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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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The Oxford DNB at 10: new perspectives on medieval biography

Today’s publication of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography’s September 2014 update—marking the Dictionary’s tenth anniversary—contains a chronological bombshell. The ODNB covers the history of Britons worldwide ‘from the earliest times’, a phrase which until now has meant since the fourth century BC, as represented by Pytheas, the Marseilles merchant whose account of the British Isles is the earliest known to survive

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The lure of sounds

There’s something about the idea of ‘original pronunciation’ (OP) that gets the pulse racing. I’ve been amazed by the public interest shown in this unusual application of a little-known branch of linguistics — historical phonology, a subject that explores how the sounds of a language change over time.

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Peace treaties that changed the world

From their remotest origins, treaties have fulfilled numerous different functions. Their contents are as diverse as the substance of human contacts across borders themselves. From pre-classical Antiquity to the present, they have not only been used to govern relations between governments, but also to regulate the position of foreigners or to organise relations between citizens of different polities.

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The Oxford DNB at 10: new research opportunities in the humanities

The publication of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography in September 2004 was a milestone in the history of scholarship, not least for crossing from print to digital publication. Prior to this moment a small army of biographers, myself among them, had worked almost entirely from paper sources, including the stately volumes of the first, Victorian ‘DNB’ and its 20th-century print supplement volumes. But the Oxford DNB of 2004 was conceived from the outset as a database and published online as web pages, not paper pages reproduced in facsimile.

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A role model for black feminism: Harriet Ross Tubman

Harriet Ross Tubman’s heroic rescue effort on behalf of slaves before and during the Civil War was a lifetime fight against social injustice and oppression. Most people are aware of her role as what historian John Hope Franklin considered the greatest conductor for the Underground Railroad.

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Whose muse mews?

What could be more fun than an internet quiz about cats? We sat down with Oxford Scholarly Editions Online, and fired up the search, looking for cats stalking the pages of literature. We found some lovely stuff, and something more – a literary reflection of the cat’s unstoppable gambol up the social ladder: a mouser and rat-catcher in the seventeenth century, he springs up the stairs in the eighteenth century to become the plaything of smart young ladies and companion of literary lions such as Cowper, Dr Johnson, and Horace Walpole.

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Changes in digital publishing: a marketer’s perspective

We all have a great deal of resources at our disposal most of the time, we look things up on our tablets and phones immediately, and are able to retrieve information on almost any topic at any time, almost anywhere. We’ve never been so connected globally. As a marketer, I’m intrigued and excited by engaging with this global community [...]

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Understanding Ebola

Ebola is a widely known, but poorly understood, virus. Even in West Africa, in the middle of the 2014 West African Ebola Epidemic, the vast majority of patients with a differential diagnosis of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) will in fact be suffering with something else serious and potentially fatal.

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Celebrating Julie Andrews

This month marks the 50th anniversary of Disney’s beloved film Mary Poppins, starring the legendary Julie Andrews. Although Andrews was only twenty-nine at the time of the film’s release, she had already established herself as a formidable star with numerous credits to her name and performances opposite Richard Burton, Rex Harrison, and other leading actors […]

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Dispatches from the Front: German Feldpostkarten in World War I

In the first autumn of World War I, a German infantryman from the 25th Reserve Division sent this pithy greeting to his children in Schwarzenberg, Saxony. He scrawled the message in looping script on the back of a Feldpostkarte, or field postcard, one that had been designed for the Bahlsen cookie company by the German artist and illustrator Änne Koken.

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Remembering the slave trade and its abolition

On August 23rd the United Nations observes the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. In honor of this day, we have examined the history of slavery and its abolition, and have worked to shed light on contemporary slavery practices.

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An Oxford Companion to being the Doctor

If you share my jealousy of Peter Capaldi and his new guise as Doctor Who, then read on to discover how you could become the next Doctor. However, be warned: you can’t just pick up Matt Smith’s bow-tie from the floor, don Tom Baker’s scarf and expect to save planet Earth every Saturday at peak viewing time. You’re going to need training. This is where Oxford’s online products can help you. Think of us as your very own Tardis guiding you through the dimensions of time, only with a bit more sass.

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Early Modern Porn Wars

One day in 1668, the English diarist Samuel Pepys went shopping for a book to give his young French-speaking wife. He saw a book he thought she might enjoy, L’École des femmes or The School of Women, “but when I came to look into it, it is the most bawdy, lewd book that ever I saw,” he wrote, “so that I was ashamed of reading in it.”

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Salamone Rossi, Jewish musician in Renaissance Mantua

What do we know of Salamone Rossi’s family? His father was named Bonaiuto Azaria de’ Rossi (d. 1578): he composed Me’or einayim (Light of the Eyes). Rossi had a brother, Emanuele (Menaḥem), and a sister, Europe, who, like him, was a musician.

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The First World War and the development of international law

On 28 June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were assassinated in Sarajevo, setting off a six week diplomatic battle that resulted in the start of the First World War. The horrors of that war, from chemical weapons to civilian casualties, led to the first forays into modern international law. The League of Nations was established to prevent future international crises and a Permanent Court of International Justice created to settle disputes between nations.

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