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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

9780199315734

On the cliché trail

The election campaign season licenses two cohorts—politicians and journalists—to take up an even greater share of public discourse than is normally allotted to them. Both of these groups have a demonstrable and statistically verifiable tendency towards cliché, and so it is to be expected that in what’s left of the run-up to the US elections, the public forum will be awash in clichés. And so it is!

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9780190618759

Washington, Gates, and a battle for power in the young United States

Conspiracies are seldom what they are cracked up to be. It is in their nature for people to gossip and complain. Through it all they sometimes agree with each other, or pretend to for other reasons. Thus eavesdroppers looking for conspiracy can imagine plenty of it in almost any gathering, particularly if alcohol is lubricating and amplifying the discussions. So it was that in the winter of 1777-78 that some commonplace military griping got elevated to the level of conspiracy, at the center of which were a few hapless men later referred to as the “Conway Cabal.”

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9780199942039

The founding of the Electoral College

Every four years, the debate over the United States’ continued use of its Electoral College reemerges. The following excerpt from Michael Klarman’s The Framers’ Coup: The Making of the United States Constitution discusses the political interests that shaped the Electoral College and American presidential politics as a whole.

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Specters in the stacks: haunted libraries in the United States

Some people love libraries so much, they never leave. Though no living human being knows exactly what happens—or doesn’t happen—after death, certain library patrons have reported unnatural, paranormal events occurring within the walls of these four supposedly haunted libraries. Could they be ghosts attempting to check out a new Sci-Fi novel or mischievously disrupting the organized stacks?

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9780199942039

Which Founding Father are you? [quiz]

The interests of the Founding Fathers heavily influenced the framing of the Constitution. Much like representatives today, each came to the convention prepared to defend their right to conflicting benefits. Not only did each of their personalities differ greatly, but their opposing ideas also largely came from what they envisioned for the United States, their ideals, experiences and […]

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9780198785491_450

A question of public influence: the case of Einstein

Einstein’s scientific achievements are well known even if not widely understood by non-scientists. He bestrode the twentieth century like a colossus and physicists are still working through his legacy. Besides, the theory of relativity penetrated far beyond science into many areas of literature and the arts. If hard to measure, evidence of his cultural influence is unmistakable.

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9780190499006

Is there a war on Christmas? [excerpt]

Is there a war on Christmas? Historian Gerry Bowler argues yes—and that it’s been going on for over 2000 years. The following excerpt from Christmas in the Crosshairs discusses recent incidences of Christmas-time political correctness in America, while highlighting examples of “Merry Christmas legislation.”

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Oxford Bibliographies International Relations

The Cuban missile crisis

The Cuban Missile Crisis was a six-day public confrontation in October 1962 between the United States and the Soviet Union over the presence of Soviet strategic nuclear missiles in Cuba. It ended when the Soviets agreed to remove the weapons in return for a US agreement not to invade Cuba and a secret assurance that American missiles in Turkey would be withdrawn. The confrontation stemmed from the ideological rivalries of the Cold War.

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American History

The French Victory at Yorktown: 19 October 1781

The surrender of Lord Cornwallis’s British army at Yorktown, Virginia, on 19 October 1781 marked the effective end of the War of American Independence, at least in North America. The victory is usually assumed to have been Washington’s; he led the army that besieged Cornwallis, marching a powerful force of 16,000 troops down from near New York City to oppose the British. Charles O’Hara, The presence of the young Alexander Hamilton, one of Washington’s aides-de-camp, who led a light infantry unit in the final stages of the siege, adds to the sense of its being a great American triumph.

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9780190278182

Presidential birthday cakes: the Ike Day recipe

On this day, sixty years ago, Republicans celebrated President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s upcoming birthday with a star-studded televised tribute on CBS. As part of his re-election campaign, Ike Day was a nationwide celebration of Ike: communities held dinners and parades, there were special halftime shows at college football games, and volunteers collected thousands of signatures from citizens pledging to vote.

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9780190609405

Sex, Pope Francis, and empire

Pope Francis recently said in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, and on several occasions over the last year, that Western nations are exporting an idea that gender is a choice. Pope Francis asserts that this “gender ideology” is the enemy of the family. Here the pope disappoints many in America and Europe, who hoped that he might free Catholics from the heritage of homophobia and repression of women that has been protected and promoted for millennia by the Roman Catholic Church.

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9780199828005

10 things Birth of a Nation got right about Nat Turner

On Sixty Minutes, when filmmaker Nate Parker was asked if Birth of a Nation was historically accurate, he noted, “There’s never been a film that was 100 percent historically accurate. That’s why they say based on a true story and doesn’t say, ‘A true story.’” Hollywood may not be the best place to learn one’s history, but here are ten things that the new movie Birth of a Nation got right about Nat Turner’s revolt:

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American History

Twitter and the Enlightenment in early America

A New Yorker once declared that “Twitter” had “struck Terror into a whole Hierarchy.” He had no computer, no cellphone, and no online social media following. He was not a presidential candidate, but he would go on to sign the Constitution of the United States. So who was he? And what did he mean by “Twitter”?

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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.

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