Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • History


How and why are scientific theories accepted?

November 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. This theory is one of many pivotal scientific discoveries that would drastically influence our understanding of the world around us.

Read More

Marie-Antoinette and the French Revolution

Although most historians of the French Revolution assign the French queen Marie-Antoinette a minor role in bringing about that great event, a good case can be made for her importance if we look more deeply into her politics than most scholars have.

Read More

Booker T. Washington’s undervalued legacy

When Booker T. Washington died on this day in 1915, he was widely regarded not just as “the most famous black man in the world” but also “the most admired American of his time.” In the one hundred years since his death, he and his legacy have lost much of their luster in the eyes of the public, even though he, no less than Frederick Douglas, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Martin Luther King, Jr., is one of the foremost figures in the history of the American civil rights movement.

Read More

Getting to the core of StoryCorps, and other audio puns

In two weeks, as students across the United States are enjoying their Thanksgiving break, StoryCorps wants to give us all a bit of homework. Calling it the Great Thanksgiving Listen, they are asking high school students to use their mobile app (available in iTunes or Google Play) to “preserve the voices and stories of an entire generation of Americans over a single holiday weekend.”

Read More

Harriet Jacobs: the life of a slave girl

In 1861, just prior to the American Civil War, Harriet Jacobs published a famous slave narrative – of her life in slavery and her arduous escape. Two years earlier, in 1859, Harriet Wilson published an autobiographical novel, Our Nig; or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black, tracing her life as “free black” farm servant in New England.

Read More

Ten things you never knew about Elizabeth Stuart, ‘the Winter Queen’

Elizabeth Stuart (1596–1662) was the charismatic daughter of King James VI of Scotland (later James I of England) and Anna of Denmark. She married the Calvinist Frederick V, Elector Palatine, at age 16, and lived happily in Heidelberg, Germany, for six years before being crowned Queen of Bohemia at 23 and moving to Prague.

Read More

How the South was made

Why study the South? What makes this peculiar region important from the point of views of Americans, or people abroad wanting to know more about the American experience? The South experienced changes and phenomena central to how the United States evolved over time.

Read More

Seeking the elusive dead

It is a well-known fact of British prehistory that burial monuments, sometimes on a monumental scale, are well-documented in the Neolithic and Bronze Age, but largely absent in the Iron Age, outside certain distinctive regional groups at particular periods.

Read More

Max Planck: Einstein’s supportive skeptic in 1915

This November marks the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein completing his masterpiece of general relativity, an idea that would lead, one world war later, to his unprecedented worldwide celebrity. In the run-up to what he called “the most valuable discovery of my life,” he worked within a new sort of academic comfort.

Read More

Game on – Episode 28 – The Oxford Comment

Listen closely and you’ll hear the squeak of sneakers on AstroTurf, the crack of a batter’s first hit, and the shrill sound of whistles signaling Game on! Yes, it’s that time of year again.

Read More

Charles West and Florence Nightingale: Children’s healthcare in context

At the dawn of the children’s hospital movement in Europe and the West (best epitomised and exemplified by the opening of London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children (GOSH) on 14 February 1852), the plight of sick children was precarious at all levels of society. After a long campaign by Dr Charles West, Great Ormond Street hospital was the first establishment to provide in-patient beds specifically for children in England.

Read More