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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Arts & Humanities

Who is Leonard Bernstein?

Best known as the composer of Candide and West Side Story, Leonard Bernstein had an immensely versatile career. Born on August 25, 1918, Bernstein’s career spanned decades, leaving a lasting impression through his work as a conductor, composer, and music educator.

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How well do you know Saint Thomas Aquinas? [quiz]

This August, the OUP Philosophy team honours Saint Thomas Aquinas (1224/5-1274) as their Philosopher of the Month. Aquinas is a well-known figure in theology and his ideas are becoming increasingly studied within the discipline of philosophy. His work on Aristotle and his two major texts Summa contra Gentiles and Summa Theologiae have gained him the reputation of being one of the greatest philosopher-theologians of his time.

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Race and political division during American Reconstruction [excerpt]

Despite succeeding in reuniting the nation after the Civil War, American Reconstruction saw little social and political cohesion. Division—between North and South, black and white, Democrat and Republican—remained unmistakable across the nation. In the following excerpt from Reconstruction: A Concise History,  Allen C. Guelzo delves into the complicated nature of race and politics during this […]

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The potential preventive promise of music

I became a parent around the time I started working in childhood mental health, providing music therapy to children with complex trauma histories. Through these experiences, I became aware both personally and professionally of the profound impact a child’s early environment has on their social and emotional development outcomes and later behavioral and academic ones.

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The allure of the peasant in organic farming

Idealizing pre-modern life has a long history in western culture. When Europeans discovered the vast new world of the Americas, new visions and possibilities arose in their imagination, not just of the Native Americans that populated the new continent, but of Europeans themselves. The English philosopher Thomas Hobbes understood Native Americans to live in a pre-civil condition, savages ridden with violence.

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Ten perspectives on music and autism, from ten people on the spectrum

Since the emergence of autism as a diagnosed condition in the 1940s, the oft-noted musical proclivities of people on the autism spectrum have generated much interest. Reports of savant-like abilities, extraordinary feats of musical memory, and disproportionately high rates of perfect pitch abound, along with a high degree of emphasis on music’s importance in therapeutic interventions.

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World Humanitarian Day [podcast]

On this episode of The Oxford Comment, we take a look at the challenges faced by humanitarians today. Host Erin Katie Meehan sat down with Health & Social Work editorial board member Sarah Gehlert, Belinda Gurd and Alexandra Eurdolian of the UNOCHA, and esteemed psychologist Robert J. Wicks to explore important questions about humanitarianism.

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One hundred years of poems “counter, original, spare, strange”

Who doesn’t like a centenary? Whether solemn, festive, or celebratory, a centenary can be very instructive, whether conducted individually or collectively. It is a way of acknowledging—often honouring—the past and, at the same time, reassessing the present and imagining the future in the context of the previous event or exemplary person.

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Democracy and political violence: the case of France

Does democratic politics eliminate political violence? Are citizens of a democracy prepared to resolve their political differences solely at the ballot box? The fighting at Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017 suggests that these are questions as relevant today as at the highpoint of European political confrontation during the interwar years.

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Editing The Scarlet Pimpernel

Baroness Orczy’s Scarlet Pimpernel (1905) is one of those popular novels that we tend to assume we already know without having read it. This tale of the French Revolution has been adapted many, many times, for the stage, small and large screens, and radio, and it has been frequently parodied over the decades, most famously, perhaps, by the Carry On team with Don’t Lose Your Head (aka Carry on Pimpernel).

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Animal of the month: 10 facts about lions

Lions have enchanted humans since early Antiquity, and were even represented in European cave paintings from 35,000 years ago. They are regularly the main characters in folklore and allegory, appearing everywhere from African folktales to the Bible. It is not hard to see why lions are so ubiquitously revered. Their fearsome yet stunning appearance, combined with their endearing hunting tactics and formidable roar, answers any questions as to why early societies named the lion ‘King of the Beasts’, and indeed explains why this name is still used today.

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Reflections on two decades of string teaching

In England, we have the expression ‘Carrying coals to Newcastle’ – a pointless action, since the place in question already has a bountiful supply. In Spain, they take oranges to Valencia and in Portugal, honey to a bee-keeper. If not quite as plentiful as oranges or honey, publishers’ lists are filled with beginner violin repertoire – what possible motivation could there be to write and publish more?

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Celebrating Emily Brontë

Only one birthday is “celebrated” in Wuthering Heights. It doesn’t go well. The young Catherine Linton begins her 16th birthday with a modestly optimistic plan to buck the established family pattern of solitary mourning to mark the date when she came into the world (“a puny, seven months child”), but her mother died two hours later.

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Where to put hyphens

After reading a draft of something by a colleague, I asked her how she decides when to use hyphens. She responded tartly: “Hyphens. You mean like in well-spoken, or half-assed? I’m not sure. I don’t care for them.” Personally, I’m a big fan of hyphens and sarcasm won’t deter me. Personally, I’m a big fan of hyphens and sarcasm won’t deter me.

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Philosopher of the month: Saint Thomas Aquinas [timeline]

This August, the OUP Philosophy team honours Saint Thomas Aquinas (1224/5-1274) as their Philosopher of the Month. The Italian philosopher, theologian, and Dominican friar is regarded by many as the greatest figure of scholasticism. Thomism and Neo-Thomism are both popular schools of thought related to the philosophical-theological ideas of Aquinas.

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Back to school reading list for educators

Packing up your beach towels and heading back to the class room? To help make lesson planning and curriculum writing easier, we have prepared you a reading list from the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education.

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