Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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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World literature: what’s in a name?

What is world literature, and why are (some) people saying such bad things about it? You might think world literature would be easy to define. You might think it should refer to all the literature in the world, past and present. And you might think that the study of world literature — which goes back […]

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The life and works of Elizabeth Gaskell

On 29 September 2017, we celebrate the 207th birthday of Elizabeth Gaskell, a nineteenth century English novelist whose works reflect the harsh conditions of England’s industrial North. Unlike some of her contemporaries, whose works are told from the perspectives of middle class characters, Gaskell did not restrict herself, and her novels Mary Barton and Ruth feature working class heroines.

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A Conversation With ALSCW President Ernest Suarez, Part 2

Last week, we shared an interview with Ernest Suarez, president of the Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers (ALSCW), the society who publishes Literary Imagination. Today, we continue the conversation, and with it, we are able to get an even closer and more personal look into the life of a literary academic.

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Banned, burned, and now rebuilding: Comics collections in libraries

Comics is both a medium—although some would say it’s an art form—as well as the texts produced in that medium. Publication formats and production modes differ: for instance, comics can be short-form or long-form, serialized or stand-alone, single panel or sequential panels, and released as hardcovers, trade paperbacks, floppies, ‘zines, or in various digital formats. […]

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Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina: an audio guide

Anna Karenina is a beautiful and intelligent woman, whose passionate love for a handsome officer sweeps aside all other ties—to her marriage and to the network of relationships and moral values that bind the society around her. Her love affair with Vronsky is played out alongside the developing romance between Kitty and Levin, and in […]

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A conversation with ALSCW President Ernest Suarez- part 1

We seldom have opportunity to get the inside-scoop on a journal from those who work so hard to make it possible. We caught up with Ernest Suarez, president of the Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers (ALSCW), the society who publishes Literary Imagination.

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From lawyer to librarian: one woman’s journey

In our household, reading came as easily as breathing. It was a part of our identity, ingrained and passed down through generations of scholars, writers, and thinkers in our family tree. It was a joy and it felt necessary to life. Bedtime stories, visits to the bookstore, talks about books, and buying books on trips abroad with our parents were second nature to my sister and me.

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Tolkien trivia: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit”

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit” – the opening line of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is among the most famous first lines in literature, and introduces readers to the most homely fantasy creatures ever invented: the Hobbits. Hobbits are a race of half-sized people, very similar to humans except for their […]

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Singing resistance on the border

At an early age, Américo Paredes was preoccupied with the inexorable passing of time, which would leave an imprint in his academic career. Devoting his academic career to preserving and displaying Mexican-American traditions through thorough analysis and recording of folk-songs, it is clear that Paredes kept his focus on beating back the forces of time and amnesia. Indeed, Paredes’ lessons are still very much relevant today.

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Silas Marner, Threads, and Weaving [an excerpt]

Repetition and storytelling are bound in the novel’s representation of weaving, a theme that exemplifies the manner in which Silas Marner deftly moves between fable and realism. Classical mythology and fairy tales are crowded with weavers. Silas’s insect-like activity (he is reduced ‘to the unquestioning activity of a spinning insect’ and ‘seemed to weave, like the spider, from pure impulse, without reflection’ (p. 14)) calls to mind the myth of Arachne, who boldly challenged a goddess to a weaving contest.

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William Dean Howells and the Gilded Age [excerpt]

Through his writing, novelist and critic William Dean Howells captured the political and social aftermath of the Civil War. Given his limited involvement in politics, Howells’ works focused on the lives of common people over the uncommon, whom he deemed “essentially unattractive and uninteresting.” In the following excerpt from The Republic For Which It Stands, […]

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The independence of Anne Bradstreet

When the eighteen year old Anne Bradstreet first arrived in the New World in 1630, she confessed that “her heart rose.” She had made the voyage on the Arbella from England to Salem, Massachusetts with her extended family as part of the Puritan “Errand into the Wilderness.” Bradstreet’s resolution to write from her personal experience as a woman is the wellspring of her most memorable poetry.

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Will the real Robinson Crusoe please stand up?

It is difficult to think of a literary narrative, other than Robinson Crusoe, that economists have so enthusiastically appropriated as part of their cultural heritage. The image of Robinson, shipwrecked, alone, and forced to decide how to use his finite resources, has become almost emblematic in the teaching of the problem of choice in economics.

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Allen Ginsberg and Ann Coulter walk into an auditorium…

Ann Coulter, a controversial right-wing author and commentator, was tentatively scheduled to speak at UC Berkeley on April 27 until pre-speech protests turned into violent clashes, and her speech was canceled. In response, Coulter tweeted, “It’s sickening when a radical thuggish institution like Berkeley can so easily snuff out the cherished American right to free speech.”

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