Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Thinking disobediently?

A person who “thinks disobediently” can be invigorating, maddening, or both. The life and writings of Henry David Thoreau have provoked just such mixed reactions over time, scorned by some; cherished by others. What seems bracingly invigorating can also seem an off-putting mannerism.

Read More

American Exchanges: Third Reich’s Elite Schools

In the summer of 1935, an exchange programme between leading American academies and German schools, set up by the International Schoolboy Fellowship (ISF), was hijacked by the Nazi government. The organization had been set up in 1927 by Walter Huston Lillard, the principal of Tabor Academy in Marion, Massachusetts. Its aim was to foster better relations between all nations through the medium of schoolboy exchange.

Read More

African American religions and the voodoo label

In 1932, an African American man named Robert Harris killed his tenant on a makeshift altar in the back of his home in Detroit, Michigan. Harris, who was allegedly part of Detroit’s burgeoning Black Muslim community, described the murder as a human sacrifice to Allah. Harris was put on trial for murder; however, following some bizarre courtroom rants during which he referred to himself as a “king” and the murder as a “crucifixion,” Harris was declared insane and sent to an asylum.

Read More

Faith in God, themselves, and the people: Black religious activist-educators

I started my first seminar on Radical Pedagogy, reflecting with students on a provocative blog entitled “10 Reasons Septima Clark was a Badass Teacher.” Beyond the shock value of using badass in a divinity school setting, the students were curious about why I started with this lesser known (if not completely unknown) figure from the 1950s Civil Rights era.

Read More

Living Black in Lakewood: rewriting the history and future of an iconic suburb [Long Read]

In the annals of American suburban history, Lakewood stands as an icon of the postwar suburb, alongside Levittown, NY, and Park Forest, Ill. Noted not only for its rapid-fire construction—17,500 homes built from 1950-1953—it was also critiqued for its architectural monotony, alarming writers at the time who feared that uniform homes would spit out uniform people. That worry quickly faded when the demography of Lakewood began to change.

Read More

Five unexpected things about medical debt

100 million Americans hold medical debt which causes people to forgo or be denied necessary medical care. Luke Messac, a historian and physician, looks at five unexpected things about medical debt.

Read More
Title cover for "Empires of the Dead: Inca Mummies and the Peruvian Acestors of American Anthropology" by Christopher Heaney, published by Oxford University Press

Why global museums amassed the ancestral dead, starting in Peru

It is a time of worldwide reckoning for museums that display or contain ancestral dead. But the specific story of the collection of Andean ancestors charts a different origin for this global process, and it asks us to think with more nuance regarding what to do with the museums it created.

Read More
Making Sense of the Molly Maguires 25th anniversary edition by Kevin Kenny, published by Oxford University Press

Making sense of the Molly Maguires today

Twenty Irish mine workers were hanged in the anthracite region of Pennsylvania in the 1870s, convicted of a series of murders organized under the cover of a secret society called the Molly Maguires. Here Professor Kenny discusses 10 things that helped him answer the questions at the heart of his book, “Making Sense of the Molly Maguires.”

Read More
The Oxford Comment podcast

The revelation of the Book of Mormon at 200 [podcast]

On today’s episode, we’re joined by two preeminent scholars on the history and theology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to discuss with us the legacy of Joseph Smith’s Gold Plates as well as the state of academic scholarship surrounding The Book of Mormon.

Read More
The Oxford Comment podcast

Revisiting toxic masculinity and #MeToo [podcast]

On this episode of The Oxford Comment, we explore two recognizable components in contemporary conversations on gender and gendered violence: that of “toxic masculinity” and of the #MeToo movement with scholars Robert Lawson and Iqra Shagufta Cheema.

Read More
The Oxford Comment podcast

The great gun conundrum [podcast]

In this podcast episode, we discuss the history of the gun debate in the US with Robert J. Spitzer and how a reform of policing can deter gun violence with Philip J. Cook.

Read More