Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Professionalizing leadership – development

Learning to lead should consist of a certain sequence in a certain order. Like doctors and lawyers, and for that matter like preachers and teachers and truck drivers and hairdressers, leaders should first be educated, then trained, and then developed. Previously we have addressed leadership education and training. What finally is meant by leadership development? How are leaders developed – as opposed to educated or trained?

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The varieties of shame

When my grandmother died in 2009, my far-flung family returned to east Texas to mourn her. People she had known from every stage of her life arrived to pay their respects. At a quiet moment during the wake, my aunt asked my grandfather how he felt about seeing all these people who loved him and who loved my grandmother. He answered, “Shame” and started to cry. 

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Nonsurgical challenges in surgical training

Surgical cases dramatized in popular culture are loosely based on reality, but surgery is decidedly less glamorous on a daily basis. Before embarking on my own surgery training, I mentally prepared myself for the long hours and expected demands of caring for sick surgical patients, but looking back, the lessons I remember most came from small, quiet, and often unexpected moments.

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Did Muslims forget about the Crusades?

The crusades are so ubiquitous these days that it is hard to imagine anyone ever forgetting them. People play video games like Assassin’s Creed (starring the Templars) and Crusader Kings II in droves, newsfeeds are filled with images of young men marching around in places like Charlottesville holding shields bearing the old crusader slogan “Deus vult” (God wills it!), and every year books about the crusades are published in their dozens, informing readers about the latest developments in crusader studies.

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Monthly gleanings for June 2018

The post on pilgarlic appeared on 13 June 2018. I knew nothing of the story mentioned in the comment by Stephen Goranson, but he always manages to discover the sources of which I am unaware. The existence of Pilgarlic River adds, as serious people might say, a new dimension to the whole business of pilgarlic. Who named the river? Is the hydronym fictitious? If so, what was the impulse behind the coinage? If genuine, how old is it, and why so called? What happened in 1883 that aroused people’s interest in that seemingly useless word?

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The Ancient Celts: six things I learned from Barry Cunliffe

Confession: I’m not an archaeologist nor a historian—at least not in any meaningful sense, though I do delight in aspects of both. But I was lucky enough to see Barry Cunliffe speak about the Ancient Celts at the Oxford Literature Festival earlier this year and then to have front row seats to the recording of this podcast, and I wanted to share a little of what I’ve learned.

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The greatest witch-hunt of all time

Imagine that a man comes to the highest office in the land with absolutely no political experience. As a young man, he had arrived in the big city to make his fortune and became one of the richest and most famous men in America by making big deals and taking great risks. Some schemes worked out and others did not.

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The end-of-life sector needs concrete solutions to be truly person-centred

In recent years the language used to describe what constitutes good end-of-life care has changed. ‘Shared-decision making’, ‘patient autonomy’, ‘choice’ and ‘advance care planning’ have become buzzwords. This is to be welcomed, of course, but has the sector really changed in practice? According to several policy reports, in addition to feedback from people who use end-of-life services, not particularly.

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How Wayfair opens the door to taxing internet sales

In a much anticipated decision, the US Supreme Court in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. declared, by the narrowest of margins, that a state may require an internet seller to collect sales and use taxes even if the seller lacks physical presence in the state seeking to impose the obligation to collect its tax. Wayfair is an important decision, though much of the popular reporting about it has been overstated.

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From Eugène Rougon to Donald Trump: Émile Zola and politics

Zola modeled the characters, plot, and settings of his novel His Excellency Eugène Rougon (1876) on real people and events, drawing on his own experience as a parliamentary reporter in 1869–71 and secretary in 1870 to the Republican deputy Alexandre Glais-Bizoin. But the novel is not a mere chronicle of politics during the French Second Empire (1852–70).

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How much do patents matter to innovation?

Patents—rights that governments grant to inventors for new inventions—pervade the modern world. The US alone grants about 300,000 of them annually, mostly for components of, or methods relating to, larger end products. Your smartphone, for example, contains thousands of patented features; but even many seemingly simpler items, such as cosmetics, often contain one or more.

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The politics and power of nostalgia

The summer exam season is now upon us so let me start this month’s blog with a simple question: ‘What role does nostalgia play in explaining ‘the populist signal’?’ A recent report suggests that the role of nostalgic narratives has become a central element of contemporary politics that tap into (and to some extent fuel) anti-political sentiments amongst the public.

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How to write a biography

This year I’ve been reading a lot of biographies and writing some short profile pieces. Both experiences have caused me to reflect back on a book-length biography I wrote a few years ago on the little-known educator Sherwin Cody. Writing a book-length biography was a new experience for me at the time. I learned a lot along the way. Here are a few tips based on my experience.

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Rediscovering ancient Greek music

At the root of all Western literature is ancient Greek poetry—Homer’s great epics, the passionate love poems of Sappho, the masterpieces of Greek tragedy and of comic theatre. Almost all of this poetry was or originally involved sung music, often with instrumental accomp­animent.

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An interactive view of the giraffe

Giraffes are some of the best-known, well-loved animals of the African safari. But today, many variations of these long-necked herbivores are listed as vulnerable or endangered due to habitat depletion and poaching.

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Real sex films capture our changing relationship to sex

In 2001, the film Intimacy was screened in London as the first “real sex” film set in Britain. With a French director and international leads (the British Mark Rylance and New Zealander Kerry Fox), the film was controversial even before screening.

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