Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Search Term: place of the year

England and Egypt in the early middle ages: the papal connection

When the Venerable Bede (d. 735) looked out from his Tyneside monastery across the North Sea, over the harbour at Jarrow Slake to which ships brought communications, wares, and human traffic from Europe and the Mediterranean—how then did he picture Rome and the papacy, the city and institution he thought so central to English and even world history? His grasp of its visual culture cannot have been great. We know that Bede never saw Rome (in fact, he never saw any city or town). Our usual reference points of its basilicas, shrines, walls and mosaics—indeed, its sheer urban and suburban mass—cannot have meant much to him.

Read More

Thinking disobediently?

A person who “thinks disobediently” can be invigorating, maddening, or both. The life and writings of Henry David Thoreau have provoked just such mixed reactions over time, scorned by some; cherished by others. What seems bracingly invigorating can also seem an off-putting mannerism.

Read More

Why decolonization and inclusion matter in linguistics

As sociolinguists, we have centered social justice in our research, teaching, and administrative work for many years. But as with many other academics, this issue took on renewed collective urgency for us in the context of the events of 2020, from toxic politics and policies at the federal level, to state-sanctioned anti-Black violence and the ensuing racial reckoning, to the Covid-19 pandemic and the many inequities it exposed and heightened.

Read More

Conversations with Dostoevsky

The first time I visited St Petersburg, nearly thirty years ago, I stayed not far from the area in which Dostoevsky set the action of Crime and Punishment. The tenement blocks were, for the most part, those that Dostoevsky himself would have seen—indeed, one friend lived at Grazhdanskaya 19, a possible location for the coffin-like garret inhabited by Raskolnikov, the novel’s homicidal anti-hero.

Read More

African American religions and the voodoo label

In 1932, an African American man named Robert Harris killed his tenant on a makeshift altar in the back of his home in Detroit, Michigan. Harris, who was allegedly part of Detroit’s burgeoning Black Muslim community, described the murder as a human sacrifice to Allah. Harris was put on trial for murder; however, following some bizarre courtroom rants during which he referred to himself as a “king” and the murder as a “crucifixion,” Harris was declared insane and sent to an asylum.

Read More

The musician’s journey: preparing our students as entrepreneurs

Today, our college and university music students are facing a rapidly changing global market place. There are new technologies, career options, virtual education, and so forth. As educators, we continue to focus on the highest standards of pedagogy. Nevertheless, we need to also expand our curricula to include the necessary preparatory training for skills that will transcend a dizzying rate of change.

Read More

The first women’s shelter in Europe? Radegund’s Holy Cross

‘With the passion of a focused mind, I considered how to advance other women so that—the Lord willing—my own desires might prove beneficial for others. […] I established a monastery for girls in the city of Poitiers. After its foundation, I endowed the monastery with however much wealth I had received from the generosity of the king.’

Read More

A four-forked etymology: curfew

It appears that the etymology of curfew has been solved. In any case, all modern dictionaries say the same. The English word surfaced in texts in the early fourteenth century, but a signal to people to extinguish their fires is much older.

Read More

“Indian summer” and other curious idioms

The Internet is full of information about the origin of the phrase Indian summer. Everything said there about this idiom, its use, the puzzling reference to Indian, as well as about a desired replacement of Indian by a word devoid of ethnic connotations and about the synonyms for the phrase in the languages of the world, is correct.

Read More

Less-than-universal basic income

Ten years ago, almost no one in the United States had heard of Universal Basic Income (UBI). Today, chances are that the average college graduate has not only heard of the idea, but probably holds a very strong opinion about it.

Read More