Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

The neuroscience of consciousness by the Oxford Comment podcast

Women’s economic empowerment, past and future [podcast]

In the western world, discussions about the gender pay gap have dominated discussions for the last few decades, but the issues around the economic status of women, and women’s roles in the workforce are far more nuanced, incorporating issues of race, class, consumerism, and ongoing shifts in the legal status of women in subtle and often invisible ways.

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Celebrating women in STEM

Celebrating women in STEM [timeline]

Throughout the month of March, Oxford University Press will be celebrating women in STM (science, technology, and medicine) with the objective of highlighting the outstanding contributions that women have made to these fields. Historically many of the contributions made by women have gone unsung or undervalued, and these fields have been male-dominated and inaccessible for women to enter.

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Conquering the Ocean

Reconstructing Claudius’ arch in Rome

A look at the process of reconstructing Claudius’ Arch in Rome and how it was informed by the latest research in archaeology and classical studies to provide a better understanding of the significance of the Roman Invasion of Britain.

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The Diva's Gift to the Shakespearean Stage: Agency, Theatricality, and the Innamorata

Why “the all-male stage” wasn’t

Why is “the all-male stage” inadequate as shorthand for the early modern stage? For one thing, it enforces a gender binary that has little to do with the subjects, desires, audiences, and practices of the time. Gender was elusive, plural, and performative, especially on the stage, where attractive androgynous boys played women, or switched back and forth between genders. The importance of female spectators, artisans, and backers gives the lie to total exclusion, and so does mounting evidence that women played in many spheres adjacent to the professional stage.

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Selwyn's Law of Employment

A legal right to work from home? Here’s what the law says

With the lifting of the remaining coronavirus restrictions across the UK, there is now no requirement for those who can work from home to continue to do so. As we have seen, however, the past two years have shown many people that they can do their jobs just as well from home, and have a better work-life balance.

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The Parrot in the Mirror

Revenge of the hungry cockatoos? Spite and behavioural ecology

Outside of humans, very few other animals have been observed engaging in spiteful behaviour, and those that have are controversial. Some of the only animals that seem to share our capacity for spite are large, intelligent parrots like cockatoos. Their acts of spite, including against humans, point to a larger set of similarities they share with humans.

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Viruses: The Invisible Enemy, second edition

What are viruses for?

What are viruses for? What use are they? These are questions that my frustrated grandson asked during the first lockdown in 2020, when he was deprived of friends, school and sports, all because of a virus.

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Looking for Alicia: The Unfinished Life of an Argentinian Rebel

Memory, truth, and justice as Argentina honours the victims of state terrorism

24 March is a public holiday in Argentina, officially designated as The Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice. The date commemorates the 1976 coup d’état that unleashed seven years of military dictatorship. The legacy of the coup continues to echo in Argentina, especially for the tens of thousands of families who lost loved ones during the military’s euphemistically-styled “national re-organization process.”

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Souls searched for but not found (part two)

This is the second and last part of the series on the origin of the word “soul.” The perennial interest in the etymology of this word should not surprise us. It is our inability to find a convincing solution that causes astonishment and disappointment.

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Zenobia: Shooting Star of Palmyra

Zenobia: warrior queen or political tactician?

Popular culture often romanticizes Zenobia of Palmyra as a warrior queen. But the ancient evidence doesn’t support that she fought in battles. Instead, we should remember Zenobia as a skilled political tactician. She became ruler without being dominated by the men of her court.

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Manhattan Phoenix: The Great Fire of 1835 and the Emergence of Modern New York by Daniel S. Levy

New York City: the grid

There had been attempts to lay out streets in New York going back to its founding. It was a process that would go on for the next few centuries, and would only accelerate in the decades before and after the Great Fire of 1835.

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The Silken Thread

History repeats—yellow fever and COVID-19

See if this sounds familiar: misinformation, disinformation, and incomplete information are applied to an epidemic, its causes, and treatments. I am not referring to COVID-19 but to 1878 and the yellow fever epidemic that decimated a wide swath of the southern reach of the Mississippi River.

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Human-Centered AI by Ben Shneiderman

Behind the cover: Human-Centered AI

Human and robot handshakes, humanoid robots with electronic wiring, and human brains with chip circuitry dominate depictions of AI. I’ve long felt that these images were misleading, thereby slowing research on technologies that enhance and empower human performance. The challenge is to find other ways to present future technologies.

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Soul searching, or the inscrutable word “soul” (part one)

If we expect someone to save our souls, this person won’t be an etymologist, because no language historian knows the origin of the word soul, and without a convincing etymology, how can anyone save the intangible substance it denotes? Yet nothing prevents us from looking at the main attempts to decipher the mysterious word.

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