Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

It’s time to raise the retirement age again

Since the election, we Americans have engaged in a healthy debate about the Electoral College. My instincts in this debate are those of an institutional conservative: Writing our Constitution from scratch today, we would not have designed the Electoral College as it has evolved. However, institutions become embedded in societies. To further this debate, consider these three contentions often heard today about the Electoral College.

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How well do you know William Godwin? [quiz]

In October, William Godwin (1756–1836) was featured as our Philosopher of the Month. He was a leading political philosopher and public intellectual during the crisis in British politics in the 1790s and achieved fame with the publication of his treatise ‘An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice’.

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What is “toxic” about anger?

What is anger? In essence, anger is a subjective feeling tied to perceived wrongdoing and a tendency to counter or redress that wrongdoing in ways that may range from resistance to retaliation. Like sadness and fear, the feeling of anger can take the form of emotion, mood, or temperament.

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What Matthew Shepard’s interment taught us about religion

On 26 October 2018, twenty years after two men in Wyoming brutally murdered gay college student Matthew Shepard, the Washington National Cathedral hosted a service to inter Shepard’s ashes in a permanent memorial. More than four thousand people attended the service that was co-led by the Reverend Gene Robinson, the first openly-gay elected bishop of […]

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On animal sight and behaviour

I have spent the last fifty years studying the eyes and vision of animals, including man.  During that time there have been many discoveries and ideas from vision research that have intrigued me, most of these are known to other scientists, but not more widely.

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Detroit music [quiz]

Detroit is known as the birthplace of Motown Records, but there’s more to the musical history of the city than just that, due to the key role of the public schools in music training, the impact on music of the auto companies and the media, and the huge variety of ethnic music-making across Detroit’s 139 square miles.

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A lesson in allegorical storytelling [podcast]

National Novel Writing Month challenges writers from all over the world to complete a 50,000-word novel within the month of November. To help guide our readers who have taken on the challenge, we reached out to three-time National Jewish Book Award winner Howard Schwartz. Howard offers a deeper reading of “The Lost Princess,” and his analysis demonstrates the power of allegories as literary devices.

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Place of the Year 2018 nominee spotlight: International Space Station

The International Space Station (ISS) is the largest single structure humans have ever put into space. The spacecraft is in orbit 240 miles above Earth, and is both a home and a science laboratory for astronauts and cosmonauts. The station took 10 years and more than 30 missions to assemble, beginning in November 1998 when […]

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International law regarding use of force

Through the power of precedent, international incidents involving the use of force help to clarify the meaning and interpretation of jus ad bellum, the corpus of rules arising from international custom and the United Nations Charter that govern the use of force. UN Charter Article 2(4) forbids states from using force in their international relations. Exceptions to this prohibition are acts taken in self-defence under UN Charter Article 51 or under the auspices of a UN Security Council authorization to use force under Article 42. States can also consent that another state use force in its territory, for example to combat rebel or terrorist actors. In certain cases, state practice gives rise to new interpretations of existing rules or novel exceptions emerge.

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Dynasties: emperor of all penguins

Of the seventeen species of penguin in existence, the emperor penguin is arguably the most well-known and heavily documented. In the second post of our Dynasties blog series, we’ll be exploring how emperor penguins build their dynasties.

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Graffiti artists are gaining recognition—and rights

Graffiti used to be thought of primarily as vandalism—as a furtive, illegal activity that defaced public property. It was seen as both a reflection of and contributor to urban decay. However, several recent high-profile lawsuits involving what is now called “exterior aerosol art” reveal just how far graffiti has advanced in cultural esteem and recognition as a legitimate art form.

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Big money, dark money, and the two Gilded Ages

The 2018 midterm elections were the most expensive in history, and much of the money that financed them was undisclosed, or “dark.” There has always been big money in elections, of course, and some of it has always been dark. In the first Gilded Age, all campaign contributions were made in secret.

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Why is it so difficult to throw away fetuses?

It has been five years since I started my research on anatomy in 19th century Belgium, but I remember my first visit to an anatomical collection like it was yesterday. It was the beginning of autumn and the temperature was cool enough to cause a slight numbness in my hands. I was not yet used to the piercing smell of alcohol and formaldehyde; a smell that soaked into my clothes and skin, and that I immediately associated with death.

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George Balanchine: mythology and reality

There are few choreographers with more influence in the world of ballet than George Balanchine. Over three decades after his death, his ballets are performed somewhere on the planet virtually every day. Two prominent dance institutions continue his legacy—the School of American Ballet and the New York City Ballet—and dancers who worked alongside him lead important companies and schools across America from Miami to Seattle.

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Time for new targets to treat blocked arteries

The human cardiovascular system relies on continuous circulation to ensure it functions to meet the needs of the body. Like a fish must remain in water, body organs and tissues require a constant supply of blood. A loss of blood flow, dependent on severity and duration, can result in a loss of oxygen,

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Place of the Year 2018 nominee spotlight: Myanmar

Extreme violence and discrimination has led to a humanitarian crisis in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. Throughout 2017 and 2018, Rohingya refugees have been crossing the border into Bangladesh in fear of their lives. United Nations officials have described the crisis as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” In 2018, mid-October reports revealed that the number of […]

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