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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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John Donne & the Conway Papers

Finding the Melford Hall Manuscript

The Melford Hall Manuscript is a large, expensively bound manuscript volume containing previously unknown witnesses of nearly 140 poems by John Donne (1572-1631), one of the most outstandingly significant poets and preachers of the early modern period. Discovered by Gabriel Heaton of Sotheby’s during a routine survey of Melford Hall in Suffolk, and restored by sale by the prestigious […]

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Oxford Research Encyclopedias

Social studies: learning the past to influence the future

Learning history is complex; it requires an individual to be a critical thinker, develop different interpretations of history, and engage in analytical writing. I encourage these skills in my undergraduates when we discuss the past. However, within the US’ K-12 system, social studies have been relegated to the sidelines as education policymakers and administrators have focused on math and science since the start of the 21st century.

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Athens After Empire

Capturing your “rude” conqueror

Roman civilization is one of the foundation stones of our own western culture, and we are often exposed in newspaper and magazine articles, books, and even TV documentaries to the glories of Roman art, architecture, literature (the chances are you’ve read Virgil’s Aeneid), rhetoric (we’ve all heard of Cicero), even philosophy. Yet in the late first century BC the Roman poet Horace wrote: “Captive Greece captured her rude conqueror and introduced her arts to the crude Latin lands” (Epistle 2.1.156). Did he really mean that Rome owed its cultural and intellectual heritage to the Greeks?

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Athens After Empire

Down but never out

The Athenians were in a panic in 490 BC. A Persian army had landed at Marathon, on the coastline east of Athens, intent on capturing the city and even conquering all Greece. The famous battle of Marathon was Athens’ coming of age as a military power; a decade later its navy helped to block another Persian invasion (led by Xerxes), a stepping-stone to Athens’ rise as a wealthy imperial power.

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Modern Brazil: A Very Short Introduction

A change in Brazil’s national populist government

As we approach 15 November, a national holiday marking the end of the Brazilian Empire and proclamation of the Brazilian Republic in 1889, and also a day of municipal elections, many Brazilians may be contemplating what has happened to their country and where it might be heading.

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Scientism, the coronavirus, and the death of the humanities

The cause of the humanities’ current crisis is far older than critics of postmodern relativism allow—and more baked into the heart of the modern American university. In fact, one must look back to very creation of the American universities in the late nineteenth century to see why their triumph precipitated the marginalization of the modern humanities. The scientizing of our higher education amounts to the root of the problem, and without a deep-seated revolt against this process, the humanities will continue to wither.

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Listening on the edge

Listen now before we choose to forget

Memory is pliable. How we remember the COVID-19 pandemic is continually being reshaped by the evolution of our own experience and by the influence of collective interpretations. The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC), where I have worked for over two decades, asked me to design an oral history response to document the pandemic in our area.

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MI5, the Cold War, and the Rule of Law

MI5 and Russian interference, now and then

On 21 July 2020, the UK parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee published its long-delayed report on “the Russian threat to the UK.” Although heavily redacted, the report was wide-ranging and dealt with a number of issues, including the threat to democracy, highlighting concerns about potential Russian interference in the Scottish referendum in 2014, the EU […]

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Beethoven 1806

Beethoven’s virtual collaborations

Since the onset of the pandemic, online platforms like Facebook and YouTube have become indispensable hubs of musical collaboration. Simply scroll down your Facebook feed to encounter collaborative virtual performances of everything from “Over the Rainbow” to Mahler’s Third Symphony, each one painstakingly assembled from individual recordings of sequestered singers and isolated instrumentalists. While physically distant musical collaborations […]

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A tribute to the fallen

President Trump is reliably reported to have referred to soldiers who have fallen in battle as “losers” and “suckers.” Supposedly, on November 10, 2018, he refused to visit the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial, outside Paris. It was raining and he feared his hair would get mussed. On hearing this—reported in the Atlantic magazine—I was totally surprised […]

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