Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

A cross-section of the Earth

We now know that the Earth is many billions of years old, and that it has changed an unimaginably number of times over millennia. But before the mid-eighteenth century we believed that the Earth was only a few thousand years old. Then scientists (who we now call geologists) began to explore the Earth’s layers and found fossils, suggesting it was much, much older than they first thought.

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Encyclopedia of Social Work

Why social work is essential

March is Social Work Month in the United States. Social workers stand up every day for human rights and social justice to help strengthen our communities. They can be the voice for people who aren’t being heard, and they tackle serious social issues in order to “forge solutions that help people reach their full potential and make our nation a better place to live.” There are over 600,000 social workers in the US alone.

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Sui Sin Far’s “The Land of the Free” in the era of Trump

Facing President Trump’s controversial travel ban, hastily issued on 27 January and revised on 6 March, that temporarily halted immigrants from six Muslim majority countries, I was wondering what Sui Sin Far (Edith Eaton), a mixed race Asian North American writer at the turn of the twentieth century, would say about the issue.

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Women of letters

During the Enlightenment era, the term “man of letters” (deriving from the French term belletrist) was used to distinguish true scholars—independent thinkers who relished debate, conversation and learning. In an age when literacy was a distinct form of cultural capital, it served to identify the literati, often the French members of the “Republic of Letters,” who met in “salons” designed for the elevation, education, and cultural sophistication of the participants.

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My life as a police officer: a Q&A

Ahead of tomorrow’s International Women’s Day, we asked a female police officer about her experience of working in a police force in the UK. She talks about her motivations for joining the police, some of the challenges facing officers today, and shares some advice for aspiring officers.

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Philosopher of the Month: Socrates

This March, the OUP Philosophy team honors Socrates (470-399 BC) as their Philosopher of the Month. As elusive as he is a groundbreaking figure in the history of philosophy, this Athenian thinker is perhaps best known as the mentor of Plato and the developer of the Socratic method.

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Paul Feyerabend and the debate over the philosophy of science

Paul Feyerabend (born 13th January, 1924, died February 11th, 1994) is best-known for his contributions to the philosophy of science, which is somewhat ironic because, I suspect, he wouldn’t have thought of himself as a philosopher of science. I don’t just mean he wouldn’t have thought of himself as just a philosopher of science. No, I mean that he thought of himself as a thinker for whom disciplinary boundaries meant absolutely nothing. In his later years, he even denied being a philosopher.

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Michelangelo’s uncelebrated birthday and uncertain death

We will scarcely acknowledge, much less celebrate, the unremarkable 502nd anniversary of Michelangelo Buonarroti’s birth. Nor would Michelangelo. While the aristocratic artist was alert to the precise time and date of his birth, he paid absolutely no attention to any of his subsequent birthdays.

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A paradoxical stroll down Harlem’s memory lane

It has been nearly nine years since I moved to Southern California, after a lifetime in New York City as the adopted daughter and granddaughter of a Harlem-born and raised black family whose “roots” were in Richmond, Virginia (by way of the Middle Passage from, as author Dionne Brand describes it in A Map to the Door of No Return, “the door of no return”). I visit the city a couple of times a year, to check in with loved ones and to do research.

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On language and defiance: a Q & A with Ilan Stavans

“The Trump Administration has taken down from the White House official website all references to Spanish. This to me is another symptom of its anti-globalist views.” We caught up with Ilan Stavans, Editor in Chief of Oxford Bibliographies in Latino Studies, to discuss his recent New York Times editorial, the use of the Spanish language in the United States, and why Spanish isn’t a foreign language in the US.

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The changing meaning of tax avoidance

There are some economic terms that are fixed and immutable. Marginal cost will always be the addition to cost from an incremental increase in output, and average cost will never be anything other than total cost divided by output. Other terms have greater fluidity and evolve over time with developments in theory and practice. For this reason, compilation of the Dictionary is never finished and definitions are never final.

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Can we have more than one friend? According to Montaigne, no

The Essais are the perfect mate to accompany anybody, throughout all stages of life. It is always interesting to explore Michel de Montaigne’s life and his marvellous book: the Essais. Within his lifespan, Montaigne was able to find true friendship for himself and record its effects therein. Here we propose to navigate Montaigne’s approach to friendship.

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A librarian’s journey: from America to Saudi Arabia

King Abdullah University of Science Technology (KAUST) is based in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, on the east shore of the Red Sea. It was founded by King Abdullah and opened its doors in 2009, with the vision of being a destination for scientific and technological education and research, to inspire discoveries that address global challenges and striving to be a beacon of knowledge that bridges peoples and culture for the betterment of humanity.

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From hostage to fortune to prisoner of war

On 10 August 1678, France and the Republic of the United Provinces of the Northern Netherlands signed a peace treaty at Nijmegen [Nimeguen]. The treaty, which was one of several between the members of opposing coalitions, ended the war which had started with the nearly successful surprise attack by the French King Louis XIV (1638–1715) on the Dutch Republic in 1672.

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Telling (fairy) tales

Fairy tales have been passed down through communities for many hundreds, if not thousands, of years, and have existed in almost all cultures in one form or another. These narratives, often set in the distant past, allow us to escape to a world very unlike our own. They usually follow a hero or heroine who comes up against some sort of obstacle (or obstacles) – from witches and ogres, to dwarves and (as the name suggests) fairies.

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