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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Why it’s so hard to write a William Wordsworth biography

“A divine morning–At Breakfast William wrote part of an ode—Mr Olliff sent the Dung & William went to work in the garden.”  This entry in Dorothy Wordsworth’s journal for 1802 is characteristically straightforward, but for the biographer how to deal with it is anything but. After years of unsettled wandering William and Dorothy Wordsworth had returned to the Lake District where […]

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The story of “adz”

I am picking up where I left off last week. The word adz(e) was coined long ago and surfaced more than once in Old English texts. It had several local variants, and its gender fluctuated: adesa was masculine, while adese was feminine. Also, eadesa and adusa have come down to us. Apparently, the tool had wide currency.

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Seven classics for comfort reading [reading list]

The impact of the COVID-19 can be felt in all areas of our lives, with many staying at home for the next few weeks. Perhaps this is an opportunity to finally start your copy of War & Peace that’s been on the to-be-read pile for years or you find yourself revisiting old friends in Jane Austen’s world. […]

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Why an Irish Buddhist resisted empire in Burma

On 2 March 1901, during the full moon festival at Rangoon’s Shwedagon pagoda, the Buddhist monk U Dhammaloka confronted an off-duty colonial policeman and ordered him to take off his shoes. Burmese pagodas are stupas, containing relics of the Buddha, so wearing shoes on them (as white colonials did) was a serious mark of disrespect. […]

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How African presidents rig elections to stay in office

There are at least 19 African countries where the heads-of-state have overstayed beyond their term limits via (un)constitutional revisions: Algeria, Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo , Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea (which is trying once more in 2020), Rwanda, Senegal, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. […]

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The story of COVID-19, by the numbers

The COVID-19 pandemic was announced on 11 March 2020 by the World Health Organization, marking a turning point for the public health systems serving the health of constituent populations across the globe. This declaration moment is important for narrative on COVID-19 because it is the point at which it is accepted that the virus is not […]

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Harvey Weinstein and the decriminalization of prostitution

The New York trial of Harvey Weinstein, which ended last month with a guilty verdict on charges of rape and sexual assault and an acquittal on more serious charges of predatory sexual assault, has already elicited extensive commentary from pundits of all stripes. Everyone wants to know what it will mean, for example, for the […]

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How Title IX changed American ballet

It has been nearly 50 years since Title IX of the Education Amendments was passed in 1972, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex by federally funded entities. Title IX proved critical in opening many fields of endeavor to girls and women and is perhaps most famous for its impact on sports. According to Women’s […]

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How New York City became a technology hub

Recently in New York, as in other cities, the coronavirus pandemic has spurred an urgent shift from working in offices to working at home and given a massive boost to digital platforms for telecommuting, teleconferencing, and online teaching. Yet the tech industry has also generated some of the most significant spaces for face-to-face interaction of […]

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How olive oil promotes brain health

Diets and superfoods are all the rage. From acai berries to the Zone diet, many a dietary trend has come along promising a range of benefits, such as weight loss, heart health, and improved cognition. But the science behind these claims is often sketchy at best. One dietary regime that has stood the test of […]

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How work conditions shape healthcare

A few hours before he died, my patient, a 21-year-old man (a boy, really) who was undergoing treatment for a blood cancer came to my ward from the emergency department where he had presented with fever. His parents came with him. The emergency clinicians had begun the right protocol to address his fever. My duties, […]

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The mystery of the Elder Pliny’s skull

Has part of the body of the Elder Pliny, the most famous Roman victim of Vesuvius, been recovered?  The story surrounding the relic is a source of continuing fascination. When Vesuvius erupted in 79 C.E. the Elder Pliny was under 20 miles away. He was quite unaware that Vesuvius was a volcano, despite publishing Rome’s […]

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How religion affects global pandemics

People sometimes see religion as an unwelcome infection affecting the secular politics of international relations. Such attitudes easily present themselves in consideration of terrorism and violence. Religion is seen to distort and hamper the healthy peaceful progress of secular politics, operating as an outside pathogen that inflames tensions and challenges already present in global affairs. Religion […]

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How strategists are improving team decision-making processes

How companies and teams make decisions can be very challenging. Poor or ill-structured decision-making processes can make the organization less successful and create destructive conflicts in decision-making teams. But there are a few strategies companies can try that help organizations make big decisions in a better way. People operate in complex and dynamic environments, making […]

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How emotions affect the stock market

Last year marked the 90th anniversary of Black Thursday, the October day in 1929 when stocks stopped gradually falling, as they had since the start of September, and started wildly crashing. All told, the Dow Jones dropped from 327 at the opening of trading on the morning of Tuesday, 22 October to 230 at the close […]

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