Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World


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
9780198744429 Fernandez-Armesto_Foot_in_the_River

“Challenging change” – extract from A Foot in the River

We are a weird species. Like other species, we have a culture. But by comparison with other species, we are strangely unstable: human cultures self-transform, diverge, and multiply with bewildering speed. They vary, radically and rapidly, from time to time and place to place. And the way we live – our manners, morals, habits, experiences, relationships, technology, values – seems to be changing at an ever accelerating pace. The effects can be dislocating, baffling, sometimes terrifying. Why is this?

Read More
9780190263553 - Atlas of the World 22nd edition (22e)

Ukraine’s two years of living dangerously

Last year in 2014, Ukraine made its way into our Place of the Year shortlist, garnering 19.86% of votes. Though Scotland beat out Ukraine for the top spot (with its impressive 37.98% of votes out of five on the shortlist), that by no means undermines everything this Eastern European country has gone through. Serhy Yekelchyk, author of The Conflict in Ukraine: What Everyone Needs to Know, reflects on how Ukraine has transformed in recent years.

Read More
9780198736776 Rublack - The Astronomer and the Witch

Thinking of Kepler on the beach

Johannes Kepler, the astronomer who famously discovered that planets move in ellipses, presents an exceptional case we can reconstruct. Kepler got his assistant to paint an image of himself for a friend. This was just before Kepler stored up all his belongings to move his family back from Austria to Germany. His aged mother had been accused of witchcraft.

Read More

“The Created Agincourt in Literature” extract from Agincourt

In the six hundred year since it was fought the battle of Agincourt has become an exceptionally famous one, which has generated a huge and enduring cultural legacy. Everybody thinks they know what the battle was about but is the Agincourt of popular image the real Agincourt, or is our idea of the battle simply taken from Shakespeare’s famous depiction of it?

Read More
Oxford Dictionaries

Do East and West Germans still speak a different language?

On 12 September 1990, about ten months after the Fall of the Berlin Wall, the foreign ministers of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) met with their French, American, British, and Soviet counterparts in Moscow to sign the so-called Two-Plus-Four Treaty.

Read More
JLA Cover

Legal order: lessons from ancient Athens

How do large-scale societies achieve cooperation? Since Thomas Hobbes’ famous work, Leviathan (1651), social scientific treatments of the problem of cooperation have assumed that living together without killing one another requires an act of depersonalization in the form of a transfer of individual powers to an all-powerful central government.

Read More
9780190237288 - The Conflict in Ukraine: What Everyone Needs to Know

Understanding modern Ukraine: a timeline

As with most other countries, the Ukraine we know today—with everything good, bad, and in-between about it—is a result of its history. It shares more than half its borders with Russia, accounting for the two countries’ complicated history.

Read More
9780198708544 Weiss - Real Traviata

Sex, hygiene, and style in 1840s Paris

The young woman who inspired Dumas’s La Dame aux Camélias and Verdi’s Violetta in La traviata conceived at least once in the course of her 23 years. At the time she was in her late teens. During the five years that followed the birth of her baby, between the ages of 17 and 22, she prospered as the leading courtesan of the most glamorous city in Europe. The word ‘courtesan’ is a euphemism for an upper class prostitute, a paid woman who doubled as a trophy exhibit at the theatre and opera.

Read More

Five astonishing facts about women in Shakespeare

What would Macbeth be without Lady Macbeth? Or Romeo and Juliet with only Romeo? Yet there’s an enormous disparity between female and male representation in Shakespeare’s play. Few, great female characters deliver as many lines or impressive speeches as their male counterparts. While this may not be surprising considering 16th century society, literature, and theater, data can reveal a wider disparity than previously thought.

Read More
9780199689170 Cunliffe - By Steppe Desert nad Ocean - final

A history of firsts [slideshow]

We live in a globalized world, but mobility is nothing new. Set on a huge continental stage, By Steppe, Desert and Ocean tells the story how human society evolved across the Eurasian continent from Europe to China.

Read More
agents of empire

Agents of Empire: Who were the Bruni and Bruti families? [infographic]

Representing a broad span of empires, cultures and religions during the sixteenth century, the Bruni and Bruti families exemplify a snapshot of Albania at a time when European and Ottoman histories collided. Only a small piece of the greater story, Noel Malcolm uses the Bruni and Bruti families to paint a panoramic landscape of history that covers the Venetian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Papacy, Malta, north Africa, Spain, southern France, Poland and the Holy Roman Empire.

Read More
9780199335534 2

When everywhere is a grave: remembering WWII casualties in Belarus

On 22 June 2015, the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko opened a new memorial complex at the site of the former extermination camp Maly Trostenets near Minsk. Between 1941 and 1944, German occupants and their helpers interned and killed up to 206,500 people in this camp and in the nearby forest of Blagovshchina.

Read More

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’.

Read More