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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

What does a linguist do?

Linguists get asked that question a lot. Sometimes by family members or potential in-laws. Sometimes by casual acquaintances or seatmates on a plane (for those who still fly). Sometimes from students or their families. Sometimes even from friends, colleagues, or university administrators. It turns out that linguists do quite a lot and quite a lot […]

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Six books for budding lawyers [reading list]

In celebration of National Read a Book Day 2020 today, here are a list books for anyone working in, or interested in, the legal world. Studying for a law exam, or just looking for a court-based drama? Take a glimpse of the titles below and select one for yourself. My Brief Career: The Trials of […]

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The Churchill Myths

The defacing of Churchill’s statue

During Britain’s strange summer of 2020 the statues of long-dead figures became live political issues. Black Lives Matter protesters threw slave-trader Edward Coulston’s effigy into Bristol harbour, an act that shocked many, but that was as nothing to the reaction provoked by the treatment meted out to Winston Churchill’s statue in Parliament Square. During another […]

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How text messages are helping people fight counterfeit medicine in Africa

According to World Health Organization statistics, 42% of detected cases of substandard or falsified pharmaceuticals between 2013-2017 occurred in Africa— substantially more than on any other continent. Poor, underdeveloped countries experience a penetration rate of approximately 30% of counterfeit pharmaceuticals as opposed to less than 1% in developed countries. In Ivory Coast, Adjame, the biggest […]

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Antibody Therapeutics

Searching for “magic bullet” antibodies to combat COVID-19

Several cases of mysterious pneumonia (now called COVID-19) were reported in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China in late December 2019. SARS-CoV-2, a novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, was later identified. In the past eight months, COVID-19 cases have been reported in 188 countries all over the world, with over 20 million confirmed cases and […]

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Harlequin’s tricky name

I am picking up where I left off last week. In the post for August 26, 2020, I discussed some words that surround Harlequin on a dictionary page. He ended up among harlots, harangues, and the harrowing of hell. I also touched on the possible origin of some European words for “war,” and in a […]

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What the Home Intelligence unit revealed about British morale during the Blitz

During the Second World War, the morale of the British public was clandestinely monitored by Home Intelligence, a unit of the government’s Ministry of Information that kept a close watch on the nation’s reaction to events. Intelligence from a wide range of sources and every region of the United Kingdom was collected and analysed by […]

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Gottfried Leibniz: the last universal genius

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a German seventeenth-century philosopher, an incredible logician, and one of the most important contributors to the philosophy of metaphysics, philosophical theology, mathematics, and ethics. His metaphysical career spanned over thirty years, and he was an inspiration to other contemporary philosophers from the Enlightenment period. Born in 1646 in Leipzig, Germany, Leibniz’s […]

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Campus activists show us how to end gender-based violence

Protest and resistance thrive proudly on many university campuses. In recent history, students and faculty have organized to protest the Vietnam war in the United States, recognize the occupation of Tiananmen Square in China, resist capitalism in France, and react to many other injustices. More recently, activism to decolonise SOAS in the United Kingdom, to […]

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Meaningful Inefficiencies

Rebuilding better: designing the future of cities and governance

In city and town meetings throughout the United States, “we need to rebuild better” has become a common refrain from progressive political leaders to communicate their response to COVID-19 and the subsequent demands for racial justice. It is shorthand for the urgency of economic recovery while acknowledging the reality of structural inequities. The pandemic’s indiscriminate […]

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Generations science is bunk

The ideas of generations and generational differences are ubiquitous. Millennials are characterized as job-hoppers; Baby Boomers are painted as selfish and materialistic. Media accounts blame generations for everything from changes in red meat consumption to the declining popularity of high-heeled shoes, doorbells, and paper napkins. Generations are likewise accused of disrupting normative ways of life and social institutions; these ideas are alluded to and supported […]

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Six of the best Italian comedies

An astonishing array of Italy’s finest films are comedies. Some of the most memorable performances by actors like Marcello Mastroianni, Sophia Loren, Giancarlo Giannini, and Roberto Benigni have been in comic roles. The humor in these comedies harks back to the commedia dell’arte street performers of the Italian Renaissance and, before that, to the Roman […]

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Harlequin’s environment

Marley was dead, to begin with, as all of us know. Likewise, the origin of the word Harlequin is controversial, to begin with. Henry Cecil Wyld’s excellent dictionary, to which I often refer, says that all ideas about the etymology of Harlequin are mere speculations. This is not true and was not quite true even […]

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Communicating and connecting with your teenager leaving for college

In a previous post I described topics of conversations to have with a teenager leaving home for college. Equally, if not more important, is the process of communication. Understand the positive power of a strong family foundation. The power of a supportive family is almost unlimited.  Let me be clear that a family does not need to […]

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Urban Studies, city life, and COVID-19 [podcast]

Oxford Bibliographies celebrates its 10th anniversary this year; in a decade, OBO has grown from 10 subject areas to over 40, and this fall will see the introduction of a new subject area that is highly relevant to our COVID-19-afflicted times: Oxford Bibliographies in Urban Studies.

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How germs (or the fear of them) spawned Modernism

The world’s attention has been fully trained for many months on detecting a microbe that, inevitably, most people will never see for themselves: SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. We take for granted the invisibility of this new enemy. But when scientists first ventured the hypothesis that germs were the cause of many virulent diseases, […]

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