Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Balancing compassion and self-care in a troubled world

Originating from the Latin “compatī,” (to suffer together), compassion can lead to a greater understanding of human suffering. However, the vulnerability that comes along with compassion can often lead to increased feelings of stress and anxiety. In the video below, psychologist Robert J. Wicks describes the consequences of inordinate compassion.

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Creeds and Christian freedom

It is no exaggeration to say that, historically speaking, next to the Bible the early Christian creeds are the most important texts of Christianity. Paradoxically in many western churches today these texts are regarded with a high degree of suspicion. Creeds are recited but are little understood, and in the minds of many might as well be abolished altogether.

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Light pollution: absent information in risk communication

Lights, lights everywhere, but what about the risks of light pollution? The world has experienced an unprecedented environmental change during the past century as the electric light has permeated our nights. In the near future, this change may accelerate because of increasing use of new illumination technologies such as LED lights. In most parts of urbanized world the disappearance of natural darkness is easy to observe even with bare eyes.

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Crime and Punishment: From Siberia to St. Petersburg

Before the serial publication of Crime and Punishment in the prominent literary journal The Russian Messenger in 1866, the reception of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s works, and his reputation as a writer, had been somewhat mixed. The story of his career marks one of the most dramatic falls from grace and rise again stories in literary history.

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Revisiting Broadway’s forgotten genius

Born into poverty in Richmond, Virginia, John Latouche (1914-1956) even as a youth established himself as both a rascal and a genius. After dropping out of Columbia his sophomore year (but not before scandalizing the university with his risqué lyrics to the school’s 1935 Varsity Show, Flair-Flair: The Idol of Paree), he won a coterie of devoted admirers among New York’s artistic elite for his witty and suggestive cabaret songs.

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Invest in food security; end hunger

World Food Day is celebrated on 16th October each year, commemorating the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Various events take place around the world, promoting worldwide awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger, and the need to ensure food security and nutrition for everyone. Some of the statistics provided by the FAO are staggering:

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100 years since the world shook [excerpt]

The fall of the Romanov dynasty may have occurred in an instant, but the wheels were set in motion long before 1917. The effects of the Russian revolution were felt far beyond the borders of Eastern Europe and changed the course of world history forever. In this centenary year, Laura Engelstein, author of Russia in Flames: War, Revolution, Civil War, 1914-1921, takes us back to the brutal battles that took place at the beginning of the 20th century, and gives us reason as to why we need to revisit it now.

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A Chopin-inspired reading list

I have always read “classics,” alongside contemporary titles, as an editor who desires to be informed by the past in shaping new publications; and a human who loves to read. We bring our personal and political lens to any work, and what makes reading and re-reading classics such an intellectually pleasurable occasion is to engage […]

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How Oscar Wilde’s life imitates his art

The idea that life imitates art is one of Oscar’s best yet most often misunderstood. It is central to his philosophy and to his own life. Take The Decay of Lying, for example, an essay in the form of a dialogue that he wrote in the late 1880s. What did he call the interlocutors? Why Cyril and Vyvyan, the names of his two young sons, of course. But the piece’s intellectual party really gets started when Wilde has his learned young gentlemen interview each other. Naturally, what is uppermost in their minds is the relationship between life and art.

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Perpetual peace

In the fall of 1697, the great powers of Europe signed a series of peace treaties at Rijswijk [Ryswick], near The Hague, which ended the Nine Years’ War (1688–1697), in which France was opposed by a great coalition of the Holy Roman Emperor, Britain, the Dutch Republic, and Spain. In its first article, the peace treaty between Britain and France, signed on 20 September 1697 (21 CTS 409), stated that, henceforth, there would be ‘universal and perpetual peace’

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Disaster or disturbance: environmental science of natural extremes

Hurricane Harvey. Hurricane Maria. Natural disasters that will go down in the history of certain communities as ‘the big one’. Hurricanes and floods are disasters for human communities because of the loss of life and property and the damage to infrastructure. When I consider the recent hurricanes as an environmental scientist, however, I do not see them just as disasters.

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The point of depression

There has been a great deal of speculation about the evolutionary significance and origins of depression. What selective advantage does it confer? Does it allow the patient to concentrate on complex and important problems? Is it a type of pain that, like physical pain, causes us to pull back from danger? Is it a type of behavioral quarantine, causing us to hole up in a safe place while dangers stalk around outside?

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Lionfish: the perfect invader

The invasion of the Caribbean by Indo-Pacific lionfishes happened seemingly overnight. In the early 2000s, the first papers were published about lionfish sightings in places like Florida, half a world away from their native range—by 2010, they were almost everywhere in the Caribbean, and even now, they continue to expand the edges of their invasive Atlantic range.

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Understanding physician-assisted death [excerpt]

When it comes to end-of-life treatment, patients currently have a few different options available to them. One option, refusal of treatment, is when a decisionally capable patient is put in the driver’s seat with respect to medical treatment under the doctrine of informed consent. Another option is pain management, where palliative medicine is administered to entirely eliminate, or reduce pain to a level that the patient finds tolerable.

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Nine things you didn’t know about love and marriage in Byzantium

The Byzantine civilization has long been regarded by many as one big curiosity. Often associated with treachery and superstition, their traditions and contributions to the ancient world are often overlooked. Referencing A Cabinet of Byzantine Curiosities, we’ve pulled together nine lesser known facts about love and marriage in Byzantium.

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