Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Thomas Paine’s Common Sense turns 240 years old

Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first a patron, the last a punisher.

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Cultural foreign policy from the Cold War to today

When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its nominees for the 2015 Academy Awards, the James Franco/Seth Rogen comedy The Interview wasn’t on the list. That Oscar spurned this “bromance” surprised nobody. Most critics hated the film and even Rogen’s fans found it one of his lesser works. Those audiences almost didn’t have a chance to see the film.

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Gender politics of the generic “he”

There’s been a lot of talk lately about what pronouns to use for persons whose gender is unknown, complicated, or irrelevant. Options include singular they and invented, common-gender pronouns. Each has its defenders and its critics.

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Complicating Rosie the Riveter

American women’s roles during World War II were much more complicated than the iconic Rosie the Riveter image suggests. The popular poster does, however, serve as an intriguing starting point for discussing a more complex history, one which reveals ongoing attempts by those in authority to rein in disruptive and unruly women.

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From teaspoons to tea-sots: the language of tea

Tea was first imported into Britain early in the seventeenth century, becoming very popular by the 1650s. The London diarist Samuel Pepys drank his first cup in 1660, as recorded in his famous diary: “I did send for a cup of tee (a China drink) of which I had never drunk before.”

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Can history help us manage humanitarian crises?

People frequently ask whether the study of history can help in managing humanitarian crises. This question is particularly timely given the massive outflow of refugees from Syria and the problems of admitting large numbers of refugees to other countries, including the United States.

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Suffragette and the cost of winning the vote for women

People often find their interest in a cause awakened by a dramatization on stage, screen, between the pages of a book or, these days, on YouTube. This fall, Americans are learning about the highly dramatic battle in Britain to win the vote for women.

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Reaganism and the rise of the carceral state

Today’s carceral state has its roots in the “war on crime” that took hold in America in the 1980s. That “war” was led by the political forces that I associate with Reaganism, a conservative political formation that generally favored a rollback of state power. A notable exception to this rule was policing and imprisonment. Both Reaganism and the “war on crime” had a racial politics embedded in them, so that these three phenomena—Reaganism as a movement, the “war on crime,” and the resulting carceral state, and the racial politics of the 1980s—strengthened and reinforced the others.

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How well do you know Ezra Pound? [quiz]

Ezra Pound was a major figure in the early modernist movement. During his lifetime he developed close interactions with leading writers and artists, such as Yeats, Ford, Joyce, Lewis, and Eliot. Yet his life was marked by controversy and tragedy, especially during his later years.

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Human rights and security in US history

This Human Rights Day, commemorating the 10 December 1948 proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we embark on a year-long observance of the 50th anniversary of the two International Covenants on Human Rights: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 1966.

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The Wiz, then and now

When the late Ken Harper first began pitching his idea for a show featuring an all black cast that would repeat and revise the popular plot of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, augmenting it with a Hitsville USA-inspired score, he had television in his sights.

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Do you know your NYC food and drink?

Suffice to say that New York City has a smorgasbord of all types of food from all over the world. You want food from the southern coast of mainland China? Or maybe you’re feeling some British pub food? NYC’s got you covered.

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Five differences between Canada and the United States

One of the tasks of a Canadian ambassador to the United States is persuading his audiences that Canadians really are distinct from Americans. One ambassador commented that if he asked an audience The Question – was there a difference – Americans would politely say no, not really, and Canadians would say the opposite. What is the correct answer to The Question – or is there a correct answer?

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