Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World


Gershwin and color: how blue is the Rhapsody?

Everyone knows George Gershwin as a composer, songwriter, pianist and icon of American music. But few know of his connections to the world of paintings and fine art. As a practicing artist himself, Gershwin produced over 100 paintings, drawings, and photographs.

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Substance, style, and myth in the Kennedy-Nixon debates

On the evening of September 26, 1960, in Chicago, Illinois, a presidential debate occurred that changed the nature of national politics. Sixty-five years ago debates and campaign speeches for national audiences were relatively rare. In fact, this was the first live televised presidential debate in U.S. history.

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James Baldwin and the fire this time

As the fires burned in Baltimore, following the arrest and subsequent death of Freddie Gray in April 2015, protesters brandished placards with quotations from James Baldwin’s work, and thousands of blogs and twitter feeds invoked the legendary writer.

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Separating Church and State

Since the 17th century Western thinkers have struggled with the problem of how to stop conflicts over religious differences. Not long ago, we mostly thought that the problem had been solved. Two rather different solutions served widely as paradigms, with many variations. One was the American Separation of Church and State, and the other French laïcité, usually if misleadingly translated as ‘secularism’.

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9780199890347 - A Storm of Witchcraft

Who was Giles Cory?

“Monday, Sept. 19, 1692. About noon, at Salem, Giles Cory was press’d to death for standing Mute; much pains was used with him two days, one after another, by the Court and Capt. Gardner of Nantucket who had been of his acquaintance: but all in vain.” Thus reads Judge Samuel Sewall’s terse account of one of the most gruesome incidents in early American history, one that continues to horrify yet fascinate. Who was Giles Cory? Why was he accused of witchcraft? And how did he come to such a horrible fate?

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Between the stacks – Episode 26 – The Oxford Comment

Aside from announcing the start of another academic semester, September also marks an essential, if lesser-known, national holiday celebrated since 1987: Library Card Sign-up Month. Once a year, the American Library Association (ALA)—working in conjunction with public libraries across the country—makes an effort to spotlight the essential services provided by libraries now and throughout history. But what, exactly, are the origins of the American public library?

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Could a Supreme Court justice be president?

Bill Kristol, whose major political contribution to American public life is the national career of Sarah Palin, has another bright idea to free the Republican Party from the looming prospect of a Donald Trump presidential candidacy. The GOP, he writes, should turn to a dark horse from an unlikely source. After naming several long-shot contenders such as Mitch Daniels and Paul Ryan, Kristol essays the presidential equivalent of a two-handed shot from half court. Why not, he inquires, Justice Samuel Alito from the Supreme Court?

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Ghosts of Katrina

Ten years have passed since Katrina. New Orleans is in the midst of celebrating a remarkable renewal. I still live in the same apartment that I lived in before the storm. It looks the same, perhaps a bit more cluttered, but the neighborhood has certainly changed.

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Journal of American History

America’s mass incarceration problem

The United States holds the world’s largest prison population, but just how deep does our nation’s system of punishment and containment run? In the June 2015 issue of the Journal of American History, historians examine the origins and consequences of America’s carceral state. These articles discuss how mass incarceration’s effects seep into all facets of American society—economic, political, legal, and social. Process, the OAH’s blog, delves into such perspectives through a series of posts from the special issue’s authors.

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How much do you know about the American Revolution? [quiz]

Do you know your George Washingtons from your Thomas Jeffersons? Do you know your British tyrants from your American Patriots? Test your knowledge of the American Revolution with this quiz, based on Robert J. Allison’s The American Revolution: A Very Short Introduction.

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Incoherence of Court’s dissenters in same-sex marriage ruling

The Supreme Court’s much-anticipated decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, the same-sex marriage case, is pretty much what most people expected: a 5-4 decision, with Justice Kennedy — the swing voter between the Court’s four liberals and four conservatives — writing a majority opinion that strikes down state prohibitions.

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Wendell Willkie: a forerunner to Donald Trump

It is the stuff of political legend: facing a bevy of prominent candidates within the Republican Party, a straight-talking businessman comes out of nowhere to wrest the GOP nomination away from the party’s customary leadership. Energizing volunteers from across the country, the former executive capitalizes on fear about the international situation to achieve a stunning, dark-horse victory unique in American politics.

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Neighbourhood leadership in the wake of the Baltimore riots

Having visited several American cities in recent weeks and talked to public servants, business leaders, community activists, and academics about current urban stresses and strains, it is difficult not to conclude that they face deeply troubling challenges. The riots in West Baltimore in April and May 2015 are only the most recent in a long line of outbreaks of urban violence suggesting that all is not well.

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“Deflategate” and the “Father of Football”

The Wells Report besmirched the reputation of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, concluding that the NFL ‘golden boy’ was likely aware that he was playing with under-inflated footballs in the 2015 AFL conference game against the Indianapolis Colts. If the report is to be believed, even Brady has stooped to less-than-savory methods to win a game of football. There are a range of opinions about Brady’s innocence, offered by nearly every sports commentator and former football player.

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The Beatles, the Watts Riots, and America in transition, August 1965

Fifty years ago during their North American tour, The Beatles played to the largest audience in their career against the backdrop of a nation shattering along economic, ethnic, and political lines. Although on the surface the events of August 1965 would seem unconnected, they nevertheless illustrate how the world was changing and how music reflected that chaotic cultural evolution.

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