Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Michel Foucault on the insane, the criminals, and the sexual deviants

Michel Foucault (1926-84) was one of the most influential and notable French philosophers and historians of ideas, best known for his theories on discourses and the relation of power and knowledge. His seminal works such as L’histoire de la folie à l’âge classique (1972, trs. as History of Madness, 2006), Surveiller et punir (1975, trs. as Discipline and Punish, 1977), and Histoire […]

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Four remarkable LGBTQ activists

Around the world, the LGBTQ community faces inequality and discrimination on different levels. Although an increasing number of countries have legalised same-sex marriage in recent years, in countries such as Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, members of the LGBT community are still fighting for their simple right to exist. In the USA, much of LGBTQ activism […]

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Why morning people seek more variety

Imagine two consumers, John and Mary. During a typical morning, John sluggishly drags himself out of bed after snoozing the alarm clock several times. He then brushes his teeth, bleary eyed, and slowly makes his way to the kitchen. His wife, Mary, has already poured him a cup of coffee. She’s bright-eyed, dressed, and ready […]

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The trouble with how we talk about climate change

It’s a rare day when the news doesn’t cover something related to climate change, whether biodiversity loss, climate refugees, retreating glaciers, or an extreme weather event. Though it’s broadly accepted that climate change is caused by “us,” at some level, we often assume the solutions are covered and controlled by experts, especially natural scientists, engineers, […]

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How well do you know your fictional fathers?

The relationship between parent and child is intricate and has been widely explored in literature through the ages. Particularly complicated is the role of the father. They are often portrayed as abusive or absent while the mother takes on the traditional nurturing role, but that’s not to say literature doesn’t have its fair share of gentle […]

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Why urgent action is needed to avoid centuries of global warming

In the climate change debate, we often hear the argument that the climate has been changing since time immemorial. This is true, but if modern climate change differs from pre-historic climate cycles, the statement by itself is empty. We need to know how modern climate change compares with that of the past.

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The impeachment illusion

The best barometer of political anger is how often the word “impeachment” appears in news stories, editorials, and Congressional rhetoric. These days, the references have grown exponentially, despite the House Speaker’s efforts to keep her members focused on legislation. The constitutional definition of “high crimes and misdemeanors” is vague enough to have encouraged members of […]

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Two cruces: “slave” and “slur”

It turned out that the melancholy idiom send one to Coventry may not have anything to do with that town. To reinforce this unexpected conclusion, I’ll relate another story. At one time, the phrase up at Harwich existed; perhaps it is still known in the eastern counties.

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The Trump administration’s Africa policy

Does President Donald Trump have a policy on Africa, and if so what? The answer to this question is both interesting and revealing. President Trump does not seem to pay much attention to Africa. Apart from his well-publicised comments to a group of senators in January 2018 dismissing the whole of Africa as “shithole countries,” he has not […]

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When narcolepsy makes you more creative

At night, the surrealist poet Saint-Pol-Roux used to hang a sign on his bedroom’s door that read: “Do not disturb: poet at work.” Indeed, may sleep increase our creativity? The link between creativity and sleep has been a topic of intense speculation, mainly based on anecdotal reports of artistic and scientific discoveries people have made while dreaming.

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Why posh politicians pretend to speak Latin

When Jacob Rees-Mogg wished to criticise the judges of the European Union, he said, “Let me indulge in the floccinaucinihilipilification of EU judges.” The meaning of the jocular term (the action of judging something to be worthless) is not as important as its source—the Eton Latin Grammar. Latin and Latinate English flow readily from the […]

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Quiz: How well do you know Albert Camus?

The Nobel Prize winner, Albert Camus (1913-1960) is one of the best known French philosophers of the twentieth century, and also a widely-read novelist, whose works are frequently referenced in contemporary culture and politics. An active figure in the French underground movement, a fearless journalist, and an influential thinker in the post-war French intellectual life, Camus’s experience of growing up in troubled and conflicted times during the World War I and Nazi occupation of France permeate his philosophical and literary works.

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250 Years of Oxford weather

Talking about the weather is a national obsession. Thomas Hornsby talked about the weather, or at least wrote about it, in Oxford back in the mid-eighteenth century. His surviving diaries from 1767 mark the commencement of the longest continuous single-site weather records in the British Isles, and one of the longest anywhere in the world.

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Why even Mormons are pushing for LGBT inclusion

A decade ago, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was licking its wounds after its disastrous involvement in California’s Proposition 8. The church had won a coveted victory—Proposition 8 passed, effectively outlawing same-sex marriage in the state—but lost the war of public opinion. When Americans found out that Mormons had funded an estimated 50%–70% […]

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Etymology gleanings for May 2019: Part 2

It turned out that the melancholy idiom send one to Coventry may not have anything to do with that town. To reinforce this unexpected conclusion, I’ll relate another story. At one time, the phrase up at Harwich existed; perhaps it is still known in the eastern counties.

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What early modern theater tells us about child sexual abuse

The sexual abuse of children endemic in the Roman Catholic Church is once again in the news, with Pope Francis mandating reporting within the Church. The Catholic Church is not alone; investigative journalists have revealed a pattern of sexual misconduct among Southern Baptist pastors and deacons over a twenty-year period, involving more than seven hundred victims.

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