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When and why does Islamic law oblige Muslims to fast?

An important prophetic tradition maintains that “Islam was built upon five ‘foundations.’” The Five Pillars, (the profession of faith [shahadah], daily prayers [salat], almsgiv­ing [zakat], the fast of Ramadan [sawm], and the pilgrimage to Mecca [Hajj]) blend the theological with the legal and represent the fundamental principles of personal and collective faith, worship, and social responsibility that unite all Muslims and distinguish Islam from other religions.

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Legal leadership and its place in America’s history and future

This past year, I wrote a book about lawyers’ service in the American Civil War, I argued that the lawyers’ part in the US and Confederate cabinets and in their respective Congresses made a civil war a little more civil, and allowed that out of horrific battle came a new respect for rule of law, as well as a new kind of positive, rights-based constitutionalism.

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Philosopher of the month: Mullā Sadrā [infographic]

This June, the OUP Philosophy team honours Mullā Sadrā (1571 – 1640) as their Philosopher of the Month. An Iranian Islamic philosopher, Sadrā is recognised as the major process philosopher of the school of Isfahan. Mullā Sadrā is primarily associated with ‘metaphilosophy’, but also maintains sovereign status as a spiritual leader for the Islamic East.

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Fosse Time!: innovation and influence in the films of Bob Fosse

Despite numerous honors throughout his illustrious career, including being the only director to earn the “triple crown” of show business awards—the Oscar, Emmy, and Tony—all in one year, Bob Fosse remains underrated in terms of his influence on the presentation of dance on film. From Sweet Charity, his first film as a director, through his multiple Oscar-winning Cabaret, to his autobiographical, Felliniesque All That Jazz, Fosse created a template for filming dance that has remained influential and remarkably vital years after these films first appeared.

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Kidney transplants, voucher systems, and difficult questions

It is commonly said that necessity is the mother of invention, and this was certainly the case at UCLA Medical Center in 2014 . Howard Broadman, then aged 64 and a retired judge from San Diego County, California, was concerned that his grandson, Quinn Gerlach, would be unable to secure a transplant kidney when he needed one. And so began the first “voucher system” for kidney procurement.

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Voltaire on death

Voltaire, the French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher, wrote over 20,000 letters over his lifetime. One can read through his letters to learn more about his views on democracy and religion, as well as the soul and afterlife. The following excerpts from his letters show how his thoughts and ideas about death and the soul evolved over time.

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When corporations do the right thing

Delta Airlines was one of more than a dozen companies to cut ties with the NRA after the school shooting in February 2018 that left 17 dead in Parkland, Florida. In a similar spirit six months earlier, CEOs from major American corporations spoke out against racial violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, President Trump’s inadequate response to the violence of white supremacists and their racist rhetoric prompted CEOs from Merck, General Electric, Apple, Goldman Sachs, Unilever, Armor, Dow, and Pepsi to separate themselves from him.

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Thomas Kuhn and the T. S. Kuhn Archives at MIT

After I completed a book on Thomas Kuhn, the author of Structure of Scientific Revolutions, I thought I knew a lot about him. In my book, I argue that Kuhn’s recent, less frequently read work is key to understanding his views. Then I began to look in detail at Kuhn’s past and the influence his early work had in fields other than philosophy of science. I came across an intriguing and unexpected remark by Thomas Walker, a political scientist, in Perspectives on Politics.

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OUP Philosophy

Karl Marx: A Reading List

The OUP Philosophy list boasts cutting-edge scholarship including monographs handbooks and textbooks suitable for graduate and undergraduate use, plus journals, online products, and a collection of scholarly editions. For the latest news, resources, and insights from the Philosophy team, follow us on Twitter @OUPPhilosophy.

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Winged words: the importance of birds in the ancient world

One good reason for studying the natural history of the ancient world is that it takes us outside the bubble we happen to be living in now, and enables us to look back at our world from the outside, as it were, and perhaps see it differently. As T.S. Elliot famously said, “the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

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Encyclopedia editions in the digital age

When Grove Music Online launched its new website last December, it marked the beginning of a new era for the encyclopedic dictionary that serves as a primary reference tool for music scholars. Grove has been in continuous publication since 1879 and online since 2001, but the version of Grove that was published on December 2017 remade the dictionary for the first time as “digital first”—that is, with online prioritized over print—and is thus Grove’s first truly digital edition.

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The New England Watch and Ward Society

The New England Watch and Ward Society

Ninety-two years ago this month, a confrontation took place on the Boston Common between New England’s Protestant establishment and a coalition of secular activists. Representing these two positions were J. Frank Chase, chief agent for the New England Watch and Ward Society, and H.L. Mencken, the well-known Baltimore journalist and editor of the avant-garde American Mercury.

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America’s neglected conflict: The First World War

Ask an American what comes to mind about the First World War and the response is likely to be “not very much,” and certainly less than about World War II. Perhaps that is to be expected, given the different circumstances under which the United States entered the two wars. In 1941 the choice was inescapable after the searing experience of Pearl Harbor.

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Playing Bach on the violin

Bach’s superlative works for violin are considered the pinnacle of achievement for any violinist. Both the unaccompanied Partitas and Sonatas and his violin works with keyboard accompaniment require great technical mastery of the instrument alongside a mature musicality. Players who haven’t yet scaled these heights are also keen to access his music and develop their understanding of Baroque playing techniques.

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The Gods of Indian Country

Who put Native American sign language in the US mail?

In 1890, a strange letter with “hieroglyphic script” arrived at Pennsylvania’s Carlisle Indian Industrial School. It was sent from a reservation in the Oklahoma Territory to a Kiowa student named Belo Cozad. Cozad, who did not read or write in English, was able to understand the letter’s contents—namely, its symbols that offered an update about his family.

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