Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Challenging ageism through burlesque performance [video]

Five years ago, Kaitlyn Regehr and Matilda Temperley, documentarian and photographer respectively, set off for Las Vegas to interview members of the League of Exotic Dancers. At the Burlesque Hall of Fame, these legends—thriving sixty years past the supposed prime of burlesque—have created a community in “Old Vegas” where they continue to perform half-century-old routines.

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10 facts about the bassoon

Rising to popularity in the 15th century, the bassoon is a large woodwind instrument that belongs to the oboe family and looks similar to the oboe in terms of coloring and use of the double reed. The bassoon enabled expansion of the range of woodwind instruments into lower registers.

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Can burlesque be described as “feminist”?

Is burlesque an expression of sex-positive feminism, or is it inherently sexist? In the following excerpt from The League of Exotic Dancers: Legends from American Burlesque, documentarian Kaitlyn Regehr and photographer Matilda Temperley share narratives by burlesque dancers who embraced this form of art as an early expression of women’s rights.

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Tips for addressing stage fright

An A B C model to conceptualize anxiety responses was developed by the American psychologist Albert Ellis (1913– 2007) as a self- help and clinical tool to help people identify and understand what Ellis called “irrational” thoughts and feelings. Ellis recommended challenging and replacing negative and irrational thoughts with positive alternatives represented by Letter B in the A B C Model.

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Picking a fight in an empty room

This year marks the 137th anniversary of the birth of Seán O’Casey, one of the best-known of all Irish playwrights. His works first enthralled audiences at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre during the 1920s, and in the years since then his dramas have been repeatedly revisited by actors and directors.

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Which of the fathers in Shakespeare said these words? [quiz]

Everyone knows William Shakespeare, the prolific English playwright and poet of the late 1500’s and early 1600’s. His extensive collection of comedies, tragedies, and romances are still very popular today. In fact, they are frequently referenced, adapted, and studied across the globe due to their reputation and his. In light of TNT’s new television series, Will, which premiered on 10 July we created a quiz to test your knowledge of Shakespeare’s works.

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How to write about theatre performances

It’s the theatre season in my town of Ashland, Oregon, and I’m keeping up with the play reviews and talking with reviewers about what makes a good review. Reviewing a play is different than reviewing a book or even a film.

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Ten facts about the pipa

The modern day pipa has gone through many transformations since being introduced during the Han dynasty and Koryŏ period. The instrument was integrated into three distinct cultures. It can be made of several different materials.

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The history of American burlesque [timeline]

Burlesque is an exotic dance style that draws on theatrical and often comedic performance elements. First introduced by a visiting British dance troupe in the 1860s, burlesque took off in America even as its popularity dwindled in England.

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Katherine Dunham: the artist as activist

In October 1944, the African American choreographer Katherine Dunham (1909-2006) stood in front of an audience in Louisville, Kentucky and announced that she and her dance company would not return to Louisville until the city desegregated its theaters. Word of her brave stance ricocheted across the country, finding its way into a newspaper in Indiana, where a fifteen-year-old boy wrote her an admiring letter saying that she was an inspiration in the fight for racial equality.

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Lost in time: the El Cortez hotel and casino

On a sticky afternoon in June of 2015 I, with friend and photographer, Matilda Temperley, drove through downtown Las Vegas and into the driveway of the El Cortez Hotel and Casino. The midday sun exposed some rust on the hotel’s neon signage as well as a missing light bulb on the giant red, rotating high healed shoe, which framed an advertisement for $10.95 Prime Rib at the hotel’s diner.

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The origins of dance styles

There is an amazing variety of types, styles, and genres of dancing – from street to disco, to folk dancing and ballroom. Some are recent inventions, stemming from social and political changes, whilst others have origins as old as civilisation itself. Do you know your Jive from your Jazz, your Salsa from your Samba? Read on to discover the surprisingly controversial origins of the Waltz, and the dark history of the American Tango.

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What if Peter Pan’s arch-enemy was a woman?

J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan; or The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up has exercised the popular imagination since its first performance in 1904. Yet not everyone is aware of Peter Pan’s stage history or the darker currents that underlie the apparently escapist story of Wendy Darling and her brothers flying away from their nursery to the “Never Land”, a fantasy world of make-believe and adventures with Captain Hook and his pirates.

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A paradoxical stroll down Harlem’s memory lane

It has been nearly nine years since I moved to Southern California, after a lifetime in New York City as the adopted daughter and granddaughter of a Harlem-born and raised black family whose “roots” were in Richmond, Virginia (by way of the Middle Passage from, as author Dionne Brand describes it in A Map to the Door of No Return, “the door of no return”). I visit the city a couple of times a year, to check in with loved ones and to do research.

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La La Land and the Hollywood film musical

Say what you will about the strong fan base of La La Land and its probable domination of the upcoming Oscars after sweeping so many of the guild awards, not to mention the critical backlash against it that I have seen in the press and among scholars on Facebook, but Damien Chazelle certainly knows the history of the Hollywood film musical!

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Shakespearean tragedy and modern politics

On his recent visit to England Barack Obama chose to tour Shakespeare’s Globe, on Bankside; and in the last days of his Presidency, interviewed about his reading habits, he spoke touchingly and revealingly of his admiration for Shakespeare’s tragedies, and of what they had taught him. ‘I took this wonderful Shakespeare class in college’, he said, ‘where I just started to read the tragedies and dig into them.

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