Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

A collection of Victorian profanities [infographic]

Euphemisms, per their definition, are used to soften offensive language. Topics such as death, sex, and bodily functions are often discussed delicately, giving way to statements like, “he passed away,” “we’re hooking up,” or “it’s that time of the month.”

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5 Edinburgh attractions for booklovers [slideshow]

The Edinburgh Fringe is in full swing with over 3,000 arts events coming to the vibrant Scottish capital over the next few weeks. With the International Book Festival kicking off on the 13th, we’ve compiled our favourite bookish spots around the city for you to squeeze into your schedule.

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Making the English country house

In February 1764, Samuel Butler, the steward at Stoneleigh Abbey in Warwickshire, wrote to the London upholsterer, Thomas Burnett, that he should wait in sending furniture because ‘our house is now in greater confusion than ever … as we are making great alterations in the middle part of the house’. These changes were being made as a result of the recent coming of age of Edward, fifth Lord Leigh.

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Shakespeare and the natural world [infographic]

It is probable that Shakespeare observed, or at least heard about, many natural phenomena that occurred during his time, which may have influenced the many references to nature and science that he makes in his work. Although he was very young at the time, he may have witnessed the blazing Stella Nova in 1572.

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Musical literacy in Shakespeare’s England

It is a commonplace to say that, in Renaissance England, music was everywhere. Yet, however true the statement is, it obscures the fact that music existed in many different forms, with very different functions and very different meanings.

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What would Shakespeare drive?

Like many Elizabethan gentlemen who had business in London but family in the provinces, Shakespeare would have spent a considerable amount of time on horseback. Few of his contemporaries, however, had Shakespeare’s talent for turning the vexations of travel into deathless verse. Sonnet 50 recounts a trip on horseback in which the poet’s reluctance to leave his beloved makes him keenly conscious of his body as a burden that increases the animal’s suffering: “The beast that bears me, tired with my woe, / Plods dully on to bear that weight in me”. According to Galenic medicine, black bile, or melancholy, was considered the heaviest of the four bodily humors.

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Culloden, tourism, and British memory

As the beginnings of large-scale travel and tourism through Scotland began within fifteen or twenty years of the battle of Culloden, it might have been expected that the conflict would become an early site of memory.

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The case of BHS and change on the UK High Street

BHS is, or perhaps that should read was, a familiar presence to shoppers across the UK, with over 160 stores in high streets and shopping centres. The general merchandise retailer combining clothing and home products had traded for nearly 90 years before it was placed into administration in April 2016.

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The EU referendum: a reading list

On 23rd June 2016, a referendum will be held in order to decide whether Britain should leave or remain in the European Union. In light of this, we have put together this reading list.

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Lord Byron’s Passion

Two hundred years ago today Lord Byron wrote a brief, untitled Gothic fragment that is now known as ‘Augustus Darvell’, the name of its central character. The most famous author in the world at the time, Byron produced the tale when he was living at the Villa Diodati, on the shores of Lake Geneva, and in the daily company of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Godwin (the future Mary Shelley), and John Polidori, Byron’s personal physician.

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Why study English? Literature, politics, and the university, 1932-1965

What is the purpose of studying English? How does language underpin politics? What role, if any, should the subject play within democratic society? Attempts to understand attitudes towards these questions in the early-to-mid-twentieth century have previously emphasized two hostile schools of thought. Firstly, an approach towards criticism influenced by the Cambridge critic F.R. Leavis, who emphasized both the moral seriousness of literature.

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Valuing sadness, past and present

In September 2013, the American comedian Louis C.K. talked to chat-show host Conan O’Brien about the value of sadness. His comments grew out of a discussion about mobile phones, and the way they may distract us from the reality of our emotions.

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Shakespeare: living in a world of witches

Since he was born a year after the Witchcraft and Conjuration Act of 1563 brought about the era of the witch trials in England, it is hardly a surprise that witches and witchcraft would come to feature in Shakespeare’s work.

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