Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

For want of a comma

The Oxford Comma, so named because it first appeared in the 1905 Oxford University Press Style Guide, is the comma that comes before the word and in a series of three or more listed items. Also known as the serial comma, it’s the often ironic rallying cry of a certain type of language aficionado. And it’s in the news after a federal appeals court mentioned it in a court decision recently.

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America’s relationship with alcohol [Timeline]

Alcohol has been present in the United States since before it became a country. In that time, the people’s relationship with the substance has been multifaceted. From local watering holes marking the stirring of resistance against the British Empire, to the rise of speakeasies during Prohibition, to the proliferation of American cocktails abroad, alcohol is as much a part of American history as the stars and stripes. And the relationship has not always been an easy one.

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Winnicott on creativity and living creatively

Donald Winnicott (1896–1971) is one the most original and creative thinkers in the history of psychoanalysis after Freud. His theories about the early interaction between the infant and its environment, transitional objects and phenomena, true and false self, the relation between the analysand and the analyst, and many other topics have been of great importance for psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, social workers, teachers, and others all over the world.

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How new is “fake news”?

President Donald Trump’s administration is accused of disseminating “fake news” to the shock of the media, tens of millions of Americans, and to many others around the world. So many people think this is a new, ugly turn of events in American politics. What does American history have to say about this? When George Washington announced that he did not want to serve as president for a third term, Thomas Jefferson let it be known that he was interested in the job.

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Enlightened nation: a look at the Choctaw education system

Peter Pitchlynn, or “The Snapping Turtle,” was a Choctaw chief and, in 1845, the appointed delegate to Washington DC from the Choctaw Nation. Pitchlynn worked diligently to improve the lives of the Choctaw people—a Native American people originally from the southeastern United States. He strongly believed in the importance of education, and served as the superintendent of the Choctaw Academy in 1840.

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10 facts about the origins of American deportation policy

One of the most important political, economic, legal, and ethical questions in the United States today is immigrant deportation policy. Where did the policy come from? When and why was it introduced in the United States? Who was the target of removal law? How were deportation laws enforced? In Expelling the Poor, historian Hidetaka Hirota, visiting assistant professor of history at the City University of New York-City College, answers these questions in revealing the roots of immigration restriction in the United States.

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9780190239855

Experiencing happiness versus appearing happy

Each year, the International Day of Happiness is celebrated on 20 March. First celebrated by the United Nations in 2013, this day is now celebrated by all member states of the United Nations General Assembly to recognize happiness and well-being as a “fundamental human goal.” Celebrations on this day in the past included ceremonies held by Ndaba Mandela and Chelsea Clinton, as well as the creation of the world’s first 24-hour music video with Pharrell Williams.

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Cicero’s On Life and Death [extract]

In 58 BC, Roman politics was paralyzed by the coalition of Pompey, Crassus, and Caesar, known as the First Triumvirate. Marcus Tullius Cicero, Rome’s greatest orator, who had successfully climbed the political ranks to reach the level of consul, struggled to maintain his independence while on occasion lending reluctant oratorical support to their projects and associates.

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OUP International Law

Are you an expert on international organizations? [quiz]

With the upcoming publication of Oppenheim’s International Law: United Nations and the highly anticipated launch of Oxford International Organizations (OXIO), international law has never been more relevant. From the United Nations to UNICEF, this quiz will put one’s international law knowledge to the test. Oppenheim’s International Law: United Nations is an authoritative and comprehensive study of the United Nations’ legal practice.

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Human evolution: why we’re more than great apes

We share with the other great apes a long history, a largely common genetic heritage, a similar physiology, advanced cognitive abilities that permit cultural learning and exchange, and a gathering and hunting way of life. And yet we are not just great apes. There are some radical differences. The least interesting of these, although the ones that almost everyone has focused on, are the anatomical differences, and in particular our upright bipedal stance.

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It’s time we talked about transport of the critically ill

Ever stopped at the scene of an accident on a dark night? Treated a heart attack on a remote island? Coordinated the transfer of a critically ill baby with a heart defect? Were you prepared? Did you have the right toolkit? You need a cool head to perform critical clinical interventions while simultaneously planning the transfer to definitive care. Almost all patients have a transport phase

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Today’s Great Crossings: a historian’s view on Trump’s travel ban

Drawing parallels between Jackson’s era and our own is, according to President Trump, “really appropriate” for “certain obvious reasons.” Indeed, both are eras of rapid change characterized by anxieties over race, immigration, citizenship, and America’s destiny. In the Jacksonian era, the United States, within the span of a few decades, transformed from an East Coast nation into a transcontinental empire.

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The life of Saint Patrick [part two]

Saint Patrick’s Day was made an official Christian feast day in the early 17th century, and continues to be recognized today. It commemorates the death of Saint Patrick, the introduction of Christianity into Irish culture, as well as Irish nationalism. To celebrate, we’ve pulled a two-part excerpt from Celtic Mythology: Tales of Gods, Goddesses, and Heroes in which Philip Freeman tells the story of Saint Patrick.

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