Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Arts & Humanities

Standing in Galileo’s shadow: Why Thomas Harriot should take his place in the scientific hall of fame

The enigmatic Elizabethan Thomas Harriot never published his scientific work, so it’s no wonder that few people have heard of him. His manuscripts were lost for centuries, and it’s only in the past few decades that scholars have managed to trawl through the thousands of quill-penned pages he left behind. What they found is astonishing—a glimpse into one of the best scientific minds of his day, at a time when modern science was struggling to emerge from its medieval cocoon.

Read More

The gender riots that rocked Cambridge University in the 1920s

On 20 October 1921, a sombre procession took over King’s Parade, a usually bustling thoroughfare in Cambridge. A hearse made halting progress, bearing the weighty effigy of the Last Male Undergraduate, and accompanied in shuffling steps by ‘Mere Males’: bowed and wretched figures wearing long grey beards. Their sprightlier colleagues made speeches about the risks of female governance at the side of the road, hassled young women on bicycles and eventually raised the cry: “We Don’t Want Women!”

Read More

Connecting performance art and environmentalism

For many of us, the reality of global warming and environmental crisis induces an overwhelming sense of hopelessness because there seems to be a lack of real solutions for ecological catastrophes. The looming sense of crisis is the reason why people came out in droves to the Derwent River on an overcast day in June 2014 to participate in Washing the River, artist Yin Xiuzhen’s performance event in Hobart, Tasmania.
Audience members took brushes and mops to engage in a ceremonial act, taking part in the symbolic cleansing of a monumental stack of 162 frozen blocks of dark brown ice made from the water of the Derwent River.

Read More

It’s not you, it’s me: the problem of incivility

We regularly decry this or that latest episode of incivility, and can thereby find temporary satisfaction. Maybe we feel heartened to see the uncivil criticized, the critique itself a reassurance that incivilities still meet some resistance. Maybe we find relief in collective condemnation of the uncivil, solidarity in shared disapproval. Or maybe we just experience […]

Read More

Five attitudes of mindfulness for the performing musician

Mindfulness is the mental skill that can help musicians practice the more abstract philosophies of this performance mindset. A trendy synonym for awareness, mindfulness is simply the deliberate and nonjudgmental focus of attention on the thoughts and events of the present moment.

Read More

A visual history of slavery through the lens [slideshow]

During the 1840s and 1850s, enslavers began commissioning photographic portraits of enslaved people. Most images portrayed well-dressed subjects and drew upon portraiture conventions of the day, as in the photograph of Mammy Kitty, likely enslaved by the Ellis family in Richmond, who placed an arm on a clothed, circular table.

Read More

Using technology to help revitalize indigenous languages

Our planet is home to over 7,000 human languages currently spoken and signed. Yet this unique linguistic diversity—the defining characteristic of our species—is under extreme stress, as are the communities that speak these increasingly endangered languages. The pressures facing endangered languages are as severe as those recorded by conservation biologists for plants and animals, and in many cases […]

Read More

Michel Foucault on the insane, the criminals, and the sexual deviants

Michel Foucault (1926-84) was one of the most influential and notable French philosophers and historians of ideas, best known for his theories on discourses and the relation of power and knowledge. His seminal works such as L’histoire de la folie à l’âge classique (1972, trs. as History of Madness, 2006), Surveiller et punir (1975, trs. as Discipline and Punish, 1977), and Histoire […]

Read More

Four remarkable LGBTQ activists

Around the world, the LGBTQ community faces inequality and discrimination on different levels. Although an increasing number of countries have legalised same-sex marriage in recent years, in countries such as Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, members of the LGBT community are still fighting for their simple right to exist. In the USA, much of LGBTQ activism […]

Read More

How well do you know your fictional fathers?

The relationship between parent and child is intricate and has been widely explored in literature through the ages. Particularly complicated is the role of the father. They are often portrayed as abusive or absent while the mother takes on the traditional nurturing role, but that’s not to say literature doesn’t have its fair share of gentle […]

Read More

Why posh politicians pretend to speak Latin

When Jacob Rees-Mogg wished to criticise the judges of the European Union, he said, “Let me indulge in the floccinaucinihilipilification of EU judges.” The meaning of the jocular term (the action of judging something to be worthless) is not as important as its source—the Eton Latin Grammar. Latin and Latinate English flow readily from the […]

Read More