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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Launching into oral history

I was introduced to oral history while completing my Master’s in Library Science at the University of North Texas. I needed to fulfill my practicum requirement, and I took a chance on an advertisement to intern at NASA-Johnson Space Center. (I grew up wanting to be an astronaut, but in high school I met AP Calculus and that dream was indefinitely deferred.)

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Interviews with historians: An OAH video series

At the 2015 Organization of American Historians conference in St. Louis, we interviewed OUP authors and journal editors to understand their views on the history discipline. Gathering at the OUP booth, scholars – working in fields ranging from women’s history to racial history, cultural history to immigration history – discussed topics both professional and personal.

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Hamilton the musical: America then told by America now

It was only after I finished writing The Founding Fathers: A Very Short Introduction that I got to see the off-Broadway version of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton: An American Musical” at New York City’s Public Theater. I was lucky enough to see the Broadway version (revised and expanded) last month.

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Sleepy Hollow’s Apocalypse

“The answers are in Washington’s Bible!” Katrina shouts as Moloch stirs the dark, swirling clouds that will seal her once again in Purgatory. Her husband, Ichabod Crane, stands watching, unable to help as his wife is swallowed up in a world that he can only reach in dreams and visions. Ichabod has been resurrected from the dead in the twenty-first century and faces Death himself in the form of the headless horseman of Sleepy Hollow.

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Local opera houses through the ages

Nineteenth and twentieth Century opera houses are finding new lives today. Opera houses were once the center of art, culture, and entertainment for rural American towns–when there was much less competition for our collective attention.

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Washington D.C. civil rights slideshow

Brown v. Board of Education is one of the most identifiable civil rights cases in our nation’s history. While most scholarship begins with this case, Just Another Southern Town by Joan Quigley recounts the battle for civil rights beginning with the case of District of Columbia v. John R. Thompson Co. In this slideshow, Joan Quigley weaves together the success of this case with other landmark civil rights moments in Washington, DC, creating a timeline of the struggle for racial justice in our nation’s capital.

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Our lost faith in the American murder trial

We live in an age when Americans are both captivated and disturbed by murder trials. The Netflix smash hit Making a Murderer went viral in late December as it chronicled the seemingly wrongful convictions of a Wisconsin man and his teenage nephew for the gruesome killing of a young photographer. The success of this documentary was hardly surprising in the wake of 2014’s Serial, the most popular podcast in history and winner of a Peabody Award.

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Eugene McCarthy and the 1968 US presidential election

Eugene McCarthy made first stop in New Hampshire on January 25, 1968, only six weeks before the state’s March 12 primary. When he did arrive, his presence sparked little excitement. He cancelled dawn appearances at factory gates to meet voters because, as he told staffers, he wasn’t really a “morning person.” A photographer hired to take pictures of the candidate quit after five days because the only people in the shots were out-of-state volunteers.

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American History

99 years after the Jones Act: Austerity without representation

Ninety-nine years ago this week, Puerto Ricans became citizens of the United States. What does this anniversary signify? That depends a lot on who you ask (and be careful who you ask, since most Americans have no idea how or why Puerto Ricans became US citizens, or if they’re even citizens at all).

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W.E.B. Du Bois and the literature of upheaval

There is a moment in the George Miller film Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985) that has stuck with me over the two decades since I first saw it. A bedraggled Max (Mel Gibson) is escorted through the crumbling desert outpost of Bartertown.

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#OscarsSoWhite: new branding for an old problem

In 1996, decades before the trending hashtag, Reverend Jesse Jackson led a boycott protesting the lack of diversity at the Oscars. Having encouraged attendees to wear a rainbow ribbon in support of the issue, he was ridiculed for his efforts.

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John Marshall, the lame-duck appointment to Chief Justice

Those who argue that lame-duck presidents should not nominate justices to the Supreme Court have forgotten or ignored the most consequential appointment in the Court’s — and the nation’s — history: President John Adams’s 1801 appointment of John Marshall as the nation’s fourth Chief Justice.

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A history of Supreme Court nominations in election years

It was an election year. A Supreme Court justice appointed by the most conservative Republican president in history had just died. The President, the most progressive Democrat to ever hold that office, now had a chance to begin to reshape the Supreme Court. But the president was up for reelection, with no guarantee he would be reelected.

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Race: Jesse Owens and the African American tradition

Patterned on other sports dramas about race and the freedom rights struggle, such as Remember the Titans, Glory Road, We Are Marshall, The Express, and 42, Race tells the story of Jesse Owens’ preparation and stunning performance at the 1936 Summer Olympics at Berlin, Germany. However, while Owens follows a long tradition of unsung African American heroes, many remain unfamiliar with the details surrounding his rise to prominence.

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How well do you know Black History?

First established in 1926 by historian Carter G. Woodson with the support of the Association for the Study for Negro Life, Negro History Week took place on the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, two men whose actions greatly influenced the black population in America.

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