Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

A year of listening to books

The COVID crisis has led me to rethink a lot that I’ve taken for granted. One the saving graces helping to get me through long days of remote teaching and evenings of doom-scrolling was the opportunity to take long walks.

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Genome Biology and Evolution

Unique adaptations allow owls to rule the night

As the only birds with a nocturnal, predatory lifestyle, owls occupy a unique niche in the avian realm. Hunting prey in the dark comes with a number of challenges, and owls have evolved several features that leave them well-suited to this task.

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OUP Libraries

The changing role of medical librarians in a COVID-19 world

“Health librarians really need to have a broad picture of the health environment to have an impact and connect all the dots ”, says Gemma Siemensma, Library Manager at Ballarat Health Services (BHS), Australia. Librarians “need to continue to excel in reference consultations and literature searching to advanced forms of evidence synthesis and critical appraisal,” she adds.

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MNRAS

Modifying gravity to save cosmology

The unexpectedly rapid local expansion of the Universe could be due to us residing in a large void. However, a void wide and deep enough to explain this discrepancy—often called the “Hubble tension”—is not possible in standard cosmology, which is built on Einstein’s theory of gravity, General Relativity.

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Etymology gleanings for November 2020

Why is there no “master key” to the closet hiding the origin of language and all the oldest words?
Historians deal with documents or, when no documents have been preserved, with oral tradition, which may or may not be reliable. The earliest epoch did not leave us any documents pertaining to the origin of language.

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Oxford Research Encyclopedias

Social studies: learning the past to influence the future

Learning history is complex; it requires an individual to be a critical thinker, develop different interpretations of history, and engage in analytical writing. I encourage these skills in my undergraduates when we discuss the past. However, within the US’ K-12 system, social studies have been relegated to the sidelines as education policymakers and administrators have focused on math and science since the start of the 21st century.

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Beethoven: Variations on a Life

Five overlooked Beethoven gems

Beethoven wrote an enormous quantity of music: nine symphonies, some fifty sonatas, seven concertos, sixteen string quartets, more than a hundred songs…the list goes on and on. It is almost inevitable that certain of these works have been relatively neglected by performers and the listening public alike. Here are a few overlooked gems.

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Family Guide to Mental Illness and the Law

How to call for the police Crisis Intervention Team

When you call 911 for assistance with someone whose mental health symptoms are out of control specifically ask for crisis intervention officers with mental health training. Tell the dispatcher that the person you are calling about has a diagnosed mental illness and is experiencing a mental health crisis, explain what that illness is, and then after setting that foundation help prepare the officers for the scene by giving the 911 operator all of the details about the current behavior.

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The Invention of Martial Arts

Bruce Lee and the invention of martial arts

Had he lived, Bruce Lee would have been 80 on 27 November 2020. This anniversary will be marked by countless people and innumerable institutions all over the world, from China to Russia to the USA, and almost everywhere in between. This is because, in the space of a few episodes of a couple of US TV series and four martial arts films, Bruce Lee changed global popular culture forever.

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The Oxford Handbook of Nigerian Politics

How the #EndSARS protest movement reawakened Nigeria’s youth

Human Rights groups, including Amnesty International, have for many years documented alleged SARS abuses of civilians including extortion, rape, and extrajudicial killings. Over the years the police have repeatedly denied the allegations. The present #EndSARS protests started after a video surfaced that showed a SARS officer allegedly shooting a man in Delta State before driving off. This video set off peaceful protests across the country. However, unlike previous protests with clearly identifiable leadership structure which was susceptible to being arrested and charged to court by the government, this protest movement decidedly insisted on not having a central leadership. Rather, using social media and propelled mainly by young people, cutting across class lines, the protests have been largely peaceful and very coordinated.

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Bizarre the world over

The posts for the last two weeks dealt with the various attempts to trace (or rather guess) the origin of the word bizarre, and I finished by saying that the word is, in my opinion, sound-imitative. In connection with this statement a caveat is in order…

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Oxford Languages

Lost for words? Introducing Oxford’s “Words of an Unprecedented Year”

For over a decade, we have selected a word or expression that captures the ethos, mood or preoccupations of the last 12 months, driven by data showing the ways in which words have been used. But this year, how could we pick a word, or even a shortlist, to summarize the ways in which we’ve been continually knocked off our axis?

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Athens After Empire

Capturing your “rude” conqueror

Roman civilization is one of the foundation stones of our own western culture, and we are often exposed in newspaper and magazine articles, books, and even TV documentaries to the glories of Roman art, architecture, literature (the chances are you’ve read Virgil’s Aeneid), rhetoric (we’ve all heard of Cicero), even philosophy. Yet in the late first century BC the Roman poet Horace wrote: “Captive Greece captured her rude conqueror and introduced her arts to the crude Latin lands” (Epistle 2.1.156). Did he really mean that Rome owed its cultural and intellectual heritage to the Greeks?

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International Affairs

When female peacekeepers’ “added value” becomes an “added burden”

Calls for the increased participation of uniformed United Nations female peacekeepers have multiplied in recent years, fueled in part by new scandals of peacekeepers’ sexual abuse and exploitation (SEA), tarnishing the UN’s reputation, and in part by the will to show explicit progress at the 20th anniversary of the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.

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OUP Libraries

Accessible libraries: “a different sense of reading”

The German Centre for Accessible Reading, dzb lesen, unites tradition with the modern world. Founded on 12 November 1894 as the German Central Library for the Blind, it has been a library for blind and visually impaired people for more than 125 years and is thus the oldest specialist library of its kind in Germany.

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