayward lives of her children ended the long line of Scottish dukes and ultimately led to the dispersal of family fortunes. The lecture traces the highs and lows in the life and times of Marie, Princess of Baden, Duchess of Hamilton. Eugene Barilo von Reisberg is a Melbourne-based lecturer, researcher, and art consultant. Tuesday 30 May 2017, from 10:00am to 11:30am, the Johnston Collection. Free, bookings required. More info here.

It is important, in these days of destruction of the ancient heritage of Syria, to remember this site, excavated by Australians in the 90s. The sculptured cave was a spectacular sanctuary, and is now irrevocably damaged. It was carved out of the local limestone cliff above the Euphrates, and is only accessible by steep steps from the river. Come and learn about the many female sculptures that suggest a predominantly female cult or occasion, or potentially it is the tomb of a local queen or a high-born priestess. This is a truly multi-cultural monument, providing a glimpse of the knowledge we have lost about the resilience and vigour of the indigenous Syrian population, and their local culture. Thursday 18 May 2017, from 6:30pm to 7:30pm, Classical Association of Victoria and University of Melbourne. Free, bookings required. More info here.

The State Library of Victoria houses two million books, pictures, documents, maps and artefacts from across the ages… Come and discover one of the more unusual stories! Learn about the flea trapped in a medieval manuscript for 700 years until it was discovered by the Library’s conservators. Wednesday 31 May 2017, from 6:00pm to 7:00pm, State Library of Victoria. Free, bookings required. More info here.

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