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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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World Diabetes Day 2016

November 14 is World Diabetes Day, an observance day led by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and recognized by the World Health Organization and the United Nations. The day aims to raise awareness of the condition globally. The theme of the 2016 campaign is “Eyes on diabetes” and focuses around screening, diagnosis, and treatment to reduce the complications of type 2 diabetes.

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American History

Why were the Salem witch trials so significant?

Religious fanaticism, power-hungry individuals, local disputes, misogyny, anxiety, political turmoil, psychological distress, and mass hysteria all contributed to the atmosphere surrounding the infamous Salem witch trials. These factors converged in 1692 to “produce what was by far the largest and most lethal outbreak of witchcraft in American history … threaten[ing] to bring down the newly formed Massachusetts Bay government of Sir William Phips.”

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From Harlem to Wakanda: On Luke Cage and Black Panther

While watching the first episode of Luke Cage, I noticed something of a minor miracle. Starting from the amazing opening credits sequence, you could actually count the minutes before a single non-black face graced the screen. Every character of consequence, heroic or villainous, was black. Not only that, they were characters well-versed in blackness, however stereotypical. Fittingly, one of the first real set-pieces is a barbershop.

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Home-coming

At the intersection of State and Washington Streets in the Warehouse District of downtown Peoria, a city of about 116,000 that sits halfway between Chicago and St. Louis, stands a nine-foot-tall bronze likeness of the city’s most infamous native son. If you were a visitor, in town to hang out along the up-and-coming riverfront or to visit Caterpillar, the only Fortune 500 company headquartered in the city, you would be forgiven for thinking this makes sense, that of course Peoria would memorialize Richard Pryor arguably the most culturally significant Peorian of all time, and inarguably one of the most significant figures in African American cultural history of the twentieth century.

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Oxford Classical Dictionary

Make demagogues great again

This year’s eyebrow-raising, jaw-dropping American electoral campaign has evoked in some observers the memory of the ancient Roman Republic, especially as it neared its bloody end. Commentators have drawn parallels between Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Julius Caesar. That would be an insult – to Caesar.

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Who were Shakespeare’s collaborators?

When we read Shakespeare’s Complete Works we are primarily, of course, reading Shakespeare. But as a bonus we also get, in the same volume, an excellent anthology of most of the important playwrights who were his collaborators. Shakespeare collaborated for the same reason that most people do: different members of the team are especially good at different tasks.

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Betty Tompkins – Episode 40 – The Oxford Comment

Betty Tompkins came of age as a painter in the 1960s and 1970s. Though she has been a working artist for over 40 years, Tompkins has inspired renewed interest since the early 2000s, with a new generation of viewers responding to her unique voice and technical skill. As a woman and a feminist artist, Betty Tompkins is no stranger to the barriers against female voices, both in the art world, and in culture at large.

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Thoughts on Dylan’s Nobel

Of all the responses to Bob Dylan’s Nobel, my favorite comes from Leonard Cohen, who likened it to “pinning a medal on Mount Everest.” It’s a brilliant line, pure Cohen—all dignity and poise, yet with an acid barb. Not only is Everest in no need of a medal, the attempt to fix one to its impassive torso (imagine the puny pin bending back on first contact) is metaphorically all too apt for the Nobel committee’s current quandary.

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Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion

Archaic and postmodern, today’s pagans challenge ideas about ‘religion’

Several people chuckled when they walked past Room 513B during 2009 annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion, held in Montréal. The title of the session within was simply “Idolatry,” held by the AAR’s Contemporary Pagan Studies Group Papers such as “Materiality and Spirituality Aren’t Opposites (Necessarily): Paganism and Objects” were presented. The nervous laughter at the session’s title shows that even among scholars of religion, topics of polytheism and idolatry seem quaint, antique, and even trivial.

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Oxford Bibliographies Political Science

The essence of presidential leadership

The challenges of governing have rarely been greater. The distance between the parties in Congress and between identifiers with the parties among the public is the greatest in a century. The public accords Congress the lowest approval ratings in modern history, but activists allow its members little leeway to compromise. The inability of Congress and the president to resolve critical problems results in constant crises in financing the government, endless debate over immigration, health care, environmental protection, and other crucial issues, and a failure to plan effectively for the future.

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Specters in the stacks: haunted libraries in the United States

Some people love libraries so much, they never leave. Though no living human being knows exactly what happens—or doesn’t happen—after death, certain library patrons have reported unnatural, paranormal events occurring within the walls of these four supposedly haunted libraries. Could they be ghosts attempting to check out a new Sci-Fi novel or mischievously disrupting the organized stacks?

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Oxford Classical Dictionary

How much do you know about ancient ghosts, witches, and monsters?

From tales of Medusa’s wretched gaze turning men to stone to the cunning Sphinx torturing the city of Thebes, supernatural creatures and beings have long been a part of poems and children’s stories for centuries. The Greeks’ and Romans’ fears and superstitions informed their culture, and have long fascinated scholars intrigued by the extant corpus of mentions of witches, ghosts, and monsters in Greek and Roman literature.

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Oxford Bibliographies in British and Irish Literature

Vampire awareness in October 2016

When Best Buy, the American multinational consumer electronics corporation, declared 30 October 2008 “National Vampire Awareness Day,” they were cannily exploiting a metaphor that, within Western culture at least, was over 200 years old. Here, though, the vampires to be arrested, staked, and vanquished were not the suave, velvet-cloaked aristocrats of Old-World Europe, but the electronics and electrical appliances…

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Halloween’s killer cereals

For many of us, the prospect of Halloween is scary enough without the presence of roaming spirits. Those with children must weigh the risks of letting them trick-or-treat unsupervised—the familiar danger of “sugar overload”. Those with teenagers must consider the damage their brood are capable of doing, whether with eggs, toilet paper, or worse. Horror film goers will struggle with the walk home through darkened streets after back-to-back screenings.

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Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion

11 things about women in Ancient Israel you probably didn’t know

In a book that is mostly written by men and about men, what is the role of women? Over 90% of the names in the Hebrew bible are men. Most of the main actors of the text are men, and the books were originally written by and for men. Finding out about women’s experiences is not easy, but scholars have been able to figure out a lot by carefully combing through the text.

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