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On our craving for generality

Ludwig Wittgenstein, in his Blue Book, chastised philosophers for what he called “our craving for generality.” Philosophers (including the earlier Wittgenstein of the Tractatus) certainly have exhibited this craving, and despite his admonishment, we continue to do so.

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Ten things you may not know about women and liberty

Imagine that you’re a married woman living in a bleak dystopian world in which you’re barred from higher education, you’re forbidden from owning your own property, you have no freedom of movement outside your own home, and your husband might sexually assault you at any time, with impunity.

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OUP Philosophy

How well do you know George Berkeley? [quiz]

This February, the OUP Philosophy team honours George Berkeley (1685-1753) as their Philosopher of the Month. Berkeley was born in Ireland but travelled Europe, lived in America, and eventually settled in London. He is best known for his work in metaphysics on idealism and immaterialism. How much do you know about the life and work of George Berkeley?

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A Q&A with composer David Bednall — part 2

We like to get an insight into the musical lives of Oxford composers by asking them questions about their artistic likes and dislikes, influences, and challenges.. In part 1 we spoke to composer David Bednall in August 2017 about what motivates him, and how he approaches a new commission. Here he tells us why he wanted to be a composer, the challenges he faces, and his musical guilty pleasures.

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Freemasonry and the public sphere in the UK

Freemasonry once again hit the headlines of UK media on New Year’s Eve 2017, revealing the contentious nature of the place of secrecy in public life. Just having concluded the celebration of its tercentenary anniversary year, the United Grand Lodge of England found itself at the center of controversy. How far can membership in a masonic lodge be regarded as incompatible with the exercise of a public office?

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Outreach ideas by librarians, for librarians

For university libraries, it can sometimes be difficult to get students—especially new students— comfortable with coming into the library and engaging with library staff. We asked some librarians how they get creative with their student outreach to welcome students to campus and to the library. By welcoming students back with these events every quarter, librarians remind them that they are the reason university libraries are here.

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Cosplay is meaningless…and that can be a good thing

Cosplay is meaningless, and that can be a good thing. Cosplayers use only their appearance to evoke the imagined action of the character they play; they strike poses, but those poses do not make up a story. At some competitions, admittedly, cosplayers may perform brief skits or mimes in character. None of this amounts to a story, but it does resemble what a guest at a fancy dress party might get up to — and I compared that behaviour to the performance of a ham actor.

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Want to know the Latin for “true love”?

Then Ovid is your man – and woman, as the case may be … Fidus amor. That’s “true love” in Latin. Historically, such love is often claimed to have emerged with the troubadours of twelfth century Provence. The troubadours used the Occitan term fin amor for this kind of love rather than the more famous […]

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The weight of love: ‘love locks’ as emotional objects

On the night of 8 June 2014, a section of the metal barrier on the Pont des Arts in Paris collapsed under the weight of thousands of padlocks which had been attached to it. Since the first decade of the twenty-first century, it has become increasingly common for famous (and sometimes less famous) bridges, and, increasingly, other monuments, to become encrusted with small padlocks in celebration of romantic love.

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Simon of Montfort and the Statutes of Pamiers

“Kill them. The Lord will know those that are his.” This statement, attributed to a Cistercian abbot at the sack of Béziers in 1209, encapsulates for the modern mind the essence of the Albigensian Crusade (1208-1229). However, a view of the Albigensian Crusade that encompasses only its violence will miss a great deal of the movement’s significance.

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My author. My friend?

Imagine you’ve sat down with your favorite novel. While you’re reading, what do you feel? If, in part, it’s an emotional connection with a character, you’re not alone. This is a common experience; and plenty has been written about it, in both popular and scholarly spaces. Because it’s powerful and strange, this feeling. Powerful enough to make you cry. Strange in that it’s fictional characters we’re talking about.

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Beware the thesaurus

Someone recently asked me if I knew another word for entertaining. “What’s the context?” I replied, wondering if the writer was looking for an adjective like enjoyable or interesting or a gerund like wining and dining or possibly even a verb like pondering. “Use it in a sentence.” “Never mind,” she said, “I’ll just use the thesaurus button.” The what?

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How and why to study folk epistemology

Folk epistemology may be roughly characterized as the (mostly tacit) principles, presuppositions, and principles that involve epistemological notions such as knowledge, evidence, justification etc. Folk epistemological notions have not been as empirically well-studied as folk psychological notions such as belief, desire, and intention.

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Poaching with Piers Plowman

When an army of Kentish insurgents gathered south of London on 12 June 1381, the firebrand priest John Ball is said to have addressed them with a subversive proverb: “When Adam delved and Eve span, where was then the gentleman?” On the following day, the rebels flooded into London, orchestrating spectacles of political violence. They razed the sumptuous Savoy Palace of John of Gaunt, King Richard II’s despised uncle, and beheaded both the treasurer of England and the archbishop of Canterbury.

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Sing, Ward, Sing

While the title of the latest issue of American Literary History, “What is Twenty-First-Century African American Literature?” is meant as a provocation to understand and define the key elements of a new literary period, there is an easier way to answer the question. Eighteen years into our new century key texts have already emerged as canonical. What is Twenty-First-Century African American Literature? Answers

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The Islamic monuments of Spain: four centuries ago and today

Spanish historians and antiquarians in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries revised the medieval reception of Islamic monuments in the Peninsula as architectural wonders and exotic trophies. They endeavoured to re-appropriate these hybrid architectures by integrating them into a more homogeneous cultural memory focused on Spain’s Roman and Christian past.

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