Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Title cover of "Dangerous Crooked Scoundrels: Insulting the President from Washington to Trump" by Edwin L. Battistella, published by Oxford University Press

The word on arithmetic

When we think of genre, it is often in the sense of literature or film. However, rhetoricians will tell us that genre is a concept that includes any sort of writing that has well-defined conventions, such as business memos, grant proposals, obituaries, syllabi, and much more.

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Here’s Johnny––and Bette!

New York-based talk shows in the 1970s offered plentiful opportunities for quirky young talents like Bette Midler to sing a song or two and maybe kibitz with the host, regardless of whether they had a Broadway show or film or new record to promote. Midler had none of these when her manager Budd Friedman got her booked on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson not long after she began her legendary run at the Continental Baths.

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Did the Santa Barbara oil spill save our beaches?

On 28 January 1969, a blowout on a Union Oil platform six miles off the Santa Barbara coast released three million gallons of crude oil into the ocean. As the first environmental disaster captured in technicolor and publicized across national news media, the Santa Barbara oil spill played an important role in the emergence of the modern environmental movement.

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Classical allusions in Owen and Rosenberg’s war poems

Wilfred Owen is one of the most studied of the war poets, and his poem ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ is undoubtedly the best-known example of classical reception in First World War poetry. The poem ends with seven Latin words from Horace Odes 3.2: dulce et decorum est pro patria mori—‘it is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country’. Owen bitterly denounces these words as ‘the old Lie’.

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The importance of sun safety: Sun Awareness Week 2024

Sun Awareness Week (6-12 May) kicks off the British Association of Dermatologists’ (BAD) summer-long campaign dedicated to raising awareness of non-melanoma skin cancer, a very common type of cancer. The week also aims to teach the public about the importance of good sun protection habits, including ways you can check for signs of skin cancer.  

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My word of the year: hostages

I have never been able to guess the so-called word of the year, because the criteria are so vague: neither an especially frequent word nor an especially popular one, we are told, but the one that characterizes the past twelvemonth in a particularly striking way. To increase my puzzlement, every major dictionary has its own favorite, to be named and speedily forgotten.

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Finding the classics in World War I poetry

It is a paradox that interest in the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome has increased at the same time that the extent of detailed knowledge about Greece, Rome, and the associated languages has declined.

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Messy, messy masculinity: The politics of eccentric men in the early United States

For every weirdo one finds while researching the past’s forgotten personalities, there are probably two or three more just a stone’s throw away whom time did not preserve. Ben Bascom (Feeling Singular: Queer Masculinities in the Early United States) assembles a collection of once neglected but now deeply curious stories that offer the underside to more popular narratives about the founding of the U.S and what it meant—and means—to be masculine.

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Cover of The Art of the Bee by Robert Page

The art of the bee

The impact of bees on our world is immeasurable. Bees are responsible for the evolution of the vast array of brightly colored flowers and for engineering the niches of multitudes of plants, animals, and microbes. They’ve painted our landscapes with flowers through their pollination activities and have evolved the most complex societies to aid their exploitation of the environment.

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A chronology of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China [timeline]

In Wuhan: How the COVID-19 Outbreak in China Spiraled Out of Control, Dali L. Yang scrutinizes China’s emergency response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, delving into the government’s handling of epidemic information and the decisions that influenced the scale and scope of the outbreak. This timeline adapted from the book walks through the day by day chronology of the initial outbreak and explores how both the virus and information spread.

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Mental disorder or something magical?

Each generation finds their own way of understanding mental distress. The ‘shell-shocked’ soldiers of World War I were understood at the time to be of weak character, although now we might diagnose them with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

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Dab-dab and a learned idiom

I receive questions about the origin of words and idioms with some regularity. If the subjects are trivial, I respond privately, but this week a correspondent asked me about the etymology of the verb loiter, and I thought it might be a good idea to devote some space to it and to its closest synonyms.

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Has Christian philosophy been having it too easy?

Over the last 50 years, Christian philosophy has ballooned into by far the largest interest area in the philosophy of religion. The Society of Christian Philosophers boasts more than a thousand members in the United States, and similar groups are dotted around the world.

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