Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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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800-oupblogbookcover

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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Place of the Year nominee spotlight: Dwarf planet Pluto

This July, a NASA space probe completed our set of images of the planets, at least as I knew them growing up. New Horizons, a probe that launched back in 2006, arrived at Pluto and its moons, and over a very brief encounter, started to send back thousands of images of this hitherto barely known place.

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9780199689828 Zipes OC Fairy Tales

Which fairy tale character are you? [quiz]

The magic of fairy tales doesn’t just lie in their romantic landscapes and timeless themes of good against evil. The best fairy tales are always populated with compelling and memorable characters – like the rags-to-riches princess, the gallant prince on horseback set to save the day, or the jealous and lonely evil king or queen. Which famous fairy tale character do you think you’re most like?

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9780199669608

The paradoxes of Christmas

While most of you probably don’t believe in Santa Claus (and some of you of course never did!), you might not be aware that Santa Claus isn’t just imaginary, he is impossible! In order to show that the very concept of Santa Claus is riddled with incoherence, we first need to consult the canonical sources to determine what properties and powers this mystical man in red is supposed to have.

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