Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Shakespeare, Sinatra, and the Philosophy of Aging [excerpt]

Aging in the world of entertainment is portrayed in a variety of ways. In some cases it’s graceful and elegant; in others it’s manic and doddering. Shakespeare has dealt with this subject numerous times with vast reinterpretations in productions through the centuries. In this excerpt from Aging Thoughtfully: Conversations about Retirement, Wrinkles, Romance, and Regret, authors Martha C. Nussbaum and Saul Levmore look at the classic example of King Lear, and how different portrayals of this elderly character can be a reflection of how people see aging and infirmity in modern times.

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How welcoming practices and positive school climate can prevent bullying

What happens when a student or parent first walks in to a new school? What welcoming practices occur during the initial registration process, when parents first complete a set of forms, when they hear the first hello, or when students are first introduced to teachers and classmates? Are students and parents greeted with warmth, guidance, and understanding, or is it a cold administrative process?

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Hannah Arendt and the source of human values

Hannah Arendt was a literary intellectual, defined by Thomas Pynchon as, “people who read and think.” Like Socrates, Hannah Arendt thought and went where thought took her. Arendt’s thinking led her many places, but one of the more interesting topics she thought about was the source of human values.

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How do we decide whom to rely on?: A Q&A with Mario L. Small

When people are facing difficulties, they often feel the need for a confidant-a person to vent to or a sympathetic ear with whom to talk things through. How do they decide on whom to rely? In theory, the answer seems obvious. In practice, what people actually do often belies these expectations.We sat down with Mario L. Small, to answer some key questions into how we decide whom to rely on and social networks.

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Divali in the White House?

When Barack Obama became the first U.S. President to celebrate Divali in the White House in 2009, he sent a message to South Asian Americans that they are a part of the American national narrative. His actions were not only about lighting lamps and the remembrance of Indic myths, but they were also about the […]

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How Oscar Wilde’s life imitates his art

The idea that life imitates art is one of Oscar’s best yet most often misunderstood. It is central to his philosophy and to his own life. Take The Decay of Lying, for example, an essay in the form of a dialogue that he wrote in the late 1880s. What did he call the interlocutors? Why Cyril and Vyvyan, the names of his two young sons, of course. But the piece’s intellectual party really gets started when Wilde has his learned young gentlemen interview each other. Naturally, what is uppermost in their minds is the relationship between life and art.

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When our tribes become bullies

Tribalism’s slide into bullying has become seemingly pervasive. We’ve all seen how it contaminates schools, sports, and work. In all of these collective institutions there is a drive to form tribes—often motivated by a desire for constructive kinship, but just as frequently for purposes of control, and exclusion. The change begins at home with parents who understand that hate causes violence.

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A Tale of Two New York Cities [excerpt]

New York is a city of many things to many people. But more and more those people are being divided. Those who have the means to live in comfort and splendor, and those struggling to survive in a once vast urban landscape that grows smaller and smaller with each year. In this excerpt from his book The Creative Destruction of New York City, author and urban scholar Alessandro Busà, gives us the lay of this new land where all are welcome, particularly if they can afford it.

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The feminist roots of modern witchcraft [excerpt]

Throughout modern history, witchcraft has been predominately practiced by women. Historically, women were considered more likely than men to partake in magic due to their inherent moral weakness and uncontrolled sexual nature. Unsurprisingly, as witchcraft spread throughout the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, it captured the interest of the growing feminist movement.

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Women at work: New York City at the turn of the 20th century

New York City was rapidly expanding at the turn of the 20th century: the five boroughs had just unified, skyscrapers were going up, and the economy was booming. In the following extract from Greater Gotham, historian Mike Wallace discusses how the New York City’s flourishing economy influenced the career opportunities available to women in the early 1900s.

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Energy and contagion in Durkheim’s The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life

Emile Durkheim was a foundational figure in the disciplines of sociology and anthropology, yet recapitulations of his work sometimes overlook his most intriguing ideas, ideas which continue to have contemporary resonance. Here, I am going to discuss two such ideas from Durkheim’s The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (originally published in 1912 and then in English in 1915), his concept of energy and contagion.

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Pushed to extremes: the human cost of climate change

However, a parallel and equally disturbing trend is happening ecologically in the US, with the rejection of climate change science and the withdrawal from the Paris Accord. Though climate change may at first appear to be a separate issue from the xenophobia and anti-refugee mindset, they are more inextricably tied to one another than we are led to believe.

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Sanders-scare

Overpromising was a central feature of Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency. He was going to build a big, beautiful wall and make the Mexicans pay for it. He was going to unleash a secret plan to defeat ISIS. And he was going to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something really terrific. Unfortunately, Donald Trump and the Republicans aren’t the only ones making unrealistic promises.

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More than just sanctuary, migrants need social citizenship

In 1975, the English author John Berger wrote about the political implications of immigration, at a time when one in seven workers in the factories of Germany and Britain was a male migrant – what Berger called the ‘seventh man’. Today, every seventh person in the world is a migrant. Migrants are likely to settle in cities.

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A national legacy of bullying

In the 1990s a rash of school shootings changed the landscape of American childhood. Research eventually revealed that they all had one characteristic in common: the shooters had all been victims of bullying. Suddenly, bullying, an activity that had been more or less ignored for centuries, or praised as a way of toughening up the next generation, took the spotlight as a source of personal misery and potential public menace.

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Can we reduce the US prison population by half?

Over five years ago, a colleague and I began a conversation that eventually led to the development of the Smart Decarceration Initiative. The aim of this initiative is to advance policy and practice innovations in order to substantially reduce incarceration rates, while simultaneously addressing racial and behavioral health disparities in the criminal justice system and maximizing public safety and well-being.

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