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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Resisting slavery

Once known by the name of “Bristol”, he gained notoriety as “Three-Fingered Jack”; the slave (anti)hero whose actions so fascinated the eighteenth-century imagination that his story was variously told and retold in popular treatises, novels, chapbooks, and plays.

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World antibiotic awareness: are we doing enough?

Microorganisms resistant to treatment pose as one of the biggest threats to global healthcare and have been identified to be present globally. This current healthcare crisis is more generally known as antimicrobial resistance, and refers to the ability of bacteria, viruses or parasites to stop an antimicrobial from working.

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Remaking Europe after the First World War

In the wake of the November 11, 1918 armistice between Germany and the Allies, high-minded idealism confronted a mélange of very unpleasant realities. All the belligerents had claimed to be fighting for a noble set of aims, and the United States President, Woodrow Wilson, went further. He proposed the creation of a supranational agency, the […]

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Russian disinformation – How worried should we be?

The Russian government’s use of disinformation, i.e. intentionally misleading content, has raised serious concern not only among Russia’s neighbors, but also in Western nations more broadly. Responses to the perceived threat range from attempts to monitor the disinformation, to U.S. court’s legal indictment of Russian individuals and companies.

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Remembering the final moments of The Great War [excerpt]

11 November 2018 marks 100 years since the end of the Great War. Victory came at a great cost, seeing millions of fatalities in one of the deadliest wars in history. In the below excerpt from The Last Battle, World War I historian Peter Hart shares testimonies about the war’s end from the men who fought until the eleventh hour.

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Dynasties: chimpanzees and their community

Sir David Attenborough returns to our screens tonight narrating a new nature documentary: Dynasties. We will be starting the series with one of our closest relatives in the animal kingdom, who we diverged from roughly six million years ago: chimpanzees.

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The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Existentialist

At the end of the second world war, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre launched the “existentialist offensive,” an ambitious campaign to shape a new cultural and political landscape. The word ‘existentialism’ was a popular neologism with no clear meaning. They wanted to profit from its media currency by making their philosophy its definition. Sartre’s talk “Existentialism is a Humanism” was an instant legend.

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Place of the Year 2018 nominee spotlight: North Korea

North Korea dominated the headlines in 2018 with historic meetings and heightened tensions over nuclear threats. This year Kim Jong-Un, Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea and Supreme Leader of North Korea, has met with multiple world leaders, and has been vocal about his stance on the North Korean nuclear program. This has ignited […]

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The 1950s is a vanished world, but have we made social progress?

Britain has seen huge social changes over the course of my lifetime. The world of the 1950s, when I grew up in a modest suburb of Liverpool, has vanished forever. The material standard of living we enjoyed then would nowadays seem to be distinctly substandard. We didn’t have a family car; I shared a bedroom with my older brother; and there was no television set, though we did have a telephone – a rather unfamiliar contraption which we were all too scared to use. There never seemed to be quite enough to eat and we were all rather skinny. There was no problem of obesity in our family, but we didn’t grow particularly tall. Today’s younger generation tower over us.

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Ypres: the city of ghosts

Today’s Ieper still has thousands of British visitors, with tourism as important to the economy of the city as it was in the twenties. But, in addition to the British, the Australians, Canadians, and New Zealanders are now coming in even greater numbers, as well as people from many other nations fascinated and intrigued by meeting the last great eyewitness left of the Great War: the landscape. Modern Ieper is a world forged and shaped in the furnace of a conflict that ended one hundred years ago this November.

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Attacking a loaf of bread

This post returns to loaf, noun, which, incidentally, has nothing to do with loaf, verb (but see the picture)! Since loaf, from hlaif-, appears to be a more ancient word for “bread” (as noted in the posts for October 17 and October 24), people must have coined bread, to designate the product that was different from the old one.

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Place of the Year 2018 Shortlist: vote for your pick

Oxford’s Place of the Year campaign pulls together the most significant places and events of the year. The 2018 shortlist of nominees brings to light impactful moments in global history, influencing the environment, international relations, humanitarian crises, and space exploration. Explore each of our locations and vote for who think should be recognized as Oxford’s […]

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Facing the challenges of serving the public as an academic

What does it mean to be an academic? To be an academic working in environmental law? One part of our multi-faceted role is what I am calling “public service”—trying to make our small portion of the world a slightly better place. Public service is difficult. Its demands, however, are rather similar to those we face […]

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The German Revolution of 1918-19: democratic ancestry or subjective liberation?

The German Revolution of 1918-19 has never been easy to identify with, and its hundredth anniversary once again throws this difficulty into sharp relief. While it is salutary in principle to appreciate Germany’s often forgotten democratic history, there is a price to pay for downplaying the complexity of the transition from wartime to postwar society in favour of a political narrative for our times.

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