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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Arts & Humanities

Journeys through Galant expositions

Joseph Riepel and a very long hello

Joseph Riepel’s celebrated music theory treatise, Anfangsgründe zur musicalischen Setzkunst, unfolds in a lively and witty manner. Most of its chapters are framed in the guise of lessons, presented as dialogues between a teacher and student.

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My song is love unknown, by Becky McGlade

A Q&A with composer Becky McGlade

I was fortunate enough to rehearse daily with the Truro cathedral choristers from the age of 8 to 13 (in the days before girl choristers). This fostered in me a love for choral music and for singing, which has continued throughout my life.

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Making Time for Making Music

Online music-making with nearly no lag time—really!

Susan Alexander found a way to fill the “big, depressing hole in your life where playing music with other people used to be” when she discovered JamKazam, one of several free music-making software programs that nearly eliminate the annoying lag time in sound transmission that occurs when musicians try to make music together on Zoom or Skype.

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Representation in Cognitive Science

What is “representation” in the human brain and AI systems?

Neuroscience is beginning to make sense of what’s going on inside the human brain—a seemingly inscrutable organ of even great complexity. We can now see what some patterns of activity are, and we have an inkling of what they are doing, of how they track the environment, and subserve behaviour.

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Posthuman Bliss? The Failed Promise of Transhumanism

Playing to lose: transhumanism, autonomy, and liberal democracy [long read]

[long read] Transhumanists insist that their vision of the “radical” bioenhancement of human capacities is light-years removed from prior eugenics, which was state managed. This reassuring, empowering picture is undercut by transhumanists’ own arguments, which offer incompatible pictures of personal autonomy in relation to decisions about the use of bioenhancement technologies.

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Henry James and the Art of Impressions

Impressionism’s sibling rivalry

Sixty world-famous impressionist paintings arrived at the Royal Academy of Arts in London from Copenhagen in March of this year, a whisker before lockdown was imposed. Instead of drawing box-office crowds, they sat in storage for four months. But then the Academy reopened its doors in August with the Covid-secure ‘Gauguin and the Impressionists’. That this exhibition sold out so quickly is testament not only to our hunger for unmediated culture after a period of captivity, but also to the enduring popularity of impressionism.

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Was the dog-demon of Ephesus a werewolf?

Apollonius of Tyana was a Pythagorean sage and miracle-worker whose life was roughly conterminous with the first century AD. He is often, accordingly, referred to as “the pagan Jesus.” We owe almost all we know about him to a Life written by Philostratus shortly after AD 217. In one of the biography’s more striking episodes (4.10), the great man eliminates a plague (a timely subject indeed for us!) that has fallen upon the people of Ephesus.

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Oxford African American Studies Center

Women & Literature: Maya Angelou

Angelou’s creative talent and genius cut across many arenas. One of the most celebrated authors in the United States, Angelou wrote with an honesty and grace that captured the specificity of growing up a young black girl in the rural South.

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Oxford African American Studies Center

Women & Literature: Zora Neale Hurston

Susan Butterworth discusses the life and legacy of Zora Neale Hurston. A vibrant figure of the Harlem Renaissance, a fertile interpreter of black folklore, and a lyrical writer – Hurston had a fascinating career. By the time of her death however, she had sadly disappeared into poverty and obscurity.

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Oxford African American Studies Center

Women & Literature: Alice Walker

Like all of her heroines, Alice Walker is herself an agent of change. Walker once said that the best role model is someone who is always changing. Instead of desiring a long shelf life, Walker asserts that she wants to remain fresh. This commitment to fluidity and evolution characterizes both her life and her work.

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Oxford African American Studies Center

Women & Literature: Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison occupies a central place in the literature of twentieth-century America. Her epic themes and characters, her unique and sophisticated style of storytelling, and her ability to recreate urgent, long-silenced voices have expanded what readers know about African American history and what they understand about the complex, often confusing relationships between race and gender in contemporary society.

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