Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

What literature can teach us about living with illness

The recent interest in the epidemics of the last century coincides with growing media attention to the emotional ramifications of living with mass death and disease. COVID-19 has wrought an extended encounter with acute powerlessness and human frailty—a confrontation with mortality that is perhaps especially unmooring for those of us who live privileged lives. We […]

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Why research needs to be published in new and accessible formats

Technological advancements, accessibility needs, and study practices have and will continue to develop at a rapid pace. We find, use, and publish research completely differently than we did 25 years ago. But Oxford University Press has been publishing Very Short Introductions throughout this period.  Launched in 1995, these publications offer concise introductions to a diverse […]

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The life of Charles Dickens [timeline]

Charles Dickens is credited with creating some of the world’s best-known fictional characters and is widely regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian age. Even before reading the works of Dickens many people have met him already in some form or another. Today marks the 150th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ death and to commemorate his life we created a short timeline showcasing […]

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How children going viral is shaping our world

Last year my seven-year-old daughter came home from school and “flossed” in the middle of our lounge room. For the uninitiated (as I was) and for the oldies (as I am), flossing is not your average teeth-cleaning ritual, but “a dance in which you move your hips from side to side while simultaneously moving your hands […]

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Why performance poetry still matters after 24 centuries

Glastonbury Festival, England, June 2019 AD: the spoken-word poet Kate Tempest performs her poems before a huge, enthusiastic audience. Panathenaia Festival, Athens, June 419 BC: the Greek rhapsode Ion performs the poems of Homer before a huge, enthusiastic audience. Is there a historical connection between these events 2,400 years apart? Western poetry had its beginnings […]

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Re-reading Camus’s The Plague in pandemic times

Sometime in the 1940s in the sleepy colonial city of Oran, in French occupied Algeria, there was an outbreak of plague. First rats died, then people. Within days, the entire city was quarantined: it was impossible to get out, and no one could get in. This is the fictional setting for Albert Camus’s second most famous novel, The Plague (1947). And yes, there are some similarities to our current situation with the coronavirus.  First, […]

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Maria Edgeworth, Jane Austen’s forgotten idol

In the first years of the nineteenth century the most prominent, and highly respected, novelist in Britain was a woman. It was not Jane Austen but her contemporary, Maria Edgeworth. Indeed Austen was herself a fan of the woman regarded as “the great Maria.” “I have made up my mind to like no Novels really, […]

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Yesterday’s fake news: Donald Trump as a 1980s literary critic

In 1987, during a CNN interview with Republican political consultant Pat Buchanan, author and real estate developer Donald Trump was asked about his taste in literature. “Well I have a number of favorite authors,” Trump replied. “I think Tom Wolfe is excellent.” “Did you read Vanity of the Bonfires?” Buchanan asks. “I did not,” Trump responds. […]

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Why it’s so hard to write a William Wordsworth biography

“A divine morning–At Breakfast William wrote part of an ode—Mr Olliff sent the Dung & William went to work in the garden.”  This entry in Dorothy Wordsworth’s journal for 1802 is characteristically straightforward, but for the biographer how to deal with it is anything but. After years of unsettled wandering William and Dorothy Wordsworth had returned to the Lake District where […]

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Seven classics for comfort reading [reading list]

The impact of the COVID-19 can be felt in all areas of our lives, with many staying at home for the next few weeks. Perhaps this is an opportunity to finally start your copy of War & Peace that’s been on the to-be-read pile for years or you find yourself revisiting old friends in Jane Austen’s world. […]

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How strategists are improving team decision-making processes

How companies and teams make decisions can be very challenging. Poor or ill-structured decision-making processes can make the organization less successful and create destructive conflicts in decision-making teams. But there are a few strategies companies can try that help organizations make big decisions in a better way. People operate in complex and dynamic environments, making […]

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How emotions affect the stock market

Last year marked the 90th anniversary of Black Thursday, the October day in 1929 when stocks stopped gradually falling, as they had since the start of September, and started wildly crashing. All told, the Dow Jones dropped from 327 at the opening of trading on the morning of Tuesday, 22 October to 230 at the close […]

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How women can support each other to strive for gender equality

Hovering over almost all women who stand up and insist on being heard is a putdown only used in for the female of the species; a word that is particular to the attempt to belittle and silence women. That word is “shrill.” It was used more liberally by detractors in the early days of feminism, […]

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Grammar in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll was a mathematically-inclined poet who published Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1865 and Through the Looking-Glass in 1872 as well a number of poems and math and logic texts. Last summer I saw an outdoor production of Alice in Wonderland and it reminded me of all the linguistics in the two books. Carroll touches on questions of […]

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Five philosophers on the joys of walking

René Descartes argued that each of us is, fundamentally, a thinking thing. Thought is our defining activity, setting us aside from animals, trees, rocks. I suspect this has helped market philosophy as the life of the mind, conjuring up philosophers lost in reverie, snuggled in armchairs. But human beings do not, in fact, live purely […]

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How to diversify the classics. For real.

As (I hope) Barnes and Noble and Penguin Random House have just learned, appropriating the concept of diverse books for an opportunistic rebranding insults the idea they claim to honor. If you were off-line last week, here’s a brief recap. The bookseller and publisher announced (and then abandoned) plans to publish “Diverse Editions” – not books by writers of […]

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