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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

9780199686001

Art of the Ice Age [slideshow]

In 2003 Paul Bahn led the team that discovered the first Ice Age cave art at Creswell Crags in Britain. In recent years, many more discoveries have been made including the expanding phenomenon of ‘open-air Ice Age art’. In the slideshow below, you can see some of the earliest examples of art on the planet, and take a tour of prehistoric art throughout the world.

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Sound

The trick of the lock: Dorothy L. Sayers and the invention of the voice print

Pre-eminent among writers of mystery stories is, in my opinion, Dorothy L. Sayers. She is ingenious, witty, original – and scientific too, including themes like the fourth dimension, electroplating, and the acoustics of bells in some of her best stories. She is also the inventor of the voice-activated lock, which her hero Lord Wimsey deploys in the 1928 short story ‘The Adventurous Exploit of the Cave of Ali Baba’.

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9780199334698

Five years after: The legacy of the Japanese anti-nuclear movement

This month marks the fifth anniversary of 3.11–the moniker for the earthquake, tsunami, and Fukushima nuclear disaster that struck northeastern Japan on 11 March 2011, killing nearly 20,000 and displacing as many as 170,000 people. In addition to mourning for lost souls, the anniversary was marked by loud anti-nuclear protests all over Japan.

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9780198525059

10 surprising facts about spiders

Arachnophobia, an irrational fear of spiders, affects millions of people around the world. This is not helped by popular culture portraying them as scary, deadly creatures who could creep up on you, and bite you, when you least expect it. They also do look pretty creepy… We’ve found the following ten facts about these misunderstood creatures.

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9780198746799

Why we do what we do

You walked out the door this morning. Why did you do it? Perhaps because you wanted to stretch your legs. Perhaps because you wanted to feel the fresh air on your face and the wind blowing through your hair. Is that it? Not quite. I bet you also walked out the door this morning because the phone didn’t ring a second earlier.

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9780190269784

Constructing race in world history

Racism is alive and kicking. We see it in the news; we see it in our lives. And yet our modern concept (and practice) that involves notions of “race”—on which racism rests—is a recent invention. While people and their societies have long distinguished among themselves—Romans distinguished between “citizens” and “barbarians.”

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9780195387070

Shebang, by Jingo!

The lines above look (and sound) like identical oaths, but that happens only because of the ambiguity inherent in the preposition by. No one swears by my name, while Mr. Jingo has not written or published anything. Nowadays, jingoism “extreme and aggressive patriotism” and jingoist do not seem to be used too often, though most English speakers still understand them, but in Victorian England, in the late nineteen-seventies and some time later, the words were on everybody’s lips.

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9780199671267

What was Shakespeare’s religion?

What was Shakespeare’s religion? It’s possible to answer this seemingly simple question in lots of different ways. Like other English subjects who lived through the ongoing Reformation, Shakespeare was legally obliged to attend Church of England services. Officially, at least, he was a Protestant. But a number of scholars have argued that there is evidence that Shakespeare had connections through his family and school teachers with Roman Catholicism, a religion which, through the banning of its priests, had effectively become illegal in England.

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9780190218478

Miley Cyrus and the culture of excess in American history

Miley Cyrus has shocked the world anew with a recent CANDY Magazine photo shoot by over-the-top fashion photographer Terry Richardson. Cyrus sticks her tongue out with enthusiasm—and does much more. In one image, she is “dressed” in a police officer’s uniform, except that she is not wearing a shirt and a pair of handcuffs is displayed prominently.

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9780195387070

…whether the wether will weather the weather

It so happens that I have already touched on the first and the last member of the triad whetherwetherweather in the past. By a strange coincidence, the interval between the posts dealing with them was exactly four years: they appeared on 19 April 2006 (weather) and 21 April 2010 (whether) respectively.

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9780195391312

Those four new elements

The recent announcement of the official ratification of four super-heavy elements, with atomic numbers 113, 115, 117 and 118, has taken the world of science news by storm. It seems like there is an insatiable appetite for new information about the elements and the periodic table within the scientific world and among the general public.

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Top OUPblog posts of 2015: Editor’s Picks

The publishing volume of the OUPblog has finally led to the inevitable — I can no longer read every article we publish. Fortunately, I have an amazing team of deputy editors who review articles, catch (most) errors, and discover the best of our publishing over the course of the year.

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9780195301748

Why have we normalized Islamophobia?

The horrific attacks in Paris and San Bernardino have captured headlines and triggered responses from journalists, politicians, and religious leaders. Some Western heads of government have once again threatened a global war against terrorism, while some political commentators have even invoked World War III.

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Illuminating Shakespeare

Shakespeare and Islam

Without Islam there would be no Shakespeare. This may seem surprising or even controversial to those who imagine a “national bard” insulated from the wider world. Such an approach is typified in the words of the celebrated historian A.L. Rowse, who wrote that when it came to creatively connecting with that world, Shakespeare, the “quiet countryman,” was “the least engaged writer there ever was.”

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Journal of Design History

Aesthetics and the Victorian Christmas card

When we think of Christmas cards, we usually picture images of holly, robins, angels and candles, or snow-covered cottages with sledging children, Nativity scenes with visiting Wise Men, or benevolent Santas with sacks full of presents. Very rarely, I imagine, do we picture a summer woodland scene features lounging female figures in classical dress and a lyre-playing cherub.

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Illuminating Shakespeare

Seditious Shakespeare: beyond hierarchy

Given that Shakespeare’s company enjoyed royal patronage, performed regularly at Court, and became known as the King’s Men upon the accession of James I in 1603, you’d be forgiven for assuming that his plays were bent on buttressing rather than subverting the status quo. That assumption certainly seems to be backed up in Troilus and Cressida by Ulysses’ apocalyptic vision of the anarchy that’s bound to ensue when “degree, priority and place” are not strictly observed: “Take but degree away, untune that string, / And hark what discord follows.”

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