Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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9780190232917

The mercy of the Enlightenment

Pope Francis recently announced a “Year of Mercy.” He called on all Catholics to once again realize that God is love and that this includes infinite mercy. Yet, the message of mercy, also with its practical consequences, has been constant on the agenda of the Catholic Church, even in the eighteenth century—a time which is allegedly known for its rigid, sectarian close-mindedness. Here are four ways that the Catholic Church has emphasized “mercy” over time.

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Oxford Companion to Food

Ten facts about snack foods from around the world

Did you know that in the United States, February is National Snack Food month? In 1989 a need was seen to increase the sales of snack food in the usually slow month of February, and so National Snack Food month was born. To celebrate we’ve collected together 10 surprising facts about snack foods from around the world, all taken from The Oxford Companion to Food.

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9780198755333

When probability is not enough

While out driving one afternoon, I notice a bus speeding down the road towards me. As it approaches, the bus drifts into my lane, forcing me to swerve and strike a parked car. The bus doesn’t stop and, while I glimpse some corporate logo on the side, I’m shaken and I don’t manage to make it out.

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5 facts about marriage, love, and sex in Shakespeare’s England

Considering the many love affairs, sexual liaisons, and marriages that occur in Shakespeare’s plays, how many of them accurately represent their real-life counterparts? Genuine romantic entanglements certainly don’t work out as cleanly as the ending of Twelfth Night, where Sebastian and Olivia, Duke Orsino and Viola, and Toby and Maria all wind up as married couples.

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9780198739036

Bodies of breath, bodies of knowledge, and bodies of culture

Towards the end of his lecture on ‘techniques of the body’, delivered to a meeting of the Société Française de Psychologie in 1934, the sociologist and anthropologist Marcel Mauss discussed the methods of breathing practiced by Daoist priests and Yogic mystics. Far from being instinctive, these techniques require a lengthy apprenticeship.

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9780199396641

The fortepiano: capturing the sound aesthetic for modern playing

Grappling with performing the music of early Beethoven, Mozart, and Haydn on the modern piano can be a daunting experience. The modern piano is not the instrument for which their music was composed. Beethoven, Mozart, and Haydn all preferred Viennese pianos (today called the fortepiano) and the traits from the inside out are distinctly different than those of the modern piano.

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ECt12Nen

Humanity in the digital age

How does one preserve the ephemera of the digital world? In a movement as large as the Arab Spring, with a huge digital imprint that chronicled everything from a government overthrow to the quiet boredom of waiting between events, archivists are faced with the question of how to preserve history. The Internet may seem to provide us with the curse of perfect recall, but the truth is it’s far from perfect — and perhaps there’s value in forgetting.

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9780199381135

Ten things you may not have known about Greek gods and goddesses

Greek gods and goddesses have been a part of cultural history since ancient times, but how much do you really know about them? You can learn more about these figures from Greek mythology by reading the lesser known facts below and by visiting the newly launched Oxford Classical Dictionary online.

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ECt12Nen

Shadows of the digital age

The Bodleian recently launched a festival celebrating drawing. As part of this, the artist Tamarin Norwood retreated to our Printing Workshop, turned off her devices and learned how to set type. She proceeded, in her inky and delightful way, to compose a series of Print Tweets.

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Becoming a Music Teacher

New Year’s Resolutions for the music classroom

It’s a bright new year and time to shed off the old, but that doesn’t mean we can’t partake in some favored traditions – especially making New Year’s resolutions. If you’re a teacher or professor, the New Year usually means a new semester, and the opportunity to start fresh by teaching a new class, or bring rejuvenation to your students post-holiday.

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RB

The truth about “Auld Lang Syne”

Over the years since it was written, many millions must have sung ‘Auld Lang Syne’ (roughly translated as ‘days long past’) while sharing Mr. Micawber’s ignorance of what of its words actually mean. Most of us go through the year without singing a single song by Robert Burns, and then, within the space of 25 days, sing this one twice on January 1st and 25th

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9780198718062

Time and perception

The human brain is a most wonderful organ: it is our window on time. Our brains have specialized structures that work together to give us our human sense of time. The temporal lobe helps form long term memories, without which we would not be aware of the past, whilst the frontal lobe allows us to plan for the future.

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9780199458974

The Guru’s warrior scripture

The scripture known as the Dasam Granth Sahib or the ‘Scripture of the Tenth King,’ has traditionally been attributed to Guru Gobind Singh. It was composed in a volatile period to inspire the Sikh warriors in the battle against the Moghuls, and many of the compositions were written for the rituals related to the preparation for war (Shastra puja) and for the battlefield.

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9780199684113

Shakespeare and conscience

At the outset of an undergraduate Shakespeare course I often ask my students to make a list of ten things that may not, or do not, exist. I say “things” because I want to be as vague as possible. Most students submit lists featuring zombies and mermaids, love charms and time travel. Hogwarts is a popular place name, as are Westeros and Middle Earth. But few students venture into religious territory.

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OUP Philosophy Creast

Test your knowledge of G.E.M. Anscombe

This January, the OUP Philosophy team has chosen Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret (G.E.M.) Anscombe as their Philosopher of the Month. G.E.M. Anscombe (1919 – 2001) was a British analytical philosopher best known for her contributions in the fields of philosophy of the mind, action, language, logic, and ethics. Test your knowledge of this famous female philosopher.

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9780199671267

What was Shakespeare’s religion?

What was Shakespeare’s religion? It’s possible to answer this seemingly simple question in lots of different ways. Like other English subjects who lived through the ongoing Reformation, Shakespeare was legally obliged to attend Church of England services. Officially, at least, he was a Protestant. But a number of scholars have argued that there is evidence that Shakespeare had connections through his family and school teachers with Roman Catholicism, a religion which, through the banning of its priests, had effectively become illegal in England.

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