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Philosopher of the month: Søren Kierkegaard

This May, the OUP Philosophy team are honouring Kierkegaard as the inaugural ‘Philosopher of the Month’. Over the next year, in order to commemorate the countless philosophers who have shaped our world by exploring life’s fundamental questions, the OUP Philosophy team will celebrate a different philosopher every month in their new Philosopher of the Month series. Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) was a Danish philosopher, theologian, and the father of existentialism.

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Cold feet in literature

The act of writing has a long history of being associated with romantic reluctance. The figure of speech ‘cold feet’ made its debut in print in 1896 in Stephen Crane’s Maggie as a riff on the idea of writing as a kind of forward movement. Crane’s novel about the life of a New York slum girl called Maggie, begins with a decision to run; Maggie’s brother Jimmy thinks better of his resolution.

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All gone to look for America: Mad Men‘s treatment of nostalgia

The popularity of Mad Men has been variously attributed to its highly stylized look, its explication of antiquated gender and racial norms, and nostalgia for a time when drinking and smoking were not sequestered to designated zones but instead celebrated in the workplace as necessary ingredients for a proper professional life. But much of Mad Men’s lasting appeal lay in its complicated relationship with nostalgia.

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21st Century Singer Cover

Four steps to singing like a winner

Singing like a winner is what every emerging professional aspires to do. Yet there are so many hardships and obstacles; so much competition and heartache; so many bills to pay that more people sing like whiners than winners.

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OWC Reading Group

Discussion questions for Dracula by Bram Stoker

We’re just over a fortnight away from the end of our second season of the Oxford World’s Classics Reading Group. It’s still not to late to join us as we explore the foggy streets of Victorian London in search of the King of Vampires! If you’re already stuck in with #OWCReads, these discussion questions will help you get the most out of the text.

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Civil War peas, shamrocks, and state beds: collecting a collection

The Chipstone Foundation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, an organization devoted to innovative museum practice as well as to the study of historic American furniture, American and British ceramics, and American prints, doesn’t always collect what one might expect. Recently we acquired three peas said to have been served at Andersonville Prison, a swatch from bareknuckle boxer Joe Goss’s colors, splinters from the wreck of an ill-fated arctic expedition, and a feather collected from a Russian state bed.

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A holding corporation called old America: Charles Mingus’ religious multitudes

You can’t understand jazz without its continual, creative religiosities. But to investigate this association is to encounter the scrambling of format and expectation in terms both musicological and religious. For while it is certainly true that jazz has strong roots in African-American Protestantism, not only do these roots twist in unexpected directions but there are other branches reaching into farther soils as well.

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What the professor saw on YouTube

The pervasiveness of digital media in contemporary, moving-image culture is transforming the way we make connections of all kinds. The recent rediscovery of the 1903 film Cheese Mites is a perfect example, as the way the film came to light could only have taken place in the last decade. Cheese Mites is a landmark of early cinema, one of the first films ever made for general audiences about a scientific topic. It belonged to a series of films called “The Unseen World” and was made for the Charles Urban Company by F. Martin Duncan, a pioneer of microcinematography. It was a sensation in its day, capitalizing on the creepy fascination with microscopic creatures inhabiting our food and drink.

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The School for Scandal on the Georgian stage

Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s comic masterpiece ‘The School for Scandal’ premiered at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in May 1777. The play was an immediate success earning Drury Lane, which Sheridan owned and managed an enormous amount of money. ‘The School for Scandal’ explores a fashionable society at once addicted to gossip and yet fearful of exposure. Jokes are had at the expense of aging husbands, the socially inexpert, and, most of all, the falsely sentimental.

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What can we learn from Buddhist moral psychology?

Buddhist moral psychology represents a distinctive contribution to contemporary moral discourses. Most Western ethicists neglect to problematize perception at all, and few suggest that ethical engagement begins with perception. But this is a central idea in Buddhist moral theory. Human perception is always perception-as. We see someone as a friend or as an enemy; as a stranger or as an acquaintance. We see objects as desirable or as repulsive. We see ourselves as helpers or as competitors, and our cognitive and action sets follow in train.

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Byron's Letters

Literary fates (according to Google)

Where would old literature professors be without energetic postgraduates? A recent human acquisition, working on the literary sociology of pulp science fiction, has introduced me to the intellectual equivalent of catnip: Google Ngrams. Anyone reading this blog must be tech-savvy by definition; you probably contrive Ngrams over your muesli. But for a woefully challenged person like myself they are the easiest way to waste an entire morning since God invented snooker.

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How can we reconstruct history on the silver screen?

A perpetual lament of historians is that so many people get their historical knowledge from either Hollywood or the BBC. The controversies that surrounded Lincoln and Selma will no doubt reappear, in other guises, with the release of Wolf Hall, based on Hilary Mantel’s popular historical novel. Historical films play an outsize role in collective historical knowledge, and historians rightly bemoan the inaccuracies and misleading emphases of popular film and television: no doubt a generation of viewers believe that the Roman Republic was restored by a dying gladiator.

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abetterpencil

What if printed books went by ebook rules?

I love ebooks. Despite their unimaginative page design, monotonous fonts, curious approach to hyphenation, and clunky annotation utilities, they’re convenient and easy on my aging eyes. But I wish they didn’t come wrapped in legalese. Whenever I read a book on my iPad, for example, I have tacitly agreed to the 15,000-word statement of terms and conditions for the iTunes store. It’s written by lawyers in language so dense and tedious it seems designed not to be read, except by other lawyers, and that’s odd, since these Terms of Service agreements (TOS) concern the use of books that are designed to be read.

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The History of Grove Music: an interactive timeline

Since 1873, Grove Music has expanded from one piece of hardbound reference detailing the work and lives of musicians to becoming a powerful online encyclopedic database that serves to educate the world about music. George Grove, founder of the Grove dictionaries, was motivated by the lack of music reference works available to scholars and music professionals.

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Afterwar – Episode 22 – The Oxford Comment

As 2.6 million men and women return home from war, the prevalence of veteran suicide and post-traumatic stress is something that is frequently discussed by civilians, politicians, and the media, but seldom understood. These changes extend beyond psychological readjustment, physical handicap, and even loss of life. The greatest wounds, in fact, may not even be visible to the naked eye. While the traditional dialogue concerning veteran assistance typically involves the availability of institutional services, military hospitals, and other resources, there is an increasing need to address what many call the “moral injuries” sustained by soldiers during combat.

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Wenk Blog

The role of marijuana in your coffee addiction

Does coffee enhance marijuana? A study published recently in the Journal of Neuroscience (Vol 34 (19):6480-6484, 2014) by neuroscientists from the Integrative Neurobiology Section of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, has finally provided a definitive answer: Yes, No, and it depends.

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