Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Turn-taking in Shakespeare

And thus Zoom turns us all to fools and madmen

With characteristic aplomb, then, Shakespeare has anticipated—by a good four hundred years—exactly what happens when more than three people try to chat informally via Zoom. The kind of interaction that would be relatively straightforward in person becomes torturously difficult. Everything takes longer. Everything requires more effort. Without careful attention to what linguists call “turn-taking,” things quickly descend into chaos.

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Why do humans have property?

Property is a rather old subject. We’ve been writing about it since at least the time of the Sumerian tablets, in part, because after four and a half millennia we still haven’t settled on what property is, who has it, how we get it, or even what it’s for.

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Scientific communication in the shadow of COVID-19

One of the most fundamental processes within any scientific field is communication of results of research, without which research cannot have an impact. If any piece of research is worth doing, effort is expended in doing it, and the results are of interest, then the research is not truly complete until it has been recorded and passed on to those who need to know the findings.

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How to write a byline

A while back, I wrote a post on How to Write a Biography, with some tips for long-form writing about historical and public figures. However, that’s not the only kind of biographical writing you might be called upon to do. You might need to write about yourself.

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As daft as a brush and its kin

Some similes make sense: for example, as coarse as hemp (or heather). Hemp and heather are indeed coarse. But cool as a cucumber? Many phrases of this type exist thanks to alliteration. Perhaps at some time, somewhere, cucumbers were associated with coolness, but, more likely, the simile was coined as a joke: just listen to coo-coo in it!

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Visual and Multimodal Communication: Applying the Relevance Principle

Rooting chimp communication in relevance theory

The key assumption of Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson’s relevance theory is that every act of communication comes with the promise (not the guarantee!) of being optimally relevant to its envisaged audience. Sperber and Wilson’s examples typically pertain to spoken face-to-face exchanges between two individuals: speaking Mary and listening Peter. A message gains in relevance for […]

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MI5, the Cold War, and the Rule of Law

MI5 and Russian interference, now and then

On 21 July 2020, the UK parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee published its long-delayed report on “the Russian threat to the UK.” Although heavily redacted, the report was wide-ranging and dealt with a number of issues, including the threat to democracy, highlighting concerns about potential Russian interference in the Scottish referendum in 2014, the EU […]

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The Oxford Book of Theatrical Anecdotes

How well do you know the world of theatre? [Quiz]

Gyles Brandreth has been collecting theatre stories since he was a boy—and he has collected more than a thousand of them for The Oxford Book of Theatrical Anecdotes, an anthology of entertaining and illuminating stories about every aspect of the world of theatre, from the age of Shakespeare to the present day. How well do you know […]

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Strategy

Six leadership practices that create an agile organisation

Leadership practices play a key role in shaping the form and outcomes of strategy processes in an organisation. As individuals and collectives to whom others pay attention, broader stakeholder attitudes and activities will be influenced by how leaders are perceived to think, talk, and act about strategy. This leadership influence on how strategy happens can […]

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Children’s games and some problematic English spellings

Several years ago, I wrote a series of posts titled “The Oddest English Spellings.” Later, The English Spelling Society began to prepare a new version of the Reform, and I let a team of specialists deal with such problems. Yet an email from one of our regular correspondents suggested to me that perhaps one more […]

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Standing as I do before God

Sound relationships: exploring the creative partnership between poet and composer

Composer Cecilia McDowall and poet Seán Street have collaborated on the creation of many choral works in recent years, from Shipping Forecast to Angel of the Battlefield. Here they discuss some of the challenges and pleasures of balancing words and music to create something that is greater than the sum of its parts. *** Cecilia McDowall (CM): Writing for choral forces, characteristically, requires […]

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MNRAS

The enduring mystery of how galaxies grow up

Astronomers have discovered that there are two different types of galaxies in the Universe: elliptical galaxies and spiral galaxies. Elliptical galaxies are dead galaxies full of very old, red stars that move on chaotic random orbits around the centre of their galaxy in such a way that makes their shape look like fluffy footballs. On […]

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Beethoven 1806

Beethoven’s virtual collaborations

Since the onset of the pandemic, online platforms like Facebook and YouTube have become indispensable hubs of musical collaboration. Simply scroll down your Facebook feed to encounter collaborative virtual performances of everything from “Over the Rainbow” to Mahler’s Third Symphony, each one painstakingly assembled from individual recordings of sequestered singers and isolated instrumentalists. While physically distant musical collaborations […]

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Multisensory Experiences

The senses in an increasingly digital world

We interact with the world around us with all our senses—such as sight, hearing, smell, but also much more! The senses are fundamental to our experiences. The research area of multisensory experiences considers the different human senses and their interactions when designing human experiences. This area is growing in academic fields such as Human-Computer Interaction, marketing, and the […]

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