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Mary Wollstonecraft, our contemporary

Since the political earthquake of Trump’s election, preceded by the earth tremor of Brexit, the commentariat has been awash with declarations of the end of eras—of globalisation, of neoliberalism, of the post-World War II epoch of political stability and economic prosperity. As though to orientate ourselves in this brave new world, the search has been on for historical analogies, through whose lenses we might understand our present moment.

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What are ‘political’ black churches?

Much attention has been given to white evangelical congregations and parachurch groups in studies of so-called “political churches” and politically active Christians. While studies of such white evangelical congregations have been at the forefront of scholarly attention to religious politics, the historic participation (and debate over the participation) of black churches in the civil rights era of the 1950s and 60s…

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The critical role of race in John Cassavetes’ first film

Shadows is the first film John Cassavetes directed and, regarding the version he released in 1959, it is the only film he created that distinctly explores themes of Blackness and Black identity in an American urban landscape. Too Late Blues, A Woman Under the Influence, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, and Love Streams all depict identity and race in different and attention-worthy ways as well, but none of Cassavetes’ directorial work after 1959 engages with these topics to the same degree or with the same immediacy.

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Ellington’s A Drum Is a Woman turns 60

Recent research on African-American jazz icon Duke Ellington (1899-1974) has increasingly focused on the composer-pianist-bandleader’s post-World War II achievements: a torrent of creativity across film, theater, and dance perhaps unrivaled in American music. But the unleashing of Ellington’s “late career” genius was not a foregone conclusion. It would take an ambitious — if not a […]

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Celebrate Mother Goose Day and tell us your favorite fairy tale!

Come celebrate Mother Goose Day with us! On this holiday, which originated in the year 1987, we honor Mother Goose, the fictional author of a number of nursery rhymes and fairy tales. Even though she’s an imaginary character, her societal impact is not. Through her fantastical stories, she’s reminded us of the moral implications of […]

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Witches and Walpurgis Night

In modern British and American popular culture, Halloween is the night most associated with the nocturnal activities of witches and the souls of the dead. But in much of Europe the 30 April or May Eve, otherwise known as Walpurgis Night, was another moment when spirits and witches were thought to roam abroad. The life and death of Saint Walpurga, who was born in Dorset, England, in the eight century, has nothing to do with witchcraft or magic, though.

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Fielding and fake news

Fake news is not only a phenomenon of post-truth politics in the Trump era. It’s as old as newspapers themselves—or as old, Robert Darnton suggests, as the scurrilous Anecdota of Procopius in sixth-century Byzantium. In England, the first great age of alternative facts was the later seventeenth century, when they clustered especially around crises of dynastic succession.

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The origins of dance styles

There is an amazing variety of types, styles, and genres of dancing – from street to disco, to folk dancing and ballroom. Some are recent inventions, stemming from social and political changes, whilst others have origins as old as civilisation itself. Do you know your Jive from your Jazz, your Salsa from your Samba? Read on to discover the surprisingly controversial origins of the Waltz, and the dark history of the American Tango.

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Remembering Charlie Chaplin, citizen of the world

Early in the 1957 film A King in New York, the second-to-last feature that Charlie Chaplin would write and direct and the last in which he would star, an unusual debate erupts between the two principal characters, one an exiled monarch and the other a precocious schoolboy.

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What would Margaret Oliphant have said about Trump and Brexit?

What would Margaret Oliphant (1828–1897), one of the most prolific of commentators on nineteenth-century society (98 novels; 50 or more short stories; 25 works of non-fiction, and over 300 essays) have made of the politics and social mores influencing events today? In particular how would she have reacted to the identity politics behind the plea for a hard Brexit, the current referendum stand-off between England and Scotland, and the triumph of Trump in the US presidential election?

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Best librarian characters in fantasy fiction

Libraries often feel like magical places, the numerous books on every shelf holding the ability to transport their reader to new and wonderful worlds. In the words of Terry Pratchett: “They thought the Library was a dangerous place because of all the magical books…but what made it really one of the most dangerous places there could ever be was the simple fact that it was a library.”

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How well do you know John Stuart Mill? [quiz]

This April, the OUP Philosophy team honors John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) as their Philosopher of the Month. Among the most important philosophers, economists, and intellectual figures of the nineteenth century, today Mill is considered a founding father of liberal thought.

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Life lessons from Shakespeare and Marcus Aurelius

William Shakespeare and Marcus Aurelius (the great stoic philosopher and emperor) have more in common than you might think. They share a recorded birth-date, with Shakespeare baptized on 26 April 1564, and Marcus Aurelius born on 26 April 161 (Shakespeare’s actual birth date remains unknown, although he was baptised on 26 April 1564. His birth is traditionally observed and celebrated on 23 April, Saint George’s Day).

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What we talk about when we talk about capitalism

For more than a century, capitalism has been the dominant planetary system for supplying people with, quite literally, their daily bread. It transformed our cultures and knit us together in a global network of buying and selling. But how do we understand it? How do we make sense of it? What do we talk about when we talk about capitalism? Recently we did a study to track talk of capitalism over two hundred years.

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Whose Qur’an?

The Qur’an has emerged as a rich resource for liberation. Over the past several decades, Muslims across the world have interpreted the Qur’an to address the pressing problem of oppression. Whereas privileged groups have historically interpreted the Qur’an, it is imperative for marginalized communities to enter the interpretive circle, to partake in the task of producing normative Islamic thought and practice. In terms of gender, Wadud and Barlas have emphasized, time and again, that women need to participate fully

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