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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Arts & Humanities

The myth of the power of singing

One morning in 2007 or 2008 I was listening to the news in my regular wait to turn onto the Birmingham Inner Ring Road, when I was surprised to hear a cheering headline: the UK government had pledged a significant sum of money to encourage singing in primary schools. Over the next few years, the […]

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Global Health Impact by Nicole Hassoun

How protecting human rights can help us increase our Global Health Impact

As the COVID-19 pandemic surges across the world, justice and equality demand our attention. Does everyone have a human right to health and to access new essential medicines researchers develop? Can pharmaceutical companies patent the medicines and charge high prices, selling them to whoever can pay the most? How can data help us address global […]

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Eastern Medieval Architecture

The reconversion of Hagia Sophia in perspective

At the beginning of January 1921, a special service was held in the cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, with Orthodox and Episcopal clergy offering prayers in six languages—Hungarian, Greek, Arabic, Russian, Serbian, and English—for the restoration of Hagia Sophia as a Christian sanctuary. As reported in the New York Times, the […]

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Becoming a Critical Thinker by Sarah Birrell Ivory

Do you feel sorry for first year university students?

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Said by Dickens many years ago but with eerie relevance to our current situation. The global pandemic is itself an overwhelming health tragedy. Moreover, it has laid bare so many other local, national, and global issues that have been simmering beneath the surface. […]

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Introducing Shakespeare to young readers

No one has a duty to like Shakespeare, just as no one is obliged to prefer coffee to tea, or classical music to pop, or soap operas to documentaries. On the other hand, just as it is highly inconvenient to know nothing about the internet, or how to boil an egg, so it is liable […]

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The Churchill Myths

The defacing of Churchill’s statue

During Britain’s strange summer of 2020 the statues of long-dead figures became live political issues. Black Lives Matter protesters threw slave-trader Edward Coulston’s effigy into Bristol harbour, an act that shocked many, but that was as nothing to the reaction provoked by the treatment meted out to Winston Churchill’s statue in Parliament Square. During another […]

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Gottfried Leibniz: the last universal genius

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a German seventeenth-century philosopher, an incredible logician, and one of the most important contributors to the philosophy of metaphysics, philosophical theology, mathematics, and ethics. His metaphysical career spanned over thirty years, and he was an inspiration to other contemporary philosophers from the Enlightenment period. Born in 1646 in Leipzig, Germany, Leibniz’s […]

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Meaningful Inefficiencies

Rebuilding better: designing the future of cities and governance

In city and town meetings throughout the United States, “we need to rebuild better” has become a common refrain from progressive political leaders to communicate their response to COVID-19 and the subsequent demands for racial justice. It is shorthand for the urgency of economic recovery while acknowledging the reality of structural inequities. The pandemic’s indiscriminate […]

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Six of the best Italian comedies

An astonishing array of Italy’s finest films are comedies. Some of the most memorable performances by actors like Marcello Mastroianni, Sophia Loren, Giancarlo Giannini, and Roberto Benigni have been in comic roles. The humor in these comedies harks back to the commedia dell’arte street performers of the Italian Renaissance and, before that, to the Roman […]

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How germs (or the fear of them) spawned Modernism

The world’s attention has been fully trained for many months on detecting a microbe that, inevitably, most people will never see for themselves: SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. We take for granted the invisibility of this new enemy. But when scientists first ventured the hypothesis that germs were the cause of many virulent diseases, […]

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“Camping” with the Prince of Wales through India, 1921-22

As senior correspondent of the London Times, Sir Harry Perry Robinson travelled the world in search of a good story. In November 1921 he was invited by the newspaper’s proprietor, Lord Northcliffe, to make a passage to India, following the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VIII) on his nearly five-month goodwill tour of the East. For […]

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Inca Apocalypse by R. Alan Covey

The apocalypse of the Inca empire [timeline]

The Inca Empire rose and fell over the course of a millennium, driven to its demise by internal strife and Spanish conquistadors. This timeline highlights a few key events from the rise of the Inca Empire to its apocalypse.    Header image by Eliazaro via Pixabay

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Winston Churchill and the media in the 1945 British general election

Seventy-five years ago this week, the House of Commons in Britain began debating the legislative programme of Clement Attlee’s Labour government, elected by a landslide at the end of the previous month. John Freeman, one of the fresh intake of socialist MPs, declared boldly: “Today, we go into action. Today may rightly be regarded as […]

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Coping with COVID deaths and what cinema tells us

It has come to this. We have reached an arbitrary new landmark in COVID-19 deaths in the United States. Inexorably oncoming, some respected epidemiologists are spooked by the specter of more waves and say we may go to 1 million. Such numbers would not make this pandemic any more unique. These large numbers, as any […]

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Petrostates in a post-carbon world

“This is our biggest compliment yet.” Greta Thunberg answered with these words to the comments by OPEC’s Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo that climate concerns were becoming the organization’s “greatest threat.” An increasing number of people view fossil fuels, and petroleum in particular, as the key cause of climate change and thus as the greatest threat […]

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