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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

A Line of Blood and Dirt

Why borders are built on ambiguity

During the nineteenth century, Britain, Canada, and the United States began to construct, in earnest, a border across the northern part of North America. They placed hundreds of markers across the 49th parallel and surveyed the land around them. Each government saw the border as a symbol of their sovereignty, a marker of belonging, and as the basic outline of their nation-states.

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1837

To know Russia, you really have to understand 1837

To know Russia, you really have to understand 1837. The assertion might seem strange. Even among historians of Russia, it is likely to produce head-scratching rather than nods of knowing approval. Most would point to other years—1613 and the birth of the Romanov dynasty; 1861 and the end of Russian serfdom; 1917 and the Bolshevik seizure of power—as more consequential. But in fact 1837 was pivotal for the country’s entry into the modern age and for defining many of Russia’s core attributes. Russia is what it is today, in no small measure, because of 1837.

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Erard: A Passion for the Piano

Family secrets and the demise of Erard pianos and harps

Musicians from Haydn to Liszt were captivated by the rich tone and mechanical refinement of the pianos and harps invented by Sébastien Erard, whose firm dominated nineteenth-century musical life. Erard was the first piano builder in France to prioritise the grand piano model, a crucial step towards creating a modern pianistic sonority.

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The future is in the past

“Not everybody may know that ‘yesterday’ is one of the most enigmatic formations in the Indo-European language family.” In this blog post, the Oxford Etymologist explores the history of the adverb ‘yesterday’ and how the same word acquired two incompatible senses: ‘yesterday’ and ‘tomorrow.’

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OUP Libraries

The Librarian Reserve Corps: fighting COVID-19 with mediated information

Librarians have always been at the forefront of information needs and have provided critical assistance to patrons, public officials, and decision makers during uncertain times. The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception and has created an urgent, unprecedented demand for access to knowledge that is accurate, reliable, and timely.

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SHAPE today and tomorrow: Q&A with Sophie Goldsworthy and Julia Black (part two)

This second part of our Q&A with Sophie Goldsworthy, Director of Content Strategy & Acquisitions at OUP, and Professor Julia Black CBE FCA, Strategic Director of Innovation and Professor of Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and President-elect of the British Academy, reflects on how SHAPE disciplines can help us to understand the impact of the events of the pandemic and look towards the future of SHAPE.

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Reading for words

I grew up in the golden era of standardized reading tests. We were taught to read for information, and our progress was tracked by multiple choice tests asking us “What is the main point of the passage?” In retrospect, it was bad training for reading (and for writing), and it took me a long time to change my habits.

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Etymology gleanings for February 2021

Latin “forum” referred not only to a marketplace but also to a place of assembly for judicial and other business. Hence “forensic” meaning “pertaining to the forum or courts of law.”

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American Immigration: A Very Short Introduction

“The Real America”: immigration and American identity

A new, in both tone and aspirations, presidential administration has taken office in the United States, and the prospect for significant change in the approach to immigration, one of the hot button issues advanced by President Donald Trump, is present at its inception.

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Feminist Philosophy

How women have shaped philosophy: nine female philosophers our authors admire

When asked to name a philosopher, it is more than likely that many of the major thinkers that spring to mind will be male. There is a long and rich tradition of female thinkers who have made important contributions to philosophy, and whose works merit further recognition. To celebrate Women’s History Month, we asked some of our authors to tell us about a female philosopher they admire, and why.

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Making Deep History

Turning geology into archaeology: how two businessmen changed the face of time

On the afternoon of 27 April 1859, two top-hatted businessmen, standing in a gravel pit outside the French city of Amiens, were about to change history. Joseph Prestwich and John Evans had brought with them a photographer, scientific witnesses, and a great deal of zeal and perseverance to answer a longstanding question: how old was humanity?

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Review of Finance

The horizontal agency problem and how China deals with it

Economies cannot grow unless they have well-functioning stock markets. Up until now, China was a striking exception to this rule. However, for China’s growth to continue, it recognizes that a well-functioning stock market must play a major role. Therefore, two important questions are the following. First, what is the nature of the agency problem in China? Second, what is the potential solution to this problem?

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