Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

A librarian’s journey: from America to Saudi Arabia

King Abdullah University of Science Technology (KAUST) is based in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, on the east shore of the Red Sea. It was founded by King Abdullah and opened its doors in 2009, with the vision of being a destination for scientific and technological education and research, to inspire discoveries that address global challenges and striving to be a beacon of knowledge that bridges peoples and culture for the betterment of humanity.

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Telling (fairy) tales

Fairy tales have been passed down through communities for many hundreds, if not thousands, of years, and have existed in almost all cultures in one form or another. These narratives, often set in the distant past, allow us to escape to a world very unlike our own. They usually follow a hero or heroine who comes up against some sort of obstacle (or obstacles) – from witches and ogres, to dwarves and (as the name suggests) fairies.

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A library in letters: the Bodleian

Libraries by their very nature are keepers and extollers of the written word. They contain books, letters, and manuscripts, signifying unending possibilities and limitless stores of knowledge waiting to be explored. But aside from the texts and stories kept within libraries’ walls, they also have a long and fascinating story in their own right.

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New Grub Street and the starving artist

Sitting alone in front of a computer screen, a writer sometimes feels like screaming at the machine to make the words appear. When inspiration finally strikes, the result may be far from satisfying—but when your next meal is at stake, it hardly matters.

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The many voices of Dickens

Charles Dickens’s reputation as a novelist and as the creator of Ebenezer Scrooge, one of the most globally recognized Christmas miser figures, has secured him what looks to be a permanent place in the established literary canon. Students, scholars, and fans of Dickens may be surprised to learn that the voice many Victorians knew as “Dickens,” especially at Christmastime, was also the voice of nearly forty other people.

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Spice up your readers’ advisory with “Blind Date with a Book”

Readers’ advisory librarians are the ultimate literary matchmakers. We listen to our patrons, get to know their interests, set them up with a book, and hope they hit it off. If we do our jobs effectively, our patrons will fall in love with multiple partners. And they’ll keep coming back for more. “Blind Date with a Book” offers librarians the perfect way to showcase our readers’ advisory services.

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Five tragic love stories across time

This time of year is often filled with images of romance, hearts, and cupid’s bows, but not all love stories end in happily ever after. Who among us hasn’t had their heart broken, or felt the sting of rejection once (or twice)? But we all know that life without love (even if it’s painful) isn’t much of a life. As Charles Darwin once said, ‘Much love much trial, but what an utter desert is life without love’.

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Was Chaucer really a “writer”?

We know more about Geoffrey Chaucer’s life than we do about most medieval writers. Despite this, it’s a truism of Chaucer biography that the records that survive never once describe him as a poet. Less often noticed, however, are the two radically different views of Chaucer as an author we find in roughly contemporaneous portraiture, although the portraits in which we find them are themselves well known.

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Christopher Marlowe: the quintessential Renaissance man

Christopher Marlowe was born in February of 1564, the same year as Shakespeare. He was the son of a Canterbury shoemaker, and attended the King’s School there. With fellowship support endowed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, young Marlowe matriculated at Corpus Christi College in Cambridge University in 1580 and received the BA degree in 1584.

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Rise, read, repeat: Groundhog Day at OUP

Bill Murray fought tirelessly to combat the ennui and frustration that accompanied repeating the same day over and over and over again in the film “Groundhog Day.” For him, repetition was torture, but for several of us at Oxford University Press, it’s not so bad…when it comes to reading!

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7 blasphemous books of the 1920s: James Joyce’s birthday list

James Joyce had a thing about birthdays. With some difficulty, he contrived to have Ulysses published on his 40th birthday, and to receive the first copy of Finnegans Wake just in time for his 57th birthday. The day itself was typically crowned by a gala dinner party; at his 50th birthday, he was presented with a big blue cake, decorated as a copy of Ulysses—which moved the author to intone, in the language of the Catholic Mass: Accipite et manducate ex hoc omnes: Hoc est enim corpus meum.

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The wonderful poetic production of Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes, whom Carl Van Vechten memorably called “the Poet Laureate of the Negro race,” was born on 1 February 1902 in Joplin, Missouri; he died in New York City on 22 May 1967. This year, then, we celebrate Hughes’ birthday at the beginning of what is now Black History Month, and we honor the 50th anniversary of his untimely passing. Remembering Hughes will no doubt lead to more books, articles, and conferences, which is as it should be.

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Agatha Christie at mass

In the wake of the Second Vatican Council, Dame Agatha Christie, the renowned writer of detective fiction, added her name to a protest letter to Pope Paul VI. With over fifty other literary, musical, artistic, and political figures, Christie — who’d recently celebrated her eightieth birthday — expressed alarm at the proposed replacement of the old Mass rite, which used Latin and elaborate ritual, with a new rite in English with simpler ceremonial.

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