Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Should the people always get what they want from their politicians?

Should we listen to the voice of “the people” or the conviction of their representatives? Britain’s vote to leave the European Union has inspired virulent debate about the answer. Amidst Theresa May’s repeated failure to pass her Brexit deal in the House of Commons this spring, the Prime Minister appealed directly to the frustrations and feelings of the people. “You the public have had enough,” she asserted in a speech of March 20.

Read More

A linguistic League of Nations

It turned out that the melancholy idiom send one to Coventry may not have anything to do with that town. To reinforce this unexpected conclusion, I’ll relate another story. At one time, the phrase up at Harwich existed; perhaps it is still known in the eastern counties.

Read More

Looking at Game of Thrones, in Old Norse

The endtime is coming. The night is very long indeed; sun and moon have vanished. From the east march the frost-giants, bent on the destruction of all that is living. From the south come fiery powers, swords gleaming brightly. A dragon flies overhead. And, terrifyingly, the dead are walking too.

Read More

Why banishment was “toleration” in Puritan settlements

Typically, sociologists explain the growth of religious toleration as a result of people demanding religious freedom, ideals supporting tolerance becoming more prevalent, or shifting power relations among religious groups. By any of these accounts, Puritan New England was not a society where religious toleration flourished. Yet, when contrasted to a coterminous Puritan venture on Providence Island, it becomes clear that New England’s orthodox elite did […]

Read More

How do we measure the distance to a galaxy and why is it so important?

On March 3, 1912, Henrietta Swan Leavitt made a short contribution to the Harvard College Observatory Circular. With it she laid the foundations of modern Astronomy. Locked in solitude due to her deafness, Leavitt was the first person to discover how to measure distance to galaxies, thus expanding our understanding of the Universe in one giant leap.

Read More

5 things we should talk about when we talk about health

Americans spend more money on health than anyone else in the world, yet they live shorter, less healthy lives than citizens of other rich countries. The complex reason for this is the multiple factors that affect our health. The simple reason is the fact that people seldom talk about these factors. Here are five things […]

Read More

Why politicians do care what the UN thinks

In a January 2019 press briefing at the White House, US National Security Adviser John Bolton flashed a legal pad with “5,000 troops to Colombia” written on it, a not-so hidden message to contested Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro that the United States was considering sending troops to the region. Maduro is presiding over a Venezuela in economic […]

Read More

Preaching as teaching in the Medieval church

We have long assumed that medieval sermons were written for the laity, that is, those with no Latin and probably minimal literacy. But most of the sermons that survive in English contain a significant amount of Latin. What did a medieval lay person understand when he or she heard a sermon?

Read More

On snuff and snout

It turned out that the melancholy idiom send one to Coventry may not have anything to do with that town. To reinforce this unexpected conclusion, I’ll relate another story. At one time, the phrase up at Harwich existed; perhaps it is still known in the eastern counties.

Read More

5 of the most important women working in endocrinology

Gender inequality persists in all sectors of society, including science and medicine disciplines. While female clinicians and researchers are increasing in number and now comprise almost 50% of medical school graduates in the United States, they remain underrepresented in scholarly publications and academic positions (20% to 49% of researchers in 12 countries and regions). Although nearly half of medical […]

Read More

What stops us from following financial advice? We may be more biased than you think

While improving consumers’ financial literacy has finally received the attention it deserves among policymakers, many people still lack the knowledge to make informed financial decisions. Thus, when it comes to financial matters, the majority of households turn to advisors. Clearly, however, advisors’ recommendations—however beneficial they might be—do not translate into informed financial decisions if clients […]

Read More

Using punctuation to pace

Punctuation-wise, most of us fall between these two extremes. We are neither staccato nor breathless. Instead, we use punctuation to establish a comfortable pace for readers by grouping and emphasizing certain chunks of information.

Read More

Economics can help us protect the world’s wildlife

People affect nature, nature affects people. This interaction of humans and nature creates opportunities and risks to both. One major challenge today is how to protect biodiversity. Across the world, scientists tell ­­us the diversity and abundance of life on earth is declining. From coral reefs affected by bleaching and pollution, to lions in Africa, […]

Read More

Eight facts about past poet laureates

The poet laureate has held an elevated position in British culture over the past 350 years. From the position’s origins as a personal appointment made by the monarch to today’s governmental selection committee, much has changed about the role, but one thing hasn’t changed: the poet laureate has always produced poetry for events of national […]

Read More