Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Why we need humour at a time like this

Comedy has always offered swift relief in times of stress. A good laugh can be good therapy, can lift us out of sadness and depression. Our sense of humor can restore us to high spirits and renew our sense of hope. Some scientists even believe that humor activates pathways in our brain that circumvent the […]

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Inspirational TV shows to watch during this pandemic

There are many ways people are passing time with staying home during the pandemic. Some are taking up new hobbies. Some are exploring virtual museums. Some may even be preparing for a neighborhood sing-along out their windows. But many people are turning to television to provide entertainment, comfort, and/or escape. Since the late 1990s, as […]

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Six jazz movies you may not know

The film industry started making jazz-related features as soon as synchronized sound came in, in 1927: “I’m gonna sing it jazzy,” Al Jolson’s Jack Robin optimistically declares in the pioneering talkie The Jazz Singer, before taking off on Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies.” (He gets closer to the jazzy mark whistling a quasi-improvised chorus of “Toot Toot […]

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Eighty years of The Wizard of Oz

The summer of 1939 was busy for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, one of Hollywood’s major studios, as it rolled out The Wizard of Oz, a movie musical almost two years in preparation. The budget for production and promotion was almost $3 million, making it MGM’s most expensive effort up to that time. A June radio broadcast introduced the songs and characters to the public.

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Looking at Game of Thrones, in Old Norse

The endtime is coming. The night is very long indeed; sun and moon have vanished. From the east march the frost-giants, bent on the destruction of all that is living. From the south come fiery powers, swords gleaming brightly. A dragon flies overhead. And, terrifyingly, the dead are walking too.

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At least in Green Book, jazz is high art

I’m anxiously awaiting the release of Bolden, a film about the New Orleans cornettist Buddy Bolden (1888 – 1933) who may actually have invented jazz. But since Bolden will not be released until May, and since April is Jazz Appreciation Month, now is a good time to talk about the cultural capital that jazz has recently acquired, at least in that […]

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The state of black cinema in 2019

This year’s Academy Awards presentation takes places at the end of Black History Month. The congruence of this fact with the increased profile of heretofore minority cinema is more than felicitous. Since the Twitter campaign #Oscarsowhite following the announcement of the 2015 nominations, both the Academy and the motion picture industry have made visible efforts to promote work by Asian, Latino, and African-American directors, writers, actors, and musicians.

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Simone de Beauvoir at the movies

Does it make you less of an intellectual woman, any less of a feminist, to derive insight and even pleasure from films where women appear as instruments in the service of male desire?

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Based on a true story [podcast]

In the world of film, members of the audience perceive what they see on screen as realistic, even if what they’re seeing is not actually real. The role and influence of academic consultants has been debated as the impact of historical films in the lens of educating a populous is in question. On this episode, […]

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The continuing life of science fiction

In 1998 Thomas M. Disch boldly declared in The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of: How Science Fiction Conquered the World that science fiction had become the main kind of fiction which was commenting on contemporary social reality. As a professional writer, we could object that Disch had a vested interest in making this assertion, but virtually every day news items confirm his argument that SF connects with an amazingly broad range of public issues.

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Real sex films capture our changing relationship to sex

In 2001, the film Intimacy was screened in London as the first “real sex” film set in Britain. With a French director and international leads (the British Mark Rylance and New Zealander Kerry Fox), the film was controversial even before screening.

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Fosse Time!: innovation and influence in the films of Bob Fosse

Despite numerous honors throughout his illustrious career, including being the only director to earn the “triple crown” of show business awards—the Oscar, Emmy, and Tony—all in one year, Bob Fosse remains underrated in terms of his influence on the presentation of dance on film. From Sweet Charity, his first film as a director, through his multiple Oscar-winning Cabaret, to his autobiographical, Felliniesque All That Jazz, Fosse created a template for filming dance that has remained influential and remarkably vital years after these films first appeared.

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Reverse-mullet pedagogy: valuing horror fiction in the classroom

Are you familiar with the mullet? It’s a distinctive hairstyle—peculiarly popular in continental Europe in the 1980s—in which the hair is cut short on the top and sides but left long at the back. Whatever the aesthetic gravity of the mullet, it comes with a philosophy. The philosophy of the mullet is this: “Business in the front, party in the back.” I’ll argue that the reverse holds true for the horror genre, didactically speaking. Horror fiction is sexy. Horror has zombies. It has ghosts and vampires. It has Hannibal Lecter and Jigsaw, Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger and Leatherface. It has cannibal hillbillies and crazed college kids.

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