Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Italy, and the UK decision to expand Heathrow

As Graham Ruddick put it in the Guardian on 26 October, ‘One by one, Theresa May’s government is giving the go-ahead to major infrastructure projects that will cost taxpayers billions of pounds’. By doing so, she signalled her determination to promote growth and the creation of new jobs, as well as to offset the oft predicted economic downturn following Brexit.

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Jacob Tonson the elder, international spy and businessman

Few have heard of him today, but Jacob Tonson the Elder (1656?-1736) was undoubtedly one of the most important booksellers in the history of English literature. He numbered Addison, Behn, Congreve, Dryden, Echard, Oldmixon, Prior, Steele, and Vanbrugh among those canonical authors whom he published. His reputation was international, and the quality and range of his classical editions remained a benchmark throughout the eighteenth century.

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The origin of Black Friday and other Black Days

Across the US, those who are not too replete with their Thanksgiving feast will be braving the crowds in order to secure themselves one of the bargains associated with Black Friday, the day following Thanksgiving which is often regarded as the first day of Christmas shopping in the US. Even on the […]

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The life and times of Samuel Pepys

Samuel Pepys penned his famous diaries between January 1660, and May of 1669. During the course of this nine year period, England witnessed some of the most important events in its political and social history. The diaries are over a million words long and recount in minute and often incredibly personal detail, events such as the restoration of the monarchy, the Second Anglo-Dutch War, the Great Fire, and Great Plague of London.

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Voltaire’s love letters

Voltaire had numerous passionate affairs, and engaged in an enormous amount of private correspondence with his lovers, much of which has been kept for posterity. Providing a fascinating insight into Voltaire’s inner-most emotions, his letters give a glimpse of his friendships, sorrows, joys, and passionate desires…

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Tracing viking travellers

The medieval Norse were far travellers: not only raiders but also traders, explorers, colonisers, pilgrims, and crusaders (to name a few). Traces of their adventures survive across the world, including ruined buildings and burials, runic graffiti, contemporary accounts written by Christian chroniclers and Arab diplomats, and later sagas recorded in Iceland.

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The Reformation: a conversation about death

After studying the Reformation for over four decades, I’ve found myself alongside many other historians in pulling down one great Protestant myth: all you needed to do was put a little finger on the structure of the medieval Western Church, and it would fall over and collapse. Not so: the old religion satisfied most people and satisfied consumer demand.

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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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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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10 myths about the vikings

The viking image has changed dramatically over the centuries, romanticized in the 18th and 19 century, they are now alternatively portrayed as savage and violent heathens or adventurous explorers. Stereotypes and clichés are rampant in popular culture and vikings and their influence appear to various extents, from Wagner’s Ring Cycle to the comic Hägar the Horrible, and J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings to Marvel’s Thor. But what is actually true? Eleanor Barraclough lifts the lid on ten common viking myths.

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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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The University: past, present, … and future?

By nearly all accounts, higher education has in recent years been lurching towards a period of creative destruction. Presumed job prospects and state budgetary battles pit the STEM disciplines against the humanities in much of our popular and political discourse. On many fronts, the future of the university, at least in its recognizable form as a veritable institution of knowledge, has been cast into doubt.

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Witches, werewolves, and Christmas

In Hamlet, Marcellus, referring to the royal ghost, says: “It faded on the crowing of the cock. Some say that ever gainst that season comes wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated, this bird of dawning singeth all night long, and then, they say, no spirit dare walk abroad, The nights are wholesome, then no planets strike, No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm, so hallowed and so gracious is that time.”

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History in the courtroom: 70 years since the Nuremberg Trials

Seventy years ago, on 30 September 1946, Lord Justice Lawrence, the presiding judge of the International Military Tribunal, began reading out the judgement in the trial of the so-called major German war criminals at Nuremberg. For nearly a year the remnants of the Third Reich’s top brass, led by Hermann Goering, had stood trial for crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and a conspiracy to commit the aforesaid crimes.

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The quest for order in modern society

Opening the morning paper or browsing the web, routine actions for us all, rarely if ever shake our fundamental beliefs about the world. If we assume a naïve, reflective state of mind, however, reading newspapers and surfing the web offer us quite a different experience: they provide us with a glimpse into the kaleidoscopic nature of the modern era that can be quite irritating.

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Britain, Ireland, and their Union: 1800-1921

Historians of both Britain and Ireland have too often adopted a blinkered approach in which their countries have been envisaged as somehow divorced from the continent in which they are geographically placed. If America and the Empire get an occasional mention, Europe as a whole has largely been ignored. Of course the British-Irish relationship had (and has) its peculiarities.

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