Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Understanding insults

When I was growing up in New Jersey, trading insults was part of making your way through the middle school: “If they put your brain on the edge of a razor blade, it would look like a BB rolling down a four-lane highway.” “His parents used to put a pork chop around his neck to get the dog to play with him.” “If you could teach him to stand still, you could use him for a doorstop.”

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Donald, we need to talk about Russia

Congratulations on a hard-fought campaign, Mr. President-Elect. As a reward, you now get the onerous task of governing the United States, and establishing its foreign-policy priorities! The campaign was crazy, with speculation about your personal and business links to Russia and your coziness toward Russian President Vladimir Putin giving way to evidence of a coordinated Kremlin attack on American sovereignty.

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A few (more) of our favorite things

As is becoming tradition, we want to use this, our last blog post of the year, to look back over last 12 months and remember all the fun we’ve had together. We have been drawn in by the “seductive intimacy” of oral history, and inspired by the power of audio to move “oral history out of the archives and back into communities.”

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Mean racist, kind racist, non-racist: which are you?

“Race is real, race matters, and race is the foundation of identity.” I imagine that perhaps with a tweak or two, most people would be OK with this declaration. Many people are aware that the concept of race has no biological validity; that it’s a social construct, like gender or money, real only in that we treat them as real.

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John Glenn was a hero; was he a pioneer?

John Herschel Glenn passed away recently at age 95. He was the first American to orbit the Earth, on board Friendship 7 in February 1962, and before that, a much decorated war veteran, serving as a fighter pilot in both World War II and in Korea, finally retiring as a colonel in 1965. As if that wasn’t enough, after leaving NASA, he won a US Senate seat, representing his home state of Ohio, and served for 25 years.

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Christmas on the radio

Back in 1944 the Archbishop of York, Cyril Garbett, wrote in the Radio Times that “the wireless and the English tongue are means by which God’s message of love and peace can spread through the world”. We may find it difficult these days to construe the BBC’s output over Christmas as taking on such a missiological flavour, but certainly in its early days Lord Reith, saw religion as one of the four principal pillars.

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Top ten OUPblog posts of 2016 by the numbers

The 2016 posts that attracted the most pageviews ranged in subject from philosophy to literature, and from mathematics to law. As you might expect, people were also interested in learning more about Shakespeare and politics in 2016. Please find the top ten performing blog posts on the OUPblog in 2016.

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What does myth have to do with the Christmas story?

There are two contrary ways of characterizing myth. By far the more common way is negative: a myth is a false or delusory belief or story. Here the aim is to expose the myth and be done with it. To take an innocuous example, the story that young George Washington was so honest that he could not deny to his father that he, the son, had chopped down the cherry tree is a myth because it never occurred.

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Where next for dementia research?

Modern medicine has done well in helping Western citizens live longer. So have other changes like improved diets, better public hygiene, and less smoking. Dementia, which is primarily though not entirely age-related, has come to prominence in part as other lethal diseases have diminished. It recently surpassed heart disease as the number one killer in England and Wales (overall and in women, according to the UK Office for National Statistics).

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Looking at the stars

The ancient Greek philosophers believed that the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars were mathematically perfect orbs, made from unearthly materials. These bodies were believed to move on perfectly symmetric celestial spheres, through which a backdrop of fixed stars could be seen, rotating majestically every 24 hours. At the centre was the motionless Earth. For the Greeks, the power of reason was more important than observation.

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The American Colonization Society’s plans for abolishing slavery

This month marks two hundred years since the founding of an organization that most people have never heard of: the American Colonization Society (ACS). The obscurity into which it has fallen would surprise Americans living in the decades before the Civil War. From its founding in 1816 until the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, the Society rallied some of the most influential people in the United States behind its principal objective.

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Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion

9 fascinating facts about festivals in ancient Greece and Rome

The ways in which the ancient people chose to express themselves on these special calendar days is fascinating. In examining both its contrasts and similarities to today, studying ancient culture can be seen as the study of our own humanity. To demonstrate some of the unique aspects of culture in ancient Greece and Rome, we compiled a list of these 9 facts about some festivals in ancient Greece and Rome.

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Networks of desire: how technology increases our passion to consume

When we walk into a restaurant, we are often confronted by the sight of people taking pictures of their food with their smartphones. Online, our Facebook feeds seem dominated by pictures of people’s hamburgers and desserts. What is going on with food porn? How is consumer desire itself transformed by contemporary technology?

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Passenger lists: the example of Anglo-American marriages

On 27 April 1885, Alice Brereton (née Fairchild) returned to America with her family. The Aurania’s passenger list includes her British—born husband and their three children. From information contained in the list—name, age, citizenship, and occupation—we can reconstruct aspects of the family’s history revealed in other public documents.

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Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion

Religion and the Second Redemption

A tense, volatile electoral season. Accusations of “voter fraud,” and real instances of thuggery on the campaign trail. Documented instances of real voter suppression due to newly instituted state policies attempting to restrict voting disproportionately by race. Real or implicit threats of violence against minority voters. Surging anti-immigrant and exclusionist sentiment, particularly against relative newcomers who practiced seemingly strange religions. Some might describe the recent electoral campaign that way, but I have in mind the election campaign of 1876.

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