Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Series & Columns

How did the Jews survive? Two unlikely historical explanations

How have the Jews survived over the centuries? This is a question that has intrigued and perplexed many. While powerful world empires have risen and fallen, this miniscule, largely stateless, and often despised group has managed to ward off countless threats to its existence and survive for millennia. In seeking to answer the question, a wide range of theological, political, and sociological explanations have been proffered.

Read More

Two numerals: “six” and “hundred,” part 1

The reason for such a strange topic will become clear right away. The present post is No. 600 in the career of “The Oxford Etymologist.” I wrote my first essay in early March 2006 and since that time have not missed a single Wednesday.

Read More

Jane Austen and the Voice of Insurrection

Mark Twain was notoriously unimpressed. “I often want to criticise Jane Austen,” he fumed with flamboyant but heartfelt irritation. “Every time I read Pride and Prejudice I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone!”

Read More

Let your soul escape: send a postcard this summer

‘The politics of postcards’ is not a common topic of conversation or academic study but as the summer approaches, my mind is turning to how I can continue to write about politics from the seaside, campsite, or dreary ‘Bed & Breakfast’ hotel. Could the humble postcard possibly offer a yet under recognized outlet for political expression?

Read More

Hearing to heal

At the 2014 OHA Annual Meeting, the African American Oral History Program at Story For All received the prestigious Vox Populi Award, one of the highest honors in the oral history world.

Read More

How to measure social pain

Against the grain of much twentieth-century research on the nature and function of pain in humans, which tended to focus on injury and the bodily mechanics of pain signalling, recent neuroscientific research has opened a new front in the study of social and emotional pain.

Read More

Macronomics En Marche

Emmanuel Macron has completely upended French politics. Just over a year after founding a new centrist political party, En Marche (“On the move”), the former investment banker and Minister of Economy and Finance was elected president of France on 7 May by an overwhelming majority.

Read More

A farewell to former OUPblog editor, Dan Parker

I have been fortunate enough to work on the OUPblog every single day I’ve been at Oxford University Press. When I first started in the UK Publicity team nearly six years ago, I was responsible for commissioning, editing, and coding blog posts, and I instantly fell in love with the channel. As my responsibilities for the OUPblog grew, so too did my attachment to it. It was a huge honour to become the Editor of the OUPblog last May.

Read More

My advice to Mr. Bezos: pay some tax

Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder of Amazon, has asked on Twitter for advice about the use of his fortune for philanthropy. My advice is that Mr. Bezos should pay some tax. Contemporary attention to philanthropy is largely attributable to the admirable work of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, Jr. The Giving Pledge, Buffett and Gates have commendably encouraged rich individuals in the US and abroad to devote much of their wealth to charity.

Read More

Stephen Hawking’s smile

Where can you share space with royalty, science rock stars such as Stephen Hawking, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Peter Cox, real rock stars like Brian May of Queen, moon walkers and other astronauts and Nobel Laureates? The Starmus Festival. The stream of achievements proved as intense and dense as expected given the star-line-up, and yet certain aspects of the proceedings proved transcendent

Read More

How to write about theatre performances

It’s the theatre season in my town of Ashland, Oregon, and I’m keeping up with the play reviews and talking with reviewers about what makes a good review. Reviewing a play is different than reviewing a book or even a film.

Read More

Puerto Rico in crisis

The US territory of Puerto Rico is currently experiencing its most severe and pro­longed economic downturn since the Great Depression (1929–33). Between 2006 and 2016, the island’s economy (measured as Gross National Product in constant 1954 prices) shrank by 15.2%, while total employment fell by 28.6%. The elimination of federal tax exemptions under Section 936 of the Internal Revenue Code in 2006 dealt a serious blow to the island’s manufacturing industry.

Read More

300 years of fraternal history

Around midsummer 1717 the first masonic Grand lodge is said to have been created in London. Although the event is not documented in any primary sources, freemasons across the globe – and there are between 2 and 3 millions of them – celebrate this tercentenary with a host of special events: concerts, exhibitions and parades. But what role has the fraternity played in history?

Read More

From the life of words, Part 3: the names of some skin diseases

The scourge of the Middle Ages was leprosy. No other disease filled people with equal dread. The words designating this disease vary. Greek léprā is a substantivized feminine adjective (that is, an adjective turned into a noun—a common process: compare Engl. the blind and blinds, with two ways of substantivization).

Read More

Corruption: are you an expert? [quiz]

Headlines regularly focus on political scandals and corruption. From public officials embezzling government monies, selling public offices, and trading bribes for favors to private companies generate public indignation and calls for reform—corruption, it seems, is inevitable. But what really is corruption, and who is responsible for its continuation?

Read More