Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Shariah: myths vs. realities

For many in the West today, “Shariah” is a word that evokes fear—fear of a medieval legal system that issues draconian punishments, fear of relegation of women and religious minorities to second-class citizenship, fear of Muslims living as separate communities who refuse to integrate with the rest of society, and fear that Muslims will seek to impose Shariah in America and Europe.

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A misnomered species: 5 facts you should know about orcas

For centuries, orcas have accrued a myriad of different names: Orcinus orca (which translates roughly as “demon from hell”), asesinas de ballena (whale killers), Delphinus orca, grampus, thrasher, blackfish, killer whale, to name a few. The names of these animals are overtly violent, but what do we actually know about the alleged “demons from hell”? This month, we want look at the facts about killer whales, and debunk the centuries-old mystery and fear surrounding orcas.

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Where do our teeth come from? [excerpt]

We all know that we start with baby teeth which fall out and are replaced with adult teeth, but do we really know why? Where do our baby teeth come from in the first place? This adapted extract below from the Oxford Handbook of Integrated Dental Biosciences highlights how our teeth form, why they erupt through our gums when they do, what causes teething pains, and when baby teeth should begin to appear.

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A Q&A with composer Will Todd

British composer and pianist Will Todd has worked at the Royal Opera House, the Lincoln Center in New York, London’s Barbican, and with Welsh National Opera, award-winning choirs The Sixteen, the BBC Singers, and Tenebrae. His music is valued for its melodic intensity and harmonic skill, which often incorporates jazz colours. We caught up with Will to ask him a few questions about his inspiration and approach to composition.

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The gleaner continues his journey: June 2018

My discussion of idioms does not rest on a solid foundation. In examining the etymology of a word, I can rely on the evidence of numerous dictionaries and on my rich database. The linguists interested in the origin of idiomatic phrases wade through a swamp. My database of such phrases is rather rich, but the notes I have amassed are usually “opinions,” whose value is hard to assess. Sometimes the origin of a word is at stake.

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Brexit threatens food supplies and Ministers know it

The story on the front page of The Sunday Times on 3 June 2018 pulled no punches. Headlined “Revealed: plans for Doomsday Brexit”, it reported on leaked government papers planning for a “no deal” Brexit scenario. They warned that the port of Dover could collapse on day one of exiting the EU, with major food shortages within a few days and medicines shortages within two weeks.

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It’s not just decline and fall anymore…

One evening in mid-October 1764 the young Edward Gibbon sat among the ruins of the Capitol at Rome. The prospect before him must have looked like a Piranesi print–bony cattle grazing on thin grass in the shade of shattered marble columns. It was then and there that he resolved to write the history of the decline and fall of Rome.

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Keeping high risk patients healthy at home

Staying on top of multiple chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart failure can be a challenge for even the most well-resourced patient – imagine doing so while battling homelessness and schizophrenia. The result is often frequent trips to the emergency department and the hospital. Not surprisingly, many healthcare systems have started implementing programs to address the needs of these patients.

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Philosopher of The Month: Maurice Merleau-Ponty [slideshow]

This July, the OUP Philosophy team honors Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908-61) as their Philosopher of the Month.  Merleau-Ponty was a French phenomenologist and together with Sartre founded the existential philosophy. His work draws on the empirical psychology, the early phenomenology of Husserl, Saussure’s structuralism as well as Heidegger’s ontology. His most famous work Phénoménologie de la […]

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Professionalizing leadership – development

Learning to lead should consist of a certain sequence in a certain order. Like doctors and lawyers, and for that matter like preachers and teachers and truck drivers and hairdressers, leaders should first be educated, then trained, and then developed. Previously we have addressed leadership education and training. What finally is meant by leadership development? How are leaders developed – as opposed to educated or trained?

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The varieties of shame

When my grandmother died in 2009, my far-flung family returned to east Texas to mourn her. People she had known from every stage of her life arrived to pay their respects. At a quiet moment during the wake, my aunt asked my grandfather how he felt about seeing all these people who loved him and who loved my grandmother. He answered, “Shame” and started to cry. 

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Nonsurgical challenges in surgical training

Surgical cases dramatized in popular culture are loosely based on reality, but surgery is decidedly less glamorous on a daily basis. Before embarking on my own surgery training, I mentally prepared myself for the long hours and expected demands of caring for sick surgical patients, but looking back, the lessons I remember most came from small, quiet, and often unexpected moments.

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Smoke from wildland fires and public health

Firefighters, forest managements, and residents are preparing for another fire season in the western part of the United States. Wildfires burn large expanses of forested lands in California, but it’s not just rural Californians who need to worry about effects of such fires. Residents in urban areas and neighboring states experience the through smoke from hundreds of miles away.

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Did Muslims forget about the Crusades?

The crusades are so ubiquitous these days that it is hard to imagine anyone ever forgetting them. People play video games like Assassin’s Creed (starring the Templars) and Crusader Kings II in droves, newsfeeds are filled with images of young men marching around in places like Charlottesville holding shields bearing the old crusader slogan “Deus vult” (God wills it!), and every year books about the crusades are published in their dozens, informing readers about the latest developments in crusader studies.

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The ascent of music and the 63rd Eurovision Song Contest

At a speed few can fathom, nationalism has become the dirtiest word in all of European cultural politics. Embraced by the right and rising populism, nationalism seemingly poses a threat to the very being of Europe. Nationalists proudly proclaim a euroscepticism that places the sovereignty of self over community.

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