Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • History

Happy Dreams of Liberty

An enslaved Alabama family and the question of generational wealth in the US

Wealthy Alabama cotton planter Samuel Townsend invited the attorney to his home in 1853, swearing him to secrecy. His elder brother Edmund had recently died, and the extensive litigation over Edmund’s estate had made it clear to Samuel that he needed an airtight will if he wanted to guarantee that his chosen heirs would inherit […]

Read More
Ukraine: What Everyone Needs to Know

Who is Putin fighting against?

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has highlighted a curious disconnect between the supposed ideological objective of the war and the means used to achieve it.

Read More
Oxford University Press logo

A Florence Price mystery solved (part two)

To my knowledge, Price’s Boston address remained inconclusive until I visited Special Collections at the University of Arkansas Mullins Library this past January to find new leads for the Price biography I am co-authoring with Samantha Ege, the Lord Crewe Junior Research Fellow in Music at Lincoln College, Oxford. The recovery of this information fills a void in a life story for which “the necessary evidence to write a detailed biography,” as preeminent Price scholar Rae Linda Brown once put it, “is surprisingly scant.”

Read More
A Concise Guide to Communication in Science and Engineering

The curious popularity of “however” in research articles

There are many ways to signal a change of direction in a piece of text, but the most common is by inserting a “but.” Alternatives such as “although,” “though,” “however,” “yet,” and “nevertheless” generally run a poor second. In research articles, though, the prevalence of “however” increases—especially in some disciplines.

Read More
Oxford University Press logo

A Florence Price mystery solved (part one)

To my knowledge, Price’s Boston address remained inconclusive until I visited Special Collections at the University of Arkansas Mullins Library this past January to find new leads for the Price biography I am co-authoring with Samantha Ege, the Lord Crewe Junior Research Fellow in Music at Lincoln College, Oxford. The recovery of this information fills a void in a life story for which “the necessary evidence to write a detailed biography,” as preeminent Price scholar Rae Linda Brown once put it, “is surprisingly scant.”

Read More
The Silken Thread

Rough Walkers: the true story of Roosevelt’s Rough Riders

The recent controversy over a statue of Theodore Roosevelt reveals a larger story: one about the Rough Riders, the first United States Volunteer Cavalry. Although their victory at the Battle for the San Juan Heights is well-known, the Riders’ real enemy was not the Spanish they fought but the deadly yellow fever and malaria carried by mosquitoes.

Read More
French History

What is the French presidential election about? [Long read]

The upcoming French presidential election presents something of a paradox. On the one hand, the outcome seems a foregone conclusion with Macron on course for re-election. But while such an overwhelming electoral narrative could easily be interpreted as a mere continuation of the status quo, nothing could be further from the truth.

Read More
The neuroscience of consciousness by the Oxford Comment podcast

Women’s economic empowerment, past and future [podcast]

In the western world, discussions about the gender pay gap have dominated discussions for the last few decades, but the issues around the economic status of women, and women’s roles in the workforce are far more nuanced, incorporating issues of race, class, consumerism, and ongoing shifts in the legal status of women in subtle and often invisible ways.

Read More
Conquering the Ocean

Reconstructing Claudius’ arch in Rome

A look at the process of reconstructing Claudius’ Arch in Rome and how it was informed by the latest research in archaeology and classical studies to provide a better understanding of the significance of the Roman Invasion of Britain.

Read More
Looking for Alicia: The Unfinished Life of an Argentinian Rebel

Memory, truth, and justice as Argentina honours the victims of state terrorism

24 March is a public holiday in Argentina, officially designated as The Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice. The date commemorates the 1976 coup d’état that unleashed seven years of military dictatorship. The legacy of the coup continues to echo in Argentina, especially for the tens of thousands of families who lost loved ones during the military’s euphemistically-styled “national re-organization process.”

Read More
Zenobia: Shooting Star of Palmyra

Zenobia: warrior queen or political tactician?

Popular culture often romanticizes Zenobia of Palmyra as a warrior queen. But the ancient evidence doesn’t support that she fought in battles. Instead, we should remember Zenobia as a skilled political tactician. She became ruler without being dominated by the men of her court.

Read More
Manhattan Phoenix: The Great Fire of 1835 and the Emergence of Modern New York by Daniel S. Levy

New York City: the grid

There had been attempts to lay out streets in New York going back to its founding. It was a process that would go on for the next few centuries, and would only accelerate in the decades before and after the Great Fire of 1835.

Read More