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How to use the passive voice

Writing instructors and books often inveigh against the passive voice. My thrift-store copy of Strunk and White’s 1957 Element of Style says “Use the Active Voice,” explaining that it is “more direct and vigorous than the passive.” And George Orwell, in his 1946 essay on “Politics and the English Language,” scolds us to “Never use the passive where you can use the active.”

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OUP Philosophy

Philosophy in 2018: a year in review [timeline]

2018 has been another significant year for the philosophy world and, as it draws to a close, the OUP philosophy team reflects on what has happened in the field. We’ve compiled a selection of key events, awards, and anniversaries, from the bicentenary of the birth of Karl Marx to Martha Nussbaum winning the Berggruen Prize and the death of the philosopher Mary Midley.

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The history of holiday traditions [podcast]

One of the best parts of the holiday season is that everyone celebrates it in their own unique way. Some traditions have grown out of novelty, such as eating Kentucky Fried Chicken dinners on Christmas in Japan. Others date back centuries, like hiding your broom on Christmas Eve in Norway to prevent witches and evil spirits from stealing it to ride on.

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A Christmas Carol cover book

A classic christmas dinner with the Cratchits

“There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn’t believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal admiration. Eked out by apple-sauce and mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family; indeed, as Mrs Cratchit said with great delight (surveying one small atom of bone upon the dish), they hadn’t ate it all particular, were steeped in sage and onion to the eyebrows!”

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Dancing politics in Argentina

Argentina’s rich history of 20th and 21st century social, political, and activist movements looms large in popular imagination and scholarly literature alike. Well-known images include the masses gathered in the Plaza de Mayo outside the iconic pink presidential palace during populist President Juan Domingo Perón’s first terms (1946-1955). This scene was imprinted in popular culture, for better or worse, by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita.

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On observing one’s past

Let me share a memory with you. It’s a childhood memory, about an event from when I was around 13 or 14 years old. My father and I are playing soccer together. He is the goalkeeper, standing between the posts, I am the striker, taking shots from outside the box.

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A European peace plan turns 325

2018 marks the 325th anniversary of the publication of William Penn’s Essay towards the Present and Future Peace of Europe, which proposed, among other things, the establishment of a European Parliament.

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Brian Eno’s Music for Airports 40 years later

Forty years ago, Brian Eno released Ambient 1: Music for Airports and Virgin-EMI has just given it a deluxe vinyl re-issue. The first work to formally identify itself as “ambient,” it garnered modest attention and a bit of derision; Rolling Stone referred to it as “aesthetic white noise.”

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The merits of and case for Land Value Taxation

Politics matters for tax as tax matters for politics. The high-minded Scottish economist Adam Smith had ‘four maxims of taxation’: 1) Tax should be progressive.
2) Tax should be certain, not arbitrary.
3) Tax should be paid at the time most convenient to the contributor.
4) Tax should take as little from the contributors as possible to pay for the state.

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A timeline of American music in 1917

The entrance of the United States into World War I on April 6, 1917 inspired a flood of new music from popular songwriters. Simultaneously, the first recording of instrumental jazz was released in April 1917, touching off a fad for the new style and inspiring record companies to promote other artists before year’s end.

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Bob Chilcott shares his memories of Sir David Willcocks

I joined King’s College Choir as a boy treble in 1964. This was a time of real energy in the media, recording and concert world, and this possibly brought a different kind of perspective to David’s work with the choir. There were a number of firsts for the choir around this time.

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The evolution of the word “terror”

Terror comes into English in the late fourteenth century, partly from Middle French terreur, and partly directly from Latin terror. The word means both “the state of being greatly frightened” and “the cause of that state,” an ambiguity that is central to its future political meanings. In Early Modern English, terror comes to stand for a state of fear provoked on the very edge of the social.

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Desires for power: sex scandals and their proliferation

The unapologetic authoritarianism of guru-disciple relationship makes it a revealing case study through which to analyze power relations, particularly those related to physical touch and sexuality. As I argue in a recent article, “Guru Sex,” in the guru-disciple relationship there are social conventions surrounding touch, what I call haptic logics.

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Improvising with light: Nova Express psychedelic light show

Paul Brown is best known for his work as an artist creating visual art that uses self-generating computational processes. Yet before Paul started creating art with computers, he worked with Nova Express, one of the main psychedelic light shows performing in Manchester and the North of England during the 1960s and early 1970s.

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