Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

9780198729181

New Grub Street and the starving artist

Sitting alone in front of a computer screen, a writer sometimes feels like screaming at the machine to make the words appear. When inspiration finally strikes, the result may be far from satisfying—but when your next meal is at stake, it hardly matters.

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The many voices of Dickens

Charles Dickens’s reputation as a novelist and as the creator of Ebenezer Scrooge, one of the most globally recognized Christmas miser figures, has secured him what looks to be a permanent place in the established literary canon. Students, scholars, and fans of Dickens may be surprised to learn that the voice many Victorians knew as “Dickens,” especially at Christmastime, was also the voice of nearly forty other people.

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Spice up your readers’ advisory with “Blind Date with a Book”

Readers’ advisory librarians are the ultimate literary matchmakers. We listen to our patrons, get to know their interests, set them up with a book, and hope they hit it off. If we do our jobs effectively, our patrons will fall in love with multiple partners. And they’ll keep coming back for more. “Blind Date with a Book” offers librarians the perfect way to showcase our readers’ advisory services.

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9780199605866

Five tragic love stories across time

This time of year is often filled with images of romance, hearts, and cupid’s bows, but not all love stories end in happily ever after. Who among us hasn’t had their heart broken, or felt the sting of rejection once (or twice)? But we all know that life without love (even if it’s painful) isn’t much of a life. As Charles Darwin once said, ‘Much love much trial, but what an utter desert is life without love’.

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Was Chaucer really a “writer”?

We know more about Geoffrey Chaucer’s life than we do about most medieval writers. Despite this, it’s a truism of Chaucer biography that the records that survive never once describe him as a poet. Less often noticed, however, are the two radically different views of Chaucer as an author we find in roughly contemporaneous portraiture, although the portraits in which we find them are themselves well known.

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Christopher Marlowe: the quintessential Renaissance man

Christopher Marlowe was born in February of 1564, the same year as Shakespeare. He was the son of a Canterbury shoemaker, and attended the King’s School there. With fellowship support endowed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, young Marlowe matriculated at Corpus Christi College in Cambridge University in 1580 and received the BA degree in 1584.

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Rise, read, repeat: Groundhog Day at OUP

Bill Murray fought tirelessly to combat the ennui and frustration that accompanied repeating the same day over and over and over again in the film “Groundhog Day.” For him, repetition was torture, but for several of us at Oxford University Press, it’s not so bad…when it comes to reading!

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Ulysses

7 blasphemous books of the 1920s: James Joyce’s birthday list

James Joyce had a thing about birthdays. With some difficulty, he contrived to have Ulysses published on his 40th birthday, and to receive the first copy of Finnegans Wake just in time for his 57th birthday. The day itself was typically crowned by a gala dinner party; at his 50th birthday, he was presented with a big blue cake, decorated as a copy of Ulysses—which moved the author to intone, in the language of the Catholic Mass: Accipite et manducate ex hoc omnes: Hoc est enim corpus meum.

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The wonderful poetic production of Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes, whom Carl Van Vechten memorably called “the Poet Laureate of the Negro race,” was born on 1 February 1902 in Joplin, Missouri; he died in New York City on 22 May 1967. This year, then, we celebrate Hughes’ birthday at the beginning of what is now Black History Month, and we honor the 50th anniversary of his untimely passing. Remembering Hughes will no doubt lead to more books, articles, and conferences, which is as it should be.

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9780198767077

Agatha Christie at mass

In the wake of the Second Vatican Council, Dame Agatha Christie, the renowned writer of detective fiction, added her name to a protest letter to Pope Paul VI. With over fifty other literary, musical, artistic, and political figures, Christie — who’d recently celebrated her eightieth birthday — expressed alarm at the proposed replacement of the old Mass rite, which used Latin and elaborate ritual, with a new rite in English with simpler ceremonial.

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9780198707516

The Time Machine: an audio guide

The first book H. G. Wells published, The Time Machine is a scientific romance that helped invent the genre of science fiction and the time travel story. Even before its serialization had finished in the spring of 1895, Wells had been declared “a man of genius,” and the book heralded a fifty year career of a major cultural and political controversialist.

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The humanities in Trump’s Gotham City

On 8 November 2016 the American political system threw up from its depths a creature wholly unrecognizable to those of us born in the West since 1945. Most of us who teach the humanities at any level have felt, since 8 November, that we have been reduced to the level of bit players in a Batman movie – we are out on the streets of Gotham City, with the leering Joker on the loose.

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Librarians’ favorite books around the world

Throughout 2016, Oxford University Press has traveled all around the world meeting and talking with librarians to learn about their favorite books. From a Colombian librarian who prefers a French author, to a French librarian who’s enamored with an American novel, the results from our year-long quest exemplify the universal reach of

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9780198785293

Shakespearean tragedy and modern politics

On his recent visit to England Barack Obama chose to tour Shakespeare’s Globe, on Bankside; and in the last days of his Presidency, interviewed about his reading habits, he spoke touchingly and revealingly of his admiration for Shakespeare’s tragedies, and of what they had taught him. ‘I took this wonderful Shakespeare class in college’, he said, ‘where I just started to read the tragedies and dig into them.

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