Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Looking forward to Hay Festival 2017

This year Hay Festival is celebrating its 30 anniversary – cooked up round the kitchen table all those years ago it is now a global phenomenon. As part of their celebrations this year they have scheduled 30 Reformation speakers, one of whom is Sarah Harper who will be focusing on ‘Ageing’. She will also be recording one of BBC Radio 3’s Essays. The festival is very good at celebrating not only new writers but also young writers who ‘inspire and astonish’ and I am thrilled that they have selected Devi Sridhar.

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From the life of words, part 1

From time to time, various organizations invite me to speak about the history of words. The main question I hear is why words change their meaning. Obviously, I have nothing new to say on this subject, for there is a chapter on semantic change in countless books, both popular and special.

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Wilfrid Sellars and the nature of normativity

Wilfrid Sellars would have been 105 this month. He stands out as one of the more ambitiously systematic philosophers of the last century, with contributions to ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of language, alongside incisive historical examinations of Kant, and several others. We can read him as a philosopher in a classical mode, always in conversation with figures from the past.

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Asking Gandhi tough questions

Why did Gandhi exclude black South Africans from his movement? Could Gandhi reconcile his service in the Boer War with his later anti-imperialism? Why did Gandhi oppose untouchability, but not caste?

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Why are world food problems so hard to solve?

More than 20 million people in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and northeast Nigeria are now facing extreme hunger, with the potential for not just widespread death, but also the deepening of long-term political and military crises in East Africa. United Nations humanitarian coordinator Stephen O’Brien has called this food crisis the world’s greatest humanitarian crisis since 1945.

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Julius Evola in the White House

Conjecture and supposition tend to dog public figures who avoid the press. But the attention paid to Trump’s embattled Chief Strategist Steve Bannon is uncanny. Bannon’s reluctance to speak with the media—combined with a steady stream of commentary on him from anonymous associates and friends—is fueling speculation about his agenda and ideology.

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A photographer’s guide to solar eclipses

How do you capture the spectacle of a total eclipse with a camera? Photographing an eclipse isn’t difficult. It doesn’t take fancy or expensive equipment. You can take a snapshot of an eclipse with a simple camera (even a smartphone) if you can hold the camera steady or place it on a tripod. The first step in eclipse photography is to decide what kind of pictures you want.

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What everyone needs to know about Russian hacking

Hackers working on behalf of the Russian government have attacked a wide variety of American citizens and institutions. They include political targets of both parties, like the Democratic National Committee, and also the Republican National Committee, as well as prominent Democrat and Republican leaders, civil society groups like various American universities and academic research programs.

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Analyzing “Expressiveness” in Frankenstein (1931)

In Hollywood Aesthetic: Pleasure in American Cinema, film studies professor Todd Berliner explains how Hollywood delivers aesthetic pleasure to mass audiences. Along the way, Professor Berliner offers numerous aesthetic analyses of scenes, clips, and images from both routine Hollywood movies and exceptional ones. His analyses, one of which we excerpt here, illustrate how to study […]

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Lost in time: the El Cortez hotel and casino

On a sticky afternoon in June of 2015 I, with friend and photographer, Matilda Temperley, drove through downtown Las Vegas and into the driveway of the El Cortez Hotel and Casino. The midday sun exposed some rust on the hotel’s neon signage as well as a missing light bulb on the giant red, rotating high healed shoe, which framed an advertisement for $10.95 Prime Rib at the hotel’s diner.

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Adult ADHD: myths and reality

One out of every 5-10 adult psychotherapy clients probably has attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Key studies and writings emerged in 1995 supporting the idea of adult ADHD, but it took many years of reading and research to confidently recognize and appropriately treat adult ADHD. It continues to be underrecognized by mental health clinicians, even when clients with ADHD are already in treatment for other mental illnesses, and considerable misinformation is circulated.

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What kind of encore do you want?

The bonus years of extended life expectancy are not coming at the end of life, adding to years of disability and decline, but rather, in the expanding period of health and vitality around the 60s and 70s, but coming earlier or later for some. The new longevity is advantageous to individuals, but costly to society. It is distinct from both full-time career employment and full-time retirement leisure.

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At bay: where is that bay?

To keep somebody or something at bay means “to keep a dangerous opponent at a distance; to hold off, ward off a disaster, etc.” The very first interpreters of this idiom guessed its origin correctly. They stated that bay here means “to bark” and that at bay refers to hunting.

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Is child poverty in rich countries exacerbated by the economic crisis?

The 2008 financial crisis triggered the first contraction of the world economy in the post-war era. Amid falling wages and increasing unemployment, government capacity to address worsening social conditions was often constrained by mounting deficits, with social protection systems under threat when they were most needed. Children and young people, already at a greater risk of poverty than the population as a whole.

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