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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Beyond business and the book fair: exploring Frankfurt

The world’s biggest book fair is opening its doors soon and, as a native “Frankfurter” working in the publishing industry, it’s the time of year that my colleagues start asking me about my hometown. Sadly, the most common thing I hear is that there is little that they know beyond Frankfurt airport and the exhibition centre.

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What do the classics do for you?

This week, Oxford University Press (OUP) and The Reader announced an exciting new partnership, working together to build a core classics library and to get great literature into the hands of people who need it most, with the Oxford World’s Classics series becoming The Reader’s “house brand” for use in their pioneering Shared Reading initiatives.

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Virginia Woolf: author, publisher, feminist

As a young woman, Virginia Woolf toured London’s National Portrait Gallery and grieved to find that almost all the portraits in the collection were of men. Woolf was so resentful that she later refused to sit for a drawing commissioned by the gallery, seemingly renouncing an opportunity to add her own portrait to its walls.

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Illuminating Shakespeare

Shakespeare and performance: the 16th century to today [infographic]

In the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, Shakespeare’s plays were performed at professional playhouses such as the Globe and the Rose, as well as at the Inns of Court, the houses of noblemen, and at the Queen’s palace. In fact, the playing company The Queen’s Men was formed at the express command of Elizabeth I to […]

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The old age of the world

At the home of the world’s most authoritative dictionary, perhaps it is not inappropriate to play a word association game. If I say the word ‘modern’, what comes into your mind? The chances are, it will be some variation of ‘new’, ‘recent’, or ‘contemporary’.

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The Found Voice_9780198752998

Coetzee’s Dialogues: Who says who we are?

Throughout his career, J. M Coetzee has been centrally preoccupied with how to tell the truth of an individual life, most of all, how to find the appropriate narrator and fictional genre. Many of his fifteen novels disclose first person narrators in a confessional mode, and so it is not altogether surprising that his latest book is a dialogue with a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, in which they explore together notions of selfhood, repression, disclosure and the nature of communication.

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Remembering H.D. on her 130th birth anniversary

American-born, British citizen by an ill-fated marriage, the modernist writer Hilda Doolittle (H.D.) was wary of nationalism, which she viewed as leading inevitably to either war or imperialism. Admittedly, she felt—as she wrote of one of her characters—“torn between anglo-philia and anglo-phobia,” and like all prominent modernists of her day, her views were probably not as enlightened as ours.

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Is Shakespeare racist?

Just as there were no real women on Shakespeare’s stage, there were no Jews, Africans, Muslims, or Hispanics either. Even Harold Bloom, who praises Shakespeare as ‘the greatest Western poet’ in The Western Canon, and who rages against academic political correctness, regards The Merchant of Venice as antisemitic. In 2014 the satirist Jon Stewart responded to Shakespeare’s ‘stereotypically, grotesquely greedy Jewish money lender’ more bluntly.

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Illuminating Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s clowns and fools [infographic]

Fools, or jesters, would have been known by many of those in Shakespeare’s contemporary audience, as they were often kept by the royal court, and some rich households, to act as entertainers. They were male, as were the actors, and would wear flamboyant clothing and carry a ‘bauble’ or carved stick, to use in their jokes.

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The OWC Podcast: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride encounters prejudice, upward-mobility confronts social disdain, and quick-wittedness challenges sagacity, as misconceptions and hasty judgments lead to heartache and scandal, but eventually to true understanding, self-knowledge, and love. In this supremely satisfying story, Jane Austen balances comedy with seriousness, and witty observation with profound insight. If Elizabeth Bennet returns again and again to her letter from Mr Darcy, readers of the novel are drawn even more irresistibly by its captivating wisdom.

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Fascinating facts about man’s best friend

Dogs have historically performed many roles for humans, such as herding, protection, assisting police, companionship, and aiding the handicapped. The tale of “man’s best friend” is a lengthy and intimate history that has lasted for thousands of years, and transcends modern cultural boundaries. Canines appear as poignant characters with symbolic meaning in mythological stories, famous works of art, and religious texts.

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Ben-Hur: tracing the iconic novel and films through history

The latest film adaptation of the story of fictional Jewish noble Judah Ben-Hur is premiering in theaters today. You’ve probably seen the 1959 film version starring Charlton Heston, but do you know about the story’s rich history and impact over the last 136 years?

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The life and work of H.G. Wells: a timeline

August 13th marks the 150th birth and the 70th death anniversary of legendary science fiction writer H.G. Wells. A prophet of modern progress, he accurately predicted several historical advancements, from the World War II, nuclear weapons, to Wikipedia.

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Illuminating Shakespeare

Setting Shakespeare to music

Shakespeare has inspired countless and varied performances, works of art and pieces of writing. He has also inspired music. In this 400th year since Shakespeare’s death we asked five composers ‘how did you approach setting the Shakespeare text you chose for your recent work?’

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5 Edinburgh attractions for booklovers [slideshow]

The Edinburgh Fringe is in full swing with over 3,000 arts events coming to the vibrant Scottish capital over the next few weeks. With the International Book Festival kicking off on the 13th, we’ve compiled our favourite bookish spots around the city for you to squeeze into your schedule.

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Remembering Montrell Jackson’s ethic of mutuality

In a poignant post to his Facebook page on 8 July, police officer Montrell Jackson offered a “hug” and “prayer” to those he met as he patrolled the streets of his native Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For those looking to fit life to the patterns of literature, the events of the past weeks have had the unsettling feel of a revenge tragedy.

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