Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Arts & Humanities


J. L. Austin, “Other Minds,” and the goldfinch

J. L. Austin was born on 26 March 1911. He was twenty-eight when the Second World War began, and served in the British Intelligence Corps. It has been said that, “he more than anybody was responsible for the life-saving accuracy of the D-Day intelligence” (Warnock 1963: 9). He was honoured for his intelligence work with an Order of the British Empire, the French Croix de Guerre, and the U.S. Officer of the Legion of Merit.

Read More

For want of a comma

The Oxford Comma, so named because it first appeared in the 1905 Oxford University Press Style Guide, is the comma that comes before the word and in a series of three or more listed items. Also known as the serial comma, it’s the often ironic rallying cry of a certain type of language aficionado. And it’s in the news after a federal appeals court mentioned it in a court decision recently.

Read More
Encyclopedia of Social Work

What is social justice?

Notions of social justice generally embrace values such as the equal worth of all citizens, their equal right to meet their basic needs, the need to spread opportunity and life chances as widely as possible, and finally, the requirement that we reduce and, where possible, eliminate unjustified inequalities. The following excerpt explores the meanings and principles of social justice from a political, philosophical, and social worker perspective.

Read More

America’s relationship with alcohol [Timeline]

Alcohol has been present in the United States since before it became a country. In that time, the people’s relationship with the substance has been multifaceted. From local watering holes marking the stirring of resistance against the British Empire, to the rise of speakeasies during Prohibition, to the proliferation of American cocktails abroad, alcohol is as much a part of American history as the stars and stripes. And the relationship has not always been an easy one.

Read More
Image copyright: Oxford University Press.

To ‘Ave’ or to hold: why certain music is banned from the civil marriage ceremony

Why isn’t religious music allowed at a civil marriage ceremony, and what advice is there for couples wanting a choir at their Registry Office ceremony where only non-religious music is permitted? Before civil marriage was introduced on 17 August 1836, couples could only marry legally in a Church of England ceremony. The revolutionary new ‘Act for Marriages in England’ meant that a marriage could take place in any licensed venue (religious or not) with no restrictions on the choice of music.

Read More

How new is “fake news”?

President Donald Trump’s administration is accused of disseminating “fake news” to the shock of the media, tens of millions of Americans, and to many others around the world. So many people think this is a new, ugly turn of events in American politics. What does American history have to say about this? When George Washington announced that he did not want to serve as president for a third term, Thomas Jefferson let it be known that he was interested in the job.

Read More

Tropes vs. autism in Religious Studies

“Why are autistic people different in just the way they are?” asks Uta Frith, a pioneer of autism research. “I put the blame on an absent Self.” Indeed, the absent self theory is the prevailing account of autism among developmental psychologists. Because autistic people lack conscious self-awareness, so the theory goes, they can’t organize their experiences into a meaningful story.

Read More

A conversation with clarinetist and author Albert Rice

Albert Rice, author of the recently released Notes for Clarinetists sat down with Oxford University Press to answer a few questions about his love for music from an early age, musical influences, and his dedication to research on the history of the clarinet.

Read More

Cicero’s On Life and Death [extract]

In 58 BC, Roman politics was paralyzed by the coalition of Pompey, Crassus, and Caesar, known as the First Triumvirate. Marcus Tullius Cicero, Rome’s greatest orator, who had successfully climbed the political ranks to reach the level of consul, struggled to maintain his independence while on occasion lending reluctant oratorical support to their projects and associates.

Read More

Trump in Wonderland

Four days after Donald Trump’s inauguration, an unlikely novel reached the top of Amazon’s bestseller list. It was not the latest potboiler by John Grisham, Stephen King, or any other likely suspect. Topping the list on 24 January was 1984, George Orwell’s 68-year-old masterpiece about a dystopian society in which the ruling authorities routinely alter the meanings of words and facts to suit their own purposes.

Read More

Celebrating and learning from Philip Roth’s America

n March 19th, Philip Roth will celebrate his 84th birthday. Although Roth retired from publishing new writing as of late 2012 (and retired from all interviews and public appearances in May 2014), the legacy of his more than fifty-year career remains vibrant and vital. And indeed, celebrating Roth’s works and achievements can also remind us of the many lessons his literary vision of America has to offer our 21st century national community and future.

Read More

Throw out the dog: are pets expendable?

Little Tiger, big enthusiastic Buddy, and laidback Smokey are some of the furry individuals who share our living rooms, our kitchens, and sometimes our beds. Most people consider their companion animals—their “pets”—to be friends or members of the family. Despite the depth of many people’s relationships with the cats and dogs who share their lives, many people also assume that these animals are in certain ways expendable.

Read More

The life of Saint Patrick [part two]

Saint Patrick’s Day was made an official Christian feast day in the early 17th century, and continues to be recognized today. It commemorates the death of Saint Patrick, the introduction of Christianity into Irish culture, as well as Irish nationalism. To celebrate, we’ve pulled a two-part excerpt from Celtic Mythology: Tales of Gods, Goddesses, and Heroes in which Philip Freeman tells the story of Saint Patrick.

Read More