Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Holographic hallucinations, reality hacking, and Jedi battles in London

In 1977, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope captivated audiences with stunning multisensory special effects and science-fiction storytelling. The original Star Wars trilogy sent shockwaves of excitement through popular culture that would resonate for years to come. Beyond the films themselves, the Star Wars universe extended into a wider sphere of cultural artefacts such as toys, books and comics, which allowed audiences to recreate and extend the stories.

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The Oxford Etymologist waxes emotional: a few rambling remarks on fear

It is well-known that words for abstract concepts at one time designated concrete things or actions. “Love,” “hatred,” “fear,” and the rest developed from much more tangible notions.  The words anger, anguish, and anxious provide convincing examples of this trend. All three are borrowings in English: the first from Scandinavian, the second from French, and the third from Latin. In Old Norse (that is, in Old Icelandic), angr and angra meant “to grieve” and “grief” respectively.

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Refugees, citizens, and camps: a very British history

Today, very few people think of Britain as a land of camps. Instead, camps seem to happen “elsewhere,” from Greece to Palestine to the global South. Yet during the 20th century, dozens of camps in Britain housed tens of thousands of Belgians, Jews, Basques, Poles, Hungarians, Anglo-Egyptians, Ugandan Asians, and Vietnamese.

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How nations finance themselves matters

To understand how nations should finance themselves it is fruitful to look at how corporations finance themselves, how they divide their financing between debt and equity. Corporations typically issue equity when they need financing for a new profitable investment opportunity, when their shares are overvalued by the stock market, or when they need to raise funds to service their debt obligations.

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The evisceration of storytelling

In his seminal essay “The Storyteller,” published in 1936, the German philosopher Walter Benjamin decried the loss of the craft of oral storytelling marked by the advent of the short story and the novel. Modern society, he lamented, had abbreviated storytelling. Fast forward to the era of Facebook, where the story has become an easily digestible soundbite on your news feed or timeline.. Complexity is eschewed,

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How deaf education and artificial language were linked in the 17th century

Before the 1550s, it was generally believed that people who are born deaf are incapable of learning a natural language such as Spanish or English. This belief was nourished by the observation that hearing children normally acquire their speaking skills without explicit instruction, and that learning to read usually proceeds by first connecting individual letters to individual speech sounds, pronouncing them one by one, before a whole word is read and understood.

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The 2018 classics book club at Bryant Park Reading Room

Oxford University Press has once again teamed up with the Bryant Park Reading Room on their summer literary series. The Bryant Park Reading Room was first established in 1935 by the New York Public Library as a refuge for the thousands of unemployed New Yorkers during the Great Depression.

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Why are there so many different scripts in East Asia?

You don’t have to learn a new script when you learn Norwegian, Czech, or Portuguese, let alone French, so why does every East Asian language require you to learn a new script as well? In Europe the Roman script of Latin became standard, and it was never seriously challenged by runes or by the Greek, Cyrillic, or Glagolitic (an early Slavic script) alphabets.

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Why consumers forget unethical business practices

Imagine a consumer, Kate, who enjoys shopping for fashionable clothing, but who also cares about whether her clothing is produced ethically. She reads an article online indicating that fashion giant Zara sells clothing made by allegedly unpaid workers, but a few days later ends up buying a new shirt from Zara. She either forgets that Zara may be mistreating workers, or she mistakenly recalls that they are one of the brands that have agreed to a strict code of ethical labor practices, including paying a living wage to all workers.

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Andy Warhol’s queerness, unedited

“I think everybody should like everybody” is one of Andy Warhol’s most iconic quotes. If you type it into Google image search, you get back a grid of dorm-room posters, inspirational desktop wallpaper, t-shirts, and baby onesies. Seeping into popular culture, Warhol’s quote has become a simple, cheeky mantra for how to live the good life—a reminder to get back to the basics.

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A good death beyond dignity?

According to the Australian euthanasia activist Philip Nitschke, to choose when you die is “a fundamental human right. It’s not just some medical privilege for the very sick. If you’ve got the precious gift of life, you should be able to give that gift away at the time of your choosing.” This view combines two extreme standpoints in the debate on euthanasia and assisted suicide.

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Top 10 facts about the giraffe

This June, people around the globe are marking World Giraffe Day, an annual event to recognise the bovine dwellers of the African continent. While these long-necked herbivores remain a firm favourite of the safari, there remains much about the giraffe which is relatively unknown. In order to celebrate our Animal of the Month, we bring you 10 amazing facts about the giraffe.

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C.P. Snow and thermodynamics, 60 years on

It’s nearly 60 years since C.P. Snow gave his influential “Two Cultures” lecture, in which – among many other significant insights – he advocated that a good education should equip a young person with as deep a knowledge of the Second Law of Thermodynamics as of Shakespeare. A noble objective, but why did Snow highlight this particular scientific law?

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Five things you might not know about Edmund Burke

Edmund Burke (1730-1797) was an Irishman and a prominent Whig politician in late 18th century England, but he is now most commonly known as “the founder of modern conservatism”—the canonical position which he has held since the beginning of the 20th century in Britain and the rest of the world.

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How (un)representative is the British political class? [QUIZ]

The fact that the British political class doesn’t fully reflect the diversity seen in the population as a whole is hardly news. However, many people don’t fully appreciate exactly how unrepresentative its members are, or the specific (and sometimes slightly odd) ways in which the political class differs from Britain as a whole.

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