Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Addressing Japanese atrocities

After decades of tension over Japan’s failure to address atrocities that it perpetrated before and during World War II, the island nation’s relations with its regional neighbors, China and South Korea, are improving. Six weeks ago, for the first time in years, representatives of Japan’s Upper House resumed exchanges with Chinese parliamentarians.

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Copies of Shakespeare’s First Folio around the world [map]

The first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays printed in 1623 – known as the First Folio – has a rich history. It is estimated that around 700 or 750 copies were printed, and today we know the whereabouts of over 230. They exist in some form or another, often incomplete or a combination of different copies melded together, in libraries and personal collections all over the world.

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Commemorating Shakespeare in 1916

Easter was late in 1916, falling on 23 April, St George’s Day. This coincidence of faith and patriotism was inevitably both heightened and tempered by the ongoing struggles of the First World War. April 1916 came amidst the protracted fighting of the Battle of Verdun, a long and bloody conflict yet one which was only a foretaste of the horrors to come at the Somme the summer following. It also happened to mark the Tercentenary of the death of William Shakespeare.

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Translating Shakespeare

Translation of Shakespeare’s works is almost as old as Shakespeare himself; the first German adaptations date from the early 17th century. And within Shakespeare’s plays, moments of translation create comic relief and heighten the awareness that communication is not a given. Translation also served as a metaphor for physical transformation or transportation.

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Constructing race in world history

Racism is alive and kicking. We see it in the news; we see it in our lives. And yet our modern concept (and practice) that involves notions of “race”—on which racism rests—is a recent invention. While people and their societies have long distinguished among themselves—Romans distinguished between “citizens” and “barbarians.”

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Who owns culture?

The quiet corridors of great public museums have witnessed revolutionary breakthroughs in the understanding of the past, such as when scholars at the British Museum cracked the Rosetta Stone and no longer had to rely on classical writers to find out about ancient Egyptian civilisation. But museums’ quest for knowledge is today under strain, amid angry debates over who owns culture.

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Oxford Classical Dictionary

Ancient Rome vs. North Korea: spectacular ‘executions’ then and now

Reports over recent months from South Korea’s Yonhap news agency have suggested that two prominent North Korean politicians have been executed this year on the orders of Kim Jong-un. These reports evoke some interesting parallels from the darker side of the history of ancient Rome, or at least from the more colourful stories told about it by Roman historians.

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Another unpleasant infection: Zika virus

Over two years ago I wrote that “new viruses are constantly being discovered… Then something comes out of the woodwork like SARS which causes widespread panic.” Zika virus infection bids fair to repeat the torment. On 28 January 2016 the BBC reported that the World Health Organization had set up a Zika “emergency team” as a result of the current explosive pandemic.

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Portraits of religion in Shakespeare’s time

Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries was marked by years of political and religious turmoil and change. From papal authority to royal supremacy, Reformation to Counter Reformation, and an endless series of persecutions followed by executions, England and its citizens endured division, freedom, and everything in between.

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A Very Short (and spooky) Introduction to Halloween

It’s that time of year when pumpkin sales go soaring, horror specials sell out at the cinema, and everyone is seemingly dressed up as a vampire or a zombie. To mark the spookiest time of year, we wanted to give you a Very Short Introduction to some of our favourite Halloween themes with free chapters from VSI Online.

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Place of the Year 2015: behind the longlist

You don’t need to follow the news too closely to know that 2015 has been a roller coaster of a year. Last week we announced our longlist for Place of the Year 2015, but since then some of you have been asking, “why is x included?”, or “why is y worth our attention?”

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Arabia: ancient history for troubled times

In antiquity, ‘Arabia’ covered a vast area, running from Yemen and Oman to the deserts of Syria and Iraq. Today, much of this region is gripped in political and religious turmoil that shows no signs of abating.

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The meaning of the Silk Road today

The Silk Road initiative, announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 and implemented this year, contemplates so vast an investment in highways, ports, and railways that it will transform the ancient Silk Road into a ribbon of gold for surrounding countries. Multiple new trade corridors could potentially run through Xinjiang, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and many other […]

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