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Time and tide (and mammoths)

In July 1867 the British historian Edward Augustus Freeman was in the thick of writing his epic History of the Norman Conquest. Ever a stickler for detail, he wrote to the geologist William Boyd Dawkins asking for help establishing where exactly in Pevensey soon-to-be King Harold disembarked in 1052.

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Going to the pictures with Shakespeare

Not so long ago, we ‘went to the pictures’ (or ‘the movies’) and now they tend to come to us. For many people, visiting a cinema to see films is no longer their principal means of access to the work of film-makers. But however we see them, it’s the seeing as much as the hearing of Shakespeare in this medium that counts. Or rather, it’s the interplay between the two.

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The phosphene dreams of a young Christian soldier

On a blustery St. Martin’s Eve in 1619, a twenty-three year old French gentleman soldier in the service of Maximilian of Bavaria was billeted near Ulm, Germany. Having recently quit his military service under Maurice of Nassau, he was new to the Bavarian army and a stranger to the area.

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Spain 40 years after General Franco

Forty years ago today (20 November), General Franco, the chief protagonist of nearly half a century of Spanish history, died. ‘Caudillo by the grace of God’, as his coins proclaimed after he won the 1936-39 Civil War, Generalissimo of the armed forces, and head of state and head of government (the latter until 1973), Franco was buried at the colossal mausoleum partly built by political prisoners at the Valle de los Caídos (Valley of the Fallen) in the Guadarrama mountains near Madrid.

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What history can tell us about food allergy

What can the history of medicine tell us about food allergy and other medical conditions? An awful lot. History is essentially about why things change over time. None of our ideas about health or medicine simply spring out of the ground. They evolve over time, adapting to various social, political, economic, technological, and cultural factors. If we want to know anything about the health issues that face us today and will face us in future, the very first thing we should do is turn to the history of such issues.

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Obstacles on the road to a European Energy Union

Is Europe heading towards an Energy Union — the ambitious goal announced by the Commission at the beginning of this year? If so, many would say that it is about time. Energy has long been neglected by Europe.

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Correcting the conversation about race

On 6 November 2015, the New York Times featured a poignant five-minute documentary called “A Conversation About Growing Up Black,” produced by Joe Brewster and Perri Peltz. Brewster and Peltz present Rakesh, Miles, Malek, Marvin, Shaquille, Bisa, Jumoke, Maddox, and Myles. The youngest are 10 and the eldest is 25 years old.

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When aging policies can’t keep up with aging families

The very look and feel of families today is undergoing profound changes. Are public policies keeping up with the shifting definitions of “family”? Moreover, as the population ages within these new family dynamics, how will families give or receive elder care? Below, we highlight just a few social changes that are affecting the experiences of aging families.

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Not a Beatle: Andy White

Every major news source last week carried news of Andy White’s death at 85. The Guardian’s “Early Beatles Drummer Andy White Dies at 85” represents a typical article title intended to attract readers albeit with misinformation that suggests that a particular two-minute-and-twenty-second episode from his life should be why we remember him.

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The antimicrobial resistance crisis: is there a global solution?

The serendipitous discovery of Penicillin by Alexander Fleming in 1929 positively transformed modern medicine. Fleming’s decision to spend his summer holiday in East Anglia and his casual approach to laboratory housekeeping was an auspicious combination. After his return to the laboratory he observed that an uncovered culture plate of Staphyloccocus bacteria had been contaminated.

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You’ll be a man, my son. Part 2

This is the continuation of the story about the origin of the Germanic word for man. Last week I left off after expressing great doubts about the protoform that connected man and guma and tried to defend the Indo-European girl from an unpronounceable name. As could be expected, in their attempts to discover the origin of man etymologists cast a wide net for words containing m and n.

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The meaning of “terrorism”

Anyone who saw the terror on the faces of the people fleeing the attacks in Paris last week will agree that terrorism is the right word to describe the barbaric suicide bombings and the shooting of civilians that awful Friday night. The term terrorism, though once rare, has become tragically common in the twenty-first century.

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Failed versus rogue states: which are worse?

Today, the international community has its hands full with a host of global challenges; from rising numbers of refugees, international terrorism, nuclear weapons proliferation, to pandemics, cyber-attacks, organized crime, drug trafficking, and others. Where do such global challenges originate? Two primary sources are rogue states like North Korea or Iran and failed states like Afghanistan or Somalia.

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The origins of the Religious Right: a Q & A with Neil Young

Neil J. Young traces the interactions among evangelicals, Catholics, and Mormons from the 1950s to the present day to recast the story of the emergence of the Religious Right. We sat down with him to find out a bit more about his process researching the book, what role Mormons have in the rise of the Religious Right, and what the Religious Right’s relationship with Ronald Reagan was.

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