Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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The Odyssey in culture, ancient and modern

Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey recounts the 10-year journey of Odysseus from the fall of Troy to his return home to Ithaca. The story has continued to draw people in since its beginning in an oral tradition, through the first Greek writing and integration into the ancient education system, the numerous translations over the ages, and modern retellings.

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Does pain have a history?

It’s easy to assume that we know what pain is. We’ve all experienced pain, from scraped knees and toothaches to migraines and heart attacks. When people suffer around us, or we witness a loved one in pain, we can also begin to ‘feel’ with them. But is this the end of the story?

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Free speech, reputation, and the Defamation Act 2013

Freedom of expression is a central tenet of almost every modern society. This freedom however often comes into conflict with other rights, and can be misused and exploited. New media – especially on the internet – and new forms of media intrusion bring added complexity to old tensions between the individual’s rights to reputation and privacy on the one hand, and freedom of expression and the freedom of the press on the other.

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Gods and men in The Iliad and The Odyssey

The Ancient Greek gods are all the things that humans are — full of emotions, constantly making mistakes — with the exception of their immortality. It makes their lives and actions often comical or superficial — a sharp contrast to the humans that are often at their mercy. The gods can show their favor, or displeasure; men and women are puppets in their world.

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What can poetry teach us about war?

There can be no area of human experience that has generated a wider range of powerful feelings than war. Jon Stallworthy’s celebrated anthology The New Oxford Book of War Poetry spans from Homer’s Iliad, through the First and Second World Wars, the Vietnam War, and the wars fought since. The new edition, published to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, includes a new introduction and additional poems from David Harsent and Peter Wyton amongst others.

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Sovereign debt in the light of eternity

From Greece to the United States, across Europe and in South America – sovereign debt and the shadow of sovereign debt crisis have loomed over states across the world in recent decades. Why is sovereign debt such a pressing problem for modern democracies? And what are the alternatives? In this video Lee Buchheit discusses the emergence of sovereign debt as a global economic reality.

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Reflecting on the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings

In the early morning of 6 June 1944, thousands of men stood in Higgins boats off the coast of Normandy. They could not see around them until the bow ramp was lowered — when it was time for them to storm the Gold, Juno, Sword, Utah, and Omaha beaches. Over 10,000 of them would die in the next 24 hours.

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Politics and cities: looking at the roots of suburban sprawl

Our modern-day suburban sprawl is much more than bad architecture and sloppy planning, yet there might be a simple solution. Benjamin Ross, author of Dead End: Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of American Urbanism, argues that the expansion of rail transit would help us to create better places to live.

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The in-depth selfie: discussing selfies through an academic lens

Looking at oneself is a timeless concept. We are constantly trying to figure out how to represent ourselves in our own brains . . . confusing certainly. In honor of Oxford Dictionaries’s 2013 word of the year — “selfie” — University of Southern California professors pay homage by discussing selfies through the lens of letters, arts, and sciences. They analyse the selfie trend through the perspectives of sociology, gender studies, religion, anthropology, and more. Watch their video below and learn how profound a camera flash and puckered mouth can be.

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Cybersecurity and the cyber-awareness gap

“‘There’s probably no issue that’s become more crucial, more rapidly, but is less understood, than cybersecurity,’ warns cyber expert P.W. Singer, co-author of Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know. Cybersecurity has quickly become one of the most defining challenges of our generation, and yet, as the threat of cyber-terrorism looms, there remains an alarming “cyber-awareness gap” that renders the many of us vulnerable.

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Splash! What kids discover in a puddle

It’s spring and about this time each year, a little ritual takes place. After the winter melt, many children encounter their first puddle with the zeal of an explorer discovering a new land.

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What is English?

What is English? Ask any speaker of English, and the answer you get may be “it’s what the dictionary says it is.” Or, “it’s what I speak.” Answers like these work well enough up to a point, but the words that make it in the dictionary are not always the words we hear being used around us.

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Verdun: the longest battle of the Great War

The battle of Verdun began on 21 February 1916. It did not end until December of that year. It was a place of no advance and no retreat, where national resources continued to pour in, extending the slaughter indefinitely. Paul Jankowski, leading French historian and author of Verdun: The Longest Battle of the Great War, examines Verdun in a new, unique way, using both French and German sources with equal weight.

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Reflections on World War I

As we approach the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I, we’re taking a look back at the momentous event that forever changed the course of world history. Here Sir Hew Strachan, editor of The Oxford Illustrated History of the First World War, examines the various important issues we can learn from commemorating the Great War and how perspectives on the war have shifted and changed over the last 100 years.

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Is the planet full?

Is the planet full? Can the world continue to support a growing population estimated to reach 10 billion people by the middle of the century? And how can we harness the benefits of a healthier, wealthier and longer-living population?

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