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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Arts & Humanities

Scientism, the coronavirus, and the death of the humanities

The cause of the humanities’ current crisis is far older than critics of postmodern relativism allow—and more baked into the heart of the modern American university. In fact, one must look back to very creation of the American universities in the late nineteenth century to see why their triumph precipitated the marginalization of the modern humanities. The scientizing of our higher education amounts to the root of the problem, and without a deep-seated revolt against this process, the humanities will continue to wither.

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Music Therapy Perspectives

The essential role of music therapy in medical assistance in dying

In Western society, we spend a lot of time celebrating and welcoming new life, but very few cultures celebrate when a person dies. While death is not as taboo as 50 years ago, death is still a topic that many individuals are not comfortable speaking about in conversations.

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Oxford Handbooks Online

The politics of punk in the era of Trump

Trump is Punk! It’s a hashtag. It’s a slogan on t-shirts and trucker hats. It’s a click-bait headline. Milo Yiannopoulos, a former Breitbart editor, may have started this buzz with his speech (delivered in drag) at Louisiana State University on 22 September 2016, in which he claimed that “being a Donald Trump supporter is the new punk” because it would “piss off your teachers, piss off your parents, piss off your friends.” Then in October, The Atlantic published “Donald Trump, Sex Pistol: The Punk Rock Appeal of the GOP Nominee,” and after the election, the New York Post ran an opinion piece with the headline “Trump is the Punk-Rock President America Deserves” (9 November 2016). Despite social media protestations, “punk” became shorthand for Trump’s rule-breaking, anti-establishment campaign filled with unapologetic vulgarity and appeals to white male grievance.

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The poetics and politics of rap music in the UK

Looking at current events in the UK, one can conclude that the Kingdom is far from united. While media outlets such as the BBC and newspapers tell a particular story of the situation, I have found that there is a missing voice in these discourses which shed an important light on these contexts. The British rapper, or MC.

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Making Time for Music

They may not be pros—but they’re recording artists now

“If you give yourself to something that you think isn’t going to work, sometimes it does,” says retired school teacher and lifelong choir member Linda Bluth. She’s commenting on a surprising new musical bright spot that has popped up during the coronavirus pandemic: ordinary people becoming recording artists.

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Beethoven: Variations on a Life

Five things you didn’t know about Beethoven

Films like Immortal Beloved and Copying Beethoven, whatever their value as entertainment, have helped create an image of the composer that often runs counter to the historical evidence. Here are five things that might surprise you about the composer. He laughed a lot Most images of Beethoven—especially those done after his death—show him scowling. But […]

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Turn-taking in Shakespeare

And thus Zoom turns us all to fools and madmen

With characteristic aplomb, then, Shakespeare has anticipated—by a good four hundred years—exactly what happens when more than three people try to chat informally via Zoom. The kind of interaction that would be relatively straightforward in person becomes torturously difficult. Everything takes longer. Everything requires more effort. Without careful attention to what linguists call “turn-taking,” things quickly descend into chaos.

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Why do humans have property?

Property is a rather old subject. We’ve been writing about it since at least the time of the Sumerian tablets, in part, because after four and a half millennia we still haven’t settled on what property is, who has it, how we get it, or even what it’s for.

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Visual and Multimodal Communication: Applying the Relevance Principle

Rooting chimp communication in relevance theory

The key assumption of Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson’s relevance theory is that every act of communication comes with the promise (not the guarantee!) of being optimally relevant to its envisaged audience. Sperber and Wilson’s examples typically pertain to spoken face-to-face exchanges between two individuals: speaking Mary and listening Peter. A message gains in relevance for […]

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The Oxford Book of Theatrical Anecdotes

How well do you know the world of theatre? [Quiz]

Gyles Brandreth has been collecting theatre stories since he was a boy—and he has collected more than a thousand of them for The Oxford Book of Theatrical Anecdotes, an anthology of entertaining and illuminating stories about every aspect of the world of theatre, from the age of Shakespeare to the present day. How well do you know […]

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Standing as I do before God

Sound relationships: exploring the creative partnership between poet and composer

Composer Cecilia McDowall and poet Seán Street have collaborated on the creation of many choral works in recent years, from Shipping Forecast to Angel of the Battlefield. Here they discuss some of the challenges and pleasures of balancing words and music to create something that is greater than the sum of its parts. *** Cecilia McDowall (CM): Writing for choral forces, characteristically, requires […]

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Beethoven 1806

Beethoven’s virtual collaborations

Since the onset of the pandemic, online platforms like Facebook and YouTube have become indispensable hubs of musical collaboration. Simply scroll down your Facebook feed to encounter collaborative virtual performances of everything from “Over the Rainbow” to Mahler’s Third Symphony, each one painstakingly assembled from individual recordings of sequestered singers and isolated instrumentalists. While physically distant musical collaborations […]

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Multisensory Experiences

The senses in an increasingly digital world

We interact with the world around us with all our senses—such as sight, hearing, smell, but also much more! The senses are fundamental to our experiences. The research area of multisensory experiences considers the different human senses and their interactions when designing human experiences. This area is growing in academic fields such as Human-Computer Interaction, marketing, and the […]

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A tribute to the fallen

President Trump is reliably reported to have referred to soldiers who have fallen in battle as “losers” and “suckers.” Supposedly, on November 10, 2018, he refused to visit the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial, outside Paris. It was raining and he feared his hair would get mussed. On hearing this—reported in the Atlantic magazine—I was totally surprised […]

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