Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Arts & Humanities

American History

The transformation of food in America in the 19th century

At the start of the 1800s, American cities had only a few public dining options such as taverns or hotels; by the end of the century, restaurants had become “a central part of the fabric of cities.” In the 19th century, the landscape of food consumption in America greatly changed. The modern concepts of retail food shops, restaurants, industrial food systems, and diverse food options emerged.

Read More

Fiddle parts and sound posts: how objects tell stories

Biography chooses us when there is alchemy between biographer and subject—a perfect fit of interlocking puzzle pieces. In my case, a lifelong fascination with objects and the craftsmen who make them led me to the story of a pioneering violinmaker—American Luthier: Carleen Hutchins—the Art and Science of the Violin.

Read More

Rihanna and representations of black women – Episode 39 – The Oxford Comment

“Come and put your name on it,” is the first line in Rihanna’s song “Birthday Cake.” She is referring to her female anatomy as she dances in a hip-centered motion, reminiscent of Caribbean movement. Across the globe, reactions to the song’s connotation and the provocative dancing varied greatly, each individual interpreting the sequence of events based on their own experiences, culture, race and gender.

Read More

The different faces of Taliban jihad in Pakistan

All simplistic hypothesis about “what drives terrorists” falter when there is suddenly in front of you human faces and complex life stories. The tragedy of contemporary policies designed to handle or rather crush movements who employ terrorist tactics, are prone to embrace a singular explanation of the terrorist motivation, disregarding the fact that people can be in the very same movement for various reasons.

Read More

6 common misconceptions about Salafi Muslims in the West

Salafism, often referred to as ‘Wahhabism’, is widely regarded as a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam that fuels Jihadism and subjugates women. Some even lump ISIS and Salafism together—casting suspicion upon the thousands of Muslims who identify as Salafi in the West. After gaining unprecedented access to Salafi women’s groups in London, I discovered the realities behind the myths.

Read More

The eighteenth-century rhythm riddle: what is the quarter note quandary?

If you were to ask a modern musician what the quarter note means in Common Time the answer would be simple: “It lasts for one full beat, to be released at the beginning of the succeeding beat.” Ah, but eighteenth-century rhythm reading is not a simple “one-size-fits-all” affair. Just as spoken language has evolved over time, so has music notational language. The notation has remained much the same; it is how the notation is read that has changed.

Read More

Seeing in the dark: Catholic theology and Søren Kierkegaard

In a candid interview with Stephen Colbert, Vice President Joe Biden gave a moving testimony about his faith amid the pain of recently losing his son to brain cancer. In the past, both Colbert and Biden have been open about their Catholic faith, but in this moment both men found themselves reflecting upon how they have struggled with their faith after losing loved ones very close to them.

Read More

Cartesian plasticity: The curious case of Henricus Regius

Regius was a professor of medicine at the University of Utrecht. He was much taken with the views he had read in the scientific essays accompanying Descartes’s Discours de la méthode (1637), and was one of the first to introduce Descartes’s new mechanistic account of the material world into the Dutch academy.

Read More

Country house visiting: past, present, and future

From every window there were beauties to be seen. The rooms were lofty and handsome, and their furniture suitable to the fortune of their proprietor; but Elizabeth saw with admiration of his taste, that it was neither gaudy nor uselessly fine.

Read More
OUP Philosophy Crest

Philosopher of the month: al-Kindī

Known as the “first philosopher of the Arabs,” al-Kindī was one of the most important mathematicians, physicians, astronomers and philosophers of his time. He composed hundreds of treatises, using many of the tools of Greek philosophy to address themes in Islamic thought.

Read More

Very short facts about the Very Short Introductions

This week we are celebrating the 500th title in the Very Short Introductions series, Measurement: A Very Short Introduction, which will publish on 6th October. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make often challenging topics highly readable. To mark its publication editors Andrea Keegan and Jenny Nugee have put together a list of Very Short Facts about the series.

Read More

Rebuilding and restoring the Houses of Parliament [timeline]

The Houses of Parliament in London is one of the most famous buildings in the world. A masterpiece of Victorian Gothic architecture which incorporates survivals from the medieval Palace of Westminster, it was made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO along with Westminster Abbey, and St Margaret’s Church, in 1987. With its restoration and renewal in the news, find out more about the background in this interactive timeline.

Read More
Show & Tell_9780190221010

Secrets and trivia from the Broadway stage

Why do some great Broadway shows fail, and mediocre ones thrive? How does the cast onstage manage to keep tabs on the audience without missing a beat or a line? Ken Bloom, author of Show and Tell: The New Book of Broadway Audiences, delves into the inner workings of the Broadway stage and the culture surrounding Broadway hips and flops.

Read More

So not a form: Structure evolves from dramatic ideas

The sonata concept served some of the greatest imaginations in the history of music, but seriously it is, as I like to say to students, “so not a form”. Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms were not in need of a standardized template, and in essence what has come to be called sonata form is more like courtroom procedure: a process that allows for an infinite variety of stories to be unfold, from a fender bender to vandalism to murder.

Read More

The earnest faith of a storyteller

Ang Lee, the two-time Academy Award-winning director, has noted that we should never underestimate the power of storytelling. Indeed, as a storyteller, Lee has shown through his films the potential of stories to connect people, to heal wounds, to drive change, and to reveal more about ourselves and the world. In particular, Lee has harnessed new technology for storytelling in movies such as Life of Pi (2012) and his upcoming feature film Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (to be released on 11 November, 2016).

Read More

Five questions for Oxford World’s Classics cover designer Alex Walker

Judging a book by its cover has turned out to be a necessity in life. We’ve all perused book shops and been seduced by a particularly intriguing cover–perhaps we have even been convinced to buy a book because of its cover. And, truly, there is no shame in that. It takes skill and artistry to craft a successful book cover, and that should be acknowledged.

Read More