Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Full of fear: really dreadful

Fear is a basic emotion in all living creatures, because it makes them recognize and avoid danger. It is therefore no wonder that so many words for it have been coined. Language can describe fear by registering the physical reaction to it, for instance, shaking and trembling (quite a few words for “fear” in the Indo-European languages belong here) or trying to flee from the source of danger, as in Greek phobós, known from the suffix -phobe and all kinds of phobias (phébomai “I fear; I flee from”; its Russian cognate beg- designates only “running”).

Read More

Bridging partisan divides over scientific issues

The current era in the Western hemisphere is marked by growing public distrust of “intellectual elites.” The present U.S. administration openly disregards, or even suppresses, relevant scientific input to policy formulation.

Read More

Basic goods as basic rights

f we were to try summarizing the many statements on human rights within the United Nations system, it might be as follows: basic goods are basic rights. True, there was an old approach to human rights that focused exclusively on “negative” political rights and cast doubt on “positive” subsistence rights. For example, it has been argued that we should not focus on economic or social rights because this would distract attention from political rights.

Read More

Drenched in words: LGBTQ poets from US history

John F. Kennedy stated that “When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.” Poetry attempts to reclaim awareness of the world through language, an entirely human construct that can only be pushed so far but one that is pushed repeatedly and necessarily in order to articulate what it means to be human. Throughout American history, LGBTQ poets have explored myriad themes including identity, sexuality, and historical and political landscapes, in order to comprehend and chronicle human experience.

Read More

Reluctant migrants in Italy

The attempted murder of six African immigrants in the streets of the northern province of Macerata in February 2018 brought to mind an earlier history of black bodies in Italy. In April 1943, the fascist Ministry of Italian Africa transported a group of over fifty Africans to Macerata from Naples. Today, immigration is transforming Italy to an increasingly diverse country.

Read More

The scary truth about night terrors

Do you know what it’s like to stand near, but helplessly apart, from your child while he screams out in apparent horror during the night? I do. I did it almost nightly for months. It wasn’t necessary. My six-year-old son is one of many children who experienced night terrors. Like most of these children, he has a relative who experienced night terrors as well–I had them when I was a child. Night terrors are not bad dreams or nightmares.

Read More

Martin Luther’s Polish revolution

Last year, Playmobil issued one of its best-selling and most controversial figurines yet, a three-inch Martin Luther, with quill, book, and cheerful pink plastic face. This mini-Luther celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation

Read More

European Public Law: facing the challenge of decline

In recent years, Europe has lost much of its promise. The financial crisis, the debt crisis, the refugee crisis, the apparent systemic deficiencies of national and supranational governance structures, as well as a fading confidence in democratic government, have led to a certain impression of “messiness.”

Read More

Philosopher of the month: Mullā Sadrā [quiz]

This June, the OUP Philosophy team honours Mullā Sadrā (1571 – 1640) as their Philosopher of the Month. Mullā Sadrā was born in Shiraz, southern Iran, but moved around when he was studying and for the many pilgrimages he embarked on in in his lifetime. He later returned to Shiraz when he began teaching and taking on followers of his philosophy.

Read More

Gulls on film: roadkill scavenging by wildlife in urban areas

The impact of roads on wildlife (both directly through wildlife-vehicle collisions, and indirectly due to factors such as habitat fragmentation) has likely increased over time due to expansion of the road network and increased use and number of vehicles. In the UK, for example, there were only 4.2 million vehicles on the roads in 1951, compared to 37.3 million by the end of 2016.

Read More

Gun control is more complex than you think

In the public debate over gun control, many people talk as if our only options are to support or oppose it. Although some endorse more expansive views, many still talk as if our choices are quite limited: whether to support or oppose a small number of

Read More

Nine “striking” facts about the history of the typewriter

The first machine known as the typewriter was patented on 23rd June 1868, by printer and journalist Christopher Latham Sholes of Wisconsin. Though it was not the first personal printing machine attempted—a patent was granted to Englishman Henry Mill in 1714, yet no machine appears to have been built—Sholes’ invention was the first to be practical enough for mass production and use by the general public.

Read More

The Kuleshov Fallacy

The face has long been regarded as one of the major weapons in the arsenal of cinema—as a tool of characterization, a source of visual fascination, and not least, as a vehicle of emotional expression.

Read More

Orangutans as forest engineers

Orangutans quite literally are “persons of the forest,” at least according to their Malay name (orang means “person” and hutan is “forest”). But this is more than just a name. As well as their distinctively “human” qualities, these large charismatic fruit-eaters are also gardeners, forest engineers responsible for spreading and maintaining a wide array of tree species.

Read More

Global health as a social movement: Q&A with Dr. Joia Mukherjee

What is social entrepreneurship? In essence, it’s about using the tools of entrepreneurship—opportunity, resourcefulness, innovation—to address stubborn social and environmental problems. A defining feature of social entrepreneurship is the concept of systemic change; that is, change that addresses the underlying social, political, and economic forces that conspire to exclude the poor and marginalised from the opportunities that many of us take for granted.

Read More