Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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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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The viability of Transcendence: the science behind the film

In the trailer of Transcendence, an authoritative professor embodied by Johnny Depp says that “the path to building superintelligence requires us to unlock the most fundamental secrets of the universe.” It’s difficult to wrap our minds around the possibility of artificial intelligence and how it will affect society. 

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What’s the secret to high scores on video games?

When playing video games, do you play better with the sound on or off? Every gamer may have an opinion—but what has research shown? Some studies suggest that music and sound effects enhance performance. For instance, Tafalla (2007) found that male gamers scored almost twice as many points while playing the first-person shooter game DOOM with the sound on (chilling music, weaponfire, screams, and labored breathing) compared to those playing with the sound off.

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A publisher before wartime

This year marks the centenary of the start of the First World War. This cataclysmic event in world history has been examined by many scholars with different angles over the intervening years, but the academic community hopes to gain fresh insight into the struggles of war on this anniversary.

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Is our language too masculine?

As Women’s History month comes to a close, we wanted to share an important debate that Simon Blackburn, author of Ethics: A Very Short Introduction, participated in for IAITV. Joined by Scottish feminist linguist Deborah Cameron and feminist psychologist Carol Gilligan, they look at what we can do to build a more feminist language.

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Expressing ourselves about expressiveness in music

Picture the scene. You’re sitting in a box at the Royal Albert Hall, or the Vienna Musikverein. You have purchased tickets to hear Beethoven’s Ninth symphony performed by an internationally renowned orchestra, and they are playing it in a way that sounds wonderful. But what makes this such a powerful performance?

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35 years: the best of C-SPAN

By Kate Pais
The Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network, better known as C-SPAN, has been airing the day-to-day activities of Congress since 1979, for thirty-five years as of this week. Now across three different channels, C-SPAN has provided the American public easy access to politics in action, and created a new level of transparency in public life.

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