Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Our Blue Planet

Over the last seven weeks, our Blue Planet II series has focused on the underwater habitats and marine life that live on “our blue planet”, featuring an assortment of captivating creatures, including manta rays, blennies, spinner dolphins, sea turtles, octopus, starfish, and whales; in many different habitats, from the darkest depths, to coral reefs, coastal tide pools, the open ocean, and underwater forests.

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Three millennia of writings – a brief history of Chinese literature

Chinese scholars traditionally have considered the Han fu-rhapsody, Tang shi-poetry, Song ci-song lyrics, and Yuan qu-drama, as the highest literary achievements of their respective dynasties. However, Chinese literature embraces a far wider range of writing than these four literary genres. Explore a treasure trove that offers rich information about Chinese society, thought, customs, and social and political movements

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Test your knowledge of the English legal system

The English legal system has a long history of traditions and symbolism. Do you know your periwigs from your powdered wigs, your judicial dress from your barrister’s robes, and your green bags from your gavels? While some of the quirks and traditions of the English legal system may seem archaic, even bizarre, they from part of the fundamental constitution of UK culture and are therefore of relevance to anyone with an interest in it.

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Open access: reflections on change

Sally Rumsey shares her reflections on the changing open access environment and experiences from the University of Oxford. Cast your mind back 15 years to the earlier days of open access. In 2002 the University of Oxford contributed to the SHERPA project, with a collaborative pilot between the then OULS (Oxford University Library Services) and OUP. In 2006 we set up a new institutional repository service that launched very quietly in early 2007.

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10 great writers from China’s long literary history

China is one of the world’s oldest countries, and its long history goes hand in hand with its rich literary tradition. The names Confucius, Lao Tzu, and Sun Tzu are well-known around the world, but many of China’s poets, philosophers, and novelists remain hidden gems to outsiders. Take a look at the list below and discover 10 of China’s greatest writers, from the Zhou dynasty to the 20th century.

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Misattributed quotations: do you know who really said it? [quiz]

The seemingly simple task of asking who said what has perhaps never been more difficult. In the digital age, quotations can be moved around, attributed, questioned, re-appropriated, and repeated in the blink of an eye. If someone is “widely quoted” as saying something and it sounds more or less right, many people take this to be sufficient proof of the quotation’s origin. With that said, do you really know who said what?

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Who wrote Gulliver’s Travels?

Originally published anonymously, Jonathan Swift sent the manuscript for the satirical masterpiece Gulliver’s Travels to his publisher under a pseudonym and handled any correspondence and corrections through friends. As such, even though close friends such as Alexander Pope knew about the publication, Swift still kept up the ruse of feigning ignorance about the book in his correspondence with them.

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What is Thanksgiving? A Brit’s guide to the holiday

Thanksgiving is one of the most important holidays in the US calendar. However for those who have never lived in America, the celebration can seem perplexing and often down-right bewildering. Here in the Oxford offices at Oxford University Press, we thought we may have understood the basics, but on researching more into the holiday, we have been left with many more questions than answers. For instance, what is a “Turkey Trot” or sweet potato pie, and if television is to be believed – do people actually go around the table saying what they’re thankful for?

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World Philosophy Day 2017: political philosophy across the globe [map]

The third Thursday in November marks World Philosophy Day, an event founded by UNESCO to emphasise the importance of philosophy in the development of human thought, for each culture and for each individual. This year, the OUP Philosophy team have decided to incorporate the Oxford Philosophy Festival theme of applying philosophy in politics to our World Philosophy Day content.

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Engendering communication – Episode 42 – The Oxford Comment

In a constantly changing world, it’s only natural that language continues to evolve as well. Words or phrases that no longer apply are phased out and in their place emerges lexicon that better reflect the diversity of gender, race, and sexuality in contemporary culture. From under-privileged children being taught how to read at home with cookbooks, to groups of students who adopt the use of new words to better explain experiences they see in their own communities

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Animal of the month: nine facts about badgers

Badgers are short, stocky mammals that are part of the Mustelidae family. Although badgers are found in Africa, Eurasia, and North America, these animals are possibly best-known from their frequent appearance in literature, such as “Badger” from The Wind in the Willows and Hufflepuff’s house animal in the Harry Potter series, and for being a 2003 internet sensation.

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Fake facts and favourite sayings

When the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations was first published in 1941, it all seemed so simple. It was taken for granted that a quotation was a familiar line from a great poet or a famous figure in history, and the source could easily be found in standard literary works or history books. Those early compilers of quotations did not think of fake facts and the internet. “Fake facts”, or perhaps more accurately misunderstandings, have been around in the world of quotations for a long time.

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Catalan independence in the Spanish Constitution and Courts

Following the recent ‘referendum’ and now declaration of independence, the status of Catalonia has become a hotly debated issue. As often happens in such cases, context is everything. It is not possible to appraise the perceived legitimacy of the respective claims without a clear picture of who says or does what in the particular legal environment (see mutatis mutandis the ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada on the secession of Québec, para. 155).

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Which fictional TV Lawyer are you? [quiz]

Have you ever watched a legal drama on TV and wondered what kind of lawyer you’d be? Perhaps you’d have a soft spot for the underdog, or maybe you’d take on any case so long as the money was good? Perhaps you are particularly keen on criminal justice, or maybe overseeing takeovers and mergers is more your style. Take our quiz to find out which TV lawyer you might be.

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Apparitions in the archives: haunted libraries in the UK

This Halloween we turn our sights to the phantoms haunting the libraries and private collections of Britain. From a headless ghost, to numerous abnormalities surrounding a vast collection of magical literature from a late ghost hunter, here are some stories around apparitions that have been glimpsed among the stacks – you can choose whether or not you believe them to be true….

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From segregation to the Supreme Court: the life and work of Thurgood Marshall

Marshall (2017) recounts one of the most contentious Supreme Court cases in American history, represented by Thurgood Marshall, who would later serve as the first African American Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Directed by Reginald Hudlin, with Chadwick Boseman playing the title role, the film establishes Marshall’s greatest legal triumph, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, in which the Court declared the laws allowing for separate but equal public facilities (including public schools) inherently unconstitutional. The case, handed down on 17 May 1954, signalled the end of racial segregation in America and the beginning of the American civil rights movement. In 2013, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Editor in Chief of the Oxford African American Studies Center, spoke with Larry S. Gibson, Professor of Law at the University of Maryland, whose book Young Thurgood: The Making of a Supreme Court Justice recounts the personal and public events that shaped Marshall’s work.

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