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Book of the century: The Subjection of Women

In a dynamic demonstration of the motivating power of the written word, a ladies’ literary discussion group read The Subjection of Women in 1883. As soon as they had closed the book, they set up the Finnish Women’s Association to campaign for women in public life. It is not coincidental that in 1906 Finland became the first European country where women had the vote. J.S.Mill’s book is, with Marx’s Capital, one of the two most important political books written in Britain in the nineteenth century.

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Illuminating Shakespeare

Mourning, memory, and performance

There is a wonderful Christopher Rush novel, Will (2007), in which Shakespeare says that what he does best is death: “I do deaths you see. And I can do the deaths of children. Their lips were four red roses on a stalk… – that sort of thing.” From the death of young Rutland in 2 Henry VI to the unexpected death of Mamillius in The Winter’s Tale, Shakespeare’s plays are full of loss.

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What is really behind Descartes’ famous doubt?

Insofar as Descartes’ philosophical project is an attempt to overcome self-doubt, it doesn’t seem successful. His original reason for self-doubt was a clash between theology and experience. It is hard to see why, if this clash gave him good reason to doubt himself, the clash between providence and freedom would not do so as well. He seems to disagree with himself about the ultimate lessons to learn from disagreement!

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Illuminating Shakespeare

A dozen ways to die in Shakespeare’s tragedies [infographic]

In early modern England, social violence and recurring diseases ensured death was a constant presence, so it is only natural to find such a prominent theme in Shakespeare’s plays, especially his tragedies. His characters died at the hands of one another more often than from natural causes, whether stabbing, poisoning, or beheading (or a combination of the three!).

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How well do you know Immanuel Kant? [quiz]

This April, the OUP Philosophy team honours Immanuel Kant (April 22, 1724 – February 12, 1804) as their Philosopher of the Month. A teacher and professor of logic and metaphysics, this Enlightenment philosopher is today considered one of the most significant thinkers of all time. But how much do you really know about this Enlightenment thinker? Test your knowledge of Kant with our quiz below.

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Sikhs and mistaken identity

American basketball star, Darsh Singh, a turbaned, bearded Sikh, featured this April in a Guardian Weekend piece on cyberbullying. He recalled how his online picture had been circulated with Islamophobic captions. Long before that he’d had to get used to people yelling things like “towelhead”. Since 9/11, Sikhs haven’t just been verbally insulted but have suffered ‘reprisal attacks’.

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The Poetic Edda, Game of Thrones, and Ragnarök

Season Six of Game of Thrones is about to air. One of the great pleasures of watching the show is the way in which George R. R. Martin, the author of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, and the show-producers, David Benioff and Dan Weiss, build their imagined world from the real and imagined structures of medieval history and literature.

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Prince and “the other Eighties”

Prince died Thursday, and I am sad. I’ve been asked to write about his death, but staring at the empty expanse beyond the flashing cursor, all I really know how to say is in the line above. Plenty of writers, more ably than I could, have written and spoken movingly about Prince since his death.

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Twenty-first-century Shakespeare

Forever demanding new performers to interpret them for new audiences under new circumstances, and continuing to elicit a rich worldwide profusion of editions, translations, commentaries, adaptations and spin-offs, Shakespeare’s works have never behaved like unchanging monuments about which nothing new remains to be said.

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Is Buddhism paradoxical?

Buddhist literature is full of statements that sound paradoxical. This has led to the widespread idea that Buddhism, like some other religions, wants to point us in the direction of a reality transcending all intellectual understanding.

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Cervantes’s pen silenced today

His words still shape our consciousness, even if we fail to read him. This is not due to some hackneyed idealism (“tilting at windmills”), but rather to his pervasive impact on the genre that taught us to think like moderns: the novel. He pioneered the representation of individual subjectivity and aspiration, which today undergirds the construction of agency in any narrative, whether in novels, films, television, or the daily self-fashioning by millions of users of social media.

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Shakespeare’s Not-So Sceptered Isle

In 2012, when the world tuned in for the opening ceremony of London’s Olympic Games, they were witness in part to a performance of one of Shakespeare’s most famed speeches, delivered by one of today’s most revered Shakespearean actors. Kenneth Branagh, dressed as English engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, offered lines from The Tempest in the spirit of the ceremony’s larger theme, “The Isles of Wonder”.

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What we talk about when we talk about being disoriented

Disorientations—major life experiences that make it difficult for individuals to know how to go on—are deeply familiar, in part because they are common. It is rare to have never experienced some form of disorientation in one’s own life, perhaps in response to grief, illness, or other significant events.

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ENGHIS

Shifting commemorations, the 1916 Easter Rising

This Easter, Dublin experienced the culmination of the commemorative activities planned for the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising. There was the traditional reading of the Proclamation in front of the General Post Office (GPO), the military parade, and a series of talks and seminars, held at various locations of historical and national significance.

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