Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Subtopics

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on birds, poetry, and immigration

On 26 February this year, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the most popular poet America has ever had, turned 210. The lines from Longfellow everyone remembers, often without knowing who actually wrote them (“into each life a little rain must fall”; “Let us, then, be up and doing”; “Each thing in its place is best”), point to an author who wanted to help us live our lives, not exactly change them.

Read More

What the WannaCry attack means for all of us

As the aftershocks of last week’s big “WannaCry” cyberattack reverberate, it’s worth taking a moment to think about what it all means. First, ransomware is a growing menace, and this may be the case that gets it global attention. The idea behind ransomware is simple: no one is willing to pay as much as you for your data. Instead of copying critical data and trying to sell it to others, ransomware authors will simply deny their target access until payment is made.

Read More

Student debt: not just a millennial problem

When I was interviewed on the Kathleen Dunn Show, I was prepared to talk about the health implications of educational debt for students. That changed when a father called in and shared his story about helping his children pay for college. This father wanted to protect his children from debt and was trying to do the “right” thing by his children, and it almost resulted in the loss of his home.

Read More

Learning to read emotions in oral history

The most recent issue of the OHR featured two stories on understanding emotion in oral history interviews. In one piece, Julian Simpson and Stephanie Snow asked what role humor plays in healthcare, and how to locate it in oral history. In another piece, Katie Holmes asks how to locate historical emotion during an interview and how to interpret these feelings.

Read More

Friends with benefits?

Before Theresa May decided to go to the country, the election result many observers of UK politics were most looking forward to was the outcome of ‘super-union’ Unite’s bitter leadership contest between the incumbent, Len McCluskey, and his challenger, Gerard Coyne – a contest which, rightly or wrongly, had been viewed through the prism of its potential impact on the Labour Party.

Read More

Edwin Muir and a story of Europe

While reading recently British Library correspondence files relating to the poet Edwin Muir—the 130th anniversary of whose birth will be on 15 May this year—I was struck, as I have often been, by the important part played in his development as man and poet by his contact with the life of Europe—a continent that is currently high on the agenda of many of us with a possible British Brexit in view.

Read More

Preparing clinical laboratories for future pandemics

The rapid flourishing of the Ebola outbreak in 2014 caught clinical laboratories in the United States off-guard, and exposed a general lack of preparedness to handle collection and testing of samples in patients with such a highly lethal infectious disease. While the outbreak was largely limited to West Africa, fears in the United States became heightened in September of 2014 with the first reported imported case diagnosed in Texas.

Read More

The mixed messages teens hear about sex and how they matter

Although they start having sex at similar ages to teens in many other developed countries, US teens’ rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), pregnancies, abortions, and births are unusually high. Besides high levels of socioeconomic inequality, a major reason is their inconsistent use of contraceptive methods and low uptake of highly effective contraception.

Read More

How does international human rights law apply during armed conflict?

The Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) is the law (by treaty or custom) that regulates the means and methods used in the conduct of armed hostilities. In this video, Daragh Murray, editor of the Practitioners’ Guide to Human Rights Law in Armed Conflict, talks about international human rights law in armed conflict.

Read More

The presence of the past: selective national narratives and international encounters in university classrooms

The question of how to remember past events such as World War II has long become official business. Governments, intent on sustaining unifying national narratives, therefore choose what and how the past should be remembered and told, for example through teaching history at secondary schools and memorials/museums. For how states choose to remember tells us something important about how they see themselves.

Read More

Photographer Helen Muspratt through the eyes of her daughter

Helen Muspratt (1905–2001) was a pioneering photographer. Her unique techniques with different forms of exposure made her a driving force in naturalistic portraiture and social documentation. Throughout her illustrious career, Helen photographed the likes of Dorothy Hodgkin, Nobel Prize winning chemist; Roger Fry and Julian Bell of the Bloomsbury Group; painter Paul Nash; journalist Alistair Cooke; and many others.

Read More

The role of women in the life of Frederick Douglass

Although Frederick Douglass captures his journey into freedom and political influence in his autobiographies, he reveals little about his private life. Douglass’s carefully crafted public persona concealed a man whose life was more complicated than he would have liked us to think. Women played key roles in guiding him throughout his turbulent life—from helping him escape slavery to solidifying his role as an abolitionist and suffragist.

Read More

George Washington: the great mind behind early America

Throughout history, George Washington has been highly regarded for his common sense and military fortitude. When it comes to the Founding Fathers, his intellectual pursuits have been overshadowed by Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton—who are conventionally considered the great minds of early America. Despite his relative lack of formal education, Washington remained an avid reader throughout his life.

Read More