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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

The Diva's Gift to the Shakespearean Stage: Agency, Theatricality, and the Innamorata

Why “the all-male stage” wasn’t

Why is “the all-male stage” inadequate as shorthand for the early modern stage? For one thing, it enforces a gender binary that has little to do with the subjects, desires, audiences, and practices of the time. Gender was elusive, plural, and performative, especially on the stage, where attractive androgynous boys played women, or switched back and forth between genders. The importance of female spectators, artisans, and backers gives the lie to total exclusion, and so does mounting evidence that women played in many spheres adjacent to the professional stage.

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The Drama of History by Kristin Gjesdal

Staging philosophy: the relationship between philosophy and drama

Where does philosophy belong? In lecture halls, libraries, and campus offices? In town squares? In public life? One answer to this question, exceedingly popular from the Enlightenment onward, has been that philosophy belongs on stage—not in the sense that this is the only place we should find it, but that the relationship between philosophy and drama is particularly productive and promising.

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The Chinese Lady: Afong May in Early America by Nancy E. Davis

Afong Moy on the 21st century stage

The story of Afong Moy, the first known Chinese woman on American soil, and the first Chinese person to come face to face with American audiences across the country has been told recently by both the historian Nancy Davis as well as the playwright LLoyd Suh. Davis explores Afong Moy’s life and the different lessons that can be learned through research as well as fictionalization.

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The Musical Theater of Tommy Tune

The musical genius of Tommy Tune: “old plus old equals new”

From the beginning, Tommy Tune was pulled as if by centrifugal force toward dance and the Broadway musical. He was taking dancing lessons by the age of five, but his early ambition to be a ballet dancer was abandoned when he shot up in height during his teenage years. He later joked about his extreme height, saying, “Sometimes, instead of thinking of myself as six-foot-six, I tell myself I’m only five-foot-eighteen.”

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SHAPE

SHAPE and societal recovery from crises

The SHAPE (Social Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts for People and the Economy) initiative advocates for the value of the social sciences, humanities, and arts subject areas in helping us to understand the world in which we live and find solutions to global issues. As societies around the world respond to the immediate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, research from SHAPE disciplines has the potential to illuminate how societies process and recover from various social crises.

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Shakespeare and East Asia

Adapting Shakespeare: shattering stereotypes of Asian women onstage and onscreen

There has always been some perceived affinity between the submissive Ophelia and East Asian women. Ophelia is a paradox in world literature. Even when she appears to depend on others for her thoughts like her Western counterpart, the Ophelias in Asian adaptations adopt some rhetorical strategies to make themselves heard, balancing between eloquence and silence, shattering the stereotypes about docile Asian women.

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Sandbows and Black Lights

The mermaid in the fishbowl: the rise of optical illusions and magical effects

The nineteenth century saw the publication of several books explaining how magical effects and spectral appearances could be performed using the science of optics. It started in 1831, when Sir David Brewster (famed for his discovery of Brewster polarization and inventing the kaleidoscope) published “Letters on Natural Magic.” In this book, Brewster showed how to produce images of ghosts using partially silvered mirrors and by using a magic lantern to project images onto screens or onto clouds of vapor.

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SHAPE

On SHAPE: a Q&A with Lucy Noakes, Eyal Poleg, Laura Wright & Mary Kelly

OUP have recently announced our support for the newly created SHAPE initiative—Social Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts for People and the Economy. To further understand the crucial role these subjects play in our everyday lives, we have put three questions to four British Academy SHAPE authors and editors—social and cultural historian Lucy Noakes, historian of objects and faith Eyal Poleg, historical sociolinguist Laura Wright, and Lecturer in Contemporary Art History Mary Kelly—on what SHAPE means to them, and to their research.

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Disability, access, and the virtual conference

Creating access for people with disabilities sometimes means fundamentally changing the nature of the thing that is made accessible. When we change the nature of the thing made accessible, we don’t just create access and inclusion for people with disabilities—we often create a new kind of experience altogether.

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Picture World

Victorian 3D: virtual adventures in the stereoscope

We’re used to travelling long distances to explore exotic new locations—but that hasn’t always been possible. So how did people visit far-flung spots in times gone by? Rachel Teukolsky, author of “Picture World: Image, Aesthetics, and Victorian New Media”, takes us on a fascinating journey in glorious Victoriana 3D, introducing us to the must-have virtual reality tech of the 19th century: the stereoscope.

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SHAPE

SHAPE today and tomorrow: Q&A with Sophie Goldsworthy and Julia Black (part two)

This second part of our Q&A with Sophie Goldsworthy, Director of Content Strategy & Acquisitions at OUP, and Professor Julia Black CBE FCA, Strategic Director of Innovation and Professor of Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and President-elect of the British Academy, reflects on how SHAPE disciplines can help us to understand the impact of the events of the pandemic and look towards the future of SHAPE.

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