Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Killing me softly: rethinking lethal injection

By Aidan O’Donnell
How hard is it to execute someone humanely? Much harder than you might think. In the US, lethal injection is the commonest method. It is considered humane because it is painless, and the obvious violence and brutality inherent in alternative methods (electrocution, hanging, firing squad) is absent. But when convicted murderer Clayton Lockett was put to death by lethal injection in the evening of 29th April 2014 by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, just about everything went wrong.

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Mapping the American Revolution

By Frances H. Kennedy
The American Revolution: A Historical Guidebook takes readers to 147 sites and landmarks connected with the American Revolution. From Bunker Hill and Valley Forge to Blackstock’s Plantation and Bryan’s Station, these locations are integral to learning about where and how American independence was fought for, and eventually secured.

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The danger of ideology

By Richard S. Grossman
What do the Irish famine and the euro crisis have in common? The famine, which afflicted Ireland during 1845-1852, was a humanitarian tragedy of massive proportions. It left roughly one million people—or about 12 percent of Ireland’s population—dead and led an even larger number to emigrate. The euro crisis, which erupted during the autumn of 2009, has resulted in a virtual standstill in economic growth throughout the Eurozone in the years since then.

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Cultural memory and Canada Day: remembering and forgetting

By Eleanor Ty
Canada Day (Fête du Canada) is the holiday that suggests summer in all its glory for most Canadians — fireworks, parades, free outdoor concerts, camping, cottage getaways, beer, barbeques, and a few speeches by majors or prime ministers. For children, it is the end of a school year and the beginning of two months of summer vacation.

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The month that changed the world: Saturday, 27 June 1914

By Gordon Martel
The next day was to be a brilliant one, a splendid occasion that would glorify the achievements of Austrian rule in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Habsburg heir to the thrones of Austria and Hungary, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, had been eagerly anticipating it for months.

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Oral history through Google Glass

By Juliana Nykolaiszyn
It was late in the day when a nondescript package arrived at my office. After carefully opening the box and lifting off the lid, there it was: Google Glass. And yes, it was awesome. Initially, the technology geek in me was overjoyed, but the oral historian soon took over as I raced through potential uses for this wearable technology in my daily work.

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On Great Expectations

By Maura Kelly
Great Expectations is arguably Charles Dickens’s finest novel – it has a more cogent, concise plot and a more authentic narrator than the other contender for that title, the sprawling masterpiece Bleak House. It may also enjoy another special distinction – Best Title for Any Novel Ever. Certainly, it might have served as the name for any of Dickens’s other novels, as the critic G. K. Chesterson has noted before me.

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Making World Refugee Day count

Khalid Koser
There seems to be an international day for almost every issue these days, and today, 20 June, is the turn of refugees. When the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) releases its annual statistics on refugees today, these are likely to make for gloomy reading.

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Political apparatus of rape in India

By Pratiksha Baxi
In the wake of the Delhi gang rape protests in 2013-2014, a section of the western media was critiqued for representing sexual violence as a form of cultural violence. For instance, a white woman reporter said to a friend, ‘we are filming Indian women of all kinds. You look modern.

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A 2014 summer songs playlist

Compiled by Taylor Coe Now that summer is finally here — dog-eared paperbacks and sunglasses dusted off and put to good use — it’s also time to figure out what we should be listening to as we loll about in the sun.

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A globalized history of “baron,” part 2

By Anatoly Liberman
I will begin with a short summary of the previous post. In English texts, the noun baron surfaced in 1200, which means that it became current not much earlier than the end of the twelfth century. It has been traced to Semitic (a fanciful derivation), Celtic, Latin (a variety of proposals), and Germanic. The Old English words beorn “man; fighter, warrior” and bearn “child; bairn” are unlikely sources of baron.

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English convent lives in exile, 1540-1800

By Victoria Van Hyning
In the two and a half centuries following the dissolution of the monasteries in England in the 1530s, women who wanted to become nuns first needed to become exiles. The practice of Catholicism in England was illegal, as was undertaking exile for the sake of religious freedom.

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Derrida on the madness of our time

By Simon Glendinning
In 1994 Jacques Derrida participated in a seminar in Capri under the title “Religion”. Derrida himself thought “religion” might be a good word, perhaps the best word for thinking about our time, our “today”. It belongs, Derrida suggested, to the “absolute anachrony” of our time. Religion? Isn’t it that old thing that we moderns had thought had gone away, the thing that really does not belong in our time? And yet, so it seems, it is still alive and well.

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What is a book?

In recent weeks, a trade dispute between Amazon and Hachette has been making headlines across the world. But discussion at our book-laden coffee tables and computer screens has not been limited to contract terms and inventory, but what books mean to us as publishers, booksellers, authors, and readers.

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