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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Arts & Humanities

The man who made Big Ben

Big Ben, the great hour bell of the Palace of Westminster in London (a building better known as the Houses of Parliament), will controversially fall silent at noon today. Major conservation work to the clock, tower, and bells means that it won’t chime again until 2021.

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Margaret Fuller and the coming democracy

Since the 30th April, I go almost daily to the hospitals,” Margaret Fuller told her friend Ralph Waldo Emerson in a 10 June 1849 letter. “Though I have suffered,–for I had no idea before how terrible gun-shot wounds and wound-fever are, I have taken pleasure, and great pleasure, in being with the men; there is scarcely one who is not moved by a noble spirit.”

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George Berkeley and the power of words

According to a picture of language that has enjoyed wide popularity throughout the history of Western philosophy, language is a tool for making our thoughts known to others: the speaker translates private thoughts into public words, and the hearer translates the words back into thoughts. It follows from such a picture that before we can […]

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Are you a philosophical parent? [quiz]

Some people are both parents and philosophers, but aren’t philosophical parents. Conversely, some people aren’t philosophers, or at least aren’t academic philosophers, but are nevertheless philosophical parents. So who are the philosophical parents? Are you one? Take the quiz below and find out! (Pretend, for purposes of the quiz, that you’ve experienced every stage of […]

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Eubulides and his paradoxes

Who was the greatest paradoxer in Ancient Western Philosophy? If one were to ask this question of a person who knows something of the history of logic and philosophy, they would probably say Zeno of Elea (c. 490-460 BCE). However, for my money, the answer would be wrong. The greatest paradoxer is not Zeno, but the Megarian philosopher Eubulides of Miletus (fl . 4c BCE).

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Is there a place for the arts in health?

In a utopian world of abundant health budgets and minimal health challenges, it is probably fair to say that few would object to including the arts within hospitals or promoting them as a part of healthy lifestyles. Certainly, we have a long history of incorporating the arts into health (stretching back around 40,000 years), so it’s a concept many people are familiar with. But in an era of austerity, the value that the arts can bring comes under much closer scrutiny

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The world of Jane Austen [timeline]

Jane Austen was a British author whose six novels quietly revolutionized world literature. She is now considered one of the greatest writers of all time (with frequent comparisons to Shakespeare) and hailed as the first woman to earn inclusion in the established canon of English literature. Despite Austen’s current fame, her life is notable for its lack of traditional ‘major’ events. Discover Austen’s world, and its impact on her writing ….

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Travelling with Shakespeare

William Shakespeare is celebrated as one of the greatest Englishmen who has ever lived and his presence in modern Britain is immense. His contributions to the English language are extraordinary, helping not only to standardize the language as a whole but also inspiring terms still used today (a prime example being “swag” derived from “swagger” first seen in the plays Henry V and A Midsummer Night’s Dream).

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Do your job, part 1

In TBSH, there is a chapter devoted to expectations, from and of both the ensemble and the conductor, of each other and of themselves. Built around a worksheet entitled “Orchestral Bill of Rights and Responsibilities,” I attempt therein to design a framework for a long overdue discussion to occur, about what our actual jobs are, how we perceive them and how our neighbors in the orchestral community perceive them, divisions of labor, and what we have the “right to expect” from each other.

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The Iliad and The Trojan War [excerpt]

The Iliad tells the story of Achilles’ anger, but also encompasses, within its narrow focus, the whole of the Trojan War. The title promises “a poem about Ilium” (i.e. Troy), and the poem lives up to that description. The first books recapitulate the origins and early stages of the Trojan War.

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Barth, the Menardian

For the better part of half a century, John Barth was synonymous with what was the last self-conscious attempt at constructing a universal aesthetic movement speaking for all of humanity but recognizing only its bourgeois, white constituent. Much like Virginia Woolf once could claim that “on or about December, 1910, human character changed,” Barth would argue that literary modernism was over.

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George Romero, Game of Thrones, and the zombie apocalypse

When George Romero, director of Night of the Living Dead, died on 16 July, the world was gearing up for the season opener of Game of Thrones. Game of Thrones owes its central storyline—the conflict between the Night’s Watch and the White Walkers—and a great measure of its success to Romero, as do other popular and critically-acclaimed versions of the story, whether television, film, fiction, or comics.

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Are electrons conscious?

For most of the twentieth century a “brain-first” approach dominated the philosophy of consciousness. The idea was that the brain is the thing we really understand, through neuroscience, and the task of the philosopher is try to understand how that thing “gives rise” to subjective experience: to the inner world of colours, smells and sounds that each of us knows in our own case.

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From singer to choir director: A Q&A with Ben Parry

Ben Parry studied at Cambridge University, where he was a member of The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, before he became the musical director of, and singer with, the Swingle Singers. Today, Ben has a busy career as a conductor, arranger, singer and producer in both classical and light music fields. We caught up with Ben to ask him about his conducting experiences, and his advice for directors wishing to set up their own choirs.

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Introducing Hannah, OUP’s Music Hire Librarian

We are delighted to introduce Hannah Boron, who joined OUP’s Music Hire Library team in March 2017 and is based in the Oxford offices. We asked her to tell us what her job involves and chatted more generally about fantasy novels and how she would like to be Lara Croft!

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