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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.

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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.

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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.

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Godzilla of the Galápagos and other speciation stories

Yet despite their brutish appearance, marine iguanas are extremely placid herbivores, posing a threat only to the algae upon which they feed. We now know that these creatures represent one of the oldest living lineages of the archipelago and as such, their evolution is deeply intertwined with the history of the islands themselves, a discovery foreshadowed by Darwin‘s observation that “They assuredly well become the land they inhabit”.

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Ottonian queenship: powerful women in early medieval Germany

In 2008, archaeologists working on the cathedral at Magdeburg, in eastern Germany, opened an ancient tomb and rediscovered the bones of an Anglo-Saxon princess called Edith. She had died in the year 946, aged only about 30. Her remains were brought across the North Sea for scientific tests which verified the identification via tests on her tooth enamel, indicating that the bones belonged to someone who had grown up drinking water from the chalky landscapes of southern Britain.

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American healthcare: are you an expert? [Quiz]

As technology and education become more broadly accessible, people are being exposed to more information than ever before. It’s easier than ever to choose convenience over reliability or accuracy—to search for symptoms on WebMD instead of asking a doctor, or consult Wikipedia for definitive answers to every question. All this newly accessible yet unreliable information has produced a wave of ill-informed and angry citizens.

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Punishing Peccadilloes? Illicit sex at the early Stuart courts

At the Tudor and early Stuart royal courts, the careers of influential politicians and courtiers often depended on the preferences of the monarchs: being in the king’s good graces often mattered as much or more for advancements than ability and training. The personality and quirks of the rulers affected many aspects of a courtier’s life, including what today might be considered the most private: their sex lives.

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What to do with a simple-minded ruler: a medieval solution

The thirteenth century saw the reigns of several rulers ill-equipped for the task of government, decried not as tyrants but incompetents. Sancho II of Portugal (1223–48), his critics said, let his kingdom fall to ruin on account of his “idleness,” “timidity of spirit,” and “simplicity”. The last term, simplex, could mean straightforward, but here it meant only simple-minded, foolish, stupid.

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Which fictional detective are you?

The classic Golden Age of Detective Fiction in the 1920s and 30s brought us such legendary characters as Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, and detective stories on page and screen have kept audiences guessing ever since.

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Monthly gleanings for April 2017

The previous post on Nostratic linguistics was also part of the “gleanings,” because the inspiration for it came from a query, but a few more tidbits have to be taken care of before summer sets in.

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Preparing for CISTM15 with the CDC

This weekend, the 15th Conference of the International Society of Travel Medicine (CISTM15) will be hosted in sunny Barcelona. It is a historical moment for the International Society of Travel Medicine who will also be celebrating its 25th anniversary during the conference on Tuesday, 16 May. The latest findings in travel medicine will be presented in a range of lecturers, workshops, and debates.

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Fame, race, Nella Larsen, and Nella the Princess Knight

Certainly my oddest moment as a scholar of the biracial woman novelist Nella Larsen (1891–1964) was the day I ran across her in the guise of a pink-clad children’s cartoon character, profiled in the New York Times. The unusual name “Nella” drew my eye to Nella the Princess Knight, but as I read further, the character’s similarities to the literary figure multiplied. Like the novelist, Nick Jr’s new heroine has a black father, a white mother, and a baby sister, and she lives in a multiracial community.

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The free press in the “Good War”

When the president declares war on the media, dubbing it the “enemy of the people,” the first instinct of its defenders is to take to Twitter to emphasize how many reporters have sacrificed their lives in reporting the news. The second is to hark back to two eye-catching events: the Vietnam War, when uncensored media reporting exposed the lies about how the conflict was being waged; and the Watergate scandal, when the Washington Post helped to uncover the massive attempt to cover-up the Nixon administration’s illegal bugging of the Democrats.

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The legacy of William Powell and The Anarchist Cookbook

In February 1971, Lyle Stuart, known for publishing racy, unconventional books, held a press conference to announce his latest foray into testing the limits of free speech. With him was William Powell, the son of a diplomat and a former English major at Windham College, who had written what would become the most infamous of mayhem manuals: The Anarchist Cookbook.

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Reading landscapes of violence

The Mewatis sought shelter on the Kala Pahar, the Black Mountain, as the Aravallis are called, but the very next day there was firing from an aircraft sent by the Bharatpur State. Azadi was no freedom but is instead locally called bhaga-bhagi (exodus) and kati (killing) in 1947.

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Storm Stella and New York’s double taxation of nonresidents

The physical aftermath of Storm Stella is now over. The tax aftermath of Storm Stella, however, has just begun. How can a winter storm cause taxes? Because New York State, under its so-called “convenience of the employer” doctrine, subjects nonresidents to state income taxation on the days such nonresidents work at their out-of-state homes for their New York employers.

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