Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Three top tips for writing sociology essays

Give the reader a guide to your argument. Much as you would give someone directions in how to get to where they’re going, tell your reader what steps you will take, what the key turning points will be, why it is important to take this route and, ultimately, where you will end up. In other words, tell your reader exactly what you will conclude and why, right at the beginning.

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Singing resistance on the border

At an early age, Américo Paredes was preoccupied with the inexorable passing of time, which would leave an imprint in his academic career. Devoting his academic career to preserving and displaying Mexican-American traditions through thorough analysis and recording of folk-songs, it is clear that Paredes kept his focus on beating back the forces of time and amnesia. Indeed, Paredes’ lessons are still very much relevant today.

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The trouble with elite cities

The transformation of the city into a pricey commodity for sale is one of the most profitable ventures in the current phase of capitalism. This is why private players and local governments are eager to invest monumental resources in the production and promotion of this ever more sophisticated, ever more seductive money-making machine: the city.

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Challenging ageism through burlesque performance [video]

Five years ago, Kaitlyn Regehr and Matilda Temperley, documentarian and photographer respectively, set off for Las Vegas to interview members of the League of Exotic Dancers. At the Burlesque Hall of Fame, these legends—thriving sixty years past the supposed prime of burlesque—have created a community in “Old Vegas” where they continue to perform half-century-old routines.

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Silas Marner, Threads, and Weaving [an excerpt]

Repetition and storytelling are bound in the novel’s representation of weaving, a theme that exemplifies the manner in which Silas Marner deftly moves between fable and realism. Classical mythology and fairy tales are crowded with weavers. Silas’s insect-like activity (he is reduced ‘to the unquestioning activity of a spinning insect’ and ‘seemed to weave, like the spider, from pure impulse, without reflection’ (p. 14)) calls to mind the myth of Arachne, who boldly challenged a goddess to a weaving contest.

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The morality of genocide

Among the thousands of pictures displayed in that monument to human depravity which is the Tuol Sleng Centre outside Phnom Penh —now part of Cambodia’s “dark tourism” circuit—, one stands out. It is the picture of a middle-aged man, eyes wide open, his identity reduced to a plastic sign bearing the inmate number “404” pinned to his collar. The image is conspicuous not because of any sign of violence—unlike other images at the former school turned-into-torture-centre, and then museum—but because of the man’s facial expression.

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The traps of social media: to ‘like’ or not to ‘like’

A recent Swiss case reported in the media has raised the spectre of criminal liability and/or defamation for merely ‘liking’ a 3rd party post on Facebook. Whilst this may have been the first time that this specific issue has come up in court it may not be the last! We are all already very aware of the trouble that can result from indulging in posts and tweets on line which may cause offence but until now merely ‘liking’ a post has not, to the author’s knowledge, given rise to any liability.

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Healthcare during Harvey

As an emergency room doctor, I was boots on the ground! I work at several companies and have several different hospitals I go to, Houston and Beaumont. Just after the storm hit Beaumont, record floods swamped the area. And I drove in to work. Through two feet of water. But after arrival, I manned my post and an extraordinary thing happened. Most of us in my neighborhood are pilots with small planes and it’s a great life.

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William Dean Howells and the Gilded Age [excerpt]

Through his writing, novelist and critic William Dean Howells captured the political and social aftermath of the Civil War. Given his limited involvement in politics, Howells’ works focused on the lives of common people over the uncommon, whom he deemed “essentially unattractive and uninteresting.” In the following excerpt from The Republic For Which It Stands, […]

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After Mosul, are borders and state sovereignty still an issue in the Middle East?

After three years of ISIS occupation, the Iraqi army reconquered most of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, in July. As the self-declared caliphate—the world’s richest terrorist organization—has been losing considerable territory over the last two years, and with the international borders of most states in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) still intact, is the survival of the state system in the region still an issue of concern?

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Back to biology: a reading list

Autumn is here and it’s time for students to head back to University. To help our biology students ease back into their studies, we’ve organized a brief reading list. Whether you’re studying human biology, ecology, or microbiology – these selections will help undergraduate and graduate students get back into the swing of things this new school year.

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Should bluegrass go to college? yes

On July 5, 2017, Ted Lehmann’s weekly bluegrass column in No Depression asked this provocative question: Bluegrass goes to college, but should it? Through deft turn of phrase, Lehmann hints that the answer may be no, and that perhaps both the music’s historical integrity and today’s aspiring performers might not be best served via the college route.

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How a failed suicide affects the brain

The numerous factors that induce someone to think about suicide, the “ideators,” are often different from those who actually attempt suicide, the “attempters.” For example, the traditional risk factors for suicide, such as depression, hopelessness, many psychiatric disorders, and impulsivity, strongly predict suicide ideation but weakly predict suicide attempts among ideators.

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The coinage of the Roman Emperor Nerva (AD 96-98)

On 18 September, in AD 96, the 65 year-old senator, Nerva, became emperor of Rome (Figure 1). His predecessor, Domitian, was assassinated in the culmination of a palace conspiracy; there is no evidence that Nerva had anything to do with the plot.

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The independence of Anne Bradstreet

When the eighteen year old Anne Bradstreet first arrived in the New World in 1630, she confessed that “her heart rose.” She had made the voyage on the Arbella from England to Salem, Massachusetts with her extended family as part of the Puritan “Errand into the Wilderness.” Bradstreet’s resolution to write from her personal experience as a woman is the wellspring of her most memorable poetry.

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