Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World


George Eliot and second lives

The later nineteenth century she represents is not an historical period we have simply left behind. What it stands for psychologically, again and again, for sundry lost individuals is the arena of transition from a religious to a modern secular life: an in-between world of seriousness that many people still do not, cannot or will not wholly get over. The Victorian critic John Morley said that reading George Eliot was like inadvertently entering a confessional.

Read More

Finding career success through authenticity

“Knowledge workers,” or people who think for a living, continue to be major players in the global economy. In today’s competitive job market, creating a successful career in a knowledge work field takes more than a college degree. One of the keys to success is authenticity: understanding yourself so that you can take charge of your own work.

Read More

Liar, liar, pants on fire: alternative facts

Oxford lists several definitions of belief, but here is a paraphrase of their meanings: something one accepts as true or real; a firmly held opinion; a religious conviction; trust, faith, or confidence in something or someone. How do truths believed by individuals or groups compare with scientific truths? On the face of it, scientific observations and experiments are backed by physical evidence, repeated in many settings, by many independent observers around the world.

Read More

The foundation of American liberalism [excerpt]

In 1912, a group of ambitious young men congregated in a 19th Street row house in Washington, DC. Disillusioned by the Taft administration, they shifted from a firm belief in progressivism—the belief that the government should protect its workers and regulate monopolies—into what is now called “liberalism,” or the belief that government can improve citizens’ lives without abridging their civil liberties and, eventually, civil rights.

Read More

Aleppo: the key to conflict resolution in the Syrian civil war?

Finally, just a couple months ahead of the sixth year’s end in the conflict, an agreement has been reached in Astana, Kazakhstan on 24 January 2016 by the participation of the major domestic and international state and nonstate actors, who had stake in the conflict. Why is Aleppo significant? Why are there external states supporting various rebel groups? And, why did the conflict in Syria take so long to resolve?

Read More
9780190214173_Greven_Intimate Violence

The role of the death-mother in film

Hitchcock’s famous Psycho (1960) has an enduring legacy in the slasher-horror genre. Its impact on this genre is an enduring one, as suggested by the A&E series Bates Motel, culminating with Rihanna cast in Janet Leigh’s indelible role (Figure 1). Perhaps its most striking contribution, however, is its thematization of a figure I call the death-mother.

Read More

To understand the evolution of the economy, track its DNA

How much would we understand about human evolution if we had never discovered genetics or DNA? How would we track the development of the human species without taking into account the universal code of life? Yes, we could study ancient trash heaps to estimate people’s average caloric intake over time. Or we might seek clues in burial mounds regarding population growth rates and changes in our physical characteristics over time.

Read More

Reproductive rights and equality under challenge in the US

If the Trump administration and the current Congress have their way, however, state restrictions on abortion are likely to flourish and may ultimately prevail. Far less likely, however, is careful ethical consideration of what these changes may mean. Even now, many US women find abortion beyond their reach either economically or geographically. These women and their children face what may be life-limiting challenges.

Read More

Fighting for Athens: the Battle of Marathon [excerpt]

It was [the democratic state of Athens] that confronted the full wrath of Darius [the king of the Persian Empire] on the plain of Marathon. It was also an Athens filled with the same brand of trained soldiers to be found elsewhere in Greece: the hoplite.

Read More

10 things you may not know about the making of the OED (Part 2)

In the first part of this article you may have learned various unexpected pieces of information about the history of the Oxford English Dictionary, such as the fact that it came close to being the Cambridge English Dictionary, or that one of the first lexicographers to work on it ended up being sacked for industrial espionage. Read on for more interesting episodes in the extraordinary history of this great project.

Read More

Voltaire and the one-liner

As we mark Voltaire’s 323rd birthday – though the date of 20 February is problematic, the subject of another blog – what significance does the great Enlightenment writer have for us now? If I had to be very very short, I’d say that Voltaire lives on as a master of the one-liner. He presents us with a paradox. Voltaire wrote a huge amount – the definitive edition of his Complete works will soon be finished, in around 200 volumes.

Read More
Brain 0217

How does acupuncture work? The role of S1 remapping

Acupuncture is a medical therapy that originated in China several thousand years ago and is rooted in a complex practice ritual based on a philosophy that predates our current understanding of physiology. Despite its long history, though, the intervention itself, particularly when coupled with electrical stimulation, significantly overlaps with many conventional peripherally-focused neuromodulatory therapies.

Read More

10 things you may not know about the making of the OED (Part 1)

The Oxford English Dictionary is recognized the world over, but much of its history isn’t so widely known: as with a respected professor or an admired parent, it’s all too easy simply to make use of its wisdom and authority without giving much thought to how it was acquired. Read on for some interesting nuggets of information about the history of this extraordinary project that you may not have encountered elsewhere.

Read More

In war, the earth matters

Many factors influence the outcome of war. But what has soil got to do with war? I suspect few have given much thought to the influence of soil on war, or, conversely, how war influences the soil. But the role of soil in warfare can be considerable, as can the impact of war on soil, which can often leave it unusable. The most dramatic and emotive examples of the role of soil in war comes from the First World War.

Read More

Bob Dylan’s complicated relationship with fame [excerpt]

Bob Dylan’s playful and at times antagonistic relationship with the press dates back to his early years on the folk scene in New York. When asked about his identity by straight- laced reporters with buzz cuts and sport coats, he frequently answered sarcastically: “a trapeze artist,” “a song and dance man,” “an ashtray bender,” and “a rabbit catcher.”

Read More

Celebrating International Women Day: women in the changing world of peacekeeping

Celebrated for the first time by the UN on 8 March, 1977, the International Women’s Day serves as a way to mark women’s contributions all around the globe. One area where women’s contributions are particularly worthy of celebration is in United Nations peacekeeping missions. Since the deployment of the first peacekeeping mission in 1948 to 1989, the end of the Cold War, only twenty women served in peacekeeping missions.

Read More