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Choreomania: Dance and Disorder

Dance “crazes” and plagues: a precedented phenomenon

Lockdown raves, dodging people in the street, no more hugs, confinement within the home worthy of house arrest—and the language of self-isolation, shelter, safety… all the makings of a sci-fi horror film depicting the world at an end. Or a history book, which is what this pandemic has felt like to me at times, having spent well over a decade thinking about historical epidemiology, specifically in relation to ideas about dance.

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America's Book: The Rise and Decline of a Bible Civilization, 1794-1911

The Bible and American history

The recent American presidency illustrates why Scripture has been both a polarizing and a constructive force in the nation’s history. On 1 June 2020, Donald Trump made an overtly political point when he cleared peaceful demonstrators from Lafayette Square, who were protesting police violence against unarmed Black men, so that he could pose for a […]

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Sportin' Life

Three times systemic racism hindered Buck and Bubbles’s show business career

Since George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police in 2020, social justice activists have targeted systemic racism in housing, education, and law enforcement. Less attention has been paid to entertainment. As the recent controversy over racial bias in the Academy Awards suggests, however, this problem has always existed in show business. The career of legendary vaudeville team Buck and Bubbles shows how it worked.

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Conquering the Ocean

Reconstructing Claudius’ arch in Rome

A look at the process of reconstructing Claudius’ Arch in Rome and how it was informed by the latest research in archaeology and classical studies to provide a better understanding of the significance of the Roman Invasion of Britain.

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The Diva's Gift to the Shakespearean Stage: Agency, Theatricality, and the Innamorata

Why “the all-male stage” wasn’t

Why is “the all-male stage” inadequate as shorthand for the early modern stage? For one thing, it enforces a gender binary that has little to do with the subjects, desires, audiences, and practices of the time. Gender was elusive, plural, and performative, especially on the stage, where attractive androgynous boys played women, or switched back and forth between genders. The importance of female spectators, artisans, and backers gives the lie to total exclusion, and so does mounting evidence that women played in many spheres adjacent to the professional stage.

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Zenobia: Shooting Star of Palmyra

Zenobia: warrior queen or political tactician?

Popular culture often romanticizes Zenobia of Palmyra as a warrior queen. But the ancient evidence doesn’t support that she fought in battles. Instead, we should remember Zenobia as a skilled political tactician. She became ruler without being dominated by the men of her court.

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Manhattan Phoenix: The Great Fire of 1835 and the Emergence of Modern New York by Daniel S. Levy

New York City: the grid

There had been attempts to lay out streets in New York going back to its founding. It was a process that would go on for the next few centuries, and would only accelerate in the decades before and after the Great Fire of 1835.

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Music Therapy Perspectives

Managing the power of music to foster safety and avoid harm

Pulitzer Prize recipient and American playwright Lynn Nottage shared in a recent interview, “What music can do is get to the emotion with incredible economy and efficiency.” This capacity that music holds to reach in and connect to the wide range of emotions we experience as human beings can be a wonderful asset as it accesses those feelings we want to revisit and are ready to express. This becomes challenging and potentially harmful when it relates to unexpressed or unresolved emotions and experiences.

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Dreams of Love: Playing the Romantic Pianist

The Piano meets The Power of the Dog

In Jane Campion’s 1993 film “The Piano”, and her new film, “The Power of the Dog”, the grand piano serves as more than the emblematic instrument of feminine domestic music-making and of European bourgeois culture transported to the hinterlands of the nation or empire; it also functions as a gender technology because it regulates the metaphorical sound-body of the woman who plays it.

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Manhattan Phoenix: The Great Fire of 1835 and the Emergence of Modern New York by Daniel S. Levy

New York City: the streams and waterways of Manhattan

We think of New York as an island packed with buildings, a place of concrete sidewalks and tarmacked avenues, a city that as Frank Sinatra sang, “doesn’t sleep.” But Manhattan at the turn of the 19th century—in the years before its street grid was laid out and decades before the Great Fire of 1835 which would accelerate the city’s northward growth—was a very different sort of place. New York City back then was a sleepy town just on the island of Manhattan.

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