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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

The persistence of white supremacy 50 years after the Jackson State tragedy

In the early morning hours of 15 May 1970, the Mississippi Highway and Safety Patrol and the Jackson city police marched deep into the campus of the historically black Jackson State College in Jackson, Mississippi, leveled their weapons at students gathered outside a women’s dormitory, and let loose a 28-second barrage of bullets and buckshot […]

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What the Civil War can teach us about COVID-19

More than any crisis in recent memory, the coronavirus pandemic is changing how Americans understand time and imagine the future. Greater threats, like climate change, loom on the horizon, but they haven’t transformed time, because slower perils do not disrupt life and shutter society like COVID-19. During this crisis, familiar rhythms that structure time seem […]

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The city will survive coronavirus

In a recent essay, New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman asked “Can City Life Survive Coronavirus?” It seems an apt question in this extraordinary time of mandated retreat from public life.  City streets and spaces normally teeming with people are nearly deserted now, evoking scenes from a Terry Gilliam film.  In an effort to slow the […]

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Untold stories of the Apollo 13 engineers

Late on 13 April 1970, the night shift had started in Houston’s Manned Spaceflight Center. Engineers tried to sift through reams of odd data coming about the Apollo 13 spacecraft, from instrument readings to the confused reports from three astronauts. It looked like they were rapidly losing their oxygen supply. “First of all, we thought […]

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Donald Trump’s insult politics

Political commentators and satirists love to mock Donald Trump’s verbal gaffs, his simplified vocabulary and vague, boastful speech. But if you judge his oratory by its effect on the audience, Donald Trump’s rhetoric, particularly with large crowds of enthusiastic supporters, is undeniably effective. People have studied the art of rhetoric for millennia – so how […]

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How emotions affect the stock market

Last year marked the 90th anniversary of Black Thursday, the October day in 1929 when stocks stopped gradually falling, as they had since the start of September, and started wildly crashing. All told, the Dow Jones dropped from 327 at the opening of trading on the morning of Tuesday, 22 October to 230 at the close […]

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Lessons for the coronavirus from the 1899 Honolulu plague

Public health officials all over the United States—indeed globally—are trying to decide how to deal with the world’s coronavirus pandemic.   They know the coronavirus originated in China, and they know they can identify it with certainty.  But they do not know what might kill it, and they have no cure for anyone who contracts […]

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Nine books to read for Black History Month [reading list]

The month of February has been officially designated Black History Month since 1976 in order to, in President Gerald Ford’s words, “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” In keeping with this tradition, we have gathered the below titles, which all engage in […]

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Thanksgiving: Behind the Pilgrim Myth

The driving force behind making Thanksgiving a national holiday was Sarah Josepha Hale, who was born in 1788 in Newport, New Hampshire. After her husband’s death, Hale turned to writing to generate money. Her novel Northwood: A Tale of New England (1827) included an entire chapter devoted to a Thanksgiving dinner. Its publication brought Hale […]

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Q&A with author Craig L. Symonds

There are a number of mysteries surrounding the Battle of Midway, and a breadth of new information has recently been uncovered about the four day struggle. We sat down with naval historian Craig L. Symonds, author of The Battle of Midway, newly released in paperback, to answer some questions about the iconic World War II battle.

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Why more democracy isn’t better democracy

Democracy is necessary for a free and just society. It is tempting to conclude that democracy is such a crucial social good that there could never be too much of it. It seems that when it comes to democracy, the more the better. Yet it is possible to have too much democracy. This is not […]

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Why we need more biographies of suffragists

One of the most striking characteristics of the American women’s suffrage movement is that its history has traditionally been told through the lives of its leading figures. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, Anna Howard Shaw, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Alice Paul and the organizations they founded and led dominate the story to […]

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Five fascinating facts about Leonard Bernstein and Japan

On 25 August 2019, which would have been Leonard Bernstein’s 101st birthday, the busy centenary year filled with performances, exhibitions, publications, and events comes to a close. Much of Bernstein’s status as a world maestro tends to be discussed in terms of his relationship to Israel and Europe, but once we turn our attention eastward […]

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The first gay president?

The topic of the sexuality of President James Buchanan has become a talking point in the media of late due to the presidential campaign of openly gay candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg of Indiana. In that spirit, we turn to the life of our nation’s only bachelor president and his intimate personal relationship with William Rufus King of Alabama […]

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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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