Etymologie, Etimología, Étymologie, Etimologia, Etymology, (griech.) etymología, (lat.) etymologia, (esper.) etimologio
UK Vereinigtes Königreich Großbritannien und Nordirland, Reino Unido de Gran Bretaña e Irlanda del Norte, Royaume-Uni de Grande-Bretagne et d'Irlande du Nord, Regno Unito di Gran Bretagna e Irlanda del Nord, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, (esper.) Britujo
eXterne Wortlisten, (esper.) eksteruloj vortlistoj
XOUPLW - Oxford University Press - Language-Words

  • XOUPLW - Oxford University Press - Language-Words (
  • Oxford University Press - Language-Words - XOUPLW (
    Oxford University Press - Language-Words



    Erstellt: 2022-02

























    The origin of the word caucus: conclusion By Anatoly Liberman Last week, I mentioned three etymologies of caucus: from caucus, Latin for “cup”; from an Algonquin phrase, and from calker’s or caulkers’. Read More Holes in the Tower of Babel By Brent A. Strawn The Tower of Babel story (Genesis 11:1–9) is among the most famous in the Bible. It might even be considered an iconic text—famous beyond its actual content; since the story was originally written it has come to mean much more than its actual words. Read More Less-than-universal basic income By Matt Zwolinski Ten years ago, almost no one in the United States had heard of Universal Basic Income (UBI). Today, chances are that the average college graduate has not only heard of the idea, but probably holds a very strong opinion about it. Read More Cello and the human voice: A natural pairing By Becky McGlade I’ve heard the phrase “It’s the instrument most like the human voice and that’s why it’s so expressive” countless times over the years. As a cellist myself I’m probably biased to some degree, but I truly believe that the cello has a unique voice which wonderfully synergises with the human voice. Read More Could lonely and isolated older adults be prescribed a cat by their doctor? By Sherry L Sanderson, Kerstin G Emerson, Donald W Scott, Maureen Vidrine, Diane L Hartzell, and Deborah A Keys Many older adults struggle with isolation and loneliness. Could cats be the solution? At the same time, many humane societies have more cats to rehome than they can manage. Could lonely older adults be the solution? Read More The intractable word caucus By Anatoly Liberman At the moment, the word caucus is in everybody’s mouth. This too shall pass, but for now, the same question is being asked again and again, namely: “What is the origin of the mysterious American coinage?” Read More A librarian’s reflections on 2023 By OUP Libraries and Anna França What did 2023 hold for academic libraries? What progress have we seen in the library sector? What challenges have academic libraries faced? Read More A Q & A on English and all its varieties [interactive map] By Danica Salazar and Rachel Havard World Englishes are localized or indigenized varieties of English spoken throughout the world by people of diverse cultural backgrounds in a wide range of sociolinguistic contexts. Read More Word Origins Etymologicon and other books on etymology By Anatoly Liberman In the previous post, I answered the first question from our correspondents (idioms with the names of body parts in them) and promised to answer the other one I had received during the break. The second question concerned the book titled The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections. Read More Living Black in Lakewood: rewriting the history and future of an iconic suburb [Long Read] By Becky M. Nicolaides In the annals of American suburban history, Lakewood stands as an icon of the postwar suburb, alongside Levittown, NY, and Park Forest, Ill. Noted not only for its rapid-fire construction—17,500 homes built from 1950-1953—it was also critiqued for its architectural monotony, alarming writers at the time who feared that uniform homes would spit out uniform people. That worry quickly faded when the demography of Lakewood began to change. Read More Cover of Venice: The Remarkable History of the Lagoon City by Dennis Romano Your 2024 travel guide [reading list] By Lindsey Stangl Now is the time for crafting your resolutions and setting the stage for a remarkable new year. Read More Which imaginary book should you read? By Ruby Dunn Take this quiz to find out which fictional book would be a perfect next read for you. Read More How can business leaders add value with intuition in the age of AI? [Long Read] By Eugene Sadler-Smith In a speech to the Economic Club of Washington in 2018, Jeff Bezos described how Amazon made sense of the challenge of if and how to design and implement a loyalty scheme for its customers. This was a highly consequential decision for the business; for some time, Amazon had been searching for an answer to the question: “what would loyalty program for Amazon look like?” A junior software engineer came up with the idea of fast, free shipping. But a big problem was that shipping is expensive. Also, customers like free shipping, so much so that the big eaters at Amazon’s “buffet” would take advantage by free shipping low-cost items which would not be good for Amazon’s bottom-line. When the Amazon finance team modelled the idea of fast, free shipping the results “didn’t look pretty.” In fact, they were nothing short of “horrifying.” Read More Back to work: body and etymology By Anatoly Liberman While the blog was dormant, two questions came my way, and I decided to answer them at once, rather than putting them on a back burner. Today, I’ll deal with the first question and leave the second for next week. Since the publication of my recent book Take My Word for It (it deals with […] Read More cover image a A bridge tio the sky by Glaire D. Anderson From Abbas Ibn Firnas to Assassin’s Creed: The legacy of Medieval intellectualism By Glaire D. Anderson The dream of flying has a long premodern history. Think of the myth of Daedalus, the ancient Greek inventor who designed wings for himself, and his ill-fated son Icarus. Or think of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous sketches and studies of birds and flying devices. Read More cover image of Durers Lost Masterpiece Albrecht Dürer and the commercialization of art By Ulinka Rublack Dürer´s “Praying Hands” are so iconic, but most people know little or nothing about the painting for which it partly served as a study. Looking at the story of that painting shows us a different Dürer from the arrogant, assured manipulator of new media he is often said to have been. It also opens a new window onto his time and the commercialisation of art Read More 12» Janus words By Edwin L. Battistella January gets its name from Janus, the Roman god of doors and gates, and (more metaphorically) the god of transitions and transformations. What better time to talk about so-called Janus words. Read More «12


    December 2023 English spelling, rhyme, rime, and reason By Anatoly Liberman The story of rhyme has been told more than once, but though both The OED and The Century Dictionary offer a detailed account of how the word acquired its meaning and form, it may be instructive to follow the discussion that occupied the intellectuals about a hundred and fifty years ago and some time later. Read More Five ways the British magnetic enterprise changed the concept of global science By Edward J. Gillin The concept of global science was not new in the nineteenth century. Nor was that of government-sponsored science. But during the 1830s and 1840s, both of these concepts underwent a profound transformation: one that still has ramifications over today’s relationship between specialist knowledge and the modern nation state. Read More Book cover of how to do research 7 ways to deal with the rejection of your manuscript submission By Robert Stewart Publication in peer-reviewed journals is an integral part of academic life, but however successful you are in your research career, you’re likely to receive a lot more rejections than acceptances of your submitted manuscript. Here are 7 suggestions on how to cope, understand, and learn from manuscript rejection. Read More Going on an endless etymological spree By Anatoly Liberman Noah Webster (1758-1843) knew spree and included it in the first edition of his dictionary. He defined spree as “low frolic” and branded it as vulgar. Read More Genomic insights into the past and future of the black rhinoceros By Casey McGrath The iconic African black rhinoceros faces an uncertain future after intense poaching caused a 98% decline in wild populations from 1960 to 1995. The species’ survival within its fragmented natural habitat now relies on dedicated conservation efforts. A study published in Molecular Biology and Evolution reshapes our understanding of the evolutionary and natural history of the black rhinoceros, opening a window into the species’ genetic past while urging us to forge a path toward its conservation. Read More Title cover of "Rhythm Man: Chick Webb and the Beat that Changed America" by Stephanie Stein Crease, published by Oxford University Press Chick Webb meets Chick Webb: Fact and fiction in James McBride’s new novel By Stephanie Stein Crease Chick Webb’s drumbeats resonate through much of James McBride’s fast-paced new novel “The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store.” McBride, one of America’s most beloved authors today, weaves Webb into this story early on. Read More Word Origins More gleanings: cob, shark, cowan, and the rest By Anatoly Liberman The Oxford Etymologist shares his monthly gleanings on cob, shark, cowan, and more. Read More Title cover of "Glad We Met: The Art and Science of 1:1 Meetings" by Steven G. Rogelberg, published by Oxford University Press 10 things direct reports must do to get the most out of their 1:1 meetings By Steven G. Rogelberg 1:1s are crucial in promoting positive outcomes in the workplace. It is essential that direct reports have a strategic approach to these meetings to make sure they receive the help they need to grow in their career. Read More Title cover of "Dangerous Crooked Scoundrels: Insulting the President from Washington to Trump" by Edwin L. Battistella, published by Oxford University Press “Happy Birthday” to the Linguistic Society of America By Edwin L. Battistella In January 2024, the Linguistic Society of America celebrates its 100th anniversary. And one thing you can be sure of is that “Happy Birthday” will be sung. Read More Remembering the legacy of Henry Kissinger [reading list] By Sarah Butcher As a key architect of US foreign policy during the Nixon and Ford administrations, Henry Kissinger left an indelible mark on international relations. Read More


    November 2023 A spotlight on Native American language and religion [podcast] By Steven Filippi and Rachel Havard On today’s episode of The Oxford Comment, the last for 2023, inspired by the themes in Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon”, and in celebration of National Native American Heritage Month in the United States, we spotlight two aspects of Native American culture that transcend tribe and nation and have been the recent focus of OUP scholars: language and religious beliefs. Read More Falling dice and falling ministers: explaining an artwork in the Royal Collection By John Eglin John Eglin, author of “The Gambling Century” examines a portrait supposedly by William Hogarth to explore the history of gambling in Georgian England. Read More Title cover of "Understanding Human Time", edited by Kasia M. Jaszczolt, published by Oxford University Press Flow of time: reality or illusion? By Kasia M. Jaszczolt Real time of space-time is one of the dimensions on which we comprehend and describe reality. Time neither flows, nor flies, or drags on; it doesn’t run out and is not a commodity that can be wasted. Read More Title cover of Hitler's Personal Prisoner: The Life of Martin Niemöller by Benjamin Ziemann, published by Oxford University Press The man behind the legend: Martin Niemöller, Hitler’s Personal Prisoner By Benjamin Ziemann Martin Niemöller, Lutheran pastor in the Dahlem parish at the outskirts of Berlin, stood at the centre of the struggle over hegemony in the German Protestant Church during the Third Reich. Read More Title cover of "American Tyrannies in the Long Age of Napoleon" by Elizabeth Duquette, part of the Oxford Studies in American Literary History series published by Oxford University Press Napoleon’s cinematic empire: a fascination with film By Elizabeth Duquette Given his decided penchant for spectacle—he crowned himself emperor, after all—there is no reason to be surprised that Napoleon’s empire soon included the cinema, a medium his visual ubiquity made ripe for conquest. To prepare for our newest Napoleon, it is worth looking back on some of his prior celluloid incarnations, some great and others less so. Read More Word Origins Highfalutin, cowan, and all, all, all… Gleanings at last! By Anatoly Liberman The Oxford Etymologist shares a new explanation for “highfalutin” from a reader of the blog, which, if accepted, “will be a small step forward in the study of word origins.” Read More Title cover of "The Use of Force against Individuals in War under International Law: A Social Ontological Approach" by Ka Lok Yip, published by Oxford University Press Catch-22: exploring the escape routes for Gazans By Ka Lok Yip Ka Lok Yip examines how the current situation in Gaza powerfully illustrates the danger of relying solely on international humanitarian law to address problems without transforming the underlying structural conditions through jus contra bellum and international human rights law. Read More Title cover of "Aesthetic Dimensions of Modern Philosophy" by Andrew Bowie, published by Oxford University Press The art of philosophy By Andrew Bowie The “philosophy of art” in Anglo-American analytical philosophy has had barely any influence on the main epistemological, ethical, and metaphysical concerns of that philosophy. Read More Five unexpected things about medical debt By Luke Messac 100 million Americans hold medical debt which causes people to forgo or be denied necessary medical care. Luke Messac, a historian and physician, looks at five unexpected things about medical debt. Read More Word Origins From broke to broker: following the tortuous path to truth By Anatoly Liberman “To me, the history of etymologists’ wanderings reads like a thriller: so many naive and clever suggestions, such a blend of ignorance and ingenuity!” The Oxford Etymologist traverses the history of “broke.” Read More "A Concise Guide to Communication in Science and Engineering" by David H. Foster, published by Oxford University Press The risks of boosterism in research writing By David H. Foster At first glance, the significance of a piece of research may not be obvious, either from a paper submitted to a journal or from a published article. Its novelty, importance, and future impact are often uncertain, needing time to become clear to the research community. Read More Seven predictions for the biggest management trends in the next few years By Sophie Shepherd What do you think will be the next big management trend? We asked Academy of Management Annual Meeting attendees for their predictions. Read More Title cover for "Empires of the Dead: Inca Mummies and the Peruvian Acestors of American Anthropology" by Christopher Heaney, published by Oxford University Press Why global museums amassed the ancestral dead, starting in Peru By Christopher Heaney It is a time of worldwide reckoning for museums that display or contain ancestral dead. But the specific story of the collection of Andean ancestors charts a different origin for this global process, and it asks us to think with more nuance regarding what to do with the museums it created. Read More Word Origins Clever Hans and beyond By Anatoly Liberman The Oxford Etymologist details the origin and development of the adjective “clever”. Read More "The Void Inside: Bringing Purging Disorder to Light" by Pamela K. Keel, published by Oxford University Press How the US healthcare system is failing people with eating disorders [infographic] By Pamela K. Keel People with eating disorders often do not receive sufficient support within the United States healthcare system, which can have a devastating emotional and monetary impact on patients and their families. Read More Title cover for "The Hijacking of American Flight 119" by John Wigger, published by Oxford University Press D.B. Cooper, Martin McNally, and the Golden Age of Skyjacking By John Wigger In June 1972, Martin McNally pulled off one of the most daring airline hijackings in American history, parachuting from the aft stairs of a Boeing 727 with half a million dollars in cash. Read More November 2023 Title cover of "Dangerous Crooked Scoundrels: Insulting the President from Washington to Trump" by Edwin L. Battistella, published by Oxford University Press More than emotion words By Edwin L. Battistella Interjections like oh or wow are sometimes described—too simply—as “emotion words.” They certainly can express a wide range of emotions, including delight (ah), discovery (aha), boredom (blah), disgust (blech), frustration (argh), derision of another (duh) or one’s self (Homer Simpson’s d’oh). They certainly can express a wide range of emotions, including delight (ah), discovery (aha), boredom (blah), disgust (blech), frustration (argh), derision of another (duh) or one’s self (Homer Simpson’s d’oh). Read More "Understanding Self-injury: A Person-centered Approach" by Stephen P. Lewis and Penelope A. Hasking, published by Oxford University Press Supporting a loved one who self-injures [infographic] By Stephen P. Lewis and Penelope A. Hasking The stigmatization of self-injury remains common. Such stigma makes it difficult for people to reach out about their experience, even when they may want support. Further, many people who do not have lived experience, but who are concerned about someone who does, want to offer support but are unsure about how to navigate this. The […] Read More "The First Episode of Psychosis: A guide for Young People and Their Families" by Beth Broussard MPH CHES and Michael T. Compton MD and MPH, published by Oxford University Press How to recognise and treat an episode of psychosis [infographic] By Beth Broussard and Michael T. Compton Psychosis is a rare experience and often misunderstood within society. Learn more about the symptoms, stages, and treatments for psychosis in the infographic. Read More Title cover for "English Begins at Jamestown: Narrating the History of a Language" by Tim William Machan, published by Oxford University Press How little we (can) know about the history of the English language By Tim Machan Historical linguist Tim Machan explores the history of the English language and what we (can) know about it, and how it has been recorded throughout history. Read More Title cover for "Feeling Unreal: Depersonalization and the Loss of the Self, second edition" by Daphne Simeon and Jeffrey Abugel, published by Oxford University Press Understanding Depersonalization and Derealization Disorder [infographic] By Daphne Simeon and Jeffrey Abugel Depersonalization is the third most common psychiatric symptom, yet clinicians and lay people still know little about its presentation and treatment. While it can indeed be a symptom accompanying other mental illnesses, it is also a full-blown disorder itself, recognized by every major diagnostic manual. Read More Breakthrough and disgrace: Knut Hamsun’s Hunger and Pan in retrospect By Terence Cave and Tore Rem The 2023 award of the Nobel Prize for literature to the Norwegian writer Jon Fosse brings Norwegian literature into focus for English-speaking readers and provides a fresh angle from which to view the writings of Knut Hamsun. Read More Word Origins A fool’s cap of etymologies, or the praise of folly By Anatoly Liberman It is amazing how many synonyms for “fool” exist! It is almost funny that fool, the main English word for “a stupid person,” is not native, says the Oxford Etymologist in this week’s exploration of the origins of fools. Read More


    October 2023 The Oxford Comment podcast Infrastructure, public policy, and the Anthropocene [podcast] By Steven Filippi, Ed Aymer, and Meghan Schaffer On today’s episode of The Oxford Comment, we discuss the state of human infrastructure in the Anthropocene with a particular focus on how research can best be used to inform public policy. First, we welcomed Patrick Harris, co-editor-in-chief of the new transdisciplinary journal, Oxford Open Infrastructure and Health, to speak about the aims and […] Read More International Affairs journal published by Oxford University Press Where there’s a will, there’s a way? Germany and the EU leadership quest By Magnus G Schoeller and Olof Karlsson As the EU confronts multiple challenges, many question whether Germany has finally shed its reluctance to become a leading power in the region. In this blog post, Magnus G Schoeller and Olof Karlsson highlight the key obstacles standing in the way of Germany’s leadership aspirations, its policy implications, and how the country can overcome them. Read More Title cover for "The House Where My Soul Lives: The Life of Margaret Walker" by Maryemma Graham, published by Oxford University Press When fame is not enough: Margaret Walker and the twentieth-century South By Maryemma Graham Maryemma Graham on writing “The House Where My Soul Lives: The Life of Margaret Walker”, the complete, authorized biography of America’s first award-winning Black writer. Read More Word Origins Another hopelessly obscure word: brocard By Anatoly Liberman Some words are so rare that few people know and even fewer study them. Such is “brocard”, the “outcast” subject of today’s blog post from the Oxford Etymologist. Read More Oxford Bibliographies by Oxford University Press Are the Apostolic Fathers relevant to twenty-first century readers? By William Varner The value of the “Apostolic Fathers” is evident for a better understanding of the New Testament and the formative years of the “Jesus Movement” that came to be called Christianity. The Apostolic Fathers can help us measure our own understanding of that early phase of church history. Read More The Hsu-Tang Library On the launching of a new library of classical Chinese literature By Wiebke Denecke 250 years ago, Ji Yun compiled one of the world’s largest premodern encyclopedias for the Chinese court. This fall Oxford University Press launches the first endowed bilingual translation library of Classical Chinese Literature thanks to a generous gift by Ji Yun’s descendant, Agnes Hsin-mei Hsu-Tang and her husband Oscar Tang. Read More Science in the time of war: voices from Ukraine By Taras K. Oleksyk On 23 February 2022, I drove back to Michigan after giving a talk at the University of Kentucky on genome diversity in Ukraine. My niece Zlata Bilanin, a recent college graduate from Ukraine, was with me. She was calling her friends in Kyiv, worried. A single question was on everyone’s mind: will there be a […] Read More Title cover for "Ralph Vaughan Williams: Four Last Songs". Words by Ursula Vaughan Williams. Arranged for SATB choir and piano by Jonathan Wikeley. Published by Oxford University Press Vaughan Williams’ Four Last Songs: “letting go” of the music By Jonathan Wikeley Jonathan Wikeley explores Vaughan Williams’s “Four Last Songs”, looking at the textual meaning, the process of arranging for choir, and composer’s philosophy of “letting go” of the music. Read More Open Access Week 2023 at Oxford University Press Supporting communities through society publishing By Charley James Lawrence In this blog post, we hear from OUP’s society publishing collaborators and the ways in which they support diverse communities, including through open access publishing. Read More Word Origins Believe it or not: one more book on language and language history By Anatoly Liberman The Oxford Etymologist casts a glance at a book exploring the history of language and its development that is “definitely worth reading.” Read More Open Access Week 2023 at Oxford University Press What does “community” mean to you? By Ashley Stanlake The theme of this year’s Open Access Week is “Community Over Commercialisation”. As part of this, we’re looking at different definitions of “community” used within academic research. Read More Title cover for "Writing Against Expulsion in the Post-War World: Making Space for the Human" by David Herd, published by Oxford University Press Human rights are not a “luxury belief”: why Suella Braverman’s rhetoric is dangerously misguided By David Herd David Herd explores the language of human rights and why Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s recent pronouncement of human rights as a “luxury belief” is a shocking step even by the standards of contemporary political rhetoric. Read More Title cover of "Gravity: From Falling Apples to Supermassive Black Holes" by Nicholas Mee, published by Oxford University Press Tuning in to the cosmic symphony: restarting LIGO By Nicholas Mee In 2015 history was made when LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) detected the first ever gravitational wave signal. This was an incredible technological achievement and the beginning of a completely new way of investigating the cosmos. The restart of LIGO and the global gravitational wave research network launches a new phase of deep space exploration. Read More Title cover of "Analysis" journal, published by Oxford University Press Should animals have the right to vote? By Ioan-Radu Motoarca Suppose it were suggested that animals’ interests would be even better protected if we recognized a right of political participation to animals. One way to do that would be to have human representatives cast votes on behalf of animals with respect to different legislative proposals. Read More Oxford Libraries Test your knowledge of Gothic literature! By Ruby Dunn Take this Gothic literature quiz to see how well you really know your castles, ghosts, and scary stories. Read More Open Access Week 2023 at Oxford University Press Open access and the academic community: a librarian’s view By Henrik Schmidt We asked Henrik Schmidt, Licence Manager from the Research Collaboration Unit at the National Library of Sweden, for his views on open access and the transformation of the research environment. Read More Making sense of the Molly Maguires today By Kevin Kenny Twenty Irish mine workers were hanged in the anthracite region of Pennsylvania in the 1870s, convicted of a series of murders organized under the cover of a secret society called the Molly Maguires. Here Professor Kenny discusses 10 things that helped him answer the questions at the heart of his book, “Making Sense of the Molly Maguires.” Read More Open Access Week 2023 at Oxford University Press Embracing a sustainable open access future: removing barriers to publishing By Nikul Patel In this blog post, we explore what OUP is doing to address the challenges to making open access publishing available to all and share information on the volume of articles we waive Article Processing Charges for each year. Read More Open Access Week 2023 at Oxford University Press Supporting researchers at every career stage By Sarah Trostle Discover how OUP supports researchers at every career stage—including Early Career Researchers—through our journals publishing. Read More Title cover of "Shakespeare without a Life" by Margreta de Grazia, published by Oxford University Press On Shakespeare’s “illiteracy” By Margreta de Grazia This year marks 400 years since the publication of Shakespeare’s First Folio, but why was he singled out for his lack of knowledge about classics, as well as his “illiteracy”? Read More Title cover of "Citizen Knowledge: Markets, Experts, and the Infrastructure of Democracy" by Liza Herzog, published by Oxford University Press Why does government policy ignore scientific evidence? Experts and the public must act together By Lisa Herzog Together, expert communities and the public need to manage the interfaces between the production of specialized knowledge and its use in wider political discourse. Read More The three empires of our digital world [infographic] By Anu Bradford Today, there are three dominant and competing models of digital regulation—the US, China, and the EU. Explore the nuances and implications of each model in the infographic. Read More Title cover of "Tracing Value Change in the International Legal Order: Perspectives from Legal and Political Science" co-edited and co-authored by Heike Krieger and Andrea Liese, published by Oxford University Press Much attacked, still standing: how the international legal order is attacked and defended By Heike Krieger and Andrea Liese The invasion of the Russian Federation in Ukraine on 24 January 2022 is certainly not the first, but one of the most blatant attacks on the international legal order and one of the order’s foundational values, namely peace. It has enlivened widespread debates about the end of the liberal world order and, closely related to this, a crisis of international law. But what does this crisis stand for? Read More Word Origins Some hopelessly obscure words: the case of cowan By Anatoly Liberman Some words don’t interest anyone. They languish in their obscurity, and even lexicographers miss or ignore them. Yet they too deserve to get their day in court. One such word is “cowan.” Read More Title cover of "Asian Classics on the Victorian Bookshelf: Flights of Translation" by Dr Alexander Bubb, published by Oxford University Press Found in translation: how the amateur translator brought Asian classics to a 19th century audience By Alexander Bubb Today, translation is a professionalized activity closely linked to the publishing industry. For most of the nineteenth century, however, this organized chain of production had yet to be established. Read More What we say when we say “just sayin’” By Edwin L. Battistella The distinction between nouns and adjectives seems like it should be straightforward, but it’s not. Grammar is not as simple as your grade-school teacher presented it. Read More


    September 2023 Title cover of "Lifting the Chains: The Black Freedom Struggle since Reconstruction" by William H. Chafe, published by Oxford University Press Black resistance in America: a timeline By William H. Chafe From the end of the Civil War to today, Lifting the Chains is a history of the Black freedom struggle in America since the Civil War. Explore key moments in the timeline. Read More Word Origins On squashing and occasional squeezing By Anatoly Liberman The Oxford Etymologist explores squash, squeeze, and the development of squ- words featuring the infamous s-mobile. Read More Title cover of "The Rise and Fall of Animal Experimentation" by Richard J. Miller, published by Oxford University Press Animal pharm is closing its doors By Richard J. Miller Until the middle of the twentieth century, human beings had no defense against deadly microbial diseases. Bubonic plague, cholera, tuberculosis, and syphilis; waves of infectious diseases regularly swept across the globe killing millions of people. But then, suddenly, everything changed. In 1935, the Bayer drug company in Germany was experimenting with the pharmaceutical properties of […] Read More Title cover of "Of Age: Boy Soldiers and Military Power in the Civil War Era" by Rebecca Jo Plant, published by Oxford University Press Minors in the military: parental rights and the Union war effort By Rebecca Jo Plant Throughout the entirety of the American Civil War, intense battles over youth enlistment played out in courts, Congress, the military, and individual households. Read More Title cover of "United Kingdoms: Multinational Union States in Europe and Beyond, 1800-1925" by Alvin Jackson, published by Oxford University Press United kingdoms and European Unions: using global history to better understand the UK By Alvin Jackson Was the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, which was inaugurated in January 1801, unique? It has certainly been uniquely recognised as the “United Kingdom,” or (more simply) the “UK.” But how far does this recognition reflect the UK’s exceptional multinational structures? Read More Title cover for "Non-Ideal Epistemology" by Robin McKenna, published by Oxford University Press Virtues and vices in a non-ideal world By Robin McKenna Humans are prone to bias, irrationality, and various forms of prejudice. From an evolutionary perspective, this is no accident. Read More Word Origins In praise of sloth By Anatoly Liberman The hero of today’s blog post is the adjective “slow.” No words look less inspiring, but few are more opaque. Read More The Oxford Comment podcast Supporting the future of peer review [podcast] By Steven Filippi and Jenn Saboe Every year, Peer Review Week honors the contributions of scientists, academics, and researchers in all fields for the hours of work they put into peer reviewing manuscripts to ensure quality work is published. This year, the theme of Peer Review Week is “The Future of Peer Review.” Read More Title cover of "Company Politics: Commerce, Scandal, and French Visions of Indian Empire in the Revolutionary Era" by Elizabeth Cross, published by Oxford University Press A free market? The French East India Company and modern capitalism By Elizabeth Cross “Paris is the place to make money, & England is the country to enjoy it.” With what we think we know about capitalism in England and France circa 1790, it is hard to fathom how exactly, a banker in London could have come to this conclusion. Read More Open Access at Oxford University Press Advancing open access in the UK By Charley James Lawrence and Alexandra Marchbank Oxford University Press (OUP) and Jisc, the education and research not-for-profit, have held a successful and productive Read & Publish (R&P) agreement since 2021. This report showcases a selection of the achievements of UK researchers who have published their work OA in an OUP journal via our agreement with Jisc. Read More Title cover of "Oxford Clinical Guidelines: Newly Qualified Doctor" by David Fisher and Liora Wittner, published by Oxford University Press How to succeed as a newly qualified doctor By David Fisher and Liora Wittner There’s nothing like the reality of starting out as a newly qualified doctor; it is exciting, challenging and a relief after years of study to finally get on the wards. Read More Title cover of "The Swann Way" by Marcel Proust, Oxford World's Classics edition, published by Oxford University Press Translating Proust again By Brian Nelson “There is no ideal, ultimate translation of a given original. Classic texts in particular, from Homer onwards, are susceptible of multiple readings and retranslations over time.” Brian Nelson discusses translations of classic works and the difficulties with translating Proust in particular. Read More Word Origins Etymology as guesswork, being also a study in the history of the word guess By Anatoly Liberman A good deal of our scholarship is guesswork, and today’s story deals with the origin and history of the word “guess.” Read More Antonina: a sixth-century military wife By David Alan Parnell In our modern world, the spouses of major political figures may sometimes themselves spend quite a bit of time in the limelight, and be significant assets to the careers of their politician partners. In the sixth century, the wife of the most famous and successful Roman general of the day became nearly as powerful and famous as he was. Read More Title cover of "A Suspicious Science: The Use of Psychology" by Rami Gabriel, published by Oxford University Press Making psychology a reflexive human science By Rami Gabriel It’s up to cognitive psychology to figure out a way to explain how the mind works that takes into account its purpose and surroundings. The best approach would be to combine scientific and philosophical ideas, while also considering history and culture. Read More "International Criminal Tribunals and Domestic Accountability: In The Court’s Shadow" by Patryk I. Labuda, published by Oxford University Press The turn to domestic accountability in the shadow of international criminal tribunals By Patryk I. Labuda How did domestic accountability come to eclipse the dream of international criminal tribunals? And what effects does this shift from international to domestic trials have on the global fight against impunity? Read More September 2023 Title cover of "The Genius of their Age" by S. Frederick Starr, published by Oxford University Press Illuminations and enlightenment throughout the history of the Middle East [reading list] By Lindsey Stangl Explore the vast history of the Middle East in seven books and immerse yourself in the stories of the luminaries, leaders, moments, and the movements that shaped the intellectual and cultural landscape for the centuries that followed. Read More Title cover of "The United States of English: The American Language from Colonial Times to the Twenty-First Century" by Rosemarie Ostler, published by Oxford University Press American English dialects: always changing, yet here to stay By Rosemarie Ostler Are Americans in different parts of the country starting to talk more alike? It’s a reasonable question to ask. Americans have always been footloose, and now that working remotely is possible, they’re relocating to other regions more than ever. Read More Word Origins An etymological stinkpo(s)t By Anatoly Liberman The Oxford Etymologist’s subject today is the origin of the verb “stink”. Read More Title cover for "Would you say that a(n actual) banana duct-taped to a wall may be protected by copyright? And would you consider a claim that the author of said duct-taped banana copied the work of another artist who had also duct-taped a (plastic) banana to a green cardboard an infringement of the copyright owned by said artist?" Building copyright: an absurdist work in progress By Eleanora Rosati Would you say that a(n actual) banana duct-taped to a wall may be protected by copyright? And would you consider a claim that the author of said duct-taped banana copied the work of another artist who had also duct-taped a (plastic) banana to a green cardboard an infringement of the copyright owned by said artist? Read More Title cover of "Food Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know®, Third Edition" by Robert Paarlberg, published by Oxford University Press Rising seas, eroding beaches, and fewer fish in Africa By Robert Paarlberg Robert Paarlberg describes the impact of human-induced climate change and local economic and political forces on fishing communities in Code d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria. Read More Is it a noun or an adjective? By Edwin L. Battistella The distinction between nouns and adjectives seems like it should be straightforward, but it’s not. Grammar is not as simple as your grade-school teacher presented it. Read More Title cover for "Camus's The Plague: Philosophical Perspectives" edited by Peg Brand Weiser, published by Oxford University Press Pandemic? What pandemic? By Peg Brand Weiser Three months after the official US government “end” of three years of monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic that took over 1.1 million American lives, we are back to “new normal.” Read More Oxford World's Classics Five children’s classics that stand the test of time [reading list] By Catrin Lawrence The books people remember most are often the ones from their childhoods, and it’s no surprise; many children’s books have survived decades of changing tastes and digital distractions, continuing to entertain generations of children and even adult readers. Read More


    A listener’s guide to The Subversive Seventies [playlist] By Michael Hardt What songs would revolutionaries in the 1970s have listened to and identified with? Listen to the playlist and trace the political history behind seven iconic protest songs from the 1970s. Read More

    Word Origins Language peeves and the word peeve By Anatoly Liberman The Oxford Etymologist considers the etymology of the word “peeve.” Read More

    The Oxford Comment podcast The revelation of the Book of Mormon at 200 [podcast] By Steven Filippi, Sarah Butcher, and Jack Dugan On today’s episode, we’re joined by two preeminent scholars on the history and theology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to discuss with us the legacy of Joseph Smith’s Gold Plates as well as the state of academic scholarship surrounding The Book of Mormon. Read More

    Title cover for "Bioethics: What Everyone Needs to Know®" published by Oxford University Press Alzheimer’s: do we focus too much on new treatments? By Paul T. Menzel Paul T. Menzel discusses the focus on new treatments for Alzheimer’s versus existing patient-led options. Read More

    Title cover of "The British Army: A New Short History" by Ian F. W. Beckett, published by Oxford University Press The British Army: how is the Army meeting changing societal priorities? By Ian F. W. Beckett What is the nature of the British army’s exceptionalism in constitutional, political, social, cultural, and military terms? Read More

    Title cover for "The Opening of the Protestant: Mind How Anglo-American Protestants Embraced Religious Liberty" by Mark Valeri, published by Oxford University Press The contested nature of religious liberty in today’s America By Mark Valeri Several decisions recently made by the United States Supreme Court, along with an escalation in Christian Nationalist rhetoric among right-wing American politicians, have brought the issue of religious liberty to the surface in today’s media. Much of the commentary has focused on a paradox: the concept of religious liberty has increasingly been used to suppress […] Read More

    Word Origins No release from an etymological entanglement By Anatoly Liberman The Oxford Etymologist responds to readers comments on his most recent blog post topics. Read More

    Title cover of "International Law and Sea-Dumped Chemical Weapons" by Grant Dawson, published by Oxford University Press Environmental remediation of sea-dumped chemical weapons: courageously fixing the mistakes of our past By Grant Dawson and Frans Nelissen For many generations to come, there is only one place where we can live, and that one place is the Earth. It is therefore imperative that we take care of our home, rather than treating the Earth as if it were given to us for our own selfish exploitation. Read More

    Communicative luck reduction: machine-like or social (or both)? By Carlos Montemayor While we occasionally have the sense that we are rolling dice with words and hoping for good luck, meaning and communication would be impossible if we only and always succeed no better than luck would allow. Read More

    Word Origins A few things at a glance By Anatoly Liberman The Oxford Etymologist responds to readers comments on his most recent blog post topics. Read More

    Oxford Open Digital Health journal branding Putting positive planning into telemedicine projects By Oxford Open Digital Health Introducing the Telemedicine Program Design Canvas, a new implementation tool to help practitioners design and build better remote healthcare programmes. Read More

    "The Function of Equity in International Law" by Catharine Titi, published by Oxford University Press International law in quest for justice By Catharine Titi One of the stated purposes of the United Nations, according to the UN Charter, is to settle international disputes or adjust situations that threaten international peace “in conformity with the principles of justice and international law.” In this blog post, Catharine Titi explores the relationship between equity, law, and justice and its importance to international dispute settlement. Read More

    Photo of piglets suckling milk from sow as title cover of Animal Frontiers journal, published by Oxford University Press The rise of dairy consumption [infographic] By Sarah Reed Explore milk consumption by humans and lactase tolerance with a look at the domestication of milk producing mammals over the past 10,000 years and milk consumption across different cultures leading to some adults no longer having the ability to digest lactose. Read More

    Title cover for "King David, Innocent Blood, and Bloodguilt" by David J. Shepherd published by Oxford University Press Is all fair in war? Innocent blood, armed conflict, and King David By David J. Shepherd It is widely agreed that even in war, innocent blood should not be shed. What has not been readily apparent until now is that in the Judeo-Christian tradition, the problem of innocent bloodshed in war was first detected and, indeed, dissected much earlier—in its most ancient text, the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Read More

    Word Origins Irregular gleanings and a last shot at Modern English usage By Anatoly Liberman The Oxford Etymologist responds to readers comments on his most recent blog post topics. Read More

    In praise of phrases By Edwin L. Battistella Writers need to love words—the good, the bad, and the irregular. And they need to respect syntax, the patterns that give words their form. But when writers understand the power of phrases, their sentences shine. Read More

    End birth alerts that separate at-risk Indigenous mothers from their children By Michael J. Sullivan “Born Innocent” uncovers the ongoing legacy of state-mandated family separation on Indigenous and other minority communities, with a particular focus on women and children. Read More

    Word Origins An etymological cul-de-sac: the verbs “flaunt” and “flout” By Anatoly Liberman The Oxford Etymologist explores the history and development of the verb “flaunt”, “to display ostentatiously,” Read More

    The Buddha: A Storied Life, co-edited by Vanessa R Sasson and Kristin Scheible, published by Oxford University Press The Buddha’s never-ending story By Vanessa R. Sasson and Kristin Scheible, Vanessa R. Sasson and Kristin Scheible explain how the Buddha’s life story is not an individual narrative, but a cosmic one, brimming with previous and future buddhas. Read More


    July 2023 Melville's Wisdom: Religion, Skepticism, and Literature in Nineteenth-Century America by Damien B. Schlarb, published by Oxford University Press Melville’s wisdom: making the past speak to the present By Damien B. Schlarb Damien B. Schlarb discusses how “Melville’s wisdom,” the version of moral philosophy Herman Melville crafts in his fiction through his engagement with biblical wisdom literature, may help us confront our own moment of informational inundation and uncertainty. Read More

    Word Origins Language history and we, part two (actually, a conclusion) By Anatoly Liberman The Oxford Etymologist considers feminist perspectives of language development, split infinitives, and the pronoun “they” as discussed in Valerie Fridland’s “Like, Literally, Dude: Arguing for the Good in Bad English.” Read More

    The Oxford Comment podcast Revisiting toxic masculinity and #MeToo [podcast] By Steven Filippi, Rachel Havard, and Meghan Schaffer On this episode of The Oxford Comment, we explore two recognizable components in contemporary conversations on gender and gendered violence: that of “toxic masculinity” and of the #MeToo movement with scholars Robert Lawson and Iqra Shagufta Cheema. Read More

    "Language and Mediated Masculinities: Cultures, Contexts, Constraints" by Robert Lawson, published by Oxford University Press Exploring language and masculinities in the media landscape By Robert Lawson Robert Lawson explores both toxic masculinity and positive masculinity in the media landscape, from Andrew Tate to the television show Brooklyn 99. Read More

    Oxford University Press (OUP) logo How to write a journal article By Rose Wolfe-Emery A well-written and structured article will increase the likelihood of acceptance and of your article making an impact after publication. Read More

    Word Origins Language history and we: the case of “like” By Anatoly Liberman The Oxford Etymologist considers “like” as discussed in Valerie Fridland’s “Like, Literally, Dude: Arguing for the Good in Bad English.” Read More

    Molecular Biology and Evolution (MBE) published by Oxford University Press Looking through the ice: cold-adapted vision in Antarctic icefish By Casey McGrath A recent study reveals the genetic mechanisms by which the visual systems of Antarctic icefishes have adapted to both the extreme cold and the unique lighting conditions under Antarctic sea ice. Read More

    Fiddle Time Duets, edited by Kathy Blackwell and David Blackwell, published by Oxford University Press The joy of playing duets By Kathy Blackwell “There is an irresistible appeal to playing with another musician.” In this blog post, Kathy Blackwell discusses the history of duet playing in classical music, and the benefits it can have for musicians. Read More

    Word Origins Etymology gleanings for June 2023 By Anatoly Liberman The Oxford Etymologist answers readers’ questions about American English vowels, the word “night”, and “love” in English and Greek. Read More

    Reputations at Stake by William Harvey, published by Oxford University Press Reputations at Stake: 10 cautionary recommendations for leaders By William Harvey There are multiple rewards and risks that stem from how we manage our reputation, from the macro level for countries and governments through to the meso level for organisations and to the micro level for leaders and managers. Read More

    Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice, published by Oxford University Press Much ado about nothing? The US Supreme Court’s Warhol opinion By William Patry Is there any future guidance in the opinion about other fair use disputes from The Andy Warhol Foundation v. Goldsmith? Yes, not in the majority opinion, but rather in Justice Gorsuch’s concurring opinion for himself and Justice Jackson. Read More

    Conquistadors and Aztecs: A History of the Fall of Tenochtitlan by Stefan Rinke, published by Oxford University Press The heavy burden of the past: the history of the conquest of México and the politics of today By Stefan Rinke The history of the conquest of Mexico by Spanish conquistadors in the sixteenth century remains a complex topic of discussion. Various interpretations have emerged throughout the years, each offering unique insights into this pivotal moment in Mexican history. Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Mexico’s president, has taken up the issue and uses it to promote his populist policy. Read More

    From Dr Google to ChatGPT: are the tides turning in how cancer patients access information? By Ashley Hopkins The discussions surrounding ChatGPT, a state-of-the-art natural language processing AI, are hard to miss. With its capabilities to draft articles, engage in written conversations, and provide complex coding solutions, ChatGPT holds great potential to revolutionize how people seek health information. In November 2022, OpenAI introduced ChatGPT, first powered by GPT-3.5 architecture; it is now even […] Read More

    Word Origins Dangerous neighbors: “sore” and “sorrow” By Anatoly Liberman Quite naturally, speakers connect words that sound alike. From a strictly scholarly point of view, “sore” and “sorrow” are unrelated, but for centuries, people thought differently, and folk etymology united the two long ago. Read More

    Helping verbs are curious, AND fascinating By Edwin L. Battistella English has a big bagful of auxiliary verbs. You may know these as helping verbs as they help the main verb express its meaning. Read More


    June 2023 “Lying” in computer-generated texts: hallucinations and omissions By Kees van Deemter and Ehud Reiter There is huge excitement about ChatGPT and other large generative language models that produce fluent and human-like texts in English and other human languages. But these models have one big drawback, which is that their texts can be factually incorrect (hallucination) and also leave out key information (omission). Read More

    Word Origins Plain as day? By Anatoly Liberman The Oxford Etymologist looks at the origin of the word “day” and its connections across the Indo-European language world. Read More

    The Oxford Comment podcast The great gun conundrum [podcast] By Steven Filippi and Meghan Schaffer In this podcast episode, we discuss the history of the gun debate in the US with Robert J. Spitzer and how a reform of policing can deter gun violence with Philip J. Cook. Read More

    "Bioethics: What Everyone Needs to Know" by Bonnie Steinbock and Paul T. Menzel, published by Oxford University Press Is a 15-week limit on abortion an acceptable compromise? By Bonnie Steinbock A recent opinion piece claims that the overturning of Roe v. Wade has resulted in “a partial healing of the nation’s civic culture.” Read More

    "Language, Science, and Structure: A Journey into the Philosophy of Linguistics" by Ryan M. Nefdt, published by Oxford University Press Real patterns and the structure of language By Ryan M. Nefdt There’s been a lot of hype recently about the emergence of technologies like ChatGPT and the effects they will have on science and society. Linguists have been especially curious about what highly successful large language models (LLMs) mean for their business. Read More

    Word Origins Confronting bud and buddy By Anatoly Liberman The Oxford Etymologist tackles the convoluted history of “bud” and “buddy” – the final part of the series. Read More

    Rethinking the future of work: an interview with Phil McCash By Phil McCash One of the best ways organisations can enhance their employees’ careers is through access to career coaching. Career coaching can be accessed through external providers or delivered internally by suitably trained members of staff. Read More

    "The Commercial Determinants of Health" Edited by Nason Maani, Mark Petticrew, and Sandro Galea, published by Oxford University Press Public health challenge: taking on the commercial determinants of health By Nick Freudenberg, Sharon Friel, and Mark Petticrew How can the public health community use the commercial determinants of health lens to better protect human and planetary health and reduce the stark health inequities that characterize the world today? We suggest four cross-cutting strategies. Read More

    "Modern Irish and Scottish Literature: Connections, Contrasts, Celticisms" by Richard Alan Barlow, published by Oxford University Press “There is no writer can touch sir Walter Scott”: Joyce and the Wizard of the North By Richard Barlow There is a network of intertextual links between Walter Scott and James Joyce. Richard Barlow teases out some of the allusions and references to Scott and his work in Joyce’s texts, comparing the different visions of history offered by these two writers. Read More

    Word Origins The company we keep, part two: bud(dy) By Anatoly Liberman The Oxford Etymologist tackles the convoluted history of “bud” and “buddy”. Read More

    "Recursion: A Computational Investigation into the Representation and Processing of Language" by David J. Lobina, published by Oxford University Press What can Large Language Models offer to linguists? By David J. Lobina, Does the recent, impressive performance of Large Language Models, such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, have any repercussions for the way in which linguists carry out their work? And what is a Language Model anyway? Read More

    "The Bioethics of Space Exploration" by Konrad Szocik, published by Oxford University Press Elon Musk, Mars, and bioethics: is sending astronauts into space ethical? By Konrad Szocik A future human mission to Mars will be very dangerous, both as a result of factors already known but intensified, as well as new risk factors. It is worth raising the question of the ethicality of the decision to send humans into such a dangerous environment. Read More

    "Teams That Work: The Seven Drivers of Team Effectiveness" by Scott Tannenbaum and Eduardo Salas, published by Oxford University Press Rethinking the future of work: an interview with Eduardo Salas and Scott Tannenbaum By Eduardo Salas and Scott Tannenbaum, In this interview, Eduardo Salas and Scott Tannenbaum share their thoughts on the future of work and how to build a successful team. Read More

    Inside the shark nursery: the evolution of live birth in cartilaginous fish By Casey McGrath A new study reveals that egg yolk proteins may have been co-opted to provide maternal nutrition in live-bearing sharks and their relatives. Read More

    Animal Frontiers published by Oxford University Press Societal roles for meat: what does science tell us? By Sarah Reed The blog post is based on an article published by Animal Frontiers which tackles meat consumption and whether it’s healthy or not, while also addressing societal and environmental elements as well. Explore these facets of the agriculture industry with an accompanying infographic. Read More

    Finding purpose for the corporate office By Joe Ungemah When the pandemic occurred, a major shift to virtual work occurred out of necessity and those in corporate settings adapted magnificently to a new way of working. Where does this leave the corporate office and what are the long-term ramifications for hybrid and remote work? Read More

    What’s coming down the pike? By Edwin L. Battistella During the news coverage of the COVID pandemic, I enjoyed seeing Dr Anthony Fauci on television and hearing his old-school Brooklyn accent. My favorite expression to listen for was his use of “down the pike” to mean “in the future.” Read More

    The Age of Agility Building Learning Agile Leaders and Organizations by Veronica Schmidt Harvey and Kenneth P. De Meuse, published by Oxford University Press Rethinking the future of work: an interview with Veronica Schmidt Harvey and Kenneth P. De Meuse By Veronica Schmidt Harvey and Kenneth P. De Meuse Veronica Schmidt Harvey and Kenneth P. De Meuse, editors of The Age of Agility, offer valuable insight into the concept of “learning agility” and strategies that promote more effective leadership. They are both experts in the field of leadership practical experience developing healthy skills that help both individuals and organizations to thrive. Read More

    Saving the Protestant Ethic: Creative Class Evangelicalism and the Crisis of Work by Andrew Lynn published by Oxford University Press From deadness to life: how today’s conservative Protestants recovered and adapted the Protestant ethic By Andrew Lynn Andrew Lynn explains how the Protestant faith and work movement is reformulating and creatively adapting earlier theological frameworks in order to make them fit with both contemporary work life and with contemporary ideals about work. Read More


    The company we keep By Anatoly Liberman Observing how various words for “friend” originate and develop is a rather curious enterprise. Read More

    The Oxford Comment podcast Privacy and the LGBT+ experience: the Victorian past and digital future [podcast] By Steven Filippi and Meghan Schaffer Scholars continue to explore the role of sexuality in private lives—from the retrospective discovery of transgendered people in historical archives to present questions of identity and representation in social media—with the understanding that those who identify as LGBTQ+ have always existed and have fought tirelessly to advance their rights. Read More

    Good News for Common Goods: Multicultural Evangelicalism and Ethical Democracy in America by Wes Markofski, published by Oxford University Press Multicultural evangelicalism: what is it and why should anyone care? By Wes Markofski One of the many tragedies of the religious currents swirling around the capitol insurrection and the amplification of white Christian nationalist discourse in American politics and public life is the cementing of evangelicalism with whiteness and Trumpism in the minds of many Americans. Read More

    Grove Music Online On specters and spectacle: tales of two Eurovisions, Liverpool-Ukraine 2023 By Philip V. Bohlman Phantoms from the past, ghosts of the present, specters of the future, all gathered on 13 May to haunt the Eurovision Song Contest, cohosted in 2023 by the United Kingdom in Liverpool and by Ukraine in the spectral spaces of a Europe divided by war, but singing in concert under the banner, “United by Music.” Read More

    Forum for Modern Language Studies, published by Oxford University Press The asexual awakening: Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami By Tommasina Gabriele What is a woman? This is the central question that Kawakami’s novel, “Breasts and Eggs”, addresses from every angle. The main character, Natsuko, is preoccupied with her body and the gendered and sexed bodies of those around her. Read More

    Word Origins More short words, or negation of the negation By Anatoly Liberman All over the Indo-European map, the main word of negation begins with “n”. What is in this sound that invites denial, refutation, or repulsion? Read More

    A Long Reconstruction: Racial Caste and Reconciliation in the Methodist Episcopal Church by Paul William Harris, published by Oxford University Press Black Methodists, white church By Paul William Harris Paul William Harris explores how different the experience of Black Methodists was in the Methodist Episcopal Church, and what the trade-offs were in seeking the support of white allies. Read More

    Oxford University Press (OUP) logo Advancing the open access movement in Japan By Miki Matoba Read and Publish agreements have become an important mechanism for providing institutions with a simple, flexible, and inclusive way of managing access to subscription and hybrid journals, whilst supporting their faculty to publish with open access licenses. These agreements play an increasingly important role in OUP’s program for advancing high-quality open access publications, and bring many benefits and opportunities for researchers. Read More

    Useful Objects: Museums, Science, and Literature in Nineteenth-Century America by Reed Gochberg, published by Oxford University Press Bringing museum collections to life By Reed Gochberg The International Council of Museums (ICOM) has declared a focus for 2023 on sustainability, well-being, and community. Read More

    Word Origins On cowards and custard from a strictly linguistic point of view By Anatoly Liberman The Oxford Etymologist dives into the history and meaning of the word “coward” – and what does cowardice have to do with custard? Read More

    The Oxford Handbook of Workplace Discrimination Rethinking the future of work: an interview with Adrienne J. Colella and Eden B. King By Adrienne J. Colella and Eden B. King An interview with organizational psychologists Adrienne J. Colella and Eden B. King, discussing trends in the workplace and how organizations can prepare/adapt to the future of work, enabling employees to flourish and do their best work. This particular interview covers workplace discrimination, employee wellbeing, flexible working and more. Read More

    "Making Christianity Manly Again: Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill Church, and American Evangelicalism" by Jennifer McKinney, published by Oxford University Press American evangelism and complementarianism: authority and abuse By Jennifer McKinney Jennifer McKinney shows how the complementarianism in churches such as Mars Hill Church, Grace Community Church, and the Southern Baptist Convention leads to abuse. Read More

    Socio-Economic Review published by Oxford University Press An inflation-proof methodology to measuring policy effects on poverty By Geranda Notten Europe’s soaring inflation and energy prices highlight the need to measure poverty and policy responses in non-monetary ways. Read More

    Word Origins Etymology gleanings for April 2023 By Anatoly Liberman Always, let me thank our correspondents for consulting the blog, asking questions, and offering words of encouragement. Read More

    Read twentieth-century literature from Oxford University Press with Oxford World's Classics (OWC) and Oxford Scholarly Editions Online (OSEO) How well do you know your twentieth-century literature? [Quiz] By Megan Whitlock Try this short quiz to test your knowledge and learn more about famous twentieth-century texts! Read More

    What does a technical writer do? By Edwin L. Battistella When people think about careers in writing, they may focus on writing novels or films, poetry or non-fiction. But for steady work, there is nothing like technical writing. Read More

    A riddling tale By Anatoly Liberman The root of riddle “puzzle,” from rædels(e), is Old English rædan “to read.” Read More

    "Rhythm Man: Chick Webb and the Beat that Changed America" by Stephanie Stein Crease, published by Oxford University Press A listener’s guide to Rhythm Man [playlist] By Stephanie Stein Crease Explore the musical legacy of the Swing Era’s pioneering virtuoso drummer and bandleader, Chick Webb! Listen to the playlist and read about each track to trace Webb’s legacy on record and radio from 1926 to 1939. Read More


    Rethinking the future of work: an interview with Joe Ungemah Dr Joe Ungemah, author of Punching the Clock, examines whether the future of work is compatible with maintaining the social fabric of the workplace and the psychological needs of workers. Read More

    "In Search of Ancient Tsunamis: A Researcher's Travels, Tools, and Techniques" by James Goff, published by Oxford University Press Studying ancient tsunamis is all about glasses By James Goff If you go back a mere 40 years or so, not a long time really, then you pretty much arrive at the time when the modern study of ancient tsunamis began. Before then there had been some work, but it really kicked off with Brian Atwater and his work on the 1700 CE Cascadia earthquake […] Read More

    Eight fun facts about Bibles at OUP Bibles have had a long history at our Press; in fact, Oxford’s Bible business made OUP a cornerstone of the British book trade, and, ultimately, the world’s largest university press. When you’ve been in the Bibles business for this long, you’re bound to have some interesting anecdotes. Read on for some fun facts in the history of Bibles at OUP. Read More

    Word Origins Hooker, as promised By Anatoly Liberman The Oxford Etymologist explores the etymological development and history of the word “hooker.” Read More

    Age of Emergency: Living with Violence at the End of the British Empire by Erik Linstrum, published by Oxford University Press Open secrets? Where to look for the history of colonial violence By Erik Linstrum As decolonization gathered pace in the 1950s, Great Britain began to destroy evidence of violence that was rife through out the British Empire, yet evidence of violence can still be found in archives and through first hand accounts. Read More

    Forum For Modern Language Studies “Think like a forest”: how forest literature can help us fight climate change By Robert Spencer The gargantuan task of the fight against climate change needs practical know-how and political militancy. It also requires a clear sense of its wider goals. Robert Spencer explores how “forest literature” can help us to formulate new ways of inhabiting the living world. Read More

    Democracy Unmoored: Populism and the Corruption of Popular Sovereignty by Samuel Issacharoff, published by Oxford University Press Populism and the future of democracy By Samuel Issacharoff The democratic world is struggling to find political leadership. On the conservative side of the spectrum, the parties of the center-right have watched their constituencies fade and their political role be supplanted by a populist upsurge. On the left of the spectrum, the picture is no rosier. Read More

    "The All-Consuming Nation: Chasing the American Dream Since World War II" by Mark H. Lytle, published by Oxford University Press COVID-19 and consumerism: what have we learnt? By Mark H. Lytle Writers often worry that someone will scoop them before they finish, or an unexpected event will undo years of research and writing. Two weeks after naturalist Rachel Carson published her first book, Under the Sea Wind, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Despite excellent reviews, the book sold fewer than a thousand copies. The COVID-19 pandemic became my […] Read More

    Word Origins Prolegomena to the word hooker: the English verb filch By Anatoly Liberman Problems emerge the moment we begin to explore the history of filch, because two homonymous verbs exist: filch “to attack” and filch “to steal.” They are almost certainly unrelated. Read More

    Electronic Enlightenment Beaumarchais and Electronic Enlightenment By Gregory Brown The addition to Electronic Enlightenment of nearly 500 letters from the Beaumarchais correspondence is a significant event in eighteenth-century studies. Read More

    "Music for Prime Time: A History of American Television Themes and Scoring" by Jon Burlingame published by Oxford University Press Music for Prime Time: 15 of the greatest TV themes By Jon Burlingame Music composed for television had, until recently, never been taken seriously by scholars or critics. Catchy TV themes, often for popular weekly series, were fondly remembered but not considered much more culturally significant than commercial jingles. Read More

    Publishing 101 What is subject marketing? An interview with Hana Purslow, philosophy marketing manager By Hana Purslow In this interview, our Marketing Manager for philosophy, Hana Purslow, outlines OUP’s approach to subject marketing. Read More

    Word Origins A rake’s etymological progress to hell By Anatoly Liberman Three English words sound as rake: the garden instrument, the profligate, and a sailing term meaning “inclination from the perpendicular.” Though at first sight, they do not seem to be connected, I’ll try to show that their histories perhaps intertwine. Read More

    "Memories of Socrates: Memorabilia and Apology" by Dr Carol Atack, published by Oxford University Press Xenophon’s kinder Socrates By Carol Atack The idea that Xenophon’s Socratic dialogues entirely lacked the philosophical bite or intellectual depth of Plato’s had become a commonplace in a philosophical discourse which prioritised abstract knowledge over broader ethics. Dr Carol Atack makes the case for Xenophon’s kinder Socrates. Read More

    "The Problem of Immigration in a Slaveholding Republic" by Kevin Kenny, published by Oxford University Press 10 things to know about US immigration policy in the nineteenth century By Kevin Kenny Learn 10 things about US immigration policy in the nineteenth century that give context to some of the immigration concerns we face in the US today. Read More

    Scratching all the way to hell (second series) By Anatoly Liberman At first sight, the origin of the verb “scratch” looks unproblematic… The Oxford Etymologist scratches beneath the surface of “scratch.” Read More

    "Getting to Good Friday: Literature and the Peace Process in Northern Ireland" by Marilynn Richtarik, published by Oxford University Press Reading Between the Lines: Bernard MacLaverty’s Grace Notes and the Peace Process in Northern Ireland By Marilynn Richtarik A novel about a female composer struggling with depression after the birth of her child does not, on the face of it, seem to have much to do with war or peace in Northern Ireland. But appearances can be deceiving. Read More

    Animal Frontiers How sustainable is sustainability? By Sarah Reed In a recent Animal Frontiers article, we look at the larger picture of sustainability and the conversation that needs to happen when thinking about just one facet of an industry. Read More

    Archaeology of Jesus' Nazareth by Ken Dark, published by Oxford University Press How long can the historical associations of places be remembered? By Ken Dark Can local memory of an association between a place and the people who lived there be preserved for more than three centuries? Ken Dark looks at this question in reference to the “House of Jesus”, and whether it is plausible that the historical associations of a place—even a place in Nazareth—can be remembered 200 years on, let alone three centuries. Read More

    When meanings go akimbo By Edwin L. Battistella The realization started with the word akimbo. I had first learned it as meaning a stance with hands on the hips, and I associated the stance with the comic book image of Superman confronting evildoers. Body language experts sometimes call this a power pose, intended to project confidence or dominance. Read More

    Grove Music Online Announcing the winner of the 2023 Grove Music Online spoof contest By Scott Gleason Happy April Fool’s Day! I’m pleased to announce that the winner of this year’s Grove Music Online Spoof Article Contest is “Back to Bolivia” by Steven Griffin. Read More

    The Dominant, 1 April 1928 edition, OUP Music Nicholas Bugsworthy: an unknown Tudor composer? By Simon Wright Simon Wright digs into the curious history of an almost forgotten Tudor composer, Nicholas Bugsworthy. Thanks to an insert in OUP’s in-house magazine, ‘The Dominant’, published on 1 April 1928, Sir Richard Runciman Terry was able to bring the music of this prolific composer into the public domain. Simon Wright picks up where Terry left off, considering, amongst other things, the origins of a curious tune almost certainly shows the earliest version of musical patterns later to become threaded within Irving Berlin’s 1911 hit ragtime song “Everybody’s Doin’ It Now.” Read More


    March 2023 Word Origins A guide to going to hell (first draft) and other matters By Anatoly Liberman The Oxford Etymologist ruminates on the origins and meanings of idioms including “to go to hell in a handbasket.” Read More

    Façade Entertainment Study Score “Through Gilded Trellises”: a reflection on one hundred years of Façade By Simon Wright The making of Façade “Poetry is more like a crystal globe, with Truth imprisoned in it, like a fly in amber. The poet is the magician who fashions the crystal globe. But the reader is the magician who can find in these scintillating flaws, or translucent depths, some new undiscovered land.” Osbert Sitwell, writing in 1921 […] Read More

    The neuroscience of consciousness by the Oxford Comment podcast Climate emergency: lessons from Classic Maya to contemporary China [podcast] By Scott M. Moore and Kenneth E. Seligson In episode 81 of The Oxford Comment, we discussed the environmental resilience of the Maya with scholar Kenneth E. Seligson and contemporary China and sustainability with scholar Scott M. Moore. Read More

    "The World According to Proust" by Joshua Landy, published by Oxford University Press Why read Proust in 2023? By Joshua Landy The world is literally on fire; authoritarianism threatens multiple countries; racism and xenophobia are rampant; women’s and LGBTQ rights are under threat—why on earth would anyone spend time reading a 3,000-page novel by a man who’s been dead (exactly) a hundred years? Read More

    Word of the Year 2022 - A Year in Words by Oxford Languages How to define 2022 in words? Our experts take a look… (part four) By Oxford Languages Now the dust has settled on another eventful year, it’s time to look back on some of the words that characterised 2022. Read More

    "Macbeth Before Shakespeare" by Benjamin Hudson, published by Oxford University Press Macbeth, King James, and biting the hand that feeds you? By Benjamin Hudson Possibly the most dangerous play William Shakespeare wrote was The Tragedie of Macbeth. The drama is packed with illegality: assassination of kings; prophecies about kings; supernatural women; and necromancy. To add to the danger, Shakespeare’s employer, King James, was a prickly patron of the performing arts and notorious for his sensitivity to slights, real and perceived. […] Read More

    Word Origins Spring gleanings and a partial spring cleaning By Anatoly Liberman The Oxford Etymologist replies to etymology questions from readers. Read More

    Ware and Justice in the 21st Century by Luis Moreno Ocampo published by Oxford University Press Twenty years on: Luis Moreno Ocampo on the International Criminal Court By Luis Moreno Ocampo Luis Moreno Ocampo provides a unique perspective on the International Criminal Court and its interaction with the War on Terror. Read More

    "Scars on the Land: An Environmental History of Slavery in the American South" by David Silkenat, published by Oxford University Press Scars on the Land: Slavery and the environment in the American South [extract] By David Silkenat Although typically treated separately, slavery and the environment naturally intersect in complex and powerful ways, leaving lasting effects from the period of emancipation through modern-day reckonings with racial justice. David Silkenat’s Scars on the Land provides an environmental history of slavery in the American South from the colonial period to the Civil War. Read More

    "Race, Politics, and Irish America: A Gothic History" by Mary M. Burke, published by Oxford University Press A Black Irish-American rejoinder to Gone With The Wind: Frank Yerby’s The Foxes of Harrow By Mary M. Burke “The Foxes of Harrow” (1946), a Southern historical romance by Black Irish-American author Frank Yerby (1916–1991), writes back to Margaret Mitchell’s bestselling novel, “Gone with the Wind” (1936). Although Yerby and Mitchell were both raised in Georgia during segregation by mothers of Irish descent, their socially assigned racial identities created divergent approaches to representing the pre- and post-Civil War South in their respective novels. Read More

    "William Shakespeare: A Very Short Introduction" by Stanley Wells, published by Oxford University Press Sir Stanley Wells and the First Folio By Martin Maw 2023 marks the 400th anniversary of the publication the First Folio of William Shakespeare’s plays, which has since acquired the status of a cultural touchstone. Read More

    Five books to celebrate British Science Week 2023 By OUP Science To celebrate British Science Week, join in the conversation and keep abreast of the latest in science by delving into our reading list. It contains five of our latest books on plant forensics, the magic of mathematics, women in science, and more. Read More

    Peace: A Very Short Introduction The hidden and fraught development of an International Peace Architecture By Oliver Richmond The historical evolution of peace has led to the development of a substantial International Peace Architecture (IPA). However, the IPA’s historical development has overall been very slow, hidden, and fraught. Read More

    Word Origins Going out on an etymological limb By Anatoly Liberman Today’s post is about the murky origin of the word “limb”. Read More

    "Women in the History of Linguistics" edited by Wendy Ayres-Bennett and Helena Sanson, published by Oxford University Press Women in the history of linguistics—from marginalization to recognition By Wendy Ayres-Bennett and Helena Sanson Women’s history month raises issues of erasure and marginalization, authority and power which, sadly, are still relevant for women today. Much can be learnt from the experience of women in the past. Read More

    "On Marilyn Monroe: An Opinionated Guide" by Richard Barrios, published by Oxford University Press Marilyn Monroe goes to the Oscars By Richard Barrios Marilyn Monroe attended the Oscars only once in 1951, before the Academy Awards were even televised. Ana de Armas is nominated for playing Monroe in Blonde this year, but Marilyn’s work as an actress is rarely given the recognition it deserves. Read More

    Semantic prosody By Edwin L. Battistella When linguists talk about prosody, the term usually refers to aspects of speech that go beyond individual vowels and consonants such as intonation, stress, and rhythm. Such suprasegmental features may reflect the tone or focus of a sentence. Read More

    Word of the Year 2022: A Year in Words part three How to define 2022 in words? Our experts take a look… (part three) By Oxford Languages Now the dust has settled on another eventful year, it’s time to look back on some of the words that characterised 2022. Read More

    Word Origins Sib and peace By Anatoly Liberman The Oxford Etymologist has examined the verbs “begin” and “start.” For consistency’s sake, it is now necessary to say something about the noun and the verb “end.” Read More

    The Review of English Studies, published by Oxford University Press Finding Jane Austen in history By Kathryn Sutherland In the anniversary year marking 100 years since the publication of R. W. Chapman’s OUP edition of “The Novels of Jane Austen”, Kathryn Sutherland (Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts, OUP 2018) examines the call to reassess the contribution made to the edition by Chapman’s wife, Katharine Metcalfe. Read More


    Women in sports: Althea Gibson, Billie Jean King, and their legacies [podcast] By Steven Filippi and Sarah Butcher Women’s history in sports has in fact been a long series of shocks that have reshaped the world of athletics as well as the possibilities that exist for women everywhere. In episode 80 of The Oxford Comment, we discussed tennis greats Althea Gibson and Billie Jean King and the legacies for women in sports with scholars Ashley Brown and Susan Ware. Read More

    "The Musical Brain" published by Oxford University Press Five things musicians should know about the brain By Lois Svard Understanding brain basics can help us study and teach music with greater efficiency and confidence, thus giving us more freedom in performance to concentrate on communicating the emotional essence of the music. Read More

    Word of the Year 2022: A Year in Words (part two) How to define 2022 in words? Our experts take a look… (part two) By Oxford Languages Now the dust has settled on another eventful year, it’s time to look back on some of the words that characterised 2022. Read More

    Word Origins A shaky beginning of the end and the state of the art By Anatoly Liberman The Oxford Etymologist has examined the verbs “begin” and “start.” For consistency’s sake, it is now necessary to say something about the noun and the verb “end.” Read More

    The Icy Planet: Saving Earth's Refrigerator by Colin Summerhayes, published by Oxford University Press Saving Earth’s Refrigerator: what does global warming mean for our planet’s future? By Colin Summerhayes Colin Summeryhayes explains how global warming is affecting the polar regions and what the loss of “Earth’s Refrigerator” means for our future. Read More

    Genome Biology and Evolution, published by Oxford University Press The social code: deciphering the genetic basis of hymenopteran social behavior By Casey McGrath The authors of a recent study published in Genome Biology and Evolution set out to uncover early genetic changes in bees and wasps on the path to sociality. Read More

    Word Origins A new beginning: the verb “start” By Anatoly Liberman The Oxford Etymologist explores the origin of the verb “to start”. Read More

    Sweet Fuel: A Political and Environmental History of Brazilian Ethanol by Jennifer Eaglin, published by Oxford University Press Explore environmental history in eight books [reading list] By OUP History Environmental history is one of the most innovative and important new approaches to history. Explore eight of our latest titles in environmental history. Read More

    Afghan Crucible by Elisabeth Leake, published by Oxford University Press The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan: the past’s resemblance to the present By Elisabeth Leake From the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Elisabeth Leake walks us through how the past resembles the present 40 years on. Read More

    Scottish Poetry, 1730-18-30, edited by Daniel Cook - Oxford World's Classics, OUP After Burns: recovering Scottish poetry By Daniel Cook Scottish poetry produced in the long eighteenth century might strike you as at once familiar and unknown. Hundreds of poets, balladists, and songwriters born or raised in Scotland throughout the long eighteenth century need to find new readerships. Read More

    Of Age by Frances M. Clarke and Rebecca Jo Plant, published by Oxford University Press New perspectives on the American Civil War [reading list] By Lindsey Stangl The Civil War is one of the seminal moments in US history. New research continues to illuminate how we understand both the events of the war and how its legacy continues to impact our modern world. Read More

    Word of the Year 2022 How to define 2022 in words? Our experts take a look… (part one) By Oxford Languages Now the dust has settled on another eventful year, it’s time to look back on some of the words that characterised 2022. Read More

    Word Origins The murky beginning of the verb begin By Anatoly Liberman The Oxford Etymologist explores the unfinished story of the word “begin”. Read More

    Is Sheridan Le Fanu's "Uncle Silas" an Irish novel? Claire Connolly, editor of "Uncle Silas" (OUP, 2022) explores the question in this OUPblog post. Is Le Fanu’s Uncle Silas an Irish novel? By Claire Connolly When Sheridan Le Fanu’s “Uncle Silas” appeared in 1864, its author was best known as the proprietor of the Dublin University Magazine and a writer of Irish historical novels. Yet, as advised by his publisher, Le Fanu had produced a work of fiction situated not in the Irish past but the English present. Read More

    Do nouns have tense? By Edwin L. Battistella English noun phrases have something called a “temporal interpretation.” That’s linguist-speak for how we understand their place in time relative to the tense of the verb. Read More

    Spiritual Care: The Everyday Work of Chaplains by Wendy Cadge, published by Oxford University Press (OUP) The everyday work of chaplains: hidden around the edges By Wendy Cadge Chaplains tend to fly below the radar with little attention outside of emergency situations. Their work has long been an important part of the care religious leaders provide across the country. Read More

    Etymology gleanings for two winter months (2022-2023) By Anatoly Liberman In this blog post, the Oxford Etymologist responds to questions from readers on word borrowing across Hebrew, Greek, and Germanic, plus a few new etymology ideas. Read More

    Grove Music Online Grove Music’s 2023 spoof article contest is now open! By Scott Gleason The Grove Music Online spoof article contest is now open for 2023! Read More


    Mind the gap: the growth in economic inequality [podcast] By Steven Filippi and Meghan Schaffer Amid the current economic crises, how do we recover? How can we address such financial distress and inequity, and how might we go about enacting more permanent resolution? Listen to Christopher Howard and Tom Malleson on The Oxford Comment podcast. Read More

    "Giving Now: Accelerating Human Rights for All" by Patricia Illingworth, published by Oxford University Press Charity and solidarity! What responsibilities do nonprofits have towards Ukraine? By Patricia Illingworth In a speech to the UN General Assembly in the fall of 2022, President Biden called on the UN to stand in solidarity with Ukraine. At least 1,000 companies have left Russia because of Putin’s brutal unprovoked war on Ukraine. Some companies left because of sanctions. Others left for moral reasons, often under pressure from investors, consumers, and out of […] Read More

    Garner's Modern English Usage, fifth edition - published by Oxford University Press A Q&A with Bryan Garner, “the least stuffy grammarian around” By Sarah Butcher and Bryan A. Garner The fifth edition of Garner’s Modern English Usage has recently been published by OUP. I was happy to talk to Bryan Garner—who was declared a “genius” by the late David Foster Wallace—about what it means to write a usage dictionary. Read More

    "Shakespeare's Blank Verse: An Alternative History" by Robert Stagg “A tiger’s heart wrapped in a player’s hide”: Shakespeare under attack By Robert Stagg Around three years into his career as a dramatist, Shakespeare’s blank verse—his unrhymed iambic pentameter—came under attack. We might wonder whether the passage from “Greene’s Groatsworth of Wit” was right? Read More

    Word Origins Gr-words as mushrooms By Anatoly Liberman Some words propagate like mushrooms: no roots but a sizable crowd of upstarts calling themselves relatives. Gr-words are the pet subject of all works on sound imitation and sound symbolism. Read More

    "Ruth Page: The Woman in the Work" by Joellen A. Meglin, published by Oxford University Press America’s first feminist ballet: Ruth Page and American Pattern By Joellen A. Meglin As that rare creature—an American woman who, defining herself as a choreographer and ballet director, amassed a degree of power and prestige and exerted aesthetic prerogatives—Ruth Page’s life and work offer refreshing paradigms for the twenty-first century. Read More

    James Purdy: Life of a Contrarian Writer by Michael Synder, published by Oxford University Press Life of a Contrarian Writer: James Purdy’s life-changing correspondences [excerpt] By Michael Synder The American author James Purdy has long been considered a “lost” figure in literary studies, but he has always enjoyed a certain cult following among artists and writers interested in the fringes of society. Michael Snyder details how Purdy began making the connections that would carry him through his career. Read More

    The End of the Tether and Other Stories by Joseph Conrad. Oxford World's Classics, Oxford University Press What is “normal” anyway? How reading changes our thinking about mental health By Philip Davis Reading literature has us think differently, with a subtler emotional lexicon. Explore three case studies into reading for identity, expression, and mental health from the Centre for Research into Reading, Literature, and Society (CRILS). Read More

    Word Origins Monosyllabic moping By Anatoly Liberman The Oxford Etymologist the common but etymologically opaque verb “mope”, and other monosyllabic verbs. Read More

    The Contagion Next Time by Sandro Galea OUP celebrates their BMA 2022 Award winners By Sandro Galea, Harold Thimbleby, and David Beaumont OUP celebrates their BMA 2022 Award winners: Sandra Galea, Harold Thimbleby, and David Beaumont. Read More

    Animal Frontiers You are what you eat. Or is your immune system what you eat? [infographic] By Sarah Reed From a recent Animal Frontiers article, we look at the interactions between the immune system and metabolism and how what you eat changes your immune response. Read More

    Oxford World's Classics Eight classic novels to inspire your New Year [reading list] By Ashendri Wickremasinghe Are you searching for inspiration to help further your goals this new year? Reading books offers an easy yet effective way to help navigate life, so who better to turn to than authors of some well-loved Oxford World’s Classics! Read More

    Word Origins 2023 and adventures in the idiom wonderland By Anatoly Liberman The Oxford Etymologist explores a selection of idioms, including the amazing story of the phrase “fox’s wedding.” Read More

    Dancing on Bones History and Power in China, Russia, and North Korea by Katie Stallard - best books of 2022 for your 2023 reading list Six books from 2022 to add to your 2023 reading list By Ashendri Wickremasinghe Here are six books from 2022 that reviewers and critics loved that you should add to your 2023 reading list. Read More

    Are you setting goals for New Year 2023? Check out our quiz for book recommendations based on your resolutions for the new year! Which book matches your New Year’s resolution? [Quiz] By Lindsey Stangl Are you setting goals for 2023? Check out our quiz for book recommendations based on your resolutions for the new year! Read More

    The Age of Interconnection by Jonathan Sperber Infectious disease in the twentieth century By Jonathan Sperber In the first half of the century, the three great killers among endemic diseases—smallpox, malaria, and tuberculosis—raging around the world (we think today of malaria as a tropical malady but in the 1920s there were outbreaks as far north as Siberia) were each responsible for more deaths than the 80 million who died in both world wars. Innovations stemming from the Second World War, an immense hothouse of technological progress, made it possible to contemplate combatting infectious disease on a global scale. Read More

    Can you itch an itch? By Edwin L. Battistella Reading Dan Chaon’s novel Sleepwalk last summer, I noticed his use of the verb itch to mean scratch. Read More


    December 2022 The Journal of Gerontology What do we know about the effect of gut microbiome in diet and exercise on brain health? By Noah Koblinsky, Krista Power, Laura Middleton, Guylaine Ferland, and Nicole Anderson The gastrointestinal tract is one of the most densely populated microbial habitats on earth, containing more cells than those that make up the human body and 150 times the number of genes than exist within the human genome. An unhealthy gut environment is characterized by a reduction in the diversity of bacteria, leading to gut barrier permeability and the release of endotoxins into the blood stream that negatively impacts the brain. Read More

    Publishing 101 Social media at a glance: for academics By Cassie Ammerman There are dozens of social media platforms, each with a distinct personality and purpose, so it can be difficult to know which social media platforms are the most useful for academics to engage with. That’s why we’ve put together this how-to guide to help you decide which social media platforms are the best fit for […] Read More

    International Human Rights The cost of crises on human rights By Stephen P Marks, Meghna Abraham, Martin Scheinin, and Lavanya Rajamani With crises such as climate change and pandemics permanently on our minds, it seems a pertinent time to reflect on how these challenges impact on human rights. Specifically, it is essential to think about whether the way we are governed through these challenging times impacts on human rights. Read More

    Gender and Domestic Violence Domestic violence: deconstructing the “gender paradigm” By John Hamel and Brenda Russell Most people—and not just the average citizen but, sadly, most policy makers and other stakeholders—hold mistaken and distorted beliefs about intimate partner violence (IPV). This is what some call the “gender paradigm.” Read More

    A Winter Breviary by Rebecca Gayle Howell and Reena Esmail A Winter Breviary: Q&A with poet Rebecca Gayle Howell By Rebecca Gayle Howell A Winter Breviary is a triptych of carols that tells the story of a person walking in the woods on solstice night. This pilgrim—she, he, they—searches for hope, the hope they cannot name, or hear or see. And still, they walk deeper and deeper into the dark. Read More

    Word Origins Skin-deep: wrinkle, pimple, and mole By Anatoly Liberman The history of “dude” has been documented with amazing accuracy. Read More

    Nine literary New Year’s resolutions Do you need some inspiration for your New Year’s resolutions? If you’re in a resolution rut and feeling some of that winter gloom, then you’re not alone. To help you on your way to an exciting start to 2017, we’ve enlisted the help of some of history’s greatest literary and philosophical figures–on their own resolutions, and inspiring thoughts for the New Year. Read More

    China's Next Act: How Sustainability and Technology are Reshaping China's Rise and the World's Future by Scott M. Moore What’s next for China? Sustainability, technology, and the world’s future By Scott M. Moore We must re-envision our thinking about China’s rise and its role in the world in terms of two newer issue areas, sustainability and emerging technology. Read More

    The Good It Promises, the Harm It Does: critical essays on Effective Altruism The predictably grievous harms of Effective Altruism By Alice Crary, Lori Gruen, and Carol J. Adams Over the past decade the philanthropic ideology of Effective Altruism has grown massively both in attracting funds and in influencing young people to try to make as much money as they can and give most of it away. But a series of catastrophic financial hustles in the world of cryptocurrency has brought EA heightened attention and started to expose its dangers. Read More

    Broadway Bodies by Ryan Donovan Funny how it ain’t so funny: casting, Funny Girl, and Broadway’s body issues By Ryan Donovan Sometimes the meeting of an actor and a role produces a rare kind of alchemy that forever bonds the two… and sometimes the opposite happens. The former occurred when twenty-one-year-old Barbra Streisand was cast as famed comedienne Fanny Brice in the 1964 musical Funny Girl. Read More

    Leonardo's Salvator Mundi and the Collecting of Leonardo in the Stuart Courts Leonardo and the Salvator Mundi: fame and infamy By Margaret Dalivalle When people ask me about the Salvator Mundi, just like Google, I can predict the questions they will “also ask.” Read More

    Rome: Strategy of Empire The history of Ancient Rome: a timeline By James Lacey From Octavian’s victory at Actium to its traditional endpoint in the West, the Roman Empire lasted a solid 500 years—one-fifth of all recorded history. Embark on your own journey through the past with this informative timeline detailing major events within the Roman Empire. Read More

    Word Origins Dude: a long history of a short word By Anatoly Liberman The history of “dude” has been documented with amazing accuracy. Read More

    Moby Dick Oxford World's Classics Weird Moby-Dick By Hester Blum There are a lot of peculiar phrases in Moby-Dick. My new introduction to the second Oxford World’s Classics edition of Herman Melville’s novel highlights the startling weirdness of the book, both in its literary form and its language. Read More

    Becoming Emeritus By Edwin L. Battistella When I received the letter granting me emeritus status, I naturally got curious about the etymology. Read More

    Genome Biology and Evolution (GBE) Inside the genome of the world’s weirdest octopus By Casey McGrath The greater argonaut, Argonauta argo, has a reputation for being the world’s weirdest octopus and indeed may be one of the most unusual and mysterious creatures to roam the ocean. Read More


    November 2022 Identifying future-proof science by Peter Vickers How to identify a scientific fact By Peter Vickers When do we have a scientific fact? Scientists, policymakers, and laypersons could all use an answer to this question. But despite its obvious importance, humanity lacks a good answer. Read More

    Word Origins Say cheese, or l’esprit d’escalier neglected and forgotten By Anatoly Liberman As everybody knows, the phrase in the title, l’esprit d’escalier, refers to a good thought occurring too late. Read More

    The Catholic Church and European State Formation, AD 1000-1500 Bringing the Church back in: European state-formation, AD 1000-1500 [long read] By Jørgen Møller European state-formation would have looked very different if rulers did not constantly have to negotiate with a strong clergy, independent townsmen, and the nobility over, inter alia, the wherewithal for warfare, succession and public peace. But the medieval Church shaped European societies in other ways than this. It was the one institution of late antiquity that survived the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century, and it carried the torch of the Roman world after the Empire collapsed. Read More

    The neuroscience of consciousness by the Oxford Comment podcast Looking into space: how astronomy and astrophysics are teaching us more than ever before [podcast] By Steven Filippi, Himalee Rupesinghe, and Tessa Mathieson On today’s episode of The Oxford Comment, we’re looking at what these recent discoveries mean to our understanding of the universe. Why should we all know about distant galaxies? How will this learning impact us? And what role will artificial intelligence and machine-learning play in the wider astronomy field in the coming years… Read More

    Excommunication in Thirteenth-Century England by Felicity Hill Excommunication in thirteenth-century England: a volatile tool By Felicity Hill Reactions to excommunication in thirteenth-century England varied considerably, but its consequences for society as well as individuals were significant. The fact that sentences needed to be publicised so that communities knew who to avoid made excommunication a valuable tool of mass communication. However, when the sanction was used unfairly or vengefully, this publicity shone a light on such abuses, with potentially damaging consequences for the church. Read More

    Scientific Testimony Pursuing deliberative democracy through scientific testimony By Mikkel Gerken Science skepticism is a central threat to deliberative democracy. Generally speaking, scientific investigations based on collaboration between scientific experts are far more reliable than individual efforts when it comes to finding the truth about complex matters. So, since public deliberation is better off when it rests on science, deliberative democracy requires a reasonably high degree of public uptake of science communication. Read More

    The Curse of the Somers Was it murder? Why a US Navy hanging resonates nearly 200 years later By James P. Delgado In 1842, The US brig Somers, commanded by Alexander Slidell Mackenzie was the site of what may have been the only planned mutiny in the US Navy’s history. The repercussions of the Somers Affair had long felt effects, and inspired Herman Melville’s Billy Budd. Read More

    Word Origins Some premature gleanings By Anatoly Liberman I decided not to wait another week, let alone another four weeks, and discuss the notes and queries from my mail. As usual, I express my gratitude to those who have read the posts, added their observations, or corrected my mistakes. Read More

    Manhattan Phoenix: The Great Fire of 1835 and the Emergence of Modern New York by Daniel S. Levy Boss Tweed and the “Forty Thieves” of New York City By Daniel S. Levy Boss Tweedborn—William Magear Tweed—and the “Tweed Ring” comprised of 20 aldermen and 20 assistant alderman in Tamanay Hall dominated New York politics for profit in the second half of the 1800s. Read More

    Leonardo's Salvator Mundi and the Collecting of Leonardo in the Stuart Courts Salvator Mundi: the journey of a false saviour By Robert B. Simon Discovering the provenance of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi formed a significant part of the book that I co-authored with Margaret Dalivalle and Martin Kemp. Determining which records and references pertained to the original and which to the many copies and derivations of the painting required the unraveling of dozens of documentary threads, intertwined and occasionally knotted, stretching across the centuries. Read More

    The World According to Proust by Joshua Landy Big, wonderful, difficult questions (and answers) about life in Proust [interactive] By Joshua Landy For the 100th anniversary of Marcel Proust’s death, Joshua Landy explores the existential questions posed by “In Search of Lost Time” to show how Proust’s novel connects to our contemporary lives. Read More

    Analysis The return of Humpty Dumpty: who is the ultimate arbiter of meaning? By Lucy McDonald In philosophy of language, as well as in many court opinions (e.g., Liversidge v. Anderson, 1942), Humpty Dumpty is held up as an example of how not to think about meaning. Contrary to his claim that the meaning of his words is determined solely by his intentions, there is broad agreement that what words mean is not solely up to us—we can change their meanings over time, but that requires a group effort, and something like consensus. Read More

    Word Origins In the footsteps of our greatest favorite: vampire By Anatoly Liberman We love books and movies about vampires, don’t we? Everybody knows who Dracula was, and many people believe that we owe the entire myth to him. This, however, is not true. In this blog post, the Oxford Etymologist deals with the history of the word “vampire.” Read More

    The Oxford History of Life-Writing: Volume 7: Postwar to Contemporary, 1945-2020 What is “life-writing” and why does it matter? By Patrick Hayes Over the last few decades “life-writing” started to be used as an umbrella term for an increasingly eclectic range of literary forms and invested with a new level of cultural importance. Read More

    East of the Wardrobe Everyday Narnia: the language of another world By Warwick Ball There is little doubt that “Narnia” has effectively entered the English language and that references to a “wardrobe” or “wardrobe door” have been given additional meanings by C. S. Lewis: any reference to it requires no explanation simply because everyone knows. Read More

    Solo Time For Cello 2 From orchestra to cello solo: the gentle art of arranging music By David Blackwell Art has always been transformed from one form to another: books to films, plays to operas, even music to novels—Beethoven’s Eroica and Anthony Burgess’s Napoleon Symphony, for example. Within music, composers have been equally ready to adapt and modify. Read More

    Oxford Open Infrastructure and Health A new OUP journal connecting health and infrastructure By Evelyne de Leeuw and Patrick Harris This week sees the launch of our new journal, Infrastructure and Health: Big Connections for Wellbeing, or OOIH for short. Humanity strives to and achieves progress through infrastructure. Infrastructure provides the hardware, tools, and services for a connected and functioning planet. Those connections are not just for humans but whole ecosystems. But the world faces challenges […] Read More

    Word Origins Post-summer gleanings By Anatoly Liberman The Oxford Etymologist answers readers’ questions on the origin of the word “race”, variants of “in one’s stockinged feet”, the folkloric creature Lady Hoonderlarly, and “bonfire.” Read More

    Democracies in America: Keywords for the Nineteenth Century and Today Defining “democracy” By D. Berton Emerson and Gregory Laski One week before the 2022 US midterm elections, President Joseph Biden delivered a prime-time address at Union Station in Washington, DC. Biden suggested that something foundational, fundamental, was at stake. He reminded listeners of the definition of democracy. Read More

    Analysis Delegitimising “reverse racism” By Jordan Scott “Affirmative action? That’s just reverse racism!” We’ve all heard claims like this; the term “reverse racism” used to attack some progressive project. If you’re anything like me, something about it strikes you as fundamentally misguided. Read More

    Walking from Dandi: In Search of Vikas Gandhi weaves: lyrical beauty in Mahatma Gandhi’s writing By Harmony Siganporia Now I’ve read my Gandhi and while I’ve always found his writing incredibly coherent and often inspired, I haven’t necessarily thought of it as lyrical. I realise now that this is because I had not known where to look. Read More

    The spell of spelling By Edwin L. Battistella English spelling can be endlessly frustrating. From its silent letters (could, stalk, salmon, February, and on and on) to its nonsensical rules (i before e except ….), to the pronunciation of ough (in cough, through, though, and thought). Read More

    Advancing Your Research Career Five tips to improve your research culture By Magdalena Bak-Maier With principal investigators facing work, life, mental health and career challenges, time is often a limiting factor. But creating a healthy environment helps all achieve and feel well. A typical principal investigator (PI) must overcome many challenges and has a great deal to learn. The experience was accurately portrayed in a recent Twitter post with the caption […] Read More

    The Rules of Rescue When can you refuse to rescue? By Theron Pummer At what point are you morally permitted to refuse to rescue distant strangers? How much must you give over the course of your life? Theron Pummer explores these extremely difficult questions. Read More

    Leonardo's Salvator Mundi and the Collecting of Leonardo in the Stuart Courts Salvator Mundi: poor picture, poor Leonardo By Martin Kemp What does “SM” stand for in the context of Leonardo da Vinci? Our visual engagement with the painting has been skewed by fictionalised stories, lurid journalism, and attributional vitriol. For me, SM now stands for “Sensationalised Mess.” How the painting actually works as a devotional image, what it means, and how it embodies Leonardo’s science and art have become lost. Read More

    SHAPE Interview with Dr Molly Morgan Jones, Director of Policy at the British Academy on SHAPE By Molly Morgan Jones At OUP, we are the largest university press publisher of SHAPE disciplines. Back in 2021, we joined the SHAPE initiative along with the British Academy, LSE, the Arts Council, and other key partners to show our support and advocacy for these vitally important areas of research and scholarship. Read More

    Word Origins In one’s stockinged feet By Anatoly Liberman One does not need to be an etymologist to suggest that stocking consists of “stock-” and “-ing”. The trouble is that though “-ing” occurs in some nouns, it looks odd in stocking. Few English words have more seemingly incompatible senses than stock. Read More

    Publishing 101 Is publishing sustainable? By Zoe Cokeliss Barsley The shift from print publishing toward digital publishing brings environmental benefits that will help to reduce publishing’s contribution to the climate and nature emergencies. Read More


    Civil war and the end of the Roman Empire By Adrastos Omissi Adrastos Omissi argues that the collapse of the West Roman Empire in the fifth century AD was caused not, primarily, by invasions of external “barbarians” from Germanic Europe, but was rather a product of the endemic civil wars that sprang up in the Roman Empire from the third century AD onwards. Read More

    Walking Among Pharoahs and Tutankhamun Exploring Ancient Egypt with Carter, Reisner, and Co. [interactive map] By Ashendri Wickremasinghe Travel back in time to Ancient Egypt and explore pyramids with hidden burial chambers, colossal royal statue, miniscule gold jewelry, and much more. Read More

    Gobal Tantra Modern tantra and the global history of religion By Julian Strube For good reasons, tantra often stands at the center of debates about cultural appropriation and the commodification of religious practices. Through nineteenth-century orientalist studies and missionary polemics, it became associated with sexual licentiousness and abhorrent rituals before it was refashioned as a way to sexual liberation and individual freedom. Read More

    The Virgin of the Seven Daggers and Other Stories by Vernon Lee Vernon Lee, history, and horror By Aaron Worth Some of the most acclaimed films to come out of the horror mini-boom of the past decade mix history and horror in disconcerting ways. Of course, these are not the first scary movies or stories do this. But when, and how, did horror first get historical? Read More

    LGBT Victorians: Sexuality and Gender in the Nineteenth-Century Archives LGBTQ+ Victorians in the archives By Simon Joyce The first challenge that confronts researching LGBTQ+ Victorians in the archives is the question: where to look? Simon Joyce explores how to access more accurate, reliable information about LGBTQ+ Victorians. Read More

    Mussolini in Myth and Memory The March on Rome: commemoration or celebration? By Paul Corner Throughout Europe reaction to the March on Rome was, inevitably, mixed, with some appalled by the violence and the total disregard the fascists showed for parliamentary politics, while others—such as those among British conservative opinion—thought that the fascist government would bring much-needed “order” to what they condescendingly saw as typically Mediterranean chaos. Many right-wing European politicians looked on Mussolini and to his mode of achieving power with admiration. One man in particular was greatly impressed by the March on Rome and even hoped to emulate it. This was Adolf Hitler. Read More

    Oxford Academic Transparency in open access at OUP By Rhodri Jackson As a not-for-profit university press which publishes over 75% of its journals on behalf of scholarly societies and other organisations, OUP is committed to a transparent approach to OA. The transition to OA can appear opaque, steeped in jargon and complexity, and we see a major part of our role in the move to OA as being as open and clear as possible. Read More

    Word Origins Hue and cry, or the mystery of red gold By Anatoly Liberman I have always wanted to write about the enigmatic phrase “red gold.” Our characterization of color is a matter of culture, not physiology. Read More

    The neuroscience of consciousness by the Oxford Comment podcast Egyptology at the turn of the century [podcast] By Steven Filippi and Sarah Butcher On November 1, 1922 Egyptologist Howard Carter and his team of excavators began digging in a previously undisturbed plot of land in the Valley of the Kings. For decades, archaeologists had searched for the tomb of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun with no success, and that November was to be Carter’s final attempt to locate the lost treasures. What Carter ultimately discovered—the iconic sarcophagus, the mummy that inspired whispers of a curse, and the thousands of precious artifacts—would shape Egyptian politics, the field of archaeology, and how museums honor the past for years to come. Read More

    The London Restaurant, 1840-1914 COVID-19 and the London restaurant: a Victorian perspective By Brenda Assael The last two years have proved the restaurant business is nothing if not adaptable. In my residential London neighbourhood, a popular Indian restaurant quickly moved to take-away meals once the first wave of the pandemic hit, a pattern many other businesses followed in a fight for survival. Theirs is a small-scale, family operation; factors that […] Read More

    Orwell & Empire The Mahatma and the Policeman: how did George Orwell view Gandhi? By Douglas Kerr George Orwell served for five years in the 1920s as an officer in the Imperial Police in Burma, at that time part of the British Raj. He was to write about the Empire as an unjustifiable despotism. Mahatma Gandhi did more than anyone else to bring about the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, the first step in the dismantling of the Empire. Orwell should have seen Gandhi as a comrade in arms, a fellow anti-imperialist, even a hero. Instead he speaks of Gandhi with suspicion, hostility, irritation, and ” sort of aesthetic distaste.” Why? Read More

    How Romantics and Victorians Organized Information: Commonplace Books, Scrapbooks, and Albums The Butcher’s Books: how did Tennyson write In Memoriam? By Jillian M. Hess Where do we go to mourn the dead? A graveyard? A photograph album? A Facebook page? The very intangibility of death makes us yearn for a physical space to locate grief—a space we might return to. For many Victorians, mourning took place in notebooks. This was certainly the case for the future poet laureate, Alfred Tennyson. Read More

    Oxford World's Classics How well do you know these spooky Oxford World’s Classics? By Ashendri Wickremasinghe To help put you in the apt mood for Halloween this year, we have created a quiz to test your knowledge on some of Oxford World’s Classics scariest tales. Are you up for the challenge? Read More

    What Everyone Needs to Know: Sanctions Sanctions: who uses sanctions, why, and what impact do they have? By Bruce W. Jentleson Even before the extensive economic sanctions against Russia for its 2022 invasion of Ukraine, it was hard to browse the news without seeing reports of yet another imposition of sanctions by one country or another. Read More

    Planting Clues Environmental DNA: the future of forensic testing? By David J. Gibson Can plants solve crimes? It’s been known for a long time that botanical evidence has forensic value. Indeed, exciting recent advances allowing the detection and sequencing of minute amounts of DNA are providing new tools for conservation biologists and forensic scientists. Read More

    The Fasces The radical reinterpretation of the fasces in Mussolini’s Italy By T. Corey Brennan In November 1914, when Benito Mussolini, then prominent as a revolutionary socialist, tried to mobilize popular opinion for Italy to intervene in World War I, he gave the name “Autonomous Fasci of Revolutionary Action” to his disparate supporters. The term “fascio” (plural “fasci”) was then common in Italy’s political lexicon, in its core meaning of “bundle”, to denote a loosely-organized group grounded in a common ideology. When Ralph Bunche met Princess Margaret By Kal Raustiala As the Under-Secretary General of the UN, Ralph Bunche was one of the leaders in the fight to end empire in the second half of the Twentieth Century, In 1965, he had the opportunity to speak to Princess Margaret about the role of the British Empire in the world. Read More

    Word Origins Crabbed age and youth cannot live together, but crabs and scorpions can By Anatoly Liberman The origin of the word blatherskite ~ bletherskate “foolish talk; foolish talker” is supposedly secure. The Oxford Etymologist investigates… Read More

    Oxford Academic A year in review: Open Access at OUP By Lucy Oates, Georgia Bailey, and Charley James Lawrance The open access landscape is fast evolving, and for good reason. Following the global outbreak of COVID-19 in which research and knowledge lay at the heart of hope, we have seen a renewed focus in the industry for open access publishing. In recognition of Open Access Week 2022, we reflect on the progress that has been made at OUP and the people who have been influential in driving it. Read More

    Why We Hate: Understanding the Roots of Human Conflict Why we hate (and whether we can do something about it) By Michael Ruse Human nature is a paradox. On the one hand, thanks to our evolution in the five million years since we left the jungle, we are a highly social species. On the other hand, as the last centuries show only too well, we can be truly hateful towards our fellow human beings—on a group level, war, and on an individual level, prejudice. Read More

    Cold War: A Very Short Introduction Nine new books to understand the Cold War [reading list] By OUP History This October marks the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a tense political and military standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. To mark the anniversary, we’re sharing some of our latest history titles on the Cold War for you to explore, share, and enjoy. We have also granted free access to selected chapters, for a limited time, for you to dip into. Read More

    The Masnavi, Book Five Rumi’s subversive poetry and his sexually explicit stories By Jawid Mojaddedi Rumi, the thirteenth-century Muslim poet, has become a household name in the last few decades, even becoming the best-selling poet in North America thanks to translations of his work into English. Verses of his poetry are used to begin yoga sessions, religious ceremonies, and weddings, and are ubiquitous throughout social media, in addition to actual […] Read More

    Oxford Music Ralph Vaughan Williams: preserving the publishing legacy By Simon Wright In the Vaughan Williams’s 150th anniversary year, his primary publisher Oxford University Press are donating around 60 items to the British Library, to be preserved and made available to musicians and researchers. These items include artefacts from all stages in the publishing process, from conductor’s marked scores, copyist’s copies and handwritten notes by the composer. In this blog, Simon Wright highlights some interesting features amongst the titles being donated. Read More

    Word Origins Do you blather when you skate? By Anatoly Liberman The origin of the word blatherskite ~ bletherskate “foolish talk; foolish talker” is supposedly secure. The Oxford Etymologist investigates… Read More

    Oxford Open Journals Towards climate justice: the role of cross-disciplinary Open Access research By Eelco J. Rohling, Peter D. Lund, Rachael J.M. Bashford-Rogers, Evelyne de Leeuw, Robert Vajtai, Sam Gilbert, and Patrick Harris To mitigate for the huge environmental and societal impacts we are facing across the world, scientists and scholars, policy makers, governments, and industry leaders need to connect and collaborate effectively. Open access publishing has a role to play in facilitating the discourse needed, by ensuring that the most up-to-date research is accessible, re-usable, and available to a wide audience quickly. Read More

    State lotteries in modern America The intertwined history of state lotteries and convenience stores By Jonathan D. Cohen This past summer, millions of Americans were transfixed by the prospect of becoming billionaires. After weeks with no winner, the jackpot for the multi-state lottery game Mega Millions rose to $1.3 billion before being won by an as-yet-unnamed gambler who purchased the winning ticket at a Speedway gas station in Des Plaines, Illinois. Or, more specifically, at the convenience store portion of the gas station, where customers can purchase gas, food, drinks, cigarettes, and, of course, lottery tickets. Read More

    Solo Time for Cello Eight composers whose music we should know By Kathy Blackwell From Teresa Carreno to Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, this blog post features composers who experienced barriers to music education within their lifetimes, leading to their exclusion from the historical canon. Read More

    Being a careful reader By Edwin L. Battistella When we are moving briskly though a supermarket, skimming ads, or focusing on a big purchase, it’s easy to be a less-than-careful reader. Read More

    Public Policy and Aging Report: Aging in Asian American and Pacific Islander Communities Reframing an aging policy agenda for the AAPI community By Oliver J. Kim Over the past few years, we have had great discussions on societal inequalities in our nation’s infrastructure, and hopefully these in turn will result in policy changes. Aging, too, is having such a review as we think through how older people of color face disparities in key needs such as financial security, housing, and healthcare. Read More

    Oxford Libraries Which library should you visit? [Quiz] By Megan Whitlock Are you a lover of libraries or just looking for somewhere new to explore? Get some inspiration for your next trip by taking this short quiz and finding out which library you should visit! Read More

    Word Origins Noises off? A guarded tribute to onomatopoeia and sea-sickness By Anatoly Liberman While trying to solve etymological riddles, we often encounter references to sound-imitation where we do not expect them, but the core examples hold no surprise. It seems that nouns and verbs describing all kinds of noises should illustrate the role of onomatopoeia, and indeed, hum, ending in m, makes one think of quiet singing (crooning) and perhaps invites peace, while drum, with its dr-, probably evokes the idea of the noise associated with this instrument. Read More

    900 Miles from Home Memorable years, formative years: why do boys stop singing in their teens? By Martin Ashley There are many adult men who sang as small boys but now either don’t sing at all or who have had long gaps in their lives with no singing. Professor Martin Ashley discusses how to support adolescent boys as their voices change. Read More

    Philosophy for Public Health and Public Policy: an interview with James Wilson By James Wilson James Wilson, Professor of Philosophy at University College London, and co-director of the UCL Health Humanities Centre, talks to Peter Momtchiloff about philosophy’s role in addressing and supporting public health policy. Read More


    Howard Carter and Tutankhamun: a different view By Peter Der Manuelian On 4 November 1922, Englishman Howard Carter acted on a “hunch” and discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun, setting the world at large on fire, archaeologically speaking. “King Tut’s tomb” and the (much older) Pyramids of Giza;:have any other monuments come to symbolize ancient Egyptian civilization—and archaeology—better? Read More

    Word Origins Three unwilling partners: “heath,” “heathen,” and “heather” By Anatoly Liberman Did heathens live in a heath, surrounded by heather? You will find thoughts on this burning question of our time at the end of today’s blog post. Read More

    The neuroscience of consciousness by the Oxford Comment podcast Distrust in institutions: past, present, and future [podcast] By Steven Filippi and Meghan Schaffer In this episode of The Oxford Comment, we speak with Brian Levack, Robert Faris, and Tom Nichols on the past, present, and future of institutional distrust, with a particular focus on the contentious 2016 and 2020 US presidential elections. Read More

    The language of labor By Edwin L. Battistella September means back to school for students, but for those of us in unions, it is also the celebration the American Labor Movement and a good opportunity for us to take a look at some of the language of the labor movement. Read More

    Trusts and Equitable Obligations A life map of Equity and Trusts [interactive map] By Warren Barr and John Picton Through our lives, the law of Equity and Trusts is very often working in the background. If a parent wants to provide for their child, she will need to set up a trust. If we fall in love and move in with a partner, the law of Equity and Trusts might control who owns the family home. When we get older and start to plan for death, Equity and Trusts controls the ways in which we can provide for our loved ones. Read More

    The Survival Nexis: Science, Technology, and World Affairs The Ukraine invasion: wrestling at the edge of the nuclear cliff By Charles Weiss The paradoxical combination of loud saber-rattling and cautious military strategy on both sides of the Ukraine war follows the new rules of conflict involving nuclear powers. Read More

    Metafilm Music in Jean-Luc Godard's Cinema Jean-Luc Godard’s filmic legacy By Michael Baumgartner Jean-Luc Godard died at the age of 91 on 13 September 2022 at his home in Rolle at the Lake of Geneva in Switzerland. The uncompromising French-Swiss cineaste was arguably one of the most influential filmmakers of the last 60 years. With his innovative approach to cinema, he broke with tried-and-tested conventions and taught us […] Read More

    The Short Story: A Very Short Introduction Can you match the famous opening line to the story? [Quiz] By Megan Whitlock Do you know your Austen from your Orwell? Consider yourself a literature whiz? Or do you just love a compelling story opening? Try out this quiz and see if you can match the famous opening line to the story and put your knowledge to the test. Read More

    Networks of Modernity: Germany in the Age of the Telegraph, 1830-1880 10 German history titles to read this autumn [reading list] By OUP History Here are 10 books that we recommend if you want to learn something new about Germany’s past, but don’t know where to begin. Read More

    Word Origins The word “condom” By Anatoly Liberman For a long time, the word “condom” was unprintable. Neither the original OED nor The Century Dictionary featured the word. Several venues for discovering the origin of “condom” have been tried. It surfaced in texts at the beginning of the eighteenth century, but we cannot be sure that the word was coined in England. Read More

    What is transparent peer review? By Megan Taphouse and Francesca Cockshull Transparent peer review is a relative newcomer and not widely used at present, but it has grown in popularity and is becoming an increasingly popular choice. The question is—why? This blog post takes a closer look at the transparent peer review process, its rise in popularity, and the challenges journals, reviewers and editors face with this model. Read More

    Shipwrecks and the Bounty of the Sea Shipwreck tales: bounty from the archives By David Cressy News broke in 2022 that the royal frigate Gloucester that sank in 1682 had been located off the coast of Norfolk. The discovery excited marine archeologists and treasure hunters, and drew attention to the scandal of the warship’s loss. Read More

    Horse power from the powerhouse of the cell [infographic] By Sarah Reed In a recent Animal Frontiers article, we review mitochondrial physiology and the relationship of mitochondrial phenotypes to performance in equine athletes, and take a look at their impact in horse competitions. Read More

    Peasants Making History Alice le Fynch and new ways of seeing medieval society from below By Christopher Dyer Everyone in the village of Sedgeberrow must have known Alice le Fynch, a determined personality defending the interests of her family. Christopher Dyer discusses why Alice, and other medieval peasants like her, should not be underestimated. Read More

    Performing Antiquity Why we all need more Lesbian Dance Theory By Samuel N. Dorf Last month a Member of Congress joined Fox News to claim President Joe Biden is “robbing hard working Americans to pay for Karen’s daughter’s degree in lesbian dance theory” in response to the announcement that the President was providing $20,000 in debt relief for Pell Grant recipients and $10,000 for many other borrowers. Read More

    Word Origins On mattocks and maggots, their behavior and origin By Anatoly Liberman The mattock, a simple tool, has a name troublesome to etymologists even though it has been known since the Old English period. In this blog post, the Oxford Etymologist explores a new hypothesis for the origins of “mattock”. Ralph Vaughan Williams and the art of the amateur By Eric Saylor Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872–1958) was one of the twentieth century’s great champions of and advocates for amateur music-making. Explore his views on the amateur vs professional relationship, and discover what he might have thought of America’s Got Talent, and other reality talent shows. Read More

    The Very Short Introductions Podcast Four Very Short Introductions podcast episodes on the Classical world By The VSI Podcast Team Did “Ancient Greece” exist? Are all Epicureans decadent dandies? What do we really know about Alexander the Great? Explore the people, places, and philosophies of the Classical world through these four podcast episodes from the expert authors of our Very Short Introductions series. Read More

    Word Origins Etymology gleanings for August 2022 By Anatoly Liberman The history of “cheek by jowl” and especially the pronunciation of “jowl” could serve as the foundation of a dramatic plot, says the Oxford Etymologist in this week’s blog post. Read More

    Performing the Kinaidos Unmanly men and the flexible meaning of kinaidos in Classical antiquity By Tom Sapsford Tom Sapsford discusses the “kinaidos”: a type of person noted in ancient literature for his effeminacy and untoward sexual behaviour. Some scholars think he was perhaps an imaginary figure, but Sapsford looks into financial records, letters, and temples that complicate our understanding of this figure. Read More

    BJS Four ways machine learning is set to revolutionize breast surgery By Viraj Shah and Karen Soh Machine learning has grown to become quite the buzzword in clinical research. Across recent years, we’ve seen an almost exponential increase in the number of successful machine learning trials conducted, with the technology now hailed as a torchbearer for healthcare’s artificial intelligence revolution. Read More

    The Very Short Introductions Podcast Four Very Short Introductions podcast episodes to get you thinking By The VSI Podcast Team What does atheism mean to you? Is logic ancient history? How is Calvinism changing the world? Put your thinking cap on, earbuds in, and get listening to our curated collection of Very Short Introduction podcast episodes for thinkers. Read More

    Blackfriars in Early Modern London East and west the preachers mouth: St. Anne Blackfriars in early modern London By Christopher Highley The experience of churchgoing at St Anne’s was undoubtedly shaped by the unconventional situation and layout of the place of worship, but in ways that are now hard to recover. Religious experience, like any other, is embodied experience that unfolds in particular spaces and physical conditions. St Anne’s parishioners may have considered the unorthodox nature of their worship space an unhappy accident of history, or they may just as readily have imbued it with special symbolic significance, making it an important focus of their collective identity. Read More

    The Journal of Gerontology Formerly incarcerated women of color face worse health in later life By Kenzie Latham-Mintus, Monica Deck, and Elizabeth Nelson Incarceration takes a heavy toll on one’s mental and physical health. A growing share of older adults are now aging with incarceration histories and poor health. Read More

    One True Logic Infinite potential: logic, philosophy, and the next tech revolution By Owen Griffiths and A. C. Paseau About a century ago, then, our world was transformed by a logical revolution, which may broadly be called philosophical. This transformation was the key to the technological advances of the past century. What about today’s logic? Could current advances in logic or its philosophy lead to the sort of computer-driven technological change we’ve seen in the past hundred years? Read More


    Cheek by jowl By Anatoly Liberman The history of “cheek by jowl” and especially the pronunciation of “jowl” could serve as the foundation of a dramatic plot, says the Oxford Etymologist in this week’s blog post. Read More

    The neuroscience of consciousness by the Oxford Comment podcast The need for affordable and clean energy [podcast] By Steven Filippi and Stella Edison Check out Episode 75 of The Oxford Comment to hear from Martin J. Pasqualetti and Paul F, Meier on the need for affordable and clean energy, the history of energy in the US, and the dire implications of not changing our energy habits. Read More

    Concepts of Elementary Particle Physics The CERN Large Hadron Collider is back By Michael E. Peskin The CERN Large Hadron Collider, the LHC, is the world’s highest-energy particle accelerator. It smashes together protons with energies almost 7,000 times their intrinsic energy at rest to explore nature at distances as small as 1 part in 100,000 of the size of an atomic nucleus. These large energies and small distances hold clues to fundamental mysteries about the origin and nature of the elementary particles that make up matter. Read More

    Humans, among other Classical Animals Disappearing animals, disappearing us: what can Classics teach us about the climate crisis? By Ashley Clements In enlightenment definitions, anthropological hierarchies, and early modern and modern capitalist exploitations of the natural world, European thought about the human remains indebted to Classical concepts. Read More

    When Brains Meet Buildings: A Conversation Between Neuroscience and Architecture From navigation to architecture: how the brain interprets spaces and designs places By Michael A. Arbib How do our brains help us learn about the spatial relationships in our world and then use them to find our way from one place to another? And how might answering this question offer new insights into how architects design? Read More

    The Private Life of William Shakespeare Monument: what did Shakespeare look like? By Lena Cowen Orlin In this OUPblog, Lena Cowen Orlin, author of the “detailed and dazzling” ‘The Private Life of William Shakespeare’ presents a compelling case that Shakespeare designed his own funerary monument: a memorial less about death than about a life of accomplishment. Read More

    Oxford Commentaries on the State Constitutions of the United States Policing direct democracy under US state constitutions: the Massachusetts example By Lawrence M. Friedman The United States Constitution does not contemplate the possibility of lawmaking via direct democracy. Almost every US state constitution, on the other hand, does. Read More

    News from Moscow: Soviet Journalism and the Limits of Postwar Reform Has Russian journalism returned to Soviet era restrictions? By Simon Huxtable Simon Huxtable explores the history of Russian journalism in the Soviet Union and asks how, or whether, it compares to the situation of Russian journalists after the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022. Read More

    Epiphanies: An Ethics of Experience Epiphanies: an interview with Sophie Grace Chappell By Sophie Grace Chappell Sophie Grace Chappell is Professor of Philosophy at the Open University, UK, and her new book “Epiphanies: An Ethics of Experience” has just been published by OUP. In this interview, Sophie speaks with OUP Philosophy editor Peter Momtchiloff on exploring the concept and experience of epiphanies. Read More

    International Affairs The nuclear egg: challenging the dominant narratives of the atomic age By Hebatalla Taha While researching early Egyptian perspectives on nuclear weapons, I repeatedly came across the symbol of the egg. The atomic bomb, and atomic technology more broadly, was frequently imagined and drawn as an egg in the period after August 1945 in Egyptian magazines and popular science journals. Read More

    The Private Life of William Shakespeare Bequest: why did Shakespeare bequeath his wife a “second-best” bed? By Lena Cowen Orlin In this OUPblog, Lena Cowen Orlin, author of the “detailed and dazzling” ‘The Private Life of William Shakespeare’ explores why Shakespeare left Anne Hathaway his “second-best” bed – and what this tells us about their relationship. Read More

    The not-so-great caramel debate By Edwin L. Battistella I’m intrigued by the not-so-great debate over the pronunciation of caramel, which is instructive both socially and linguistically. Is the word pronounced with that second a, as caramel or without it, as carmel? Read More

    The Art of Conversation in Cancer Care Becoming “properly empathic”: the importance of empathy in healthcare By Richard P. McQuellon There are three components to empathy and its expression: cognitive—the ability to grasp what the person thinks, to see things from their perspective; affective—the ability to discern another’s feelings; and importantly, the ability to act in such a way as to convey understanding to the other, sometimes referred to as compassionate empathy. Read More

    Why Waterloo? How the Battle of Waterloo took its place in Britain’s national identity Why Waterloo? How the Battle of Waterloo took its place in Britain’s national identity By Luke Reynolds How does a country choose what to commemorate? What elevated the victory of 18 June 1815 over other great British victories in the previous quarter century of war? Read More

    Selwyn's Law of Employment What does UK law say about strikes? By Astra Emir Every day there are reports of further strikes. Chaos on the railways, airlines, teachers, the NHS: the list goes on. Whilst strikes cause huge disruption for the public, they are also one of the few levers available to employees to bargain for their position. This blog post looks at what the main rights and requirements are, both for employers and employees, once a strike has been called. Read More

    Word Origins The human aspect of etymology By Anatoly Liberman Why do so many words beginning with sn- evoke unpleasant associations? The Oxford Etymologist answers a reader’s question. Read More

    Comparing Woolf’s Jacob’s Room and Beethoven’s Third By Urmila Seshagiri How does the formal originality of Jacob’s Room, its dark tenor, fit into the arc of Woolf’s career? I found unexpected and illuminating answers to this question in an all-Beethoven concert at Carnegie Hall. Read More

    The Private Life of William Shakespeare Wedding: how did Shakespeare become a London playwright? By Lena Cowen Orlin In this OUPblog post, Lena Cowen Orlin, author of the “detailed and dazzling” ‘The Private Life of William Shakespeare’ asks: just when was Shakespeare’s birthday? Read More

    Word Origins The loudest short word in English: hurrah By Anatoly Liberman The Oxford Etymologist discusses the origin of English’s loudest short word: hurrah! Read More

    Oxford Academic Management in the twenty-first century [infographic] By Phoebe Murphy-Dunn What does a modern-day workplace look like? Explore our handy infographic, specially curated to reflect current discussions around workplaces and management techniques. Read More

    Embattled America: The Rise of Anti-Politics and America's Obsession with Religion A democracy, if we can keep it By Jason C. Bivins At this fearful time in American democracy, the best way to starve anti-democratic forces of their energy is to change the subject away from conservative religion and demand investment in civic education, democratic localism, and human rights. Read More

    Stars and Shadows: The Politics of Interracial Friendship from Jefferson to Obama The politics of interracial friendship By Saladin Ambar There have been instances of interracial friendship even in the worst of times. Explore some of these noteworthy friendships, which have served as windows into the state of race relations in the United States. Read More


    Religion: was Shakespeare raised Catholic? By Lena Cowen Orlin In this OUPblog post, Lena Cowen Orlin, author of the “detailed and dazzling” ‘The Private Life of William Shakespeare’ asks, was Shakespeare raised Catholic, and what role did his father, John, play. Read More

    Perspectival Realism Public trust in model-based science: moving beyond the “view from nowhere” By Michela Massimi Never more than during the COVID-19 pandemic, the public has been reminded of the importance of science and the need to trust scientific advice and model-based public health policy. The delicate triangulation among scientific experts, policymakers, and the public, which is so central to fight misinformation and mistrust, has shone a light on a well-entrenched “view from nowhere” that science is often identified with. Why trust experts and their model-based policy anyway? Read More

    Word Origins Returning to some of the shortest words in English By Anatoly Liberman The Oxford Etymologist discusses the origin of English’s shortest words, including pronouns, prepositions, and conjunctions. Read More

    The Fall of Robespierre 24 hours in revolutionary Paris: 9 Thermidor [timeline] By Colin Jones The day of 9 Thermidor is universally acknowledged as a major turning-point in the history of the French Revolution. Discover the outline of the key events on 27 July that ultimately led to Robespierre’s death. Read More

    The neuroscience of consciousness by the Oxford Comment podcast Equity in health care [podcast] By Steven Filippi and Christine Scalora There are many factors that affect our ability to be healthy, but we unfortunately do not all face the same barriers to accessing care. Such roadblocks can be related to cost, discrimination, location, sexual orientation, and gender identity, to name just a few. Read More

    Virginia Woolf and Poetry Cut out characters and cracky plots: Jacob’s Room as Shakespeare play By Emily Kopley “Why, within the world of the novel, is Jacob unknowable? He is the hero of a Shakespeare play.” Emily Kopley uses Virginia Woolf’s letters with her brother to examine her first experimental novel, “Jacob’s Room”. Read More

    The Private Life of William Shakespeare Birth: when was Shakespeare’s birthday? By Lena Cowen Orlin In this OUPblog post, Lena Cowen Orlin, author of the “detailed and dazzling” ‘The Private Life of William Shakespeare’ asks: just when was Shakespeare’s birthday? Read More

    Mary Shelley: A Very Short Introducation How well do you know Mary Shelley? [Quiz] By Calla Veazie How well do you know Mary Shelley? Take this short quiz to find out and put your knowledge to the test. Read More

    Word Origins Pulling the whole length of one’s leg By Anatoly Liberman Today, most English speakers will recognize the idiom: to pull one’s leg means “to deceive playfully, to tease.” Its origin has not been discovered. I usually stay away from guesswork, but in a blog, vague conjectures may not do anyone any harm. Read More

    Oxford World's Classics A summer playlist inspired by Oxford World’s Classics By Ashendri Wickremasinghe To help curate your summer playlist and reading list, here are 10 songs and Oxford World’s Classics we recommend you add to your rotation: Read More

    Oxford Open Immunology Were you prepared for this pandemic? By John Patcai Did you have a stock of fitted, unexpired N95 masks in your closet and a six-month supply of non-perishable foods in the pantry? Pretty much nobody was fully prepared, including me. Were you relying on the healthcare system to keep supplies on hand? Should we expect better preparedness from ourselves and our society? Read More

    French History Democracy at work? France’s uncertain political future [long read] By Emile Chabal, Michael C. Behrent, and Marion Van Renterghem In the last of our essays, we discuss the unexpected outcome of the legislative elections and look back on the electoral cycle as a whole. What does French politics look like after a series of fractious campaigns? And do the results offer any hope for the future? Read More

    International Affairs Global health diplomacy and North Korea in the COVID-19 era By Dong Jin Kim The COVID-19 pandemic set off an unprecedented scale of border closures, a rise in health nationalism, and inequitable global distribution of vaccines, which have all exacerbated the humanitarian situation in low-income countries. This has led to calls for greater cooperation to support vulnerable populations beyond sovereign borders. Read More

    Word Origins Spelling Reform and after By Anatoly Liberman In this blog post, the Oxford Etymologist discussed the English Spelling Reform movement. Read More

    Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice - Abu Dhabi Police special edition Best practice: contributing to the global police community from the United Arab Emirates By Amanda Davies There is limited focus in scholarly and practitioner publications on policing in the Middle East and this is a problem in the global policing field because states like the United Arab Emirates are, by many measures, safe places. This asks the question: how are the police and law enforcement organisations achieving this enviable position? Read More

    The Use of Force against Individuals in War under International Law Individualization of war or de-contextualization? A social critique By Ka Lok Yip A look at how examining the regulation of war through a social lens can provide important insights into the relationship between international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Read More

    Pronouns and joint possession By Edwin L. Battistella I’ve been noticing compound possessives like Kace and I’s texts or at Paul and my home. Both examples struck me as a little odd. Read More

    From Servant to Savant Classical music, privilege, and ghosts of the French Revolution By Rebecca Dowd Geoffroy-Schwinden The word privilege is a lightning rod in United States culture. For some, it indexes systemic inequities shaped by race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality, while for others, it represents a “woke” vocabulary used to enforce political correctness. Perhaps unsurprisingly, accusations of privilege have reached the classical music world. Read More


    June 2022 Are all our fingers toes? By Anatoly Liberman The etymology of finger is debatable, and toe fares only a bit better. Read More

    The neuroscience of consciousness by the Oxford Comment podcast Hong Kong 2022: one country, two systems? [podcast] By Steven Filippi and Patrick Horton-Wright The first of July 2022 marks the 25th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China. It also marks the halfway point of a 50-year agreement between China and Hong Kong that established the “one country, two systems,” rule – a system designed to allow Hong Kong to “enjoy a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs” while still remaining a Special Administrative Region of China. Read More

    The Old Hundredth Psalm Tune Recalling hymn tunes by Ralph Vaughan Williams By Robert Mann Hymn tunes of Ralph Vaughan Williams find consensus: undisputed quality. The foremost English composer of his generation is credited with composing, adapting, or arranging more than 80 tunes set to important hymns of our faith. Read More

    The Politics of Succession The perennial problem of succession [long read] By Jørgen Møller These days it is perhaps difficult to put oneself emphatically into a world in which the dynastic realm appeared for most men as the only imaginable ‘political’ system”, writes Benedict Anderson in Imagined Communities, his seminal book on the origins of modern nationalism. But this was the world a large majority of all Europeans lived in before the French Revolution and in many cases up until the First World War. Read More

    Misfire: The Sarajevo Assassination and the Winding Road to World War I Almost “nothing”: why did the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand lead to war? By Paul Miller-Melamed Shot through the neck, choking on his own blood with his beloved wife dying beside him, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Habsburg Empire, managed a few words before losing consciousness: “It’s nothing,” he repeatedly said of his fatal wound. It was 28 June 1914, in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. Read More

    Enraged, Rattled, and Wronged: Entitlement's Response to Social Progress Guns and the precarity of manhood By Kristin J. Anderson Manhood is precarious. Unlike womanhood, manhood is hard won and easily lost and therefore men go to great effort to perform it—for the most part for other boys and men—sometimes to their own and others’ detriment. Read More

    International Affairs A caution in exploring non-Western International Relations By Tomohito Baji The past quarter of a century has seen a burgeoning scholarship on the disciplinary history of International Relations (IR). By re-examining and revealing how past intellectuals and experts wrote about “the international,” this revisionist work on IR history generates a critical gaze at the assumptions on which IR stands today. Read More

    Word Origins Long-delayed gleanings By Anatoly Liberman No one doubts that “bachelor” came to Middle English at the end of the thirteenth century from Old French and meant “a young knight.” Most conjectures about the etymology of this mysterious word were offered long ago. Read More

    Moby Dick Oxford World's Classics Moby-Dick is the answer. What is the question? By Hester Blum In December 2021, I was a contestant on the popular American quiz show Jeopardy! Every Jeopardy! game has a brief segment in which contestants share anecdotes about themselves, and I used my time to proselytize reading Moby-Dick. I talked about my work on the new Oxford World’s Classics edition of the novel, and emphasized that Melville’s novel is unexpectedly weird, moving, and hilarious despite its monumental reputation. Read More

    Management of Healthcare Systems How can we build the resilience of our healthcare systems? By Sonu Goel and A. K. Aggarwal An effective and efficient health care system is a key to good health of citizens and plays a significant contribution to their country’s economy and overall development (WHO). Poor health systems hold back the progress on improving health in countries at all income levels, according to a joint report by the OECD, World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank. Read More

    Conquering the Ocean Eight books to read to celebrate the 1900th anniversary of Hadrian’s Wall By OUP Classical Studies To commemorate the 1900th anniversary of Hadrian’s Wall, here’s a selection of titles exploring its history, ancient Rome’s influence on British identity, the new approaches being developed in Roman archaeology, and more. Read More

    Bachelors and bachelorettes By Anatoly Liberman No one doubts that “bachelor” came to Middle English at the end of the thirteenth century from Old French and meant “a young knight.” Most conjectures about the etymology of this mysterious word were offered long ago. Read More

    Happy Dreams of Liberty An enslaved Alabama family and the question of generational wealth in the US By R. Isabela Morales Wealthy Alabama cotton planter Samuel Townsend invited the attorney to his home in 1853, swearing him to secrecy. His elder brother Edmund had recently died, and the extensive litigation over Edmund’s estate had made it clear to Samuel that he needed an airtight will if he wanted to guarantee that his chosen heirs would inherit […] Read More

    Public Policy & Aging Report Aduhelm and the politics of drug approval in the United States By Michael K. Gusmano During the past several decades, the US Congress has authorized billions of dollars for Alzheimer’s disease research, but this has not yet led to a major breakthrough in the treatment. It is therefore understandable why there was a great deal of excitement about a new drug being developed by Biogen for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, aducanumab (Aduhelm). Read More

    Salvation on earth: “saviour” gods in Ancient Greece Salvation on earth: “saviour” gods in Ancient Greece By Theodora Suk Fong Jim What did it mean to be “saved” in antiquity? In a polytheistic system where multiple gods and goddesses reigned, which ones did the ancient Greeks turn to as their “saviour” and how could the gods be persuaded to “save”? Theodora Jim investigates how the Greeks imagine, solicit, and experience divine saving as they confronted the unknown and unknowable, and how their hopes of “salvation” differ from that in Christianity. Read More

    Grove Music Eurovision 2022 in tempore belli: voices of the people, protest, and peace By Philip V. Bohlman Months before the Grand Finale of the Eurovision Song Contest on May 14, 2022 in Turin, Italy, Ukraine was able to claim both moral and musical victory with its entry, the Kalush Orchestra’s “Stefania” (Stephanie). Together with the official videos of all other national entries, “Stefania” began circulating globally on multiple internet platforms in the early weeks of 2022, even as the threat of Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine intensified and then reached the full force of invasion on 24 February. A “neat” etymology By Anatoly Liberman Where do you find the origin and, if necessary, the meaning of never say die, never mind, and other phrases of this type? Should you look them up under never, say, die, or mind? Will they be there? Read More

    Off with their prefixes By Edwin L. Battistella I was teaching the history of the English Language and had just mentioned that, following the English Civil War, Charles I had been convicted of treason and beheaded. A question came from the back of the classroom: “Why do we say beheaded and decapitated, not the other way around?” Read More

    The Changing Energy Mix The versatility of hydrogen: storable, portable, and renewable By Paul F. Meier Hydrogen is becoming a more versatile fuel, with the potential of storing and transporting renewable energy. This OUPblog post explores hydrogen’s use in electricity and heating and predicts greater demand for it in the future. Read More

    “Never say die” and dictionaries for the living By Anatoly Liberman Where do you find the origin and, if necessary, the meaning of never say die, never mind, and other phrases of this type? Should you look them up under never, say, die, or mind? Will they be there? Read More

    Ukraine: What Everyone Needs to Know Who is Putin fighting against? By Serhy Yekelchyk The Russian invasion of Ukraine has highlighted a curious disconnect between the supposed ideological objective of the war and the means used to achieve it. Read More


    May 2022 The neuroscience of consciousness by the Oxford Comment podcast Oxford World English Symposium 2022 recap [podcast] By Steven Filippi This past April, the Oxford English Dictionary hosted the World English Symposium, a two-day event featuring a series of parallel sessions and panels on topics relating not only to varieties of English, but language prejudice, colonialism, and context-based English language teaching, among others. Read More

    When does a kid stop being a kid? By Edwin L. Battistella Last summer, my city’s community forum had a post that generated considerable discussion about the meaning of the word kid. Our governor had announced, via Twitter, that “All Oregon kids ages 1-18, regardless of immigration status, can get free summer meals” from the state’s Summer Food Service Program. Read More

    Distrust of Institutions in Early Modern Britain and America Institutional distrust in Britain and America: a history By Brian P. Levack In the past few decades, trust and distrust have become frequent subjects of journalistic and academic discourse. Distrust of British and American public institutions has, in fact, a much longer and more complex history than most academics recognize. Read More

    The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Europe The president and the Patriarch: the significance of religion in the Ukrainian crisis By Grace Davie Baffling though this seems to most Europeans, President Putin believes that by invading Ukraine he is defending Orthodox Christianity from the godless West. Read More

    Oxford World's Classic 10 books to immerse yourself in the world of classical literature [reading list] By Lindsey Stangl Here are 10 books that we recommend you read if you’re looking to immerse yourself in the world of classical literature, but don’t know where to start: Read More

    Bram Stoker's Dracula Five little-known facts about Dracula The 26th May 2022 marks the 125th anniversary of Dracula’s publication. Despite its reputation as one of the great Gothic novels, there are facts about Dracula that might surprise even the most hardcore fans. Read More

    Selwyn's Law of Employment What does UK law say about sexual harassment in the workplace? By Astra Emir What does the law say about sexual harassment in the workplace? Barrister Astra Emir provides a guide to UK law on harassment for employers and employees. Read More

    Idioms: a historian’s view By Anatoly Liberman Idioms are phrases and often pose questions not directly connected with linguistics. Linguists interested in the origin of idioms should be historians and archeologists. Read More

    Every 90 Seconds by Anne P. DePrince The possibility of a world without intimate violence By Anne P. DePrince Today, stopping violence against women falls to few. The criminal legal system is charged with enforcing laws. A school delivers prevention programming to the children in attendance that day. A doctor privately addresses a survivor’s pain. Read More

    French History The French presidential election: Macron’s strange victory [long read] By Emile Chabal, Michael C. Behrent, and Marion Van Renterghem After the Fall of France in 1940, historian Marc Bloch famously spoke of France’s “strange defeat” by Germany. Emmanuel Macron’s victory on April 24 might just as appropriately be called a “strange victory”. Read More

    Unexpected Prosperity: How Spain Escaped the Middle Income Trap Beyond the Anna Karenina principle in economic development By Oscar Calvo-Gonzalez The opening sentence of Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina–All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way–is popular among development practitioners, who often offer their own version as follows: All rich economies are alike; each poor economy is poor in its own way. This idea, which we can call the Anna Karenina principle of economic development, is meant as a recognition of the value of context and local knowledge. Read More

    A long look at the origin of idioms By Anatoly Liberman Idioms are a thankful subject: one needs no etymological algebra or linguistic preparation for suggesting the origin of phrases. And yet it may be useful to explain how a professional goes about studying idioms. Read More

    Oxford University Press logo A Florence Price mystery solved (part two) By Douglas W. Shadle To my knowledge, Price’s Boston address remained inconclusive until I visited Special Collections at the University of Arkansas Mullins Library this past January to find new leads for the Price biography I am co-authoring with Samantha Ege, the Lord Crewe Junior Research Fellow in Music at Lincoln College, Oxford. The recovery of this information fills a void in a life story for which “the necessary evidence to write a detailed biography,” as preeminent Price scholar Rae Linda Brown once put it, “is surprisingly scant.” Read More

    Epigeum logo Five ways to support international students studying in the UK By Polly Penter Going to university for the first time, or embarking on graduate study, is a significant transition for anyone. Doing it in an unfamiliar country, with no support network, unaccustomed to the idiosyncrasies of the daily life and daunted by an alien academic culture, can be overwhelming—and that’s before we even consider that students may be doing all this in a second language! Read More

    A Concise Guide to Communication in Science and Engineering The curious popularity of “however” in research articles By David H. Foster There are many ways to signal a change of direction in a piece of text, but the most common is by inserting a “but.” Alternatives such as “although,” “though,” “however,” “yet,” and “nevertheless” generally run a poor second. In research articles, though, the prevalence of “however” increases—especially in some disciplines. Read More

    The sour milk of etymology By Anatoly Liberman The time has come to write something about the etymology of the word milk. Don’t hold your breath: “origin unknown,” that is, no one can say why milk is called milk, but then no one can say why water is called water either. Read More

    A Florence Price mystery solved (part one) By Douglas W. Shadle To my knowledge, Price’s Boston address remained inconclusive until I visited Special Collections at the University of Arkansas Mullins Library this past January to find new leads for the Price biography I am co-authoring with Samantha Ege, the Lord Crewe Junior Research Fellow in Music at Lincoln College, Oxford. The recovery of this information fills a void in a life story for which “the necessary evidence to write a detailed biography,” as preeminent Price scholar Rae Linda Brown once put it, “is surprisingly scant.” Read More

    Before the UN Sustainable Development Goals Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is another tragic setback in our efforts at building a sustainable future By Martin Gutmann and Dan Gorman To say that wars cause disruption and hardship is stating the painfully obvious. Regardless of attempts—real or professed—at limiting civilian casualties, military conflict always unleashes suffering on the civilian population. History also shows us that the disruptive effect of war also runs deeper and far beyond the geographic limits of fighting with far-reaching consequences for sustainability. Read More

    Oxford World's Classics A literary history of Modernism [timeline] By Ashendri Wickremasinghe In this timeline, we explore key figures and events that contributed to shaping modernism and celebrate 100 years since 1922: the pinnacle year of modernist publishing! Read More

    The Changing Energy Mix Renewable solar energy: how does it work and can it meet demand? By Paul F. Meier While it is impractical to have solar panels dotting virtually every available surface of the earth, it does show the awesome potential of solar energy as a renewable energy to meet our needs for generations to come. Read More

    The Journals of Gerontology: Series A We are what we breathe: environmental factors in biological ageing By Yanfei Guo and Fan Wu Volcanic eruptions, floods, and heatwaves have forced us to think seriously about whether the air we breathe will allow us to age healthily. To try to answer this question, we selected a unique sample of five middle-income countries on four continents and used NASA satellite remote sensing data to assess the associations between long-term exposure to ambient PM2.5 and frailty in older populations. Read More

    Social Workers' Desk Reference Social work in the anti-science era: how to build trust in science-based practice By Lisa Rapp-McCall Over the past five to seven years, there has been an increase in anti-science rhetoric and ideas which look to replace the reliance on science with misleading theories and discredit scientific experts. Unfortunately, non-scientific beliefs gained traction during the pandemic and show no signs of slowing. This post-truth and anti-science movement places the field of social work at an important crossroads. Read More


    How avocados may boost dog health [infographic] By Madeline McCurry-Schmidt In a new Journal of Animal Science study, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign report that dogs can benefit from fiber in their diet, which can help with weight loss and supports beneficial bacteria. Read More

    On being lazy, loose, empty, and idle By Anatoly Liberman Some of the most common words appeared in English late. Yet their origin is obscure. Of course, while dealing with old words, we also encounter unexpected solutions. Read More

    The neuroscience of consciousness by the Oxford Comment podcast The role of DNA research in society [podcast] By Steven Filippi and Stella Edison For today’s episode of The Oxford Comment, we’re commemorating National DNA Day in the United States with Amber Hartman Scholz and Dee Denver. Read More

    The Silken Thread Rough Walkers: the true story of Roosevelt’s Rough Riders By J. Ray Fisher and Robert N. Wiedenmann The recent controversy over a statue of Theodore Roosevelt reveals a larger story: one about the Rough Riders, the first United States Volunteer Cavalry. Although their victory at the Battle for the San Juan Heights is well-known, the Riders’ real enemy was not the Spanish they fought but the deadly yellow fever and malaria carried by mosquitoes. Read More

    Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Business and Management The problem with self-driving cars is not technology, the problem is people By D. Christopher Kayes The recent $2.5 billion fine against Boeing due to the 737 Max disaster exposes a problem associated with the introduction of new technology. This blog post highlights how the successful adoption of self-driving cars will depend on the drivers, not just on the technology. Read More

    From the ridiculous to the sublime: from “monkey” to “elephant” By Anatoly Liberman Recently I have reread August Pott’s essay on the word “elephant” and decided to write something about this word. I have nothing original to say about it and depend on two works: an excellent book in Italian and a detailed essay in English. Not everybody may have read them; hence my inroad on this convoluted problem. Read More

    Choreomania: Dance and Disorder Dance “crazes” and plagues: a precedented phenomenon By Kélina Gotman Lockdown raves, dodging people in the street, no more hugs, confinement within the home worthy of house arrest—and the language of self-isolation, shelter, safety… all the makings of a sci-fi horror film depicting the world at an end. Or a history book, which is what this pandemic has felt like to me at times, having spent well over a decade thinking about historical epidemiology, specifically in relation to ideas about dance. Read More

    America's Book: The Rise and Decline of a Bible Civilization, 1794-1911 The Bible and American history By Mark Noll The recent American presidency illustrates why Scripture has been both a polarizing and a constructive force in the nation’s history. On 1 June 2020, Donald Trump made an overtly political point when he cleared peaceful demonstrators from Lafayette Square, who were protesting police violence against unarmed Black men, so that he could pose for a […] Read More

    The Changing Energy Mix Electric vehicles: a shift in the resource landscape for the transportation market By Paul F. Meier At this time, the critical resource for the transportation industry is crude oil, the energy source needed to power vehicles. This could change, however, as some parts of the world move away from fossil fuel driven vehicles and towards battery electric vehicles. Read More

    On buying and selling By Anatoly Liberman Strange as it may seem, the origin of the verb buy remains a matter of uninspiring debate, at least partly because we don’t know what this verb meant before it acquired the modern sense. Read More

    Sportin' Life Three times systemic racism hindered Buck and Bubbles’s show business career By Brian Harker Since George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police in 2020, social justice activists have targeted systemic racism in housing, education, and law enforcement. Less attention has been paid to entertainment. As the recent controversy over racial bias in the Academy Awards suggests, however, this problem has always existed in show business. The career of legendary vaudeville team Buck and Bubbles shows how it worked. Read More

    Etymology gleanings for March 2022 By Anatoly Liberman This week, the Oxford Etymologist answers readers questions in his latest etymology gleanings. Read More

    French History What is the French presidential election about? [Long read] By Michael C. Behrent, Emile Chabal, and Marion Van Renterghem The upcoming French presidential election presents something of a paradox. On the one hand, the outcome seems a foregone conclusion with Macron on course for re-election. But while such an overwhelming electoral narrative could easily be interpreted as a mere continuation of the status quo, nothing could be further from the truth. Read More

    Ecosystem-based fisheries management A more holistic approach to fisheries management: including all the players By Jason S. Link and Anthony R. Marshak EBFM is rapidly becoming the default approach in global fisheries management, with the clarity of its definition and approaches for its implementation sharpening each year in US and international jurisdictions. The challenge is to objectively and quantitatively ascertain progress towards EBFM, and ensure wide-ranging applicability of the findings. Read More

    Grove Music Announcing the winner of the 2022 Grove Music Online spoof contest By Scott Gleason Happy April Fool’s Day! I’m pleased to announce that the winner of this year’s Grove Music Online Spoof Article Contest is David Barber, for an entry on “L.O.L. Bach.” Read More


    March 2022 Oxford African American Studies Center A life documented: Winkfield, an enslaved man in colonial Virginia By Terry L. Meyers The odds are long against learning much about any individual among the millions of people once enslaved in America. Terry L. Meyers charts the life of Winkfield, an enslaved worker at the College of William and Mary in the late 18th century.

    The Silken Thread Scientific myopia: proof triumphs over conviction in the study of yellow fever By Robert N. Wiedenmann and J. Ray Fisher The Oxford Advanced American Dictionary lists one entry for myopia as “the inability to think about anything outside your own situation.” We likely are all guilty of myopic thinking to one degree or another. However, myopia in science is not so simple, nor so benign.

    Osteological folklore: “bonfire” By Anatoly Liberman My today’s word is bonfire, which turned up in texts at the end of the fifteenth century. Seven years ago, I devoted a post to it but today I know more about this tricky compound and can write the story in a different way.

    Oxford World's Classics Five classics to read if you enjoy shows like Bridgerton or Sanditon [reading list] By Ashendri Wickremasinghe “It is a truth universally acknowledged…” that there is no such thing as too many period dramas—at least, this remains true for those of us who are drawn to them, time and time again. Watching period dramas bring with them a sense of comfort as they transport the viewer to a world that is so […]

    The neuroscience of consciousness by the Oxford Comment podcast Women’s economic empowerment, past and future [podcast] By Steven Filippi and Sarah Butcher 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.

    The Pursuit of Europe The Brexit referendum, five years on: can future generations “rebuild Europe”? By Anthony Pagden To paraphrase, Winston Churchill, Britain has always been “with Europe but not of it”. All it ever wanted was a share in a common market. Instead, it found itself caught up in the creation of new kind of political order. The consequence was Brexit. Now Britain is neither of nor with Europe.

    Celebrating women in STEM Celebrating women in STEM [timeline] By Amelia Storck, Sarah Trostle, Emily Richardson, and Laura Godfrey 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.

    Conquering the Ocean Reconstructing Claudius’ arch in Rome By Richard Hingley 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.

    The Diva's Gift to the Shakespearean Stage: Agency, Theatricality, and the Innamorata Why “the all-male stage” wasn’t By Pamela Allen Brown 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.

    Selwyn's Law of Employment A legal right to work from home? Here’s what the law says By Astra Emir 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.

    The Parrot in the Mirror Revenge of the hungry cockatoos? Spite and behavioural ecology By Antone Martinho-Truswell 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.

    Viruses: The Invisible Enemy, second edition What are viruses for? By Dorothy H. Crawford 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.

    Looking for Alicia: The Unfinished Life of an Argentinian Rebel Memory, truth, and justice as Argentina honours the victims of state terrorism By Marc Raboy 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.”

    Souls searched for but not found (part two) By Anatoly Liberman 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.

    Renegades: Digital Dance Cultures from Dubsmash to TikTok Digital dance cultures: from online obscurity to mainstream recognition By Trevor Boffone I didn’t enter the world of digital dance cultures as a scholar. When I was introduced to TikTok and Dubsmash in October 2018 by my high school students, I first engaged with the platforms as a dancer.

    Zenobia: Shooting Star of Palmyra Zenobia: warrior queen or political tactician? By Nathanael Andrade 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.

    March 2022 Manhattan Phoenix: The Great Fire of 1835 and the Emergence of Modern New York by Daniel S. Levy New York City: the grid By Daniel S. Levy 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.

    The Silken Thread History repeats—yellow fever and COVID-19 By Robert N. Wiedenmann and J. Ray Fisher 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.

    Human-Centered AI by Ben Shneiderman Behind the cover: Human-Centered AI By Ben Shneiderman 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.

    Soul searching, or the inscrutable word “soul” (part one) By Anatoly Liberman 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.

    Corporate Governance in Contention Shared governance—not shareholder governance By Ciaran Driver The intellectual basis for shareholder control of firms is that what is good for shareholders is good for everyone. In turn that is rationalized by the claim that only shareholders bear risks that are not compensated by contracts.

    Music Therapy Perspectives Managing the power of music to foster safety and avoid harm By Annie Heiderscheit and Kathleen M. Murphy Pulitzer Prize recipient and American playwright Lynn Nottage shared in a recent interview, “What music can do is get to the emotion with incredible economy and efficiency.” This capacity that music holds to reach in and connect to the wide range of emotions we experience as human beings can be a wonderful asset as it accesses those feelings we want to revisit and are ready to express. This becomes challenging and potentially harmful when it relates to unexpressed or unresolved emotions and experiences.

    Dreams of Love: Playing the Romantic Pianist The Piano meets The Power of the Dog By Ivan Raykoff In Jane Campion’s 1993 film “The Piano”, and her new film, “The Power of the Dog”, the grand piano serves as more than the emblematic instrument of feminine domestic music-making and of European bourgeois culture transported to the hinterlands of the nation or empire; it also functions as a gender technology because it regulates the metaphorical sound-body of the woman who plays it.

    OUP logo Five books to celebrate British Science Week By OUP Science To celebrate British Science Week, join in the conversation and keep abreast of the latest in science by delving into our reading list. It contains five of our latest books on evolutionary biology, the magic of mathematics, artificial intelligence, and more.

    Manhattan Phoenix: The Great Fire of 1835 and the Emergence of Modern New York by Daniel S. Levy New York City: the streams and waterways of Manhattan By Daniel S. Levy We think of New York as an island packed with buildings, a place of concrete sidewalks and tarmacked avenues, a city that as Frank Sinatra sang, “doesn’t sleep.” But Manhattan at the turn of the 19th century—in the years before its street grid was laid out and decades before the Great Fire of 1835 which would accelerate the city’s northward growth—was a very different sort of place. New York City back then was a sleepy town just on the island of Manhattan.

    Religious terminology: further benefits of blessing and the devious ways of cursing By Anatoly Liberman In this week’s blog post, the Oxford Etymologist dives deeper into the competing origin theories for the verb “bless”—with “curse” as an added bonus.

    Women Philosophers in the Long Nineteenth Century International Women’s Day: feminist philosophy with Clara Zetkin By Dalia Nassar and Kristin Gjesdal Clara Zetkin was instrumental in establishing International Women’s Day. It did not take long to catch on. The following year the International Women’s Day was marked by over a million people taking to the streets.

    Magnificat by Tawnie Olson Tawnie Olson: re-imagining the Magnificat By Tawnie Olson Several years ago, a choir in which I sang premiered a piece by a successful male composer. The music and text combined to suggest a Blessed Virgin who was inoffensively meek, sweet, and… small. I was not the only singer who found this composer’s vision unsatisfying. After one rehearsal, a normally-reserved alto walked up to me and fumed, “Tawnie, you have to compose a feminist Magnificat!”

    Collective Understanding, Radicalism, and Literary History, 1645-1742 Inky thumbprints: what common women can tell us about reading, relationships, and resisting anti-intellectualism By Melissa Mowry In communities and state legislatures across the United States, there is a concerted movement underway to limit the kinds of ideas to which students are exposed. Often hidden behind claims to parental rights, balanced treatment, and a desire to avoid division, these efforts target students’ ability to think freely, to ask probing questions, and to […]

    When Money Talks: A History of Coins and Numismatics A silver thread through history [video] By Frank L. Holt With a history spanning back over 2,000 years, coins are much more than just money. They are also a means of storing and communicating information, resembling tiny discs of information technology that convey images and text across vast swatches of time and territory. Coins are the first world wide web linking us together. While they […]

    Letting foregones be bygones By Edwin L. Battistella I was reading a column in a chess magazine when I came across the description of a game’s finish as a bygone conclusion. “That’s really weird,” I thought, “It should have said foregone conclusion.”

    Dissenting Daughters: Reformed Women in the Dutch Republic, 1572-1725 Ten new books to read this Women’s History Month [reading list] By OUP History Since 1987, Women’s History Month has been observed in the US annually each March as an opportunity to highlight the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. This month, we’re sharing some of the latest history titles covering a range of eras and regions but all charting the lives of women and the impact they made, whether noticed at the time or from the shadows.

    March 2022 Manhattan Phoenix: The Great Fire of 1835 and the Emergence of Modern New York by Daniel S. Levy New York City: the life and times of the Bowery Theater By Daniel S. Levy In the mid 1820s, New York had three theaters:, the Park, the Chatham, and the Lafayette. Some citizens felt there should be more, and in October 1825, the New York Association started work on a new house. They chose a site between the Bowery and Elizabeth Street just south of Canal Street, and Mayor Philip Hone officiated at the laying of the cornerstone. “This spot which a few years since was surrounded by cultivated fields,” he told the gathered, “where the husbandman was employed in reaping the generous harvest, and cattle grazed for the use of the city, then afar off, has now become the centre of a compact population.”

    Religious terminology continued: bless your heart, my dear! By Anatoly Liberman From God (or rather, god) to bless.

    The Art of Conversation in Cancer Care Healing conversation in medical care By Richard P. McQuellon Every day thousands of people have conversations with healthcare providers (HCPs) about their medical condition. Such meetings can be profoundly comforting or extremely distressing to the patient and caregiver.


    February 2022 (15))

    How well do you know your library quotes? [Quiz] By Mahrukh Khalid Do you know what Neil Gaiman once said about librarians? Perhaps you share Sir Francis Bacon’s taste for books? Give our library quotations quiz a go and tell us how you score!

    Why does justice for animals matter? By Jeff Sebo Recent health and environmental crises have taught us that our lives are increasingly connected. Many of us now appreciate pursuing health and climate justice requires pursuing social and economic justice too. And in the same kind of way, I believe, pursuing justice for humans requires pursuing justice for animals too.

    Very Short Introductions The VSI podcast season three: ageing, Pakistan, slang, psychopathy, and more By The VSI podcast team Listen to season three of The VSI Podcast for concise and original introductions to a selection of our VSI titles from the authors themselves.

    Manhattan Phoenix: The Great Fire of 1835 and the Emergence of Modern New York by Daniel S. Levy New York City: The Great Fire of 1835 By Daniel S. Levy In the 1830s, New York was a small city. While the island of Manhattan had a prosperous community at its southern end, its northern area contained farms, villages, streams, and woods. Then on the evening of 16 December 1835, a fire broke out near Wall Street.

    If God is not good, what is the origin of “good”? By Anatoly Liberman In this blog post, the Oxford Etymologist details the etymology of the adjective “good”. If it is not related to “god”, then what is its origin?

    The neuroscience of consciousness by the Oxford Comment podcast The color line: race and education in the United States [podcast] By Steven Filippi and Meghan Schaffer Black History Month celebrates the achievements of a globally marginalized community still fighting for equal representation and opportunity in all areas of life. This includes education. In 1954, the United States’ Supreme Court ruled “separate but equal” unconstitutional for American public schools in ‘Brown v. Board of Education’. While this ruling has been celebrated as a pivotal victory for civil rights, it has not endured without challenge.

    The Oxford Textbook on Criminology Breathing life into statistics: stories of racism within the criminal justice system By Tyler Hawtin, Clare Weaver, and Livy Watson Recent events have put the issue of racial inequality in the criminal justice system front and centre. The increased focus has shown that it is human stories that have the greatest impact. This blog post takes extracts from three conversations on of racism and justice.

    Religious terminology: the etymology of “god” By Anatoly Liberman A few days ago, I received a letter from a well-educated reader, who asked me whether the English words “god” and “good” are related.

    Grove Music Grove Music’s 2022 spoof article contest is now open! By Scott Gleason I am pleased to announce the semi-annual Grove Music Online Spoof Article Contest is now open for 2022!

    Totally Truffaut: 23 Films for Understanding the Man and the Filmmaker François Truffaut: why we crave great fiction By Anne Gillain François Truffaut is among the few French directors whose work can be labeled as “pure fiction.” He always professed that films should not become vehicles for social, political, religious, or philosophical messages.

    Something Old, Something New Contemporary Entanglements of Religion and Secularity Chief Justice Roberts’ court questions the religious neutrality of secular schools By Wayne Glausser Having chosen “entanglement” as the best word to describe religious and secular cultures interacting, I noted with interest the oral arguments in Carson v. Makin, heard 8 December 2021.

    The incomprehensible word “understand” By Anatoly Liberman “Understand” is a teaser: each of the two elements of this compound is clear, but why does it mean what it does?

    Fitting Things Together: Coherence and the Demands of Structural Rationality Which anti-vaxxers are irrational? By Alex Worsnip Consider two different characters: Alanna and Brent. Both refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but their motivations are different. Alanna believes that the vaccine is unsafe and ineffective. Brent simply doesn’t care much about protecting others, and so he can’t be bothered to get vaccinated. Are these characters irrational?

    What are light verbs? By Edwin L. Battistella English verbs show tremendous variety. Some have a lot of semantic content and serve as the main predicate of a sentence—as transitive or intransitive or linking verbs.

    Annotations to James Joyce's Ulysses “A man of genius makes no mistakes”: Joycean misapprehensions By Sam Slote Joyce invites misapprehension in many ways. He overtly signals the importance of error with Stephen’s famous line in ‘Scylla and Charybdis’: ‘A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery’. This is a particularly shrewd move on Joyce’s part. Since a man of genius makes no mistakes, anything that seems like a mistake must actually be something ingenious that can only be discerned by a suitably astute reader. In effect, Joyce implies that there are no mistakes in this text, just artistic brilliance that may or may not be properly apprehended.

    Monthly gleanings for January 2022 By Anatoly Liberman In this month’s round-up of questions from readers, the Oxford Etymologist tackles “see”, “echo”, “Baba Yaga”, “masher”, and more.


    January 2022 (20))

    Silver linings from the COVID-19 shutdowns at music schools By Amy Nathan “Our teachers and students and families are so excited to be back, to see everyone again,” said Brandon Tesh, director of the Third Street Music School in New York City. His school resumed in-person classes in September 2021 after 18 months of online instruction, caused by government-ordered school shutdowns aimed at slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

    Selwyn's Law of Employment “No jab, no job”? Compulsory vaccination and the law By Astra Emir The issue of so-called “compulsory vaccination” is an emotive one for many, and now with the rise of action being taken against unvaccinated employees it has become an employment law issue too. This is having an impact in two main areas: in the field of statutory sick pay and also whether employees in health and social care must be vaccinated.

    Internet Jurisdiction Having data privacy rights is of no use if you cannot claim them By Julia Hörnle The focus of legal discussions on data protection and privacy is normally placed on the extent of the rights conferred by the law on individuals. But as litigation lawyers are painfully aware, to have a claim valid in law is not the same as succeeding in court, as being “right” is expensive business and litigation financing is a key part of being successful. It is therefore about time that the UK government should consider enacting legislation to provide a clear and comprehensive framework for collective redress.

    How Nations Remember: A Narrative Approach The road from Berlin in 1989 to America today By James V. Wertsch In November 1989, the world watched with disbelief as crowds tore down the Berlin Wall. In America, we assumed that we were witnessing the end of communism and speculated about the rise of democracy in Eastern Europe and maybe even in the Soviet Union. These ideas guided our thinking for the next several years, but […]

    Seeing is believing (?) By Anatoly Liberman Today I’ll try to say something about the verb “see.” Once again, we’ll have to admit that the more basic a word is, the less we know about its remote history.

    UK Politics by Andrew Blick Importance and uncertainty: referendums in the United Kingdom By Andrew Blick erendums—popular votes held on specific subjects—are an important part of United Kingdom (UK) politics. But they are also surrounded by doubts and disagreement.

    The Drama of History by Kristin Gjesdal Staging philosophy: the relationship between philosophy and drama By Kristin Gjesdal Where does philosophy belong? In lecture halls, libraries, and campus offices? In town squares? In public life? One answer to this question, exceedingly popular from the Enlightenment onward, has been that philosophy belongs on stage—not in the sense that this is the only place we should find it, but that the relationship between philosophy and drama is particularly productive and promising.

    First Democracy: The Challenge of an Ancient Ideal Majority rule is not democracy By Paul Woodruff What is democracy? Pundits have been writing recently that democracy is majority rule, but that is wrong, dangerously wrong.

    Colliding Worlds Do Look Up! Could a comet really kill us all? By Simone Marchi When it comes to catastrophic events for humans, a big nasty asteroid or comet colliding with Earth tops the chart, and several movies have exploited this scenario. The recent Netflix movie “Don’t Look Up” did that again, but as a satire and a warning. It is widely considered an allegory for climate change, but let’s consider the astronomical scenario as presented. Is such a scenario scientifically sound?

    Communication, Culture & Critique The challenges and opportunities of studying the digital cultures of South Asia By Sangeet Kumar, Kalyani Chadha, and Radhika Parameswaran Like all aspects of the cultural landscape in South Asia, the digital sphere is increasingly a site of fractious contestations where immense hope and optimism on social change and progress coexist alongside despair and anger around a host of social and political issues.

    Hearsay? It depends on what you hear By Anatoly Liberman The etymology of the word “hear” is especially tough – but life would be a dull thing is everything was clear.

    Spying Through a Glass Darkly: The Ethics of Espionage and Counter-Intelligence The morality of espionage: do we have a moral duty to spy? Why spy? . . . For as long as rogues become leaders, we shall spy. For as long as there are bullies and liars and madmen in the world, we shall spy. For as long as nations compete, and politicians deceive, and tyrants launch conquests, and consumers need resources, and the homeless look for land, and the hungry for food, and the rich for excess, your chosen profession is perfectly secure, I can assure you. (John Le Carré, “The Secret Pilgrim”)

    Forms of Astonishment: Greek Myths of Metamorphosis by Richard Buxton Charlie Chaplin and the art of metamorphosis By Richard Buxton Charlie Chaplin was certainly the greatest mime, probably the greatest actor, and arguably the greatest artist in any medium in the twentieth century. As self-transformations go, his personal rags-to riches story is hard to match. But the theme of metamorphosis also permeates his movies.

    Oxford Bibliographies in Management Recognizing the “other” ways of employee creativity in the workplace By Feirong Yuan For many years, the common understanding of employee creativity involves individuals generating new products and services for their organizations. Yet employees can also demonstrate creativity in other ways.

    After a sun eclipse: bedposts and curtains in sex life and warfare By Anatoly Liberman The phrase in a/the twinkling of a bedpost (with the archaic variant bedstaff) means the same as in a twinkling of an eye, that is, “very quickly,” because twinkle, when used metaphorically, refers to a rapid movement. Agreed: eyes and stars twinkle, but bedposts don’t, and here is the rub.

    Screening the Police: Film and Law Enforcement in the United States by Noah Tsika Beyond “Copaganda”: Hollywood’s offscreen relationship with the police By Noah Tsika Do Hollywood’s portrayals of policing matter as much as the industry’s material entwinement with law enforcement—as much as the working relationships pursued beyond the screen? Instead of conceding that the consumers of popular media are eminently capable of thinking for themselves (and thus of resisting flattering depictions of power), more and more commentators are calling for the complete elimination of cop shows, cinematic police chases, and other, ostensibly entertaining images of law enforcement.

    The tree of life and the table of the elements By Eric Scerri and David Reznick Darwin’s tree of life and Mendeleev’s periodic table of the elements share a number of interesting parallels, the most meaningful of which lie in the central role that each plays in its respective domain.

    Getting English under control By Edwin L. Battistella Any large organization or bureaucracy is likely to have a style guide for its internal documents, publications, and web presence. Some organizations go a step further and develop what is known as a control language.

    Trust and Distrust: Corruption in Office in Britain and its Empire, 1600-1850 Britain’s long struggle with corruption By Mark Knights Corruption has risen to the top of the British political agenda. Even if we agree with Boris Johnson that the UK is “not remotely a corrupt country”, then Britain certainly did struggle with corruption in the past. Indeed it has had a long history of corruption and anti-corruption. This has some lessons for today.

    The scars of old stars By Anatoly Liberman The Oxford Etymologist is out of hibernation and picks up where he left off in mid-December. It may be profitable to return to the origin of “star”, but from a somewhat broader perspective.


    December 2021 (22))

    The top 10 religion blog posts in 2021 By OUPblog team In 2021, our authors published new research, analysis, and insights into topics ranging from religious tolerance to taboo, atheist stereotypes to the appeal of religious politics, and much more. Read our top 10 blog posts of the year from the Press’ authors featured in our Religion Archive on the OUPblog: 1. Stereotypes of atheist scientists […]

    OUPblog The top 10 politics blog posts of 2021 By OUPblog How can we help Afghan refugees? What are the challenges facing American democracy? Is Weimar Germany a warning from history? These are just a few of the questions our authors have tackled on the OUPblog this past year. Discover their takes on the big political issues of 2021 with our list of the top 10 politics blog posts of the year.

    OUPblog The top 10 literature blog posts of 2021 By OUPblog team This year on the OUPblog, our authors have marked major anniversaries, championed activism, confronted antisemitism, shattered stereotypes, and sought to understand our post-pandemic world through literature. Dive into the top 10 literature blog posts of the year on the OUPblog:

    OUPblog The top 10 history blog posts of 2021 By OUPblog team Travel back in time to the recent past and explore the OUPblog’s top 10 history blog posts of 2021. From dispelling Euro-centric myths of the Aztec empire to considering humanity’s future through the lens of environmental history, think outside the box with the latest research and expert insights from the Press’s history authors.

    The neuroscience of consciousness by the Oxford Comment podcast Holiday cheer [podcast] By Steven Filippi As we approach the end of 2021, we can look back at the previous two years of restrictions, lockdowns, COVID tests and vaccination lines, not to mention all the political strife… or we can look to the unknown, ahead to the new year. But let us pause for a moment and enjoy the now: a holiday season that should be livelier than last year’s. After all that’s gone on, we could use some old-fashioned holiday cheer.

    How INGOs mediate China’s “going out” strategy By May Farid and Hui Li China has become a major player in global development. Its development finance now rivals World Bank lending in scale, and its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has grown to embrace 140 countries across Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America.

    OUPblog The top 10 science blog posts of 2021 By OUPblog team From the evolution of consciousness to cosmic encounters, the Brain Health Gap to palliative medicine, 2021 has been a year filled with discovery across scientific disciplines. On the OUPblog, we have published blogs posts showcasing the very latest research and insights from our expert authors at the Press. Make sure you’re caught up with the best of science in 2021 with our top 10 blog posts of the year:

    Law Trove Test your legal knowledge with our festive law quiz! By Emily Richardson This festive season, it’s important to make sure you know the ins and outs of the law surrounding the holidays: for example, what circumstances would enable Father Christmas’s elves to take strike action, and what are the legal implications of the Naughty & Nice list? Test your legal knowledge with our themed quiz.

    Charlie Brown's America A Charlie Brown Christmas: the unlikely triumph of a holiday classic By Blake Scott Ball A Charlie Brown Christmas was never supposed to be a success. It hit on all the wrong beats. The pacing was slow, the voice actors were amateurs, and the music was mostly laid back piano jazz (the opening theme, “Christmas Time is Here,” carried a strange, wintery melody built on unconventional modal chord progressions). It was almost like the program was constructed as a sort of anti-pop statement. In many ways, that’s exactly what it was. And that’s exactly why it so worried the media executives who had commissioned it.

    The Chinese Lady: Afong May in Early America by Nancy E. Davis Afong Moy on the 21st century stage By Nancy E. Davis The story of Afong Moy, the first known Chinese woman on American soil, and the first Chinese person to come face to face with American audiences across the country has been told recently by both the historian Nancy Davis as well as the playwright LLoyd Suh. Davis explores Afong Moy’s life and the different lessons that can be learned through research as well as fictionalization.

    Twinkle, twinkle, or stars and sparks By Anatoly Liberman Nothing is known about the origin of the phrase “Milky Way.” By contrast, the origin of the word “star” is not hopelessly obscure, which is good, because stars and obscurity have little in common.

    The Right of Sovereignty by Daniel Lee The sovereign duties of humanity: re-examining Bodin’s theory By Daniel Lee Sovereignty is the grand prize of statehood in public international law, the touchstone of political independence. Its value derives from the monopoly it confers upon its holder, empowering it to do things that no else can—making and unmaking law, declaring war, signing treaties, establishing courts, laying taxes.

    Oxford Music A history of the Carols for Choirs angel [gallery] By OUP Sheet Music A blog taking us through the many iterations of the iconic Carols for Choirs cover design, from the first version in 1961 through to the current design. The thread throughout all of the covers is an illustrated angel, which can be found on every cover version, in various shapes and sizes!

    Down the rabbit hole By Edwin L. Battistella If you are a writer, you’ve probably gone down a rabbit hole at one point or another. The idiom owes its meaning to Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, in which Alice literally does that.

    The Oxford Book of Carols Christmas with Ralph Vaughan Williams and The Oxford Book of Carols By Jeremy Summerly and John Francis, The inter-war Oxford Book of Carols (published in 1928) was the brainchild of Reverend Percy Dearmer—a socialist, high church Anglican liturgist who believed that music should be at the core of Christian worship. Today the OBC is a world-renowned publication that shines as as a beacon of experimentation within tradition: a visionary musico-poetic collection of the most profoundly partisan nature.

    Protecting the protectors: how safe is life for humanitarian workers in conflict zones? By Daniela Irrera Despite the visibility of attacks in media reports, problems encountered by NGOs in conflict zones remain an under-researched and undervalued issue that deserves more attention.

    The wiles of folk etymology By Anatoly Liberman Words, as linguistics tells us, are conventional signs. Some natural phenomenon is called rain or snow, and, if you don’t know what those words mean, you will never guess. But everything in our consciousness militates against such a rupture between word and thing.

    Carols for Choirs Carols for Choirs: the journey to press By Sheet Music team A history of the first ‘Carols for Choirs’ book, first published in 1961. Looking at materials from the OUP archive, we trace the journey from the initial idea through to its eventual release and unexpected success.

    The Women Are Up to Something Knowing one’s opinion is worth hearing By Benjamin J. B. Lipscomb Mary Midgley muses that the dearth of men in Oxford during WW2 helped her and her friends Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, and Iris Murdoch find their way into philosophy. But each of them took years to find her voice—Midgley longest of all. What held them back and what provoked them to finally speak up?

    Winter etymology gleanings By Anatoly Liberman Both “thank” and “give” deserve our attention! And it is those two outwardly unexciting words that I’ll offer today as part of our etymological feast.

    City Living: How Urban Dwellers and Urban Spaces Make One Another City spaces, pace bias, and the production of disability By Quill R Kukla How does our body shape our experience of living in a city? In this OUPblog, Quill R Kukla focuses on one fascinating dimension along which bodies are included in or excluded from spaces, namely pace.


    November 2021 (24))

    COVID-19 and mental health: where do we go from here? [podcast] By Steven Filippi, Meghan Schaffer, and and Christine Scalora The effects of COVID-19 reach far beyond mortality, triggering widespread economic and sociopolitical consequences. It is unsurprising to learn, after everything that has transpired in the past two years, that COVID-19 has also had a detrimental effect on our mental health.

    V.S. Naipaul, Caribbean Writing, and Caribbean Thought by William Ghosh Homi K. Bhabha on V.S. Naipaul: in conversation with William Ghosh By William Ghosh “Literature, we’re told, is the immortality of speech, but in fact reputations fade quickly.” In this OUPblog, read foundational figure in postcolonial theory, Homi K. Bhabha, in conversation with William Ghosh, author of V.S. Naipaul, Caribbean Writing, and Caribbean Thought (Oxford 2020).

    Oxford Libraries Green libraries tackling environmental challenges: University College Cork By Anni Valkama What might libraries do to help reduce the carbon footprint? We spoke to Martin O’Connor at University College Cork to find out how UCC Library chose to tackle the challenge and make their library greener.

    A Concise Guide to Communication in Science and Engineering How research abstracts succeed and fail By David H. Foster The abstract of a research article has a simple remit: to faithfully summarize the reported research. After the title, it’s the most read section of the article. Crucially, it makes the case to the reader for reading the article in full. Alas, not all abstracts succeed.

    International Law Mapping international law By Anders Henriksen The map highlights some fascinating examples of international law in action; examples across the globe examining how the law can, or cannot, be enforced across sovereign states.

    From Halloween to Thanksgiving By Anatoly Liberman Both “thank” and “give” deserve our attention! And it is those two outwardly unexciting words that I’ll offer today as part of our etymological feast.

    The Last Ghetto The society of Holocaust victims: what was life inside a Nazi camp like? By Anna Hájková To mark the 80th anniversary of the first transport to Theresienstadt on 24 November 1941, scholar Anna Hájková explores the social relations that formed within Nazi camps.

    Freedom girls: Voicing Femininity in 1960s British Pop Voicing 1960s femininity: not just a “girl singer” [playlist] By Alexandra M. Apolloni “The disc charts cannot stand many girls, no matter how gorgeous they look,” claimed Beatles manager Brian Epstein in A Cellarful of Noise, his memoir of the 1960s. He was explaining why he’d only ever represented one female performer—Cilla Black. His justification falls back on the then-conventional wisdom that girl singers were an anomaly, were each other’s competitors, and that there wasn’t an audience for their work.

    Smashing the Liquor Machine 20 people you didn’t know were Prohibitionists By Mark Lawrence Schrad The full story of prohibition—one you’ve probably never been told—is perhaps one of the most broad-based and successful transnational social movements of the modern era. Discover 20 key figures from history that you didn’t know were prohibitionists.

    The sky’s the limit By Anatoly Liberman English (uncharacteristically) has two, if not even three, words for the sphere above us: sky, heaven, and firmament.

    The Musical Theater of Tommy Tune The musical genius of Tommy Tune: “old plus old equals new” By Kevin Winkler From the beginning, Tommy Tune was pulled as if by centrifugal force toward dance and the Broadway musical. He was taking dancing lessons by the age of five, but his early ambition to be a ballet dancer was abandoned when he shot up in height during his teenage years. He later joked about his extreme height, saying, “Sometimes, instead of thinking of myself as six-foot-six, I tell myself I’m only five-foot-eighteen.”

    International Affairs Why increasing deglobalization is putting vulnerable populations at risk By Jarrod Hayes and Katja Weber The record of globalization is decidedly mixed. Whereas proponents tend to associate globalization with beneficial developments such as the expansion of democracy and improved access to goods and services, critics highlight the human costs: rising inequality and political and economic exploitation.

    Oxford Scholarship Online Fake news, misinformation, and disinformation: journalism today? By Rebecca Olley [Reading list] Fake, false, inaccurate, misleading, and deceptive. This rhetoric is all too familiar to the news consuming public today. But what is fake news and how does it differ from misinformation and disinformation?

    Willful Defiance Police-free schools: the new frontier in ending the school-to-prison pipeline By Mark R. Warren There is no research-based evidence that demonstrates that police improve safety in schools. As opposed to promoting safety, school police target students of color and those with disabilities, which starts them on the road to prison.

    Many words for a small world and a little-known centennial By Anatoly Liberman What do we call the world in which we live? The specifically Germanic noun “world” is perhaps the most puzzling word known in this area.

    The Arctic: A Very Short Introduction The Arctic Paradox: why the Arctic is caught in the conflicting pressures of global climate change By Klaus Dodds and Jamie Woodward The Arctic is now exceeding climate change predictions by decades—it features prominently in the Sixth IPCC Assessment Report (AR6) of the IPCC due in 2022, especially in relation to climate change impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability.

    Wondering about the subjunctive By Edwin L. Battistella “He wondered if he were hallucinating.” I came across that use of the subjunctive while listening to the audiobook of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

    Oxford Libraries The ultimate reading list for every academic librarian By Molly Dixon Whether you are looking to escape into the histories of some libraries or looking to expand your knowledge on the future of reading and research we’ve got something for every librarian with this reading list.

    Engineering: A Very Short Introduction Engineering a new capitalism for the 21st century By David Ian Blockley Former Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney has observed that society has, unfortunately, come to embody Oscar Wilde’s old aphorism: “knowing the price of everything but the value of nothing”.

    OUP climate change hub Five books on climate change you need to read By OUP science team Keep abreast of the latest climate science by delving into this reading list of five books on different elements of climate change.

    Divisions: A New History of Racism and Resistance in America's World War II Military Resisting racism within America’s WWII military: stories from the frontline By Thomas A. Guglielmo America’s World War II military was a force of unalloyed good. While saving the world from Nazism, it also managed to unify a famously fractious American people. At least that’s the story many Americans have long told themselves… But the reality is starkly different. The military built not one color line, but a complex tangle […]

    English idioms: etymological devilry in baking and printing By Anatoly Liberman It is curious how often those who have tried to explain the origin of English idioms have referred to the occupation of printers. Regardless of their success, the attempts are worthy of note.

    The Science and Art of Interviewing Why depth interviewing is essential to understanding individuals and institutions By Kathleen Gerson and Sarah Damaske Once assumed to be a core research tool, many of today’s researchers have cast a skeptical eye on depth interviewing. These critiques reflect a fundamental misunderstanding about what depth interviews can accomplish.

    Sustainability: What Everyone Needs to Know Sustainability in action: dismantling systems to combat climate change By Paul B. Thompson and Patricia E. Norris Some connection between sustainability and the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November is assumed, but the very idea of sustainability remains poorly understood.


    October 2021 (34))

    The appearance of the goddess Discord: Gustave Moreau and a mythical tradition By Mercedes Aguirre Usually considered as the first French Symbolist painter, Moreau rejected the dominant artistic trends of his time in order to explore his own anxieties and longings by returning to the Greek myths.

    Oxford Research Encylopedias: Religion A pre-9/11 action movie with a Muslim hero shows what could have been By Robert Repino and Sana Khan In the fall of 1999, another action movie came and went, garnering disappointed reviews and a pittance in ticket sales. Adapted from Michael Crichton’s novel “Eaters of the Dead”, The 13th Warrior offered a surprising premise.

    OUP logo How OUP is innovating for the future of open research By Rhiannon Meaden Innovations in open research can help to address disinformation, making a wider range of information accessible and available, ensuring reproducibility, and facilitating reuse.

    Age and Ageing Caring for our most vulnerable: lessons from COVID-19 on policy changes in the care home sector By Adam Gordon If the true measure of any society is how it cares for its most vulnerable, then the catastrophic impact of COVID-19 on care home residents during the first wave of the pandemic was a sad indictment. Older people living in care homes are truly our most vulnerable.

    How Welfare Worked in the Early United States What can early US welfare policies teach us about caring for our communities? By Gabriel Loiacono Every year, I spend the semester with 50 college sophomores pondering two questions. The first one is: how have people in the past cared for the neediest people in their community? The second is: how should we?

    Spooks are spooks, but don’t ignore organic pumpkins By Anatoly Liberman We are one more week closer to Halloween, and pumpkins are ubiquitous. How did the pumpkin get its name?

    OUP logo “I wouldn’t start from here”: a SHAPE route to open access By Andy Redman Open research may be the route to surfacing a definitional framework for the monograph in SHAPE disciplines. Director of Open Access, Academic, at OUP Andy Redman explores why in this blog post:

    The neuroscience of consciousness by the Oxford Comment podcast What is the impact of opening research? [podcast] By Steven Filippi and Ella Percival Open access is a publishing model that has been gathering momentum across the world for more than 15 years and each year, during the last week of October, the publishing and research sector comes together to celebrate it during International Open Access Week.

    What policy and industry changes are needed to avert climate catastrophe? By Charles Weiss To avert catastrophic climate change will require huge changes in energy, transportation, land use, urban systems, infrastructure, and industry, involving government, business, educational and research institutions, civil society, and the general public. None of these restructurings will be easy.

    OUP logo How is OUP contributing to the open research landscape today? By Rhodri Jackson As a mission-driven university press, we strongly support the opening up of research and the benefits for access and inclusion that OA brings. We want to ensure that the transition towards open research is an inclusive process—to use the title of OA week, “it matters how we open knowledge.”

    The Dragon in the West 10 books on magic, monsters, and myths to read for Halloween [reading list] By OUP Arts & Humanities From its origins as an ancient Celtic festival celebrating the end of the harvest, over time Halloween has evolved into a day of trick-or-treating, scary films, costumes, and carving pumpkins.

    Spooky Halloween: the origin of “spook” By Anatoly Liberman How can a ghost (any ghost) get its name, and why is the etymology of bogymen, gremlins, goblins, and spooks usually unknown?

    Agincourt Mapping the great battles [interactive map] By Sarah Butcher Certain battles acquire iconic status in history. The victors have been celebrated as heroes for centuries, the vanquished serve as a cautionary tale for all, and nations use these triumphs to establish their founding myths. These battles are commemorated in paintings, verse and music, marked by monumental memorials, and used as the way points for the periodisation of history.

    Epigeum logo Five key areas of communication for research integrity By Susan O'Brien Why do breakdowns in research teams occur? Often, it is due to a failure by all the team members to communicate clearly, honestly, and respectfully about the goals of the team and each individual, as well as expectations and understanding of responsible research conduct.

    Cultural Psychology Can you have more than one cultural identity? By Robyn M. Holmes Forming our identity is an important developmental process that begins at birth. One critical component of our identity is our cultural identity, and one important aspect of our cultural identity is a sense of belonging.

    Epigeum logo Six common types of plagiarism in academic research By Epigeum In recent years the importance of integrity in research has been under a spotlight, with increasing numbers of research institutions placing emphasis on their researchers undertaking training on the matter. However, the issue of plagiarism in academic research has not disappeared, and some recent stats and events clearly highlight this.

    New pathways through later life: redesigning later life work and retirement By Dawn Carr In March of 2020, for many Americans and older workers especially, what it meant to go to work changed in an instant. As some workers moved their offices into their homes, others had to go to work and face significant risks to their health each day.

    No Refuge How can we help Afghan refugees? By Serena Parekh The outpouring of support for Afghan refugees since the fall of the Taliban a few weeks ago is laudable. As the author of two books on our obligations to refugees, many people have been asking me about how we should respond to this crisis and what we can hope for Afghan refugees. There’s both a lot we in the United States can do and a lot we should be worried about.

    An etymological meltdown: “thaw,” “dew,” and “icicles” By Anatoly Liberman A bit more is known about the origin of the words thaw and dew than about ice and snow. They are less impenetrable than those two, but they also contain riddles.

    Understanding the Mental Health Problems of Children and Adolescents How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected children’s mental health? By Kirstin Painter and Maria Scannapieco, The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a year and a half fraught with unpredictability and change. Change and unpredictability can be stressful for anyone, but for children, change and disruption of routine is especially stressful.

    Understanding Deviance in a World of Standards Why do companies deviate from standards and what shall we do about it? By Andrea Fried Standards appear as legal or quasi-legal rules and relate to a variety of topics, including product or service quality, information security, environmental performance, health and safety in the workplace, and many more. Much has been written, or rather suspected, about corporate cultures of companies where standards were broken terribly.

    How can we solve the energy crisis and mitigate climate change? By Mark Rowlands Symptoms of the looming climate crisis abound: 50-year extreme heat events happening every year, melting of polar ice sheets, forest fires that encircle the globe, tropical cyclones of greater size, intensity and, as was very evident in Ida’s recent visit to New York, unprecedented levels of precipitation.

    Nutrition Review Can what we eat have an effect on the brain? By Bo Ekstrand Food plays an important role in brain performance and health. In our review, we outline the role of diet in five key areas: brain development, signalling networks and neurotransmitters in the brain, cognition and memory, the balance between protein formation and degradation, and deteriorative effects due to chronic inflammatory processes.

    Perceptions of Medieval Manuscripts Fragmentology: bits of books and the medieval manuscript By Elaine Treharne So many fragments of manuscripts exist that a new term—Fragmentology—has recently been applied to the study of these parts and parcels. Librarians, archivists and academics are paying more attention to what can be learned about textual culture from a folio cut, say, from a twelfth-century manuscript and later used by a binder to line the oak boards of a fifteenth-century book.

    Responsible Citizens, Irresponsible States Who bears responsibility for the United States’ actions in Afghanistan? By Avia Pasternak Alongside the commemorations of the September 11 attacks, Americans marked twenty years since the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan. Scholars of international law still dispute whether the decision to invade Afghanistan was justified.

    After ice expect snow By Anatoly Liberman Winter is round the corner, and the best way to prepare for it is to read a few murky stories about the etymology of the relevant words: “ice” and “snow.”

    Walk with Me The activism of Fannie Lou Hamer: a timeline By Kate Clifford Larson Fannie Lou Hamer was a galvanizing force of the Civil Rights movement, using her voice to advance voting rights and representation for Black Americans throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Faced with eviction, arrests, and abuse at the hands of white doctors, policemen, and others, Hamer stayed true to her faith and her conviction in non-violent […]

    MNRAS A cosmic census By Raphael Shirley, María Campos, Peter Hurley, Katarzyna Malek, and Seb Oliver A new census of the Universe will allow scientists to understand more about how galaxies are born, age, and die. The millions of galaxies that have been painstakingly catalogued come in many shapes and sizes and this new work shines a light on every variety that we can see.

    Oftener and oftener By Edwin L. Battistella When I was growing up, someone in authority told me that way to pronounce often was offen, like off with a little syllabic n at the end. Often was like soften, listen, and glisten, I was warned, with a silent t.

    10 books on palliative medicine and end-of-life care [reading list] By OUP Medicine team Each year an estimated 40 million people are in need of palliative care, 78% of whom live in low- and middle-income countries. This reading list of recent titles can help you to reflect on palliative medicine as a public health need.

    The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Is food addiction contributing to global obesity? By Ashley Gearhardt and Johannes Hebebrand What is it about highly processed foods that causes such a public health threat? Why are people unable to quit even when they are highly motivated to do so? Evidence is growing that highly processed foods are capable of triggering addictive processes akin to addictive drugs like tobacco.

    OUP celebrates their BMA 2021 Award winners We are delighted to announce the OUP published titles that have been presented with awards at this year’s British Medical Association Medical Book Awards.

    Crusoe's Books The reader observed: from Saint Jerome to Scott of the Antarctic Across the centuries, in paintings and eventually in photography, one of the most common subjects for representation has been the reader.


    September 2021 (30))

    Black History Month: celebrating 10 people who made British history To observe UK Black History Month, we have curated a collection of Oxford Dictionary of National Biography articles exploring the lives of people of Black/African descent who had an impact on, or a connection to, the UK during their lifetime and the ways in which they made history.

    Bimonthly etymology gleanings: September 2021 By Anatoly Liberman In this blog post, the Oxford Etymologist tackles questions from readers.

    America's Scientific Treasures Take a virtual tour of America’s national parks: the Grand Staircase By Brenda H. Cohen and Stephen M. Cohen Take a virtual tour of three of America’s national parks: the Grand Canyon, Zion Canyon, and Bryce Canyon, to get a complete picture of the West’s geology and landscape.

    The neuroscience of consciousness by the Oxford Comment podcast What is public debt? [podcast] By Steven Filippi and Christine Scalora What do you think of when you hear the term “public debt?” If you’re familiar with the phrase, you might think about elected officials debating budgets and how to pay for goods and services. Or maybe it’s a vague concept you don’t fully understand.

    The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Does “overeating” cause obesity? The evidence is less filling By David S. Ludwig The usual way of thinking considers obesity a problem of energy balance. Take in more calories than you expend—in other words, “overeat”—and weight gain will inevitably result. The simple solution, according to the prevailing Energy Balance Model (EBM), is to eat less and move more. New research shows that viewing body weight control as an energy balance problem is fundamentally wrong, or at least not helpful, for three reasons.

    Classical Mythology Can interpretations of the Pandora myth tell us something about ourselves? By William Hansen According to the early Greek poet Hesiod (ca. 700 BC), the primordial human community consisted only of men, who lived lives of health and ease, enjoying a neighborly relationship with the gods. That relationship soured, however, after Prometheus deceived the Olympian gods for the benefit of mankind. In retaliation, Zeus schemed to punish men by […]

    Varieties of Atheism in Science Stereotypes of atheist scientists need to be dispelled before trust in science erodes By David R. Johnson and Elaine Howard Ecklund Coping with a global pandemic has laid bare the need for public trust in science. And there is good news and bad news when it comes to how likely the public is to trust science. Our work over the past ten years reveals that the public trusts science and that religious people seem to trust science as much as non-religious people. Yet, public trust in scientists as a people group is eroding in dangerous ways. And for certain groups who are particularly unlikely to trust scientists, the belief that all scientists are loud, anti-religious atheists is a part of their distrust.

    9780190936792 Keeping the peace: property and community By Bart Wilson When we think about the origins of property, we naturally, like Jean-Jacque Rousseau, think of land, of “the first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying ‘This is mine,’ and found people simple enough to believe him.”

    OUP icon logo Five models of peer review: a guide By Rhiannon Meaden and Sarah McKenna This blog post looks at five peer review models currently in use, describing what they mean for authors, reviewers and editors, and examines the various benefits and consequences of each.

    The Review of Economic Studies From immigrants to Americans: race and assimilation during the Great Migration By Marco Tabellini and Vicky Fouka In recent decades, immigration has reshaped the demographic profile of many Western countries. The economic and political effects of immigration-induced diversity have been investigated by a growing number of studies across the social sciences.

    Elderspeak: the language of ageism in healthcare By Clarissa Shaw and Jean K. Gordon Elderspeak or baby talk to older adults is frequent in the healthcare context. Although elderspeak is typically well-intentioned it arises from a place of implicit ageism and can have negative consequences for older adults, particularly those with dementia.

    Ice: a forlorn hope By Anatoly Liberman Why is searching for the origin of “ice” a forlorn hope? Because all the Germanic-speaking people had the same word for “ice,” and yet we don’t know where it came from.

    GigaScience Increasing the diversity and depth of the peer review pool through embracing identity By Scott Edmunds The theme of Peer Review Week 2021 is “Identity.” From carrying out open peer review GigaScience makes sure that early career researchers and students emerge from the shadows of their supervisors and are credited when they jointly carry out reviews. New initiatives are promoting review of preprints as a way to improve skills and join editorial boards and reviewer pools. GigaScience is participating in the Preprint Reviewer Recruitment Network and encourages reviewers and other journals to join.

    Oxford Research Encyclopedia: Education Eradicating ableism with disability-positive K-12 education By Qudsiya Naqui More than half a century ago, powerful civil rights laws brought disabled children into American school systems, breaking down the physical barriers that held these young people at the margins of society. But attitudes towards disability as a devalued limitation persisted, holding social and cultural barriers between disabled and nondisabled people firmly in place.

    An empire of many colours? Race and imperialism in Ancient Rome By Greg Woolf Romans sometimes worried that you couldn’t tell enslaved and free people apart. By the second century CE, many senators were descended from Gauls and Iberians, Carthaginians, Greeks, and Syrians—the very peoples Romans had conquered as they extended their empire. So, was the Roman empire unusually inclusive? Or even a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic civilization? None of that seems very likely.

    Guided by the Mountains Well-known secret graveyards: (re)discovering the horrors of assimilation for Indigenous peoples By Michael Lerma The Kamloops Indian Residential School was part of a systematic Indigenous youth educational effort in Canada, with comparable projects in the United States, the purpose and intent of which is hotly debated today.

    Which library matches your personality? [Quiz] By Mahrukh Khalid Which library matches your personality? Are you an old soul like the al- Qarawlyyin library? Quirky like the Culture Perth & Kinross Mobile Library? Give our short quiz a go to find out!

    Enraged, Rattled, and Wronged: Entitlement's Response to Social Progress The Census and entitled resentment By Kristin J. Anderson From a psychological perspective, entitlement refers to one’s sense of deservingness. Entitled people believe they deserve more than others. For entitled white people, the latest Census data triggers panic at being replaced by those who have historically been on the margins.

    Idioms and slang: two examples By Anatoly Liberman In this blog post, the Oxford Etymologist discusses two slang idioms: “worth a Jew’s eye” and “to save one’s bacon”.

    Economic Policy The importance of international coordination of environmental policies By Itzhak Ben-David, Yeejin Jang, Stefanie Kleimeier, and Michael Viehs The US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called on 6 July 2021 for tighter international coordination on carbon environmental policies. So why can’t individual countries implement their own environmental policies in an effective fashion so that global warming will be slowed down?

    Urban Transformation in Ancient Molise Molise: the undiscovered Italian region By Elizabeth C. Robinson When planning a trip to Italy, the major cities of Rome, Florence, Milan and Venice are usually on the must-see list. Yet many people also yearn to find the “undiscovered hidden gem” waiting to be explored. For the latter group, Molise is waiting. This region is so underrated that Italians have a running joke: “Il Molise non esiste” (“Molise doesn’t exist”).

    JNCI Studying cancer incidence in 9/11 first-responders: lessons learned for future disasters By James Cone This week on the 20th Anniversary of the 9/11 World Trade Center (WTC) disaster, we are provided with an opportunity to reflect on the lessons learned in the aftermath of this event and consider what can be done to reduce the health impacts of future disasters. Our latest study of cancer incidence among rescue and recovery workers exposed to the WTC disaster on 9 September 2001 demonstrates the value of ongoing surveillance of chronic health effects.

    Dante's New Life of the Book The real scandal of Dante’s Beatrice By Martin Eisner 2021 saw the 700th anniversary of the death of poet Dante Alighieri. To mark this, we asked some of our authors to write for the OUPblog on Dante. In this blog, Martin Eisner author of “Dante’s New Life of the Book: A Philology of World Literature”, explores Dante’s divinization of a mortal woman, with specific reference to Beatrice from Dante’s the New Life (Vita nuova).

    The Rise and Fall of Christian Ireland The continuing appeal of religious politics in Northern Ireland By Crawford Gribben One of the most curious features of sudden-onset secularisation on the island of Ireland has been the revitalisation of religious politics. This is most obvious in Northern Ireland, where within the last three months, the chaotic introduction of the Brexit protocol, loyalist riots, and a controversy about banning so-called “gay conversion therapy” have been followed by dramatic declines in electoral support for and leadership changes within the largest unionist party that can only be described as chaotic.

    Two evil homonyms: “mother” and “haggard” By Anatoly Liberman In this blog post, the Oxford Etymologist dives into the lexicographical history of two puzzling English homonyms: “mother” and “haggard.”

    ‘Look, I Overcame!’: contesting normative narratives with Dante’s Comedy By Nicolò Crisafi 2021 sees the 700th anniversary of the death of poet Dante Alighieri. To mark this, we asked authors of some of our new publishing on Dante to write for the OUPblog. Do comedies owe us a happy ending? When Dante called his masterpiece a “comedy” the explanation of his title was fairly straightforward. Comedies promise to […]

    The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Ballet From La Source to Cold War cultural diplomacy, seven books on ballet [reading list] By OUP Music From its origins in the Renaissance, ballet has evolved in various distinct ways, with different schools around the globe incorporating their own cultures. Explore some of our recent titles that look at the history (and future) of ballet, consider some of its influential figures, and the role it played in Cold War cultural diplomacy.

    Super takes off By Edwin L. Battistella Superman has been around for more than eighty years. The word “super” been a part of English much longer. It was borrowed into English from Latin, and in Old English we already find the word “superhumerale” to refer to a religious garment worn over the shoulders.

    The hedging henchman and his hidden horse By Anatoly Liberman This is the second and last part of the henchman tale, of which the first part appeared a week ago (August 25, 2021). The difficulties confronting an etymologist are two: 1) We don’t know exactly what the word henchman meant when it first surfaced in Middle English, and 2) the obscure Medieval Latin gloss used […]


    August 2021 (18))

    The power of words [podcast] By Steven Filippi and Sarah Butcher We’re all familiar with the phrase “words have power” but in a political and cultural climate where we become more aware of the power that money, influence, and privilege have every day, how do people wield the power of words?

    Why were Finnish schools so successful with distance and in-person learning during the pandemic? By Eduardo Andere On 18 March 2020, schools in Finland closed. On 14 May 2020, they reopened successfully. Why was Finland successful in transitioning to distance education and then back to face-to-face learning and teaching?

    Oxford World's Classics Six summer reads from Oxford World’s Classics By Sarah Fabian This year, more than ever, we can appreciate the power of losing yourself in a great story. Here is a selection of six classic novels to see you through the rest of summer…

    Science Denial: Why It Happens and What to Do About It Science denial: why it happens and 5 things you can do about it By Barbara K. Hofer and Gale M. Sinatra Science denial became deadly in 2020. Many political leaders failed to support what scientists knew to be effective prevention measures. Over the course of the pandemic, people died from COVID-19 still believing it did not exist.

    The henchman’s dilemma By Anatoly Liberman I am aware of only two English words whose origin has provoked enough passion and bad blood to inspire a thriller. The first such word is “cockney” and the second is “henchman”.

    How Nations Remember What does the history of Victory Day tell us about Russia’s national identity? By James V. Wertsch Every year on 9 May, Russia observes Victory Day as its most important national holiday. It celebrates the end of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945) by staging events that dwarf those of any other country. But Victory Day is not just about the past. It is also about national identity in the present, and as this identity project has changed, so has the memory of the war.

    Convergence Mental Health A Transdisciplinary Approach to Innovation Closing the Brain Health Gap: addressing women’s inequalities By Erin Smith, Naoko Kawaguchi, Sandra Bond Chapman, Antonella Santuccione Chadha, Meryl Comer, Jessica Wolfe, William Hynes, Paul W. Zarutskie, and Harris A. Eyre There is a clear sex and gender gap in outcomes for brain health disorders across the lifespan, with strikingly negative outcomes for women. The “Brain Health Gap” highlights and frames inequalities in all areas across the translational spectrum from bench-to-bedside and from boardroom-to-policy and economics.

    Chinese Journal of International Law The expanding horizons of national security and the China-US strategic competition—where are we heading? By Joel Slawotsky From Wall Street to Beijing Finance Street and beyond, one of the most important issues in international business and law is the changing conceptualization of national security. Corporations, businesses and investors are all affected by governmental decisions with respect to defending national security in the contexts of international investment, trade, and finance. The recent US […]

    The proverbial ninepence By Anatoly Liberman The popularity of ninepence in proverbial sayings is amazing. To be sure, nine, along with three and seven, are great favorites of European folklore. No one knows for sure why just those numerals achieved such prominence.

    SHAPE and societal recovery from crises By SHAPE team The SHAPE (Social Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts for People and the Economy) initiative advocates for the value of the social sciences, humanities, and arts subject areas in helping us to understand the world in which we live and find solutions to global issues. As societies around the world respond to the immediate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, research from SHAPE disciplines has the potential to illuminate how societies process and recover from various social crises.

    Native conquistadors: the role of Tlaxcala in the fall of the Aztec empire By David M. Carballo The Spanish invasion of Mesoamerica, leading to the collapse of the Aztec empire, would have been impossible were it not for the assistance provided by various groups of Native allies who sensed the opportunity to upend the existing geopolitical order to something they thought would be to their advantage. No group was more critical to these alliances than the Tlaxcaltecs.

    Word namesakes, also known as homonyms By Anatoly Liberman Some homonyms are truly ancient: the words in question might sound alike or be nearly identical more than a millennium ago. But more often a newcomer appears from nowhere and pushes away his neighbors without caring for their well-being.

    From the rise to the maturation of the platform economy By camille carlton, dafna bearson, john zysman, and martin kenney Today, digital platform firms are among the most valuable and powerful firms in the world. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the movement of social and economic activity online, embedding platforms further into our lives.

    How to chide according to rule, or the thin edge of the wedge By Anatoly Liberman Chide remains a word “of unknown origin,” even though the Online Etymological Dictionary mentions the hypothesis suggested in my 2008 An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology. Perhaps it might be interesting to some of our readers to know the history of research into the etymology of this verb.

    Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest The three greatest myths of the Fall of Tenochtitlán By Matthew Restall 13 August 2021 marks the moment, exactly five hundred years ago, when Spanish conquistadors won the battle for Tenochtitlán, completing their astonishing conquest of the Aztec Empire, initiating the three-century colonial era of New Spain. At least, that is the summary of the event that has since predominated. In recent decades, scholars have developed increasingly informed and complex understandings of the so-called Conquest, and opinions in Mexico itself have become ever more varied and sophisticated.

    Inspiring women in jazz, with Nikki Iles By Nikki Iles As a teenager, I took clarinet and piano lessons at the Royal Academy of Music on Saturdays. I always particularly loved the chamber groups and small group music-making, so in some ways, it’s no surprise that I ended up in the jazz world! My dad was a semi-pro jazz drummer and I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by the music of Oscar Peterson, Nat Cole, Frank Sinatra, Ella and George Shearing as I grew up.

    A world without relative clauses By Edwin L. Battistella Where does the relative clause begin and the main clause end? Why does the teacher sometimes call them adjective clauses? Should I use that or which or who? And what is the story with restrictive and non-restrictive?


    July 2021 (30))

    What everyone needs to know about 2021 thus far By Sarah Fabian The year 2020 posed myriad challenges for everyone and now that we have reached the mid-way point of 2021, it is clear that, although the crises are not yet fully averted, the year thus far has already boasted some encouraging events.

    Introduction to International Relations Fiddling while Rome burns: climate change and international relations By Jørgen Møller It is Wednesday morning, my wife and kids have left for work and school and I am sitting in my home office, which has a beautiful view of the Gudenå river valley. I have the whole day to myself, no teaching, no meetings, no administrative drudgery. I am currently working on three books, all under contract with Oxford University Press, and it is one of those bright spring mornings that are perfect for writing. What’s not to like?

    Etymology gleanings for July 2021: tending my flock By Anatoly Liberman This week’s blog post concerns the origin of English “flock”, as in a flock of gulls and a tuft of wool. The two flocks are not related and the origin of the first is unknown. I am unable to unravel this knot, but I can perhaps explain how the problem originated and venture a precarious hypothesis.

    Oxford Research Encyclopedias: Education Why climate change education needs more empathy By Derek Gladwin As citizens of this planet, we remain at an impasse when it comes to drastically changing the course of our environmental futures. At the heart of this impasse is climate change and the future of human and more-than-human survival. And yet, a significant key to potentially resolving climate change revolves around how we communicate with […]

    The neuroscience of human consciousness [podcast] By Steven Filippi and Victoria Sparkman How can the study of the human brain help us unravel the mysteries of life? Going a step further, how can having a better understanding of the brain help us to combat debilitating diseases or treat mental illnesses? In this episode of The Oxford Comment, we focused on human consciousness and how studying the neurological basis for human cognition can lead not only to better health but a better understanding of human culture, language, and society as well.

    Brain It’s time to use software-as-medicine to help an injured brain By Henry Mahncke Multiple mild Traumatic Brain Injuries (“mTBIs”) can put military service members at an elevated risk of cognitive impairment. Service members and veterans were enrolled in a trial with a new type of brain training program, based on the science of brain plasticity and the discovery that intensive, adaptive, computerized training—targeting sensory speed and accuracy—can rewire the brain to improve cognitive function. The trial found that the training program significantly improved overall cognitive function.

    OUP Libraries Are UK public libraries heading in a new direction? By Katie Warriner, Trisha Ward, Karen Walker, and Ania Zminda Since early 2020, we’ve seen the phrase “the new normal” used everywhere to describe every aspect of our lives post-coronavirus. Undoubtedly, COVID-19 had a huge impact on the library sector with closures happening globally, equally seen among institutional libraries as well as public libraries. As a result, we’ve seen new initiatives being adopted and revised strategies implemented.

    Empire of Ruins Let’s raise our taxes! Infrastructure and the American character By Miles Orvell If the infrastructure—roads, rails, water, and sewer lines—is the foundation of our economy, we are living on ruins and on borrowed time. The fragility of our infrastructure symbolizes the failure of a national ideology that has submerged public welfare under an ocean of private interests.

    A Useful History of Britain Beyond history and identity: what else can we learn from the past? By Michael Braddick History is important to collective identity in the same way that memory is important to our sense of ourselves. It is difficult to explain who we are without reference to our past: place and date of birth, class background, education, and so on. A shared history can, by the same token, give us a shared identity—to be a Manchester United fan is to have a particular relationship to the Munich air disaster, the Busby babes, George Best, Eric Cantona, and so on.

    The decay of the art of lying, or homonyms and their kin By Anatoly Liberman I have been meaning to write about homonyms for quite some time, and now this time has come. Here we are interested in one question only, to wit—why so many obviously different words are not distinguished in pronunciation, or, to change the focus of the enquiry, why language, constantly striving for the most economical and most perfect means of expression (or so it seems), has not done enough to get rid of those countless ambiguities.

    The Legacy of Racism for Children “Stop acting like a child”: police denial of Black childhood By Keaton Carr, Malia Metelues, Kirsten Spears, and Margaret C. Stevenson On 29 January 2021, Rochester police responded to an incident involving a Black nine-year-old girl, who they were told might be suicidal. An extended police body camera video of the incident shows the agitated child, her mother, and an officer attempting to de-escalate the situation.

    The case for readdressing the three paradigms of basic astrophysics By Zeki Eker A long held misunderstanding of stellar brightness is being corrected, thanks to a new study published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society based on International Astronomical Union (IAU) General Assembly Resolution B2.

    The Realness of Things Past Have humans always lived in a “pluriverse” of worlds? By Greg Anderson In the modern West, we take it for granted that reality is an objectively knowable material world. From a young age, we are taught to visualize it as a vast abstract space full of free-standing objects that all obey timeless universal laws of science and nature. But a very different picture of reality is now emerging from new currents of thought in fields like history, anthropology, and sociology.

    On beacons, tokens, and all kinds of wonders By Anatoly Liberman Let me begin by saying that the best authorities disagree on the etymology of “beacon,” and my suggestion with which I’ll finish this essay is my own.

    Epigeum logo Navigating digital research methods: key principles to consider By Catherine Dawson What do learners need to know when introduced to research methods? Do learners from all disciplines need to know the same things? How would digital research methods be incorporated? Ten principles emerged from these questions.

    Very Short Introductions The VSI podcast season two: Homer, film music, consciousness, samurai, and more By The VSI Podcast Team Listen to season two of The VSI Podcast for concise and original introductions to a selection of our VSI titles from the authors themselves.

    A Roman road trip: tips for travelling the Roman Empire this summer By Kimberly Cassibry As Europe reopens, consider a Roman road trip that takes inspiration from an ancient travel guide. The Vicarello itineraries describe what we might call the scenic route from Cádiz to Rome. Glimpses of the empire’s superlative architecture can be found along the way, and emerging digital tools can put primary sources at your fingertips.

    Whitman and the America yet to be: reconceptualizing a multiracial democracy By Kenneth M. Price In this OUPblog, Kenneth M. Price explores American poet Walt Whitman and what has often seemed to many to be a loss of Whitman’s early political and poetic radicalism after the war, and how it can be better understood as his own effort to reconceptualize a multiracial democracy.

    Passion's Fictions from Shakespeare to Richardson: Literature and the Sciences of Soul and Mind Shakespeare and the sciences of emotion By Benedict S. Robinson What role should literature have in the interdisciplinary study of emotion? The dominant answer today seems to be “not much.” Scholars of literature of course write about emotion; but fundamental questions about what emotion is and how it works belong elsewhere: to psychology, cognitive science, neurophysiology, philosophy of mind. In Shakespeare’s time the picture was different. What the period called “passions” were material for ethics and for that part of natural philosophy dealing with the soul; but it was rhetoric that offered the most extensive accounts of the passions.

    Outlandish but not crazy By Edwin L. Battistella The study of language has generated a lot of outlandish ideas: various bits of prescriptive dogma, stereotypes and folklore about dialects, fantasy etymologies, wild theories of the origin of language. Every linguist probably has their own list. When these ideas come up in classes or conversations, I have sometimes referred to them as crazy, wacky, loony, kooky, or nutty. I’m going to try to stop doing that.

    Why did evolution create conscious states of mind? By Stephen Grossberg When we open our eyes in the morning, we take for granted that we will consciously see the world in all of its dazzling variety. The immediacy of our conscious experiences does not, however, explain how we consciously see.

    Monthly gleanings for June 2021: odds and ends By Anatoly Liberman In this blog post, the Oxford Etymologist responds to readers’ questions on “fieldfare,” “sparrow,” “heifer,” “snide,” and more.

    Transgression and Redemption in American Fiction Where have you gone, Jimmy Gatz? Roman Catholic haunting in American literary modernism By Thomas J. Ferraro The year is 1924: the restriction acts designed to turn the tide of Eastern and Southern European immigration into a trickle have been signed into US law. However, nativist panic continues apace. In quick succession three titans of US literary modernism weigh in, each with the novel still judged their best: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925), Willa Cather’s The Professor’s House (1926), Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises (1926).

    Grove Music How well do you know Louis Armstrong? [Quiz] By OUP Music With a career that spanned five decades and different eras in jazz, Louis Armstrong is perhaps one of the best-known jazz musicians. Test your knowledge of this influential entertainer with our quiz.

    Shakespeare and East Asia Adapting Shakespeare: shattering stereotypes of Asian women onstage and onscreen By Alexa Alice Joubin There has always been some perceived affinity between the submissive Ophelia and East Asian women. Ophelia is a paradox in world literature. Even when she appears to depend on others for her thoughts like her Western counterpart, the Ophelias in Asian adaptations adopt some rhetorical strategies to make themselves heard, balancing between eloquence and silence, shattering the stereotypes about docile Asian women.

    Which law applies to negotiable instruments? By Benjamin Geva and Sagi Peari The law of negotiable instruments is known for its sophistication and internal complexity. For centuries it has provided an effective legal solution for the pertinent needs of domestic and international commerce, facilitating predictability, protection of parties’ justified expectations, and the elimination of the risk involved in the physical carriage of money. The internal balance of its rules, doctrines, concepts, and principles has been achieved through a slow and ongoing evolution—a Sisyphean effort of adjudication tribunals to balance of the interests of commercial actors, fairness, legal predictability, and commercial utility.

    Whose streets? The picturesque, Central Park, and the spaces of American democracy By John Evelev Last summer, during the “Black Lives Matter” protests in US cities galvanized by the murder of George Floyd, it was common to hear marchers chanting “Whose streets? Our streets!” In some instances, police seeking to break up the protests also took up this chant, an ironic retort to the crowd’s claim to political power. These contesting claims to possession of the city streets framed a conflict over social representation in contemporary US life: “whose streets” are they really

    Listening as a way to manage stage fright By Julie Jaffee Nagel It is as important for music teachers to listen to what music students and performers say as to the music they play. The incident I am about to describe further opened my eyes and ears.

    Marie Madeleine: exploring language, style, and humour in the Acadian folksong tradition By Jeanette Gallant There are two main French speaking groups in Canada: the Québécois and the lesser-known Acadians, who have a fascinating but tragic history in Canada. After failing to establish a post on St Croix Island (present-day Maine) in 1604, the Acadians became the first French colonial group to settle on Canadian soil in 1605 (in present-day Nova Scotia), three years prior to the arrival of the Québécois.

    Jewish American Writing and World Literature: Maybe to Millions, Maybe to Nobody What does it mean to think of the world “in Jewish”? By Saul Noam Zaritt Antisemitism has been increasingly in the headlines, from reports of violent incidents directly targeting Jews to the growing prominence of ethnonationalist discourse that makes frequent use of Jewish stereotypes. This surge in anti-Jewishness includes renewed attention to the medieval image of the wandering Jew, translated into contemporary parlance with the term “globalism.” It would be tempting to dismiss such ideas as uninformed distortions of Jewish culture and history. It may be useful then to think with the stereotype rather than against it. What does it mean to think of the world “in Jewish”? What might a vocabulary of Jewish worldliness reveal about the global present?


    June 2021 (29))

    On tokens, beacons, and finger-pointing By Anatoly Liberman Token is a Common Germanic word. The forms are Old English “tac(e)n”, Old High German “zeihhan”, etc. The English noun combined the senses “sign, signal” and “portent, marvel, wonder.” German “Zeichen” and Dutch “teken” are still alive but mean only “indication, sign.”

    Mexican independence from Spain and the first Mexican emperor By Helen Watanabe-O'Kelly Mexico had been battling its way towards independence from Spain for some years when, in 1820, the Mexican-born officer, Agustín de Iturbide y Arámburu (1783-1824), proclaimed a new rebellion on behalf of what he called the Plan of Iguala. This called for Mexican independence, a constitutional monarchy with the Spanish king or another member of the Bourbon dynasty at its head, the Catholic religion as the only religion of Mexico, and the unity of all inhabitants, no matter what their origin, ethnicity, or social class.

    How does ocean health impact life and livelihoods? [podcast] By Steven Filippi and Christina Fleischer In episode 62 of The Oxford Comment, we are joined by biological oceanographer Lisa Levin and Professor Ray Hilborn to better understand the multifold threats to our oceans posed by overfishing, climate change, and biodiversity loss, and the impact this will have on our lives and livelihoods.

    Poetry and the Language of Oppression: Essays on Politics and Poetics Why literature must be part of the language of recovery from crisis By Carmen Bugan Recovery takes many forms, the most obvious being physical, mental, and economic. But there must also be a recovery and a newly-discovered sense of values that put the human struggle in perspective and bring the world community to a strongly-held respect for life. The role of language in the destruction of values as well as in their recovery cannot be overstated. Poetry records and expresses, and it keeps us alert to the spiritual consequences of our experiences.

    OUP Libraries Innovation in libraries: the University of Johannesburg Library Innovation has been a buzzword in all industries amidst this “new normal” and libraries are having to change their approach rapidly in these challenging times. OUP representatives set out to find examples of truly innovative libraries from across the world and the first one in our series is focused on the University of Johannesburg Library, in Johannesburg, South Africa.

    Discoveries from the Fortepiano Missing the forest for the trees: interpreting the composer’s message By Donna Gunn We can get so bogged down with mysterious notation that we miss the point of the score: the composer’s message. Obsession over details—why did the composer use newly available extra keys in one piece but not another? Why did the composer use particular articulation in this spot but fail to maintain consistency later?

    Sandbows and Black Lights The mermaid in the fishbowl: the rise of optical illusions and magical effects By Stephen R. Wilk The nineteenth century saw the publication of several books explaining how magical effects and spectral appearances could be performed using the science of optics. It started in 1831, when Sir David Brewster (famed for his discovery of Brewster polarization and inventing the kaleidoscope) published “Letters on Natural Magic.” In this book, Brewster showed how to produce images of ghosts using partially silvered mirrors and by using a magic lantern to project images onto screens or onto clouds of vapor.

    Saint Napoleon? How Napoleon used religion to bolster his power By Helen Watanabe-O'Kelly Though not a believer himself, Napoleon was well aware that religion was a vital tool for any ruler, especially when many of his subjects were believers. As he said to his secretary, Emanuel Las Cases, on St Helena at the end of his life: “from the moment that I had power, I hastened to re-establish religion. I used it as foundation and root. It became the support of good morals, of true principles, of good manners.”

    He That Dwelleth in the Secret Place of the Most High Exploring the choral music of Rebecca Clarke By OUP Sheet Music Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979) is most commonly known as a violist and composer, in particular for her famous Viola Sonata (1919), which has remained one of the most significant in the instrument’s repertoire since its composition. Her Shorter Pieces for viola and piano, as well as a number of solo songs, have gained increasing recognition since the turn of the millennium, as more of her music has begun to be published and researched.

    Extraordinary times: revisiting the familiar through the novels of Marilynne Robinson By Laura E. Tanner Last week, after more than a year of living in pandemic lock-down, my husband, my son, and I drove from our home outside Boston to the outer tip of Cape Cod, where we parked in a near empty lot and walked down a steep hill through the dunes to the ocean. “It’s still here,” I said aloud, trying to breathe in the sweeping expanse of the curved shore, the June light illuminating the water, the sound of waves and the sweep of terns. Like the trip we took as a young family to watch the sunset at Race Point Beach just days after 9/11, this encounter with the sublime felt like a blessing, a visceral recollection of the way that beauty opens us up to something larger than ourselves.

    Now in the field with a fieldfare By Anatoly Liberman Last week, I wrote about the troublesome origin of heifer. The oldest recorded form of heifer is HEAHFORE. I promised to return to the equally enigmatic- fore. I even wrote that perhaps the etymology of the bird name “fieldfare” would throw additional light on heifer. Birds often follow herds of cattle for sustenance, so that my idea is, on the face of it, not unreasonable. Just for those who may be not quite sure what bird a fieldfare is, let me explain: it is a thrush.

    Epigeum logo Career development: shaping future-ready academic researchers By Shelda Debowski There is pressure on researchers and academics to scale up their impact and reach, and to demonstrate their value. To meet these escalating expectations, they need access to quality learning opportunities that are fit for purpose, capability-focused, flexible, high quality, and impactful.

    Earth’s wild years: the creative destruction of cosmic encounters By Simone Marchi We earthlings enjoy the spectacle of shooting stars, small fragments of asteroids and comets that burn in sudden flashes upon entry in the Earth’s atmosphere. The largest of these fragments pose a limited threat to us as their mid-air blasts can produce local damage to buildings and infrastructures. Larger events are increasingly rarer, but their consequences can be devastating on a global scale.

    Duelling Grounds Seven new books on musical theater: from Hamilton to Oklahoma! [reading list] By OUP Music Whether you’re new to the stage or eagerly counting down the days until the curtains lift, explore some of our recent titles looking behind the scenes of musical theater.

    Still plowing with my heifer By Anatoly Liberman Twenty-five years ago, quite by chance, I looked up the etymology of heifer in a dictionary and discovered the statement: “Origin unknown.” Other dictionaries were not much more informative, and I decided to pursue the subject. Thanks to this chance episode, etymology became my profession.

    The Making of a Terrorist Thirteen new French history books [reading list] By OUP History Bastille Day is a French national holiday, marking the storming of the Bastille—a military fortress and prison—on 14 July 1789, in an uprising that helped usher in the French Revolution. In the lead up to the anniversary of Bastille day, we’re sharing some of the latest French history titles, for you to explore, share, and enjoy. We have also granted free access to selected chapters, for a limited time, for you to dip into.

    Should we be worried about robots taking our jobs? The answer depends on labor market institutions By Jens Suedekum, Sebastian Findeisen, Wolfgang Dauth, and Nicole Woessner Do new technologies, such as robots, destroy jobs and cause mass unemployment? Many current and past commentators have forcefully made this point in the public debate, but new research published in the Journal of the European Economic Association suggests that “technological mass unemployment” is indeed not something we should worry about.

    The Shock of America The rise and fall of the European Super League: when the American challenge backfires By David Ellwood In the long history of America’s influence on the politics of innovation in Europe, the case of the planned football Super League stands out. This is not because of the project as such, but simply because, of all the variety of responses Europe has produced when faced with the latest American novelty, none has provoked enthusiasm and rejection—above all rejection—with such extraordinary intensity, unity, and speed.

    Not only food and drinks: how EU (and UK) law could also protect handicrafts By Andrea Zappalaglio The most important international agreement on Intellectual Property defines the concept of Geographical Indication as follows: “indications which identify a good as originating in the territory of a Member, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.” Why is it then that the “Kashmir Pashmina” is a protected GI in India while Harris Tweed-cloth is not an EU/UK GI?

    Round me falls the night by Annabel Rooney Songs with words: choosing and interpreting texts for choral composition By Annabel Rooney Like many aspects of choral composition, choosing the words is a combination of practical and creative considerations. If you want your music to be performed (and most composers do!), thinking about who might sing the words, and on what occasion, is as important as their inspirational qualities.

    Athens After Empire Archaeology, architecture, and “Romanizing” Athens By Ian Worthington The question of whether Athens was a Greek or Roman city seems straightforward, but among scholars there is some debate.

    Monthly gleanings for May 2021: yesterday, tomorrow, and time concepts By Anatoly Liberman A curious exchange on the word “harebrained” in the periodical Notes and Queries in the first half of 1880 began with the statement that the word owes its origin to the idiom “as mad as a march hare.” But are hares “madder” than other wild animals? Probably not.

    New York City and the path to neoliberalism in the 1970s [timeline] By Benjamin Holtzman In the late twentieth century, New York City transformed into a model of neoliberal governance. While at mid-century, city government maintained the most robust social democratic program in the country, by the late twentieth century, much of this program had been curtailed and the private sector and market had gained a far greater role in providing services previously maintained by government.

    Where are the Martian scientists? By Edwin L. Battistella When Perseverance, the Mars rover, landed on the Red Planet on 18 February 2021, I found myself asking a familiar question: where are the Martian scientists?

    Business and Management, Oxford Research Encylopedias Experiential learning: current contributions and future trends in practice By Anna B. Kayes and D. Christopher Kayes Nearly 40 years after the publication of David Kolb’s 1984 book, “Experiential Learning: Learning as the source of learning and development,” experiential learning remains one of the most influential theories of learning in management education.

    Cambridge Journal of Economics Inequality and economics: let’s go back to Adam Smith By Benoît Walraevens Although the issue of economic inequality has long been neglected by economists, it has become increasingly important in academic and public debate over the past decade. International institutions long considered pro-liberal, such as the OECD and the IMF, are now openly calling on governments to take redistributive and tax justice measures to enable more inclusive and equitable growth.

    Reena Esmail TaReKiTa Finding resonant spaces between Indian classical music and the Western choral tradition By Reena Esmail When I look back at my childhood, I see that I was just starting down the path that has defined the music I write: I was trying to find places between my cultural identities that felt resonant to me. TaReKi?a is one of those resonant places.

    Grove Music Me, you, Europe, the Universe: recovery and revival at the 65th Eurovision Song Contest 2021 By Philip V. Bohlman Already during the initial spread of the coronavirus pandemic during the early months of 2020, when the organizers of the Eurovision Song Contest determined the world’s largest and most extravagant musical competition could not take place in May, plans were underway for its return a year later, on 22 May, 2021 in Rotterdam. The intervening year was one of introspection.

    Eric Partridge and the etymology of slang (part two) By Anatoly Liberman Eric Partridge is deservedly famous among word lovers. His main area of expertise was substandard English, that is, slang and cant. In this blog post, the Oxford Etymologist offers a tribute to an indefatigable word hunter and a great expert in the field that interests many people.


    May 2021 (32))

    100 years after the Tulsa Race Massacre By Randall Kennedy On 1 June 1921, mobs comprised of ordinary white Oklahomans destroyed Greenwood, a black neighborhood in Tulsa sometimes referred to as “Little Africa.” The rioters proceeded to subject their African American neighbors to injury, murder, looting, pillaging, and arson. At least a hundred residents of Greenwood were killed while thirty-five city blocks were torched, destroying churches, businesses, and all sorts of other dwellings. The riot rendered more than a thousand families homeless.

    Nicotine & Tobacco Research Success of Ontario menthol cigarette ban: more menthol smokers quit tobacco By Michael Chaiton and Anasua Kundu Recently, the (FDA has expressed intention of banning menthol among tobacco products—a move that could have enormous impact on health in US and in particular on reducing the disparity of health faced by Black Americans. The province of Ontario, Canada implemented a ban on menthol-flavoured tobacco products in January 2017, before a nation-wide menthol ban on October 2017.

    The British Journal of Social Work Can children’s rights be the scaffold for love in the care system? By Mariela Neagu A human rights approach places children’s dignity (and their voice) at the heart of the care system. Ensuring that carers and professionals engage with children in a meaningful way is the cornerstone for a system based on ethics of care and children’s rights.

    Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy, and Society The robots are coming! But could they—and should they—take your job? By David Spencer and Gary Slater Will a robot take your job? The fear of artificial intelligence (AI) and digital automation as a growing threat to human labour has been on the rise in recent years.

    Love Letter Finding music in the life and letters of Edna St. Vincent Millay By Sarah Dacey I first became aware of the work of Edna St. Vincent Millay after composer Alison Willis set one of her poems (‘The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver’) for Juice Vocal Ensemble, a group I co-founded with fellow singers and composers, Kerry Andrew and Anna Snow. The collection from which this particular poem is taken won Millay the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923 and helped to further consolidate her blossoming career not only as a poet but also as a writer of plays and short stories, receiving mass-recognition under the pseudonym, Nancy Boyd.

    The kings of Prussia become German emperors and Berlin becomes an imperial city By Helen Watanabe-O'Kelly On 16 June 1871 the Prussian army, 42,000 strong, entered Berlin in triumph. Wilhelm I, King of Prussia, had been proclaimed German Emperor five months before in Versailles.

    Charlie Brown's America 9 new books to explore our shared cultural history [reading list] By OUP History How did the Peanuts gang respond to–and shape–postwar American politics? How has a single game become a cultural touchstone for urban Chinese Americans in the 1930s, incarcerated Japanese Americans during World War II, and Jewish American suburban mothers? Were 19th Century Brits very deeply bored? Cultural and social history bring to life the beliefs, understandings, and motivations of peoples throughout time. Explore these nine books to expand your understanding of who we are.

    Eric Partridge as an etymologist By Anatoly Liberman Eric Partridge is deservedly famous among word lovers. His main area of expertise was substandard English, that is, slang and cant. In this blog post, the Oxford Etymologist offers a tribute to an indefatigable word hunter and a great expert in the field that interests many people.

    The SHAPE of things [podcast] By Steven Filippi and Ella Percival In January, Oxford University Press announced its support for SHAPE, a new collective name for the humanities, arts, and social sciences and an equivalent term to STEM. SHAPE stands for Social Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts for People and the Economy and aims to underline the value that these disciplines bring to society. Over the last year or so, huge attention has—rightly—been placed on scientific and technological advancement but does that mean we’re overlooking the contribution of SHAPE in finding solutions to global issues?

    OUP Libraries The impact of COVID-19 on distance learning universities: The Open University By Claire Grace The coronavirus pandemic greatly impacted traditional universities, with closures happening globally and students turning to remote learning. But what impact is COVID-19 having on institutions that historically teach mainly online?

    Socio-Economic Review Cybervetting in hiring: the hunt for moral performances By Amanda Damarin and Steve McDonald In roughly 7 out of 10 workplaces in the US, HR professionals use cybervetting to get to “know a person” beyond information provided on a resume. But what are cybervetters really attempting to learn, what inferences do they make, and what does any of this have to do with how a candidate will perform on the job?

    OUP logo Accessibility in academic publishing: more than just compliance By Dwyer Scullion If you’re lucky enough to be able to simply open a webpage and engage with the content hosted there, the likelihood is that you rarely think about what it would be like if you couldn’t do that. What if you were visually impaired but the page was indecipherable to your screen reader?

    The “Ready… Set… Go!” phrase structure in Classical Era music By Donna Gunn We all know the joyful anticipation of that exciting phrase. Whether getting ready for a “race” with my granddaughter or waiting for the gun at the start of a half-marathon, just the thought of it brings a bit of an adrenaline rush. This mindset transcends culture, space, and time, and presents itself structurally in Classical Era music.

    My dearest foe in heaven, or: not near but dear By Anatoly Liberman In this blog post, the Oxford Etymologist explores the origin of “dear” and the development of the various senses of the word.

    Fading signs of son preference By Jan Kabatek Son preference is a phenomenon that has strong historical roots in many western and non-western cultures. The positions of men and women in modern societies are becoming more aligned. In this context, it is natural to ask whether son preference is yet another social phenomenon that is losing its historical ground. Could it even be that in some domains of life such preference is already a thing of the past?

    The US Congress The Senate’s unchanging rules By Donald A. Ritchie At his recent press conference, President Biden said that he came to the Senate 120 years ago. I knew exactly what he meant because I got there three years after him when I joined the Senate Historical Office in 1976, and it was a different world.

    The Spanish Civil War: a nostalgia of hope By Kathleen Riley This summer will mark the 85th anniversary of the start of the Spanish Civil War, a brutal struggle that began with a military uprising against the democratic Second Republic and ended, three years later, in victory for the rebels under General Francisco Franco. The enduring fascination of that conflict, its ability to grip the global imagination, belies its geographical scale and is testament to the power of art.

    Why has Gaza frequently become a battlefield between Hamas and Israel? By Dov Waxman During the past decade, the eyes of the world have often been directed toward Gaza. This tiny coastal enclave has received a huge amount of diplomatic attention and international media coverage. The plight of its nearly two million inhabitants has stirred an outpouring of humanitarian concern, generating worldwide protests against the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

    Public Policy and Aging Report The risks of privatization in the Medicaid and Medicare programs By Lori Gonzalez, LuMarie Polivka-West, and Larry Polivka Increasingly, two of the largest publicly supported healthcare programs, Medicaid and Medicare, are administered by for-profit insurance companies. The privatization of the Medicaid long-term care programs has been implemented largely through state managed care contracts with insurance companies to administer Medicaid LTC funds.

    The Hidden History of Coined Words Do you know how these words were coined? [Quiz] By Ralph Keyes Successful word-coinages—those that stay in lingual currency for a good, long time—tend to conceal their beginnings. In The Hidden History of Coined Words, author and word sleuth Ralph Keyes explores the etymological underworld of terms and expressions and uncovers plenty of hidden gems.

    Monthly gleanings for April 2021 By Anatoly Liberman In this blog post, the Oxford Etymologist revisits the word “bodkin” and its kin.

    Evolutionary Biology Fascination of Plants Day: interview with a plant scientist By Mitchell B. Cruzan For Fascination of Plants Day on 18 May this year, we talked to Professor Mitchell Cruzan about his research into the evolved adaptations that distinguish plants from animals.

    The Oxford Handbook of Migration Crises The real crisis at the US border By Cecilia Menjívar Once again, we are exposed to daily doses of “border crisis” news. Calling the groups of immigrants arriving at the US Southern border a crisis has become an easy shorthand with sensationalist overtones. It provokes reactions across the range of political opinions, as well as among government officials and civil society actors alike. But is there really a crisis at the border? Or is this crisis located elsewhere? And whose crisis is it?

    On SHAPE: a Q&A with Lucy Noakes, Eyal Poleg, Laura Wright & Mary Kelly By Eyal Poleg, Laura Wright, Lucy Noakes, and Mary Kelly OUP have recently announced our support for the newly created SHAPE initiative—Social Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts for People and the Economy. To further understand the crucial role these subjects play in our everyday lives, we have put three questions to four British Academy SHAPE authors and editors—social and cultural historian Lucy Noakes, historian of objects and faith Eyal Poleg, historical sociolinguist Laura Wright, and Lecturer in Contemporary Art History Mary Kelly—on what SHAPE means to them, and to their research.

    A Guide to Professional Resilience and Personal Well-Being Dear fellow nurses By Gloria Ferraro Donnelly Dear Fellow Nurses, I am honored to bring Nurse Week greetings, especially in this year of unprecedented demands. You may be heaving a sigh of relief as the pandemic winds down. You are fantasizing about “getting back to normal,” whatever “normal” means to you. However, your life as a practicing nurse is forever changed as a function of living through the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Evolution of a Taboo The power of pigs: tension and taboo in Haifa, Israel By Max D. Price It might be an exaggeration to say a boar broke the internet. But when someone posted an image of wild boar sleeping on a mattress and surrounded by garbage from a recently-raided dumpster in Haifa, Israel in March, Twitter briefly erupted. In a recent article in The New York Times, Patrick Kingsley documented the uneasy relationship, not only between people and pigs, but also between the people who want the animals eliminated and those who welcome them. But Kingsley curiously omits an important detail: the drama over the fate of Haifa’s boar plays out against a backdrop of taboo and religious law.

    Becoming Someone New Transformative choice and “Big Decisions” By Enoch Lambert and John Schwenkler Imagine being invited by a trusted friend to a “life-changing” event. Should you go? The event could be a church service, self-help talk, concert, movie, festival, hike, play, dinner party, book club, union organizing meeting, etc. What sorts of considerations do you reach for in making your choice? The philosopher L. A. Paul has put problems like these, termed transformative choices, on the map for philosophical and scientific inquiry.

    Etymologies in bulk and in bunches By Anatoly Liberman Two things sometimes come as a surprise even to an experienced etymologist. First, it may turn out that such words happen to be connected as no one would suspect of having anything in common. Second is the ability of words to produce one another in what seems to be an arbitrary, capricious, or chaotic way, so that the entire group begins to resemble an analog of a creeping plant.

    Poetry and the Language of Oppression: Essays on Politics and Poetics Lyricism as activism: Sigurd Olson and The Singing Wilderness By Carmen Bugan Placing the reader in the poetic and ethical space is the first step toward direct action that affects the larger human community: a step toward activism. Activism formalizes the values that inspire and ultimately direct our will—and action—to preserve and protect. By opening new worlds, other spaces, and creating experiences for the reader—and, crucially, letting the reader explore those worlds for herself or for himself—the lyric writer has an opportunity to create a protected zone for significant communication.

    Journal of Complex Networks A complex networks approach to ranking professional Snooker players By Joseph O’Brien There is a data revolution taking place in sport whereby athletes are becoming increasingly aware of statistics and, moreover, devoted fans of said sports have amassed huge collections of historical results that readily allow for data-driven mathematical analysis to be conducted. Motivated by this, researchers at MACSI posed the following problem—who is the greatest snooker player of all time?

    Five things you need to know about pronouns By Edwin L. Battistella First off, there are more pronouns than you might think. Personal pronouns get most of the attention nowadays, especially the widely accepted singular they and other non-binary pronouns. But personal pronouns are just one group among several.

    Utopia's Discontents Fake news is not new: Russia’s 19th-century disinformation experiment By Faith Hillis Russian “information warfare”—from hacking to efforts to sow “fake news” abroad—has captured international headlines in recent years. Although Russian efforts to influence western opinion are usually seen as a product of the Cold War, they have a much longer lineage.


    April 2021 (36))

    Do we need artificial inventors? By Martin Stierle Artificial intelligence (AI) has started to unleash a new industrial revolution. It represents a significant technology advantage which already impacts today’s products and services and will drive tomorrow’s industries. Its key importance to the technological progress of future societies is beyond doubt and is reflected by a boom in patent applications on AI technology since 2013 in various industry sectors.

    Spinoza Was Spinoza a populist? [Long read] By Mogens Lærke Recent studies of Spinoza’s political theory in a contemporary perspective often place it in one of two categories, depicting him either as a defender of individual free speech and liberal democracy or as a champion of radical democracy and collective popular power. For some, he is something like a liberal supporter of the equal individual rights of all citizens to express whatever is on their mind, an early defender of “free speech.”

    Putting my mouth where my money is: the origin of “haggis” By Anatoly Liberman Haggis, to quote the OED, is “a dish consisting of the heart, lungs, and liver of a sheep, calf, etc. (or sometimes of the tripe and chitterlings), minced with suet and oatmeal, seasoned with salt, pepper, onions, etc., and boiled like a large sausage in the maw of the animal.”

    How can feed additives enhance forage-based diets of beef cattle? [Infographic] By Laura Godfrey Beef cattle production systems often rely on forage-based diets, consisting of pasture, as a low cost and widely accessible method for feeding herds. Whilst there are financial and practical benefits to forage-based diets, it is important to note that seasonal variations in pasture availability and nutritive quality can impact cattle performance and nutrition. So, are there any solutions to this?

    Environmental histories and potential futures [podcast] By Steven Filippi and Sarah Butcher This month marked the 51st observation of Earth Day, which has become one of the largest secular observances in the world. The discourse surrounding environmentalism exists primarily in the realms of science and politics, so we wanted to take this opportunity to talk to researchers who study humankind’s relation with the earth in a broader perspective.

    The Venetian Bride From fortified castle to wedding venue: Venetian examplars of adaptive reuse By Patricia Fortini Brown What does one do with a castle? The Venetian Terraferma (and, indeed, all of Europe) is dotted with medieval castles that have long outlived the purposes for which they were intended. And yet, built of stone, they are costly to demolish and—more importantly—of great historical interest.

    A Story of Us What if COVID-19 had emerged in 1719? By Lesley Newson and Peter J. Richerson We’re often told that the situation created by the attack of the new coronavirus is “unique” and “unprecedented.” And yet, at the same time, scientists assure us that the emergence of new viruses is “natural”—that viruses are always mutating or picking up and losing bits of DNA. But if lethal new viruses have emerged again and again during human history, why has dealing with this one been such a struggle?

    How Genes Influence Behavior The “warrior gene”: blaming genetics for bad behavior By Jonathan Flint Belief in the existence of a “warrior gene” has been around for more than 25 years, one of many examples where genetic effects on behavior have been misunderstood.

    Can skepticism and curiosity get along? Benjamin Franklin shows they can coexist By D. G. Hart No matter the contemporary crisis trending on Twitter, from climate change to the US Senate filibuster, people who follow the news have little trouble finding a congenial source of reporting. The writers who worry about polarization, folks like Ezra Klein and Michael Lind, commonly observe the high levels of tribalism that attends journalism and consumption of it. The feat of being skeptical of the other side’s position while turning the same doubts on your own team is apparently in short supply. The consequences of skepticism about disagreeable points of view for the virtues of intellectual curiosity are not good.

    The Wealth of Refugees: How Displaced People Can Build Economies The coming refugee crisis: how COVID-19 exacerbates forced displacement By Alexander Betts Refugees have fallen down the political agenda since the “European refugee crisis” in 2015-16. COVID-19 has temporarily stifled refugee movements and taken the issue off the political and media radar. However, the impact of the pandemic is gradually exacerbating the drivers of mass displacement.

    Going out on a limb By Anatoly Liberman Etymologists often deal with a group of words that seem to be related, and yet the nature of the relationship is hard or impossible to demonstrate. Such groups are particularly instructive to investigate. I have long been interested in a possible connection between “limp” (adjective), “limp” (verb), and “lump.”

    Appalling Bodies Putting transphobia in a different biblical context By Joseph A. Marchal Right-wing and reactionary forces in the USA and UK are once again stoking panic about trans people and practices of gender and sexual variation. Their arguments, though, rely upon faulty assumptions about gender, particularly in relation to history and religion.

    Mind Shift by John Parrington What can neuroscience tell us about the mind of a serial killer? By John Parrington Serial killers—people who repeatedly murder others—provoke revulsion but also a certain amount of fascination in the general public. But what can modern psychology and neuroscience tell us about what might be going on inside the head of such individuals?

    Corona and the crown: monarchy, religion, and disease from Victoria to Elizabeth By Michael Ledger-Lomas Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family have featured prominently in the British state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The expectation that the monarch should articulate a spiritual response to the threat of disease has deep roots. It took its modern form with Queen Victoria, whose reign decisively transformed the relationship between religion, the sovereign, sickness, and health.

    The Last Word: The Hollywood Novel and the Studio System Hollywood on Hollywood: will the Academy “Mank” up for Citizen Kane snub? By Justin Gautreau It is no secret that movies about Hollywood come with built-in Oscar buzz. Hollywood loves movies about Hollywood, the saying goes.

    OUP Libraries How well do you know your libraries? [Quiz] Were you born to be a librarian? Are you a library fan? Or do you just like a bit of trivia? Whatever your reasons it’s time to prove to us how well you know your libraries with this short quiz.

    Respecting property takes two By Bart J. Wilson A claim of “This is mine!” is not the end of property. If it were, then property would be as purely subjective as “I want this” is. Rather, property requires that people other than me also know the circumstances of when my claim of “Mine!” is indeed true.

    The Compleat Victory Pivotal moments in US history: a timeline of the Saratoga campaign By Kevin J. Weddle In the summer and fall of 1777, after two years of indecisive fighting on both sides, the American War of Independence was at a stalemate. Less than four months later, a combination of the Continental Army and Militia forces changed the course of the war.

    Monthly gleanings for March 2021 By Anatoly Liberman In this blog post, the Oxford Etymologist responds to readers’ queries, discussing “evil”, “wicked”, “sward”, “hunt”, “thraúo”, “trash”, and “tomorrow”.

    Punching the Clock Taking stock of the future of work, mid-pandemic By Joe Ungemah This past month marked an anniversary like no other. On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic and with it, normal life of eating out, commuting to work, and seeing grandparents came to a sudden halt. One year later, my new book about the intersection of psychology and the workplace was published. With wide-scale vaccinations on the rise, I thought it would be a good time to take stock of where we are and just how much has changed.

    Arthur Sullivan Rehabilitating the sacred side of Arthur Sullivan, Britain’s most performed composer By Ian Bradley November 2018 saw the release of the first ever professional recording of Arthur Sullivan’s oratorio, The Light of The World, based on Biblical texts and focused on the life and teaching of Jesus. The critical reaction to this work, which had been largely ignored and rarely performed for over 140 years, was extraordinary.

    “We don’t like either side very much”: British attitudes to the American Civil War By Jim Powell One hundred and sixty years ago, on 12 April, the Confederacy attacked Fort Sumter, a Union fort in Charleston harbour. The first shots of the Civil War had been fired. British attitudes to that war baffled both participants at the time, and perhaps still do.

    When the World Laughs Does humor have a temperature? Movie comedy in Norway and Brazil By William V. Costanzo Can humor have a temperature? Do some like their comedy hot or cold? A quick survey of movies from Norway and Brazil invites us to consider how climate and geography can affect a people’s sense of humor.

    Deceitful Media The Turing test is not about AI: it is about our tendency to project humanity onto things By Simone Natale As Artificial Intelligence technologies enter into more and more facets of our everyday life, we are growing accustomed to the idea of machines talking directly to us.

    Theodore Roosevelt Theodore Roosevelt’s religious tolerance By Benjamin J. Wetzel Theodore Roosevelt is everywhere. Most famously, his stone face stares out from South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore. One of the most important but least recognized aspects of Roosevelt’s life are his ecumenical convictions and his promotion of marginalized religious groups. Through Roosevelt’s influence, Jews, Mormons, Catholics, and Unitarians moved a little closer toward the American religious mainstream.

    Wallowing deeper and deeper in the garbage can (part three) By Anatoly Liberman In the series on “trash” and its synonyms, I called attention to Spitzer’s hypothesis on the origin of English “rubbish” and now I have unearthed Verdam’s idea that Dutch “karwei” may have something in common with English “garbage.” Resuscitating valuable ideas buried in the depths of old journals is an important part of etymologists’ work. Convincing refutation is as valuable as agreement.

    Beer: A Global Journey through the Past and Present Ten refreshing books to read for National Beer Day [reading list] By Jo Wojtkowski Beer is one of the world’s oldest produced alcoholic beverages and since its invention some 13,000 years ago, people across the globe have been brewing, consuming, and even worshiping this amber nectar. Whether you prefer a pale ale, wheat beer, stout, or lager, from the cask or a humble bottle, beer enthusiasts can agree that the topic of beer is as complex as its taste.

    Rivers of the Sultan Seven new books on environmental history [reading list] By OUP History The reciprocal relationship between humanity and nature may define the future of our life on this planet, but it is also an inescapable force in our history. To discover how the natural world has impacted the course of history, explore these seven new titles on environmental history.

    American History Anti-Asian violence: the racist use of COVID-19 By Daryl Joji Maeda The recent spate of discrimination, harassment, and violence against Asian Americans has erupted amidst a campaign of fearmongering and disinformation that blames Asian people for the COVID-19 crisis. Rather than being a new phenomenon, the portrayal of Asian Americans as vectors of disease harkens back to a long, sordid, and violent history of anti-Asian racism and nativism.

    Margaret Mead: A Twentieth-Century Faith Margaret Mead by the numbers By Elesha J. Coffman The life of anthropologist Margaret Mead (1901-1978) spanned decades, continents, and academic conversations. Fellow anthropologist Clifford Geertz compared the task of summarizing her to “trying to inscribe the Bible—or perhaps the Odyssey—on the head of a pin.

    The ABCs of modal verbs By Edwin L. Battistella Modals are a special group of helping verbs, e.g. “can” and “could.” The distinction between dynamic, epistemic, and deontic uses of modal verbs is one of the most puzzling pieces of the verb system. For me, the easiest way keep things straight is with the mnemonic ABC: for ability, belief, and canon. So when you encounter a modal, ask how it is being used. Is it A, B, or C?

    MNRAS Jan 2021 Extreme collision of stellar winds at the heart of Apep, the cosmic serpent By Benito Marcote Apep is a stellar system named after the Egyptian god of chaos due to the spiral pattern of dust generated by its two member stars. Now, astronomers have looked at Apep’s heart with the highest resolution available. They have revealed the strongest shock produced by the collision of the extreme winds of the two stars in our Galaxy.

    To you I owe the most: tales of debt from Shakespeare’s England to the present day By Laura Kolb Our debts today are largely owed to institutions: to banks, schools, hospitals. Sometimes, they are owed to companies that do nothing but buy and manage debt. In Shakespeare’s England, debt was just as necessary for day-to-day life as it is now—maybe more so—but rather than faceless corporations, debts were owed to other people.

    Phantoms of a Beleaguered Republic Nine challenges that American democracy faces [reading list] By OUP Social Sciences The 78th Midwest Political Science Association Annual Meeting & Exhibition will be held virtually this year from 14-18 April. This year’s conference will feature titles that explore the challenges facing democracy in the United States and in emerging democracies around the world. Drop by our virtual booth to talk to our attending staff and to see our newest books—including leading works in the field—and take advantage of our 30% conference discount.

    Grove Music Winner of Grove Music’s 2021 spoof article contest By Anna-Lise Santella It’s April Fool’s Day, which means the time has come to reveal the winner of the 20th anniversary edition of Grove Music Online’s Spoof Article Contest.

    Shakespeare before Shakespeare New discoveries about John Shakespeare: financial ruin and government corruption By Cathryn Enis and Glyn Parry A golden age for some, crooked and dishonest for others? Perhaps William Shakespeare grew up thinking this way about Elizabeth I and her ministers as disaster befell his father.


    March 2021 (31))

    From “trash” to “rubbish” and back to “trash” (part two) By Anatoly Liberman In the beginning, words for things wasted or thrown away tend to denote some concrete refuse and only later acquire a generic meaning. Yet, when several synonyms share the field, they are seldom fully interchangeable. Thus, trash, rubbish, junk, offal, and garbage either refer to different kinds of discarded objects or have different stylistic overtones. One also notices with some surprise that in Modern English, all such words are borrowings.

    Government transparency and the freedom of information [podcast] By Steven Filippi In 1967, the Freedom of Information Act was passed by the US Congress and signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. Barring certain types of exemptions, the FOIA allows for American citizens to request access to records from federal agencies. Similar laws exist around the world, though each differ based on their respective countries’ political and cultural situations.

    The Hidden History of Coined Words Do you know the hidden histories of these words? [Quiz] By Ralph Keyes Successful word-coinages—those that stay in lingual currency for a good, long time—tend to conceal their beginnings. In “The Hidden History of Coined Words,” author and word sleuth Ralph Keyes explores the etymological underworld of terms and expressions and uncovers plenty of hidden gems. Take our quiz and see how many hidden histories you know!

    MNRAS Letters Giant hidden black hole discovered only 1.4 billion years after the Big Bang By Andreas Efstathiou, Katarzyna Malek, and Raphael Shirley Black holes are some of the most bizarre objects in the Universe but their existence is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity of Albert Einstein. Scientists have known for some time that much larger black holes with mass billions of times that of the sun existed as early as a few hundred million years after the Big Bang. An international team of astrophysicists have discovered such a hidden giant black hole.

    OUP Business and Management Top five OSO titles in Business and Management [reading list] By Phoebe Murphy-Dunn To celebrate the continuously expanding field of Business and Management, we reflect on some of the most popular topics researched by users of Oxford Scholarship Online this past year.

    Animal Frontiers Swine fevers: how to prevent and control the spread [infographic] By Laura Godfrey With the world’s attention set on the COVID-19 pandemic, concerns have been growing over the lack of concentrated efforts in preventing the current spread of swine fevers. Both Classical Swine Fever and African Swine Fever cause high mortality in pigs but are the result of two unrelated viruses and, if safe and efficacious prevention methods are not present, can cause significant socioeconomic impacts in endemic countries.

    “Trash” and its synonyms from a strictly historical point of view (part one) By Anatoly Liberman It is amazing how many words English has for things thrown away or looked upon as useless! The origin of some of them is transparent. Obviously, “offal” is something that falls off. Not all stories are so transparent. A case in point is “trash,” the subject of today’s blog post.

    Internet Jurisdiction The jurisdictional challenge of internet regulation By Julia Hörnle The uncomfortable truth of internet regulation, which no government likes to admit openly, is encapsulated by one of the fundamental concepts of the law: jurisdiction.

    Future War The future of war and defence in Europe By John R. Allen, Frederick Ben Hodges, and Julian Lindley-French We face a critical challenge: unless Europeans do far more for their own defence, Americans will be unable to defend them; but there can be no credible future defence of Europe without America!

    Disability, access, and the virtual conference By Sonya Freeman Loftis Creating access for people with disabilities sometimes means fundamentally changing the nature of the thing that is made accessible. When we change the nature of the thing made accessible, we don’t just create access and inclusion for people with disabilities—we often create a new kind of experience altogether.

    Picture World Victorian 3D: virtual adventures in the stereoscope By Rachel Teukolsky We’re used to travelling long distances to explore exotic new locations—but that hasn’t always been possible. So how did people visit far-flung spots in times gone by? Rachel Teukolsky, author of “Picture World: Image, Aesthetics, and Victorian New Media”, takes us on a fascinating journey in glorious Victoriana 3D, introducing us to the must-have virtual reality tech of the 19th century: the stereoscope.

    A Line of Blood and Dirt Why borders are built on ambiguity By Benjamin Hoy During the nineteenth century, Britain, Canada, and the United States began to construct, in earnest, a border across the northern part of North America. They placed hundreds of markers across the 49th parallel and surveyed the land around them. Each government saw the border as a symbol of their sovereignty, a marker of belonging, and as the basic outline of their nation-states.

    1837 To know Russia, you really have to understand 1837 By Paul Werth To know Russia, you really have to understand 1837. The assertion might seem strange. Even among historians of Russia, it is likely to produce head-scratching rather than nods of knowing approval. Most would point to other years—1613 and the birth of the Romanov dynasty; 1861 and the end of Russian serfdom; 1917 and the Bolshevik seizure of power—as more consequential. But in fact 1837 was pivotal for the country’s entry into the modern age and for defining many of Russia’s core attributes. Russia is what it is today, in no small measure, because of 1837.

    Erard: A Passion for the Piano Family secrets and the demise of Erard pianos and harps By Robert Adelson Musicians from Haydn to Liszt were captivated by the rich tone and mechanical refinement of the pianos and harps invented by Sébastien Erard, whose firm dominated nineteenth-century musical life. Erard was the first piano builder in France to prioritise the grand piano model, a crucial step towards creating a modern pianistic sonority.

    Oxford World's Classics How well do you know these literary classics by women? [Quiz] By Julia Baker Test your knowledge of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literary classics penned by women!

    The future is in the past By Anatoly Liberman “Not everybody may know that ‘yesterday’ is one of the most enigmatic formations in the Indo-European language family.” In this blog post, the Oxford Etymologist explores the history of the adverb ‘yesterday’ and how the same word acquired two incompatible senses: ‘yesterday’ and ‘tomorrow.’

    The Librarian Reserve Corps: fighting COVID-19 with mediated information By Denise Smith, Isatou N'Jie, Jane Orbell-Smith, Joanne Doucette, and Victoria Smith Librarians have always been at the forefront of information needs and have provided critical assistance to patrons, public officials, and decision makers during uncertain times. The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception and has created an urgent, unprecedented demand for access to knowledge that is accurate, reliable, and timely.

    Carginogenesis Addressing health inequity in disparities of cancer outcomes By Maeve Bailey-Whyte and Stefan Ambs Cancer disparities are largely explained by health care disparities, lifestyle factors, cultural barriers, and disparate exposures to carcinogens but even when these are accounted for—some of the cancer disparities stubbornly persist.

    SHAPE today and tomorrow: Q&A with Sophie Goldsworthy and Julia Black (part two) By Julia Black and Sophie Goldsworthy This second part of our Q&A with Sophie Goldsworthy, Director of Content Strategy & Acquisitions at OUP, and Professor Julia Black CBE FCA, Strategic Director of Innovation and Professor of Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and President-elect of the British Academy, reflects on how SHAPE disciplines can help us to understand the impact of the events of the pandemic and look towards the future of SHAPE.

    Chinese Antitrust Exceptionalism Chinese antitrust exceptionalism: a Q&A with Angela Huyue Zhang By Angela Huyue Zhang Angela Huyue Zhang discusses the development, enforcement, and exceptionalism of Chinese antitrust law, and its impact on competition law in the EU and the US.

    Reading for words By Edwin L. Battistella I grew up in the golden era of standardized reading tests. We were taught to read for information, and our progress was tracked by multiple choice tests asking us “What is the main point of the passage?” In retrospect, it was bad training for reading (and for writing), and it took me a long time to change my habits.

    Etymology gleanings for February 2021 By Anatoly Liberman Latin “forum” referred not only to a marketplace but also to a place of assembly for judicial and other business. Hence “forensic” meaning “pertaining to the forum or courts of law.”

    American Immigration: A Very Short Introduction “The Real America”: immigration and American identity By David A. Gerber A new, in both tone and aspirations, presidential administration has taken office in the United States, and the prospect for significant change in the approach to immigration, one of the hot button issues advanced by President Donald Trump, is present at its inception.

    Feminist Philosophy How women have shaped philosophy: nine female philosophers our authors admire By OUP Philosophy When asked to name a philosopher, it is more than likely that many of the major thinkers that spring to mind will be male. There is a long and rich tradition of female thinkers who have made important contributions to philosophy, and whose works merit further recognition. To celebrate Women’s History Month, we asked some of our authors to tell us about a female philosopher they admire, and why.

    Making Deep History Turning geology into archaeology: how two businessmen changed the face of time By Clive Gamble On the afternoon of 27 April 1859, two top-hatted businessmen, standing in a gravel pit outside the French city of Amiens, were about to change history. Joseph Prestwich and John Evans had brought with them a photographer, scientific witnesses, and a great deal of zeal and perseverance to answer a longstanding question: how old was humanity?

    Pensions Imperilled UK pensions provision has been imperilled by an epidemic of misunderstanding Pensions provision in the UK has been quietly revolutionised in recent years. However, far from rescuing pensions from demographic doom, recent policies have in fact further endangered our ability to secure a decent retirement income for citizens—in ways, I believe, many policy-makers are barely cognisant of.

    Review of Finance The horizontal agency problem and how China deals with it By Fuxiu Jiang and Kenneth A. Kim Economies cannot grow unless they have well-functioning stock markets. Up until now, China was a striking exception to this rule. However, for China’s growth to continue, it recognizes that a well-functioning stock market must play a major role. Therefore, two important questions are the following. First, what is the nature of the agency problem in China? Second, what is the potential solution to this problem?

    Neuroscience of Consciousness Why future “consciousness detectors” should look for brain complexity By Joel Frohlich Imagine you are the victim of an unfortunate accident. Unable to move or speak, you lie helpless in your hospital bed. How would anyone know that you—your thoughts, feelings, and experiences—are still there?

    Folklore and etymology: imps and elves (or COVID-19 and backpain) By Anatoly Liberman The German for “to give a shot, to vaccinate” is “impf-en.” “Impf-” is an exact cognate of English “imp.” How can it be? This week, the Oxford Etymologist explores the language connection between vaccines, mischievous children, and Icelandic elves.

    Transcending Dystopia Digging into the vaults of the unknown: the “Transcending Dystopia” research diaries By Tina Frühauf Research for Transcending Dystopia over the course of almost a decade was truly a journey, piecing together disparate snippets that have been transmitted in different repositories to gain insight into the musical practices and lives of Jews in postwar Germany. Among the 26 archives and private collections I consulted, two experiences stand out—the first being somewhat unusual, the second being quite extraordinary.

    Credible Threat Nine books to make you think about gender politics in the political sphere By OUP Social Sciences For Women’s History Month, we have compiled a reading list of titles that explore women’s representation in politics and present bold ideas to improve the future for us all.


    February 2021 (28))

    Republicans at a crossroads? Probably not By James R. Skillen How did the Republican Party arrive at such a confused and divided state that Sen. John Thune had to ask whether it wanted “to be the party of limited government and fiscal responsibility, free markets, peace through strength and pro-life” or “the party of conspiracy theories and QAnon”? In reality, the party is both, and it has been so for some time.

    Introducing SHAPE: Q&A with Sophie Goldsworthy and Julia Black (part one) By Julia Black and Sophie Goldsworthy OUP is excited to support the newly created SHAPE initiative—Social Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts for People and the Economy. SHAPE has been coined to enable us to clearly communicate the value that these disciplines bring to not only enriching the world in which we live, but also enhancing our understanding of it. In the first instalment this two-part Q&A, we spoke to Sophie Goldsworthy and Professor Julia Black to find out more about SHAPE and what it means to them.

    Journal of Animal Science The impact of heat stress on beef cattle: how can shade help? [infographic] By Laura Godfrey [infographic] Cattle well-being and performance is negatively impacted by extreme heat stress. Introducing shade as a mechanism to mitigate this is one way to offer relief.

    Defending God in Sixteenth-Century India Beyond polemics: debating God in early modern India By Jonathan Duquette The early modern period in India (roughly from 1550 to 1750) has been increasingly understood as a time of heightened religious self-awareness—the fertile soil from which Hinduism emerged as a unified world religion. Yet it was also a tumultuous period of intense rivalry across scholarly and religious communities.

    Zoological Journal Darwin’s queer plots in The Descent of Man By Ross Brooks This year, LGBT+ History Month coincides with the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s momentous sexological work The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, originally published on 24 February 1871. The occasion prompts reflection on Darwin’s highly equivocal handling of sex variations in the natural world, including intersexualities (“hermaphroditism”), transformations of sex, and non-reproductive sexual behaviours.

    Darwin's Psychology Darwin’s theory of agency: back to the future in evolutionary science? By Ben Bradley Was Darwin a one-trick pony? The scientists who most laud him typically cite just one of his ideas: natural selection. Do any know that his theory of evolution—like his take on psychology—was drawn from a comprehensive analysis of organisms as agents? This fact has long been eclipsed by the “gene’s-eye view” of adaptation which gained a strangle-hold over biology during the twentieth century—and hence over sociobiology and today’s “evolutionary” psychology.

    The Louvre and its environs By Anatoly Liberman What is the origin of the name Louvre? Dictionaries and websites say unanimously that the sought-for etymology is unknown or uncertain. Perhaps so, but we will see.

    Black History Month square Ten empowering books to read in celebration of Black History Month By Jo Wojtkowski In observance of Black History Month, we are celebrating our prize-winning authors and empowering scholarship spanning a variety of topics across African American history, the civil rights movement, Black Lives Matter, the Harlem Renaissance, jazz, and more. Explore our reading list and update your bookshelf with the most recent titles from these eminent authors.

    Live after gravity Isaac Newton’s London life: a quiz By Patricia Fara Isaac Newton is known as the scientist who discovered gravity, but less well-known are the many years he spent in metropolitan London, and what precisely he got up to in that time…

    John Rawls: Debating the Major Questions John Rawls: an ideal theorist for nonideal times? By Jon Mandle and Sarah Roberts-Cady John Rawls’s “A Theory of Justice” was published fifty years ago. What is the connection between Rawls’s abstract theorizing about justice and work aiming to address real-world injustices?

    Language Arts, Math, and Science in the Elementary Music Classrooom Tips for adapting the elementary music curriculum to online teaching By Kim Milai Teachers of the performing arts are adapting their classes to go online. The problems and challenges range from ensuring enough physical space for movement around each student’s computer to overcoming audio and video syncing delays during the live feed. But what about elementary music?

    The skin of etymological teeth By Anatoly Liberman Is English “skin” related to Greek “skene”? The story of “skin” and some other words, partly synonymous with it, is worthy of attention.

    Shakespeare and East Asia Five themes in Asian Shakespeare adaptations By Alexa Alice Joubin Since the 19th century, stage and film directors have mounted hundreds of adaptations of Shakespeare drawn on East Asian motifs, and by the late 20th century, Shakespeare had become one of the most frequently performed playwrights in East Asia.

    Cultural Psychology What role does culture play in shaping children’s school experiences? By Robyn M. Holmes With increasing migration and the movement of people in the 21st century, many children are attending school in formal settings where cultural norms and practices at home may conflict with those children encounter at school. This experience places children in the position of having to navigate two different social worlds—home and school. In this blog post, Professor Robyn M. Holmes explores three key areas of cultural impact on children’s school experiences: parental beliefs and socialization practices, teacher perceptions, and school curricula and children’s learning.

    Oxford World's Classics Which literary heroine are you? [quiz] By Julia Baker To best celebrate the online launch of the Oxford World’s Classics, discover which literary heroine you are most like with our quiz.

    Love Lives The evolution of women’s love lives: a timeline By Carol Dyhouse Reaching from the middle of the twentieth century, when little girls dreamed of Prince Charming and Disney’s “Cinderella” graced movie screens, Carol Dyhouse charts the transformation of women’s love lives against radical social changes such as the passage of the Equal Pay Act, the acceleration of technological advancement, and improved access to contraception, bringing us up to the 2013 release of “Frozen.”

    Getting Domesday done: a new interpretation of William the Conqueror’s survey By Stephen Baxter A new interpretation of the Domesday survey, the famous survey of England taken on the orders of William the Conqueror in 1086, has emerged from a major study of the survey’s earliest surviving manuscript. It is now clear that the survey was more even more efficient, complex, and sophisticated than previously supposed.

    Empire of Ruins The ruins of the post-Covid city—and the essential task of rebuilding By Miles Orvell We are in the midst of a Covid economy that has decimated the cities of America. It’s essential for us all to recognize that we’re in this together and to support local and national efforts to rebuild, on the basis of a unified public consciousness that has been markedly absent from our divided nation in recent years.

    “Gig” and its kin By Anatoly Liberman I received a query from my colleague, who asked me what I think about a possible tie between “Sheela na gig” and the English word “gig.” Therefore, I decided to devote a special post to it.

    Grove Music Grove Music’s 2021 spoof article contest is now open! By Anna-Lise Santella I think we can all agree that recent months of pandemic and political unrest have been difficult ones, and often entirely bereft of humor. I am therefore pleased to announce the revival of the Grove Music Online Spoof Article Contest 2021.

    Dead Zones Dead zones: growing areas of aquatic hypoxia are threatening our oceans and rivers By David Kirchman A lake, sea, or coastal ocean turns into a dead zone when the supply of oxygen from the atmosphere and photosynthesis is overwhelmed by the use of oxygen during organic material degradation.

    Naturally speaking By Edwin L. Battistella The label “natural” connotes a certain imagery: freshly grown food, pure water, safe consumption. Things described as “natural” are portrayed as being simple and lacking the intervention of culture, industry, and artificiality. Let’s take a closer look.

    Paediatrics & Child Health How the COVID-19 pandemic may permanently change our children’s world By Joan Robinson Who amongst us would have imagined that in late 2019 a normally uneventful event would change the world forever? As far as we can tell, all that happened is that a particularly clever virus (SARS-CoV2, which causes COVID-19) spread from an animal to a human.

    Darwin's Historical Sketch: An Examination of the 'Preface' to the Origin of Species Ten things you didn’t know about Darwin By Christina Fleischer Charles Darwin’s birthday on 12 February is widely celebrated in the scientific community and has come to be known as “Darwin day.” In recognition of Darwin’s 212th birthday this year we have put together a list of ten interesting facts about the father of evolution.

    Tsunami: The World's Greatest Waves How to survive a tsunami By James Goff and Walter Dudley If you, your family, or friends ever go near the shore of the ocean or a lake, you need to learn about tsunamis. Unfortunately, the current public perception of the tsunami hazards is all too often a three-step denial: (1) It won’t happen to me. (2) If it does, it won’t be that bad. (3) If it is bad, there’s nothing I could’ve done anyway. This perception must be changed in order to save lives and build a culture of tsunami hazard preparedness.

    Etymology gleanings for December 2020 and January 2021 By Anatoly Liberman Impulses behind word formation never change. This statement surprised one of our readers. However, if we assume that most “natural” words are, at least to some degree, sound-symbolic and/or sound-imitative (onomatopoeic), such monosyllabic complexes as kob, kab, keb, kub, kid, kat, and their likes must have arisen again and again in the course of language history, even if every time they were tied to different objects.

    Journeys through Galant expositions Joseph Riepel and a very long hello By L. Poundie Burstein Joseph Riepel’s celebrated music theory treatise, Anfangsgründe zur musicalischen Setzkunst, unfolds in a lively and witty manner. Most of its chapters are framed in the guise of lessons, presented as dialogues between a teacher and student.

    My song is love unknown, by Becky McGlade A Q&A with composer Becky McGlade By Becky McGlade I was fortunate enough to rehearse daily with the Truro cathedral choristers from the age of 8 to 13 (in the days before girl choristers). This fostered in me a love for choral music and for singing, which has continued throughout my life.


    January 2021 (29))

    Why we can be cautiously optimistic for the future of the retail industry By Alan Treadgold Before COVID-19 struck with such vengeance, the retail industry globally was already in a state of accelerated and highly disruptive change, enabled by the transformative impacts of technology in general and digital connectivity in particular.

    Oxford Bibliographies Is the “distant sociality” and digital intimacy of pandemic life here to stay? By Nathan Rambukkana Pandemic life has underscored how digital technology can foster intimate connections. As citizens of a world that suddenly feels both more alienated and radically—dangerously—connected, the term “social distancing” has been added to many of our vocabularies.

    After the Black Death The Black Death: how did the world’s deadliest pandemic change society? By Mark Bailey COVID-19 has ignited global interest in past pandemics, and the Black Death of 1346-53 is the worst in recorded history. Recent research has transformed our understanding of this lethal disease, which coincided with environmental stress and rapid climate change. But in the long term it proved a watershed in human history, triggering a range of institutional, economic, and social changes that opened up the route to liberal modernity.

    Language contact and idioms: out of India By Anatoly Liberman The overlap between English and French idioms is considerable. Familiar quotations from Classical Greek and Latin, to say nothing of the Bible, are taken for granted. A few idioms seem to have come from India, which is not surprising, considering how long British servicemen lived in that country. The Indian connection has rarely been discussed; yet it deserves a brief mention.

    Open Access – Episode 58 – The Oxford Comment [podcast] By Steven Filippi Should academic research be available to everyone? How should such a flow of information be regulated? Why would the accessibility of information ever be controversial? Our topic today is Open Access (OA), the movement defined in the early 2000s to ensure the free access to and reuse of academic research on the Internet.

    Hot contention, cool abstention Safety first? Considering protest reasoning 10 years on from the Arab Spring By Stephanie Dornschneider Could we expect new mass protests to mark the ten-year anniversary of the Arab Spring? New research investigates the cognitive processes underlying the protests, especially how the desire for “safety and stability” impacts the decision to protest or abstain.

    Using Technology with Elementary Music Approaches Technology in the elementary music classroom after the pandemic By Amy M. Burns The pandemic will leave a lasting impression on music education for years to come. Though we do not have to use technology every day after the pandemic ends, there are ways to use technology that can level up and benefit music-making with elementary students.

    A Century of Miracles, by H. A. Drake “Nero fiddled… Trump golfs”—but did Nero really fiddle while Rome burned? By H. A. Drake “Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Trump golfs.” Nero’s fiddle is back in the news thanks to Bernie Sander’s criticism of President Trump’s pandemic leadership. But are we being entirely fair to Nero?

    Movers & Stayers The splintering South: the growing effect of migration on Republican strongholds By Irwin L. Morris Migration patterns have laid siege to southern Republican dominance. Solidly red states a generation ago—Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina—are now purple or bright blue. The Democratic presence in Texas and South Carolina grows as Florida remains a battleground. These are all “fast growth” states. The remaining Republican bulwark represents a declining portion of the Southern electorate. If the South is the core of the modern Republican Party, its days are numbered.

    Sister Style More than a Vogue cover: Madam Vice President Kamala Harris By Nadia E. Brown The Vogue cover photo controversy is much more than a disagreement over a styling choice. Black women’s bodies are political. Thus, the uproar over Kamala Harris’s Vogue cover must be read through a socio-cultural lens that acknowledges the intersectional salience of her racialized and gendered body.

    Making Time for Making Music Online music-making with nearly no lag time—really! By Amy Nathan Susan Alexander found a way to fill the “big, depressing hole in your life where playing music with other people used to be” when she discovered JamKazam, one of several free music-making software programs that nearly eliminate the annoying lag time in sound transmission that occurs when musicians try to make music together on Zoom or Skype.

    Coming to terms with recalcitrant kids and with mots populaires By Anatoly Liberman “Kid” has a few relatives outside English but in an English text it appeared only around 1200, in a poem so strongly influenced by the language of the Scandinavians that the fact of borrowing is incontestable: “kid” is an import from Danish.

    Representation in Cognitive Science What is “representation” in the human brain and AI systems? By Nicholas Shea Neuroscience is beginning to make sense of what’s going on inside the human brain—a seemingly inscrutable organ of even great complexity. We can now see what some patterns of activity are, and we have an inkling of what they are doing, of how they track the environment, and subserve behaviour.

    Hard White Trump and the mainstreaming of racism in American politics [long read] By Richard C. Fording and Sanford F. Schram [Long read] Trump’s racial demagoguery has been a persistent presence during his presidency but perhaps never more dramatically enacted than during the first presidential debate of the 2020 campaign, which was unlike anything we have ever seen in modern presidential history.

    Essenes in Judaean Society: the sectarians of the Dead Sea Scrolls By Timothy H. Lim The sectarians reflected in the Dead Sea Scrolls, identified with the Essenes, were not the isolated community of popular imagination that spent their days praying, studying scriptures, and waiting for one or two messiahs in the desert.

    Understanding black holes: young star clusters filling up gaps By Sambaran Banerjee Since their groundbreaking discovery of gravitational waves from a pair of in-spiralling black holes back in 2015, the LIGO-Virgo-KAGRA collaboration has detected nearly 70 candidates of such events, 50 being confirmed and published until now.

    COVID-19 and pollution: double standards, quadruple bias By Jean-Frédéric Morin The difference between policy responses to COVID-19 and to environmental crises is striking. When faced with the pandemic, governments around the world (with a few notable exceptions) adopted draconian measures to limit the disaster. These measures are not inconsequential: it will take years to reduce unemployment and the public debt. Yet, they were sacrifices considered necessary to protect public health.

    Cubs galore By Anatoly Liberman The time has come to find out where cub came from. “Cub,” which surfaced in English texts only in the early sixteenth century, turned out to be an aggressive creature: it ousted whelp, and later the verb “to cub” came into existence. The constant suppression of old words by upstarts is a process worth noticing.

    Impeachment: What Everyone Needs to Know Questions on a Trump impeachment and invoking the Twenty-fifth Amendment By Michael J. Gerhardt How does the Twenty-fifth Amendment work? Could the Twenty-fifth Amendment cause a problem for President Trump? Can President Trump be impeached if he is considered incompetent? Michael J. Gerhardt provides the answers in this extract from ‘Impeachment: What Everyone Needs to Know’.

    Genome Biology and Evolution Good news for honey bees from 150-year-old museum specimens By Casey McGrath The past several decades have been hard on Apis mellifera, the Western honey bee. Originally native to Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, Western honey bees have spread worldwide thanks to the nutritional and medicinal value of their honey, pollen, beeswax, and other hive products.

    Annals of Work Exposures and Health Droplets, aerosols and COVID-19: updating the disease transmission paradigm By Rachael Jones The severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent torrent of research has brought a simmering debate about how respiratory infectious diseases are transmitted to a boil, in full view of the public. The words airborne, aerosol, and droplets are now part of the daily news—but, why?

    Posthuman Bliss? The Failed Promise of Transhumanism Playing to lose: transhumanism, autonomy, and liberal democracy [long read] By Susan B. Levin [long read] Transhumanists insist that their vision of the “radical” bioenhancement of human capacities is light-years removed from prior eugenics, which was state managed. This reassuring, empowering picture is undercut by transhumanists’ own arguments, which offer incompatible pictures of personal autonomy in relation to decisions about the use of bioenhancement technologies.

    Henry James and the Art of Impressions Impressionism’s sibling rivalry By John Scholar Sixty world-famous impressionist paintings arrived at the Royal Academy of Arts in London from Copenhagen in March of this year, a whisker before lockdown was imposed. Instead of drawing box-office crowds, they sat in storage for four months. But then the Academy reopened its doors in August with the Covid-secure ‘Gauguin and the Impressionists’. That this exhibition sold out so quickly is testament not only to our hunger for unmediated culture after a period of captivity, but also to the enduring popularity of impressionism.

    Was the dog-demon of Ephesus a werewolf? Apollonius of Tyana was a Pythagorean sage and miracle-worker whose life was roughly conterminous with the first century AD. He is often, accordingly, referred to as “the pagan Jesus.” We owe almost all we know about him to a Life written by Philostratus shortly after AD 217. In one of the biography’s more striking episodes (4.10), the great man eliminates a plague (a timely subject indeed for us!) that has fallen upon the people of Ephesus.

    A mild case of etymological calf love By Anatoly Liberman As far as I can judge, the origin of “calf”, the animal, contains relatively few riddles, and in this blog, I prefer not to repeat what can be found in solid dictionaries and on reliable websites. But there is a hitch in relation to the frolicsome calf, the lower leg. That is why I decided to give calf a chance…

    The Changing Energy Mix The economic and environmental case for electric vehicles By Paul F. Meier Electricity generation comes from many energy sources, including fossil fuels such as natural gas and coal, nuclear energy, and a variety of renewable sources such as wind, solar, hydroelectric, and biomass. For the transportation sector, however, energy comes primarily from crude oil.

    Oxford African American Studies Center Women & Literature: Maya Angelou By Tasha M. Hawthorne Angelou’s creative talent and genius cut across many arenas. One of the most celebrated authors in the United States, Angelou wrote with an honesty and grace that captured the specificity of growing up a young black girl in the rural South.

    Understanding un- By Edwin L. Battistella Recently I had occasion to use the word unsaid, as in what goes unsaid. Looking at that phrase later, I began to ponder the related verb unsay, which means something different.

    Oxford African American Studies Center Women & Literature: Zora Neale Hurston By Susan Butterworth Susan Butterworth discusses the life and legacy of Zora Neale Hurston. A vibrant figure of the Harlem Renaissance, a fertile interpreter of black folklore, and a lyrical writer – Hurston had a fascinating career. By the time of her death however, she had sadly disappeared into poverty and obscurity.


    December 2020 (24))

    What everyone needs to know about 2020 By Julia Baker Across the globe, 2020 has proved to be one of the most tumultuous years in recent memory. From COVID-19 to the US Election, gain insight into some of the many events of 2020 with our curated reading list from the What Everyone Needs to Know® series.

    Oxford African American Studies Center Women & Literature: Lorraine Hansberry By Margaret B. Winkerson In this article from “Black Women in America” (2nd Ed.), Margaret B. Winkerson looks at the life and works of Lorraine Hansberry, author of “A Raisin in the Sun.”

    Oxford African American Studies Center Women & Literature: Alice Walker By Stefanie K. Dunning Like all of her heroines, Alice Walker is herself an agent of change. Walker once said that the best role model is someone who is always changing. Instead of desiring a long shelf life, Walker asserts that she wants to remain fresh. This commitment to fluidity and evolution characterizes both her life and her work.

    Oxford African American Studies Center Women & Literature: Toni Morrison By Daniel Donaghy Toni Morrison occupies a central place in the literature of twentieth-century America. Her epic themes and characters, her unique and sophisticated style of storytelling, and her ability to recreate urgent, long-silenced voices have expanded what readers know about African American history and what they understand about the complex, often confusing relationships between race and gender in contemporary society.

    Women and Gender in the Qur'an The Qur’an on Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and the Nativity By Celene Ibrahim A mention of the infant Jesus’s birth would likely not, for most Muslims, conjure up manger scenes, a shining star, or visits from shepherds. Instead, a more likely image would be of Mary alone and in labor at the foot of a palm. Rather than a swaddled infant resting in the hay among manger animals, the Qur’an describes mother and child resting next to a spring.

    John Donne & the Conway Papers Finding the Melford Hall Manuscript By Daniel Starza Smith The Melford Hall Manuscript is a large, expensively bound manuscript volume containing previously unknown witnesses of nearly 140 poems by John Donne (1572-1631), one of the most outstandingly significant poets and preachers of the early modern period. Discovered by Gabriel Heaton of Sotheby’s during a routine survey of Melford Hall in Suffolk, and restored by sale by the prestigious […]

    The Shogun's Silver Telescope by Timon Screech An astronomically good deal: King James I and the Shogun’s silver telescope By Timon Screech Over the winter of 1610-11, a magnificent telescope was built in London. It was almost two metres long, cast in silver and covered with gold. This was the first telescope ever produced in such an extraordinary way, worthy of a great king or emperor. Why was it made and who was it going to?

    OUP Libraries Read & Publish in China: Chinese Academy of Sciences and OUP’s landmark cooperation By Kimi Zeng, Kunhua Zhao, and Rhodri Jackson Open scholarly communication leads to more readership, more impact, and ultimately better research. Oxford University Press (OUP) is the largest university press publisher of open access content. We published our first open access research in 2004 and launched our first fully open access journal in 2005.

    IAFFAI Biotechnology: the Pentagon’s next big thing By Jingyuan Liu and Kai Liao Biotechnology has long been an important field of scientific research. But until recently, it has never been formally considered by any military as a significant technological investment opportunity, or a technology that could revolutionize the conduct of war.

    The ubiquitous whelp By Anatoly Liberman Two types of hypotheses compete in etymology. One is learned and the other disconcertingly simple, so that an impartial observer is sometimes hard put to it to choose between them. English whelp resembles the verb yelp, obviously a sound-imitative word, like yap and yawp. Is it possible that such is the origin of whelp?

    The Emotions of Internationalism The role of the university in international cooperation By Ilaria Scaglia Universities are crucial for international understanding and cooperation, especially during a pandemic. In the midst of a pandemic, we seldom hear universities mentioned as crucial sites for international understanding and cooperation.

    Very Short Introductions 25 years of Very Short Introductions: listen to the anniversary podcast series By Rebecca Parker In 2020 we are proud to be celebrating the 25th anniversary of our Very Short Introductions. Listen to concise and original podcast episodes by our Very Short Introductions authors on a variety of dynamic topics for wherever your curiosity may take you.

    Gems of Exquisite Beauty Nineteenth-century US hymnody’s fascination with classical music By Peter Mercer-Taylor How could it ever have seemed like a good idea to set one of the most familiar Christmas hymns in the English language to a tune intended by Mozart (a genius at close-binding music to drama) as a vehicle for a seductive outpouring of double-entendre?

    Publius Obama, Trump, and education policy in US federalism By Kenneth K. Wong In just a few weeks, Joseph R. Biden Jr will take his oath as the 46th President of the United States. Like his predecessors in recent decades, Biden intends to use executive and administrative actions to pursue his policy agenda.

    Eubie Blake: Rags, Rhythm, and Race 10 little-known facts about Sissle and Blake’s Shuffle Along By Ken Bloom and Richard Carlin Written, staged, and performed entirely by African Americans, Shuffle Along was the first show to make African-American dance an integral part of American musical theater, eventually becoming one of the top ten musical shows of the 1920s. Authors Richard Carlin and Ken Bloom provide a list of ten little-known facts about the show.

    Why is religion suddenly declining? By Ronald F. Inglehart An analysis of religious trends from 1981 to 2007 in 49 countries containing 60% of the world’s population did not find a global resurgence of religion—most high-income countries were becoming less religious—however, it did show that in 33 of the 49 countries studied, people had become more religious. But since 2007, things have changed with surprising speed.

    A year of listening to books By Edwin L. Battistella The COVID crisis has led me to rethink a lot that I’ve taken for granted. One the saving graces helping to get me through long days of remote teaching and evenings of doom-scrolling was the opportunity to take long walks.

    Genome Biology and Evolution Unique adaptations allow owls to rule the night By Casey McGrath As the only birds with a nocturnal, predatory lifestyle, owls occupy a unique niche in the avian realm. Hunting prey in the dark comes with a number of challenges, and owls have evolved several features that leave them well-suited to this task.

    OUP Libraries The changing role of medical librarians in a COVID-19 world By Ania Zminda “Health librarians really need to have a broad picture of the health environment to have an impact and connect all the dots ”, says Gemma Siemensma, Library Manager at Ballarat Health Services (BHS), Australia. Librarians “need to continue to excel in reference consultations and literature searching to advanced forms of evidence synthesis and critical appraisal,” she adds.

    MNRAS Modifying gravity to save cosmology By indranil banik The unexpectedly rapid local expansion of the Universe could be due to us residing in a large void. However, a void wide and deep enough to explain this discrepancy—often called the “Hubble tension”—is not possible in standard cosmology, which is built on Einstein’s theory of gravity, General Relativity.

    Etymology gleanings for November 2020 By Anatoly Liberman Why is there no “master key” to the closet hiding the origin of language and all the oldest words? Historians deal with documents or, when no documents have been preserved, with oral tradition, which may or may not be reliable. The earliest epoch did not leave us any documents pertaining to the origin of language.

    Oxford Research Encyclopedias Social studies: learning the past to influence the future By Tommy Ender Learning history is complex; it requires an individual to be a critical thinker, develop different interpretations of history, and engage in analytical writing. I encourage these skills in my undergraduates when we discuss the past. However, within the US’ K-12 system, social studies have been relegated to the sidelines as education policymakers and administrators have focused on math and science since the start of the 21st century.

    Beethoven: Variations on a Life Five overlooked Beethoven gems By Mark Evan Bonds Beethoven wrote an enormous quantity of music: nine symphonies, some fifty sonatas, seven concertos, sixteen string quartets, more than a hundred songs…the list goes on and on. It is almost inevitable that certain of these works have been relatively neglected by performers and the listening public alike. Here are a few overlooked gems.


    November 2020 (29))

    How to call for the police Crisis Intervention Team By Linda Tashbook When you call 911 for assistance with someone whose mental health symptoms are out of control specifically ask for crisis intervention officers with mental health training. Tell the dispatcher that the person you are calling about has a diagnosed mental illness and is experiencing a mental health crisis, explain what that illness is, and then after setting that foundation help prepare the officers for the scene by giving the 911 operator all of the details about the current behavior.

    The Invention of Martial Arts Bruce Lee and the invention of martial arts By Paul Bowman Had he lived, Bruce Lee would have been 80 on 27 November 2020. This anniversary will be marked by countless people and innumerable institutions all over the world, from China to Russia to the USA, and almost everywhere in between. This is because, in the space of a few episodes of a couple of US TV series and four martial arts films, Bruce Lee changed global popular culture forever.

    The Oxford Handbook of Nigerian Politics How the #EndSARS protest movement reawakened Nigeria’s youth By A. Carl LeVan and Patrick Ukata Human Rights groups, including Amnesty International, have for many years documented alleged SARS abuses of civilians including extortion, rape, and extrajudicial killings. Over the years the police have repeatedly denied the allegations. The present #EndSARS protests started after a video surfaced that showed a SARS officer allegedly shooting a man in Delta State before driving off. This video set off peaceful protests across the country. However, unlike previous protests with clearly identifiable leadership structure which was susceptible to being arrested and charged to court by the government, this protest movement decidedly insisted on not having a central leadership. Rather, using social media and propelled mainly by young people, cutting across class lines, the protests have been largely peaceful and very coordinated.

    Bizarre the world over By Anatoly Liberman The posts for the last two weeks dealt with the various attempts to trace (or rather guess) the origin of the word bizarre, and I finished by saying that the word is, in my opinion, sound-imitative. In connection with this statement a caveat is in order…

    Diseases in the District of Main 1772-1820 The Jeremiah Barker Papers: medicine as practiced 200 years ago By Richard Kahn This is the story of a lost manuscript, an unpublished book written 200 years ago by a rural physician in New England—not one of the elites, but a preceptor-trained doctor who spent his long life taking care of people and writing about it.

    Oxford Languages Lost for words? Introducing Oxford’s “Words of an Unprecedented Year” By Casper Grathwohl For over a decade, we have selected a word or expression that captures the ethos, mood or preoccupations of the last 12 months, driven by data showing the ways in which words have been used. But this year, how could we pick a word, or even a shortlist, to summarize the ways in which we’ve been continually knocked off our axis?

    Athens After Empire Capturing your “rude” conqueror By Ian Worthington Roman civilization is one of the foundation stones of our own western culture, and we are often exposed in newspaper and magazine articles, books, and even TV documentaries to the glories of Roman art, architecture, literature (the chances are you’ve read Virgil’s Aeneid), rhetoric (we’ve all heard of Cicero), even philosophy. Yet in the late first century BC the Roman poet Horace wrote: “Captive Greece captured her rude conqueror and introduced her arts to the crude Latin lands” (Epistle 2.1.156). Did he really mean that Rome owed its cultural and intellectual heritage to the Greeks?

    International Affairs When female peacekeepers’ “added value” becomes an “added burden” By Nina Wilen Calls for the increased participation of uniformed United Nations female peacekeepers have multiplied in recent years, fueled in part by new scandals of peacekeepers’ sexual abuse and exploitation (SEA), tarnishing the UN’s reputation, and in part by the will to show explicit progress at the 20th anniversary of the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.

    OUP Libraries Accessible libraries: “a different sense of reading” By Anja Lehmann and Ronald Krause The German Centre for Accessible Reading, dzb lesen, unites tradition with the modern world. Founded on 12 November 1894 as the German Central Library for the Blind, it has been a library for blind and visually impaired people for more than 125 years and is thus the oldest specialist library of its kind in Germany.

    The Changing Energy Mix The case for investing in wind energy By Paul F. Meier If you spend time driving on the interstate highway system in the US, you may be surprised to see the rapid development of wind energy. This is especially true in the Great Plains where there is a seemingly endless array of wind turbines decorating the horizon. And, north of Los Angeles, the Tehachapi Mountain Range is home to almost 5,000 wind turbines.

    Bizarre is who bizarre does: part two By Anatoly Liberman This post continues the discussion of “bizarre.” After the Basque etymology of this Romance adjective was rejected on chronological grounds, “bizarre” joined the sad crowd of “words of unknown (disputable, uncertain, undiscovered) origin.” However, several good scholars have tried to penetrate the darkness surrounding it. Each offered his own solution, a situation, as we will see, that does not bode well.

    Athens After Empire Down but never out By Ian Worthington The Athenians were in a panic in 490 BC. A Persian army had landed at Marathon, on the coastline east of Athens, intent on capturing the city and even conquering all Greece. The famous battle of Marathon was Athens’ coming of age as a military power; a decade later its navy helped to block another Persian invasion (led by Xerxes), a stepping-stone to Athens’ rise as a wealthy imperial power.

    A Playgoer's and Reader's Guide to Shakespeare So you think you know Shakespeare? [Quiz] By Michael Dobson and Stanley Wells In order to celebrate the release of Shakespeare: A Playgoer and Reader’s Guide, we created a quiz to see how well you know Shakespeare’s plays!

    Brahms's Violin Sonatas Playing the opposite of what Brahms wrote By Joel Lester The first movement of Brahms’s Violin Sonata No. 1 in G, op. 78, has led many violin-piano duos either to ignore Brahms’s tempo markings or actually play the opposite of what he wrote. Joel Lester considers the what might we learn from this oddity.

    Music & Autism A conversation on music and autism (part two) By Graeme Gibson and Michael B. Bakan In the second and final part of this interview, author Michael B. Bakan speaks to his co-author Graeme Gibson, Dr Deborah Gibson, and legendary science fiction author William Gibson about writing science fiction, musical influences, and essential lessons autism has taught them.

    Oxford Research Encylopedias Teaching peace in a time of violence By Christian A. Bracho In September 2020, President Trump signed an order calling for a commission on “patriotic education,” in response to what he considered anti-American sentiments seeping into school curricula around the United States. He accused teachers of teaching a “twisted web of lies” by including lessons from the New York Times’ 1619 Project, which examines American history through the lens of the African slave trade.

    The dubious importance of cultivating facial hair: the word “bizarre” By Anatoly Liberman Students learn to begin their papers with an introduction and end with a conclusion. The puny body is left to grow between those two boundary marks. I have never seen much use in this rigid scheme. However, today I have no choice but to follow this pattern and will write a long introduction. Most etymological […]

    Music & Autism A conversation on music and autism (part one) By Graeme Gibson and Michael B. Bakan In the first part of this two-part interview, author of “Music and Autism,” Michael Bakan speaks to his co-author Graeme Gibson, Dr Deborah Gibson, and legendary science fiction author William Gibson about musical instruments and autism.

    Parliamentary Affairs What can the Conservatives’ 2019 election win tell us about their current leadership? By Sam Power, Tim Bale, and Paul Webb It’s an old truism that a week is a long time in politics, which would probably make 11 months an absolute age during even the most halcyon times. So, reflecting on the lessons to be drawn from the victory of the Conservative Party in the 2019 general election does rather feel like a job for ancient historians rather than political scientists. But there remains much that we can learn from the recent past…

    The History of Radiology Five famous doctors in literature By Arpan K. Banerjee Doctors have appeared in fiction throughout history. From Dr Faustus, written in the sixteenth century, to more recent film adaptations in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the familiarity of these characters will be profitably read and watched by both experienced and future doctors who want to reflect on the human condition often so ably described by the established men and women of letters.

    Reimagining our music classes for Zoom By Bruce Adolphe All of us who are devoted to music education are facing new challenges due to the pandemic, and while we are lucky and grateful to have extraordinary technology at our disposal, it is undeniably frustrating to be isolated from each other, to deal with inadequate sound quality, poor connections, and time delays. We need to temporarily but urgently reinvent how we teach and connect with students.

    Journal of Music Therapy Countering college student stress: a Q&A By Kimberly Sena Moore, Jennifer Fiore, Carolyn Moore, and Lindsey Wilhelm Three music therapy scholars examine rising college student stress levels and how music might help.

    Etymology gleanings for October 2020 By Anatoly Liberman It is better to be hanged for a sheep than for a lamb. The proverb has a medieval ring, but it was first recorded in 1678. The context is obvious: since the punishment is going to be the same (hanging), it pays off to commit a greater crime and enjoy its benefits while you are alive.

    Spain: What Everyone Needs to Know Spain sets its hopes on the EU’s COVID-19 pandemic recovery fund By William Chislett Spain will receive a tsunami of money from the European Union’s COVID-19 pandemic recovery fund if it meets the strict conditions. The magnitude of the amount can be judged from the fact that it is more than the $12 billion Marshall Plan (equivalent to €112 billion today).

    MNRAS Supermassive black holes: monsters in the early Universe By Tereza Jerabkova, Pavel Kroupa, Ladislav Subr, and Long Wang When matter is squashed into a tiny volume the gravitational attraction can become so huge that not even light can escape, and a black hole is born. A star such as the Sun will never leave a black hole because the quantum forces between matter stop this squeezing into a sufficiently small volume.

    When deterrence doesn’t work By David P. Barash No one likes to be threatened, and yet we threaten and are threatened all the time. From animal self-defence to how we raise our children, from religious teaching to gun ownership, capital punishment and nuclear deterrence, threat is an ever-present tool employed to influence an often-unpredictable external environment. But does it always work? And what are the consequences when it doesn’t?

    Girls, women, and intellectual empowerment By Melissa M. Shew and Kimberly K. Garchar Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s nickname in law school was “Bitch.” Senator Elizabeth Warren was sanctioned by her GOP colleagues when “nevertheless, she persisted” in her questioning of soon-to-be Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Senator Kamala Harris reminded Vice President Mike Pence “I am speaking, I am speaking,” as he attempted to interrupt and speak over her in a recent vice presidential debate. CNN found it more important to report that two women won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry than to report the names of the women who won it. Though we may wish to think it otherwise, women and girls are still routinely silenced and excluded from positions of power, expertise, leadership, and full participation in the public sphere.

    How did the passive voice get such a bad name? By Edwin L. Battistella Many grammatical superstitions and biases can be traced back to overreaching and misguided language critics: the prohibitions concerning sentence-final prepositions, split infinitives, beginning a sentence with a conjunction, or using contractions or the first person.

    Modern Brazil: A Very Short Introduction A change in Brazil’s national populist government By Anthony Pereira As we approach 15 November, a national holiday marking the end of the Brazilian Empire and proclamation of the Brazilian Republic in 1889, and also a day of municipal elections, many Brazilians may be contemplating what has happened to their country and where it might be heading.


    October 2020 (37))

    Seven books for philosophical perspectives on politics [reading list] By OUP Philosophy Team 2020 has come to be defined by widespread human tragedy, economic uncertainty, and increased public discourse surrounding how to address systemic racism. With such important issues at stake, political leadership has been under enormous scrutiny. As the US election approaches, we’re featuring a selection of important books exploring politics from different philosophical perspectives, ranging from interrogating the moral duty to vote, to how grandstanding impacts public discourse.

    Survival and Resistance in Evangelical America President Trump and the war against American Christianity By Crawford Gribben On 7 October, shortly after being hospitalised after contracting COVID-19, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to warn his supporters that “DEMS WANT TO SHUT YOUR CHURCHES DOWN, PERMANENTLY. HOPE YOU SEE WHAT IS HAPPENING. VOTE NOW.”

    Scientism, the coronavirus, and the death of the humanities By Eric Adler The cause of the humanities’ current crisis is far older than critics of postmodern relativism allow—and more baked into the heart of the modern American university. In fact, one must look back to very creation of the American universities in the late nineteenth century to see why their triumph precipitated the marginalization of the modern humanities. The scientizing of our higher education amounts to the root of the problem, and without a deep-seated revolt against this process, the humanities will continue to wither.

    Listening on the edge Listen now before we choose to forget By Mark Cave Memory is pliable. How we remember the COVID-19 pandemic is continually being reshaped by the evolution of our own experience and by the influence of collective interpretations. The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC), where I have worked for over two decades, asked me to design an oral history response to document the pandemic in our area.

    A “baker’s dozen” and some idioms about food By Anatoly Liberman I decided to write this post, because I have an idea about the origin of the idiom baker’s dozen, and ideas occur so seldom that I did not want this opportunity to be wasted. Perhaps our readers will find my suggestion reasonable or refute it. I’ll be pleased to hear from them.

    Voter fraud and election meddling [podcast] By Steven Filippi The topic of voter fraud and electoral meddling has been at the forefront of many a conversation over the last four years. Are foreign powers trying to sway our election in 2020? Is mail-in-voting safe from meddling? Will fear of COVID-19 decrease voter turnout?

    Oxford Research Encylopedias: Communications Emo-truthful Trump-Biden 2020: another post-truth election By Jayson Harsin The US Presidential Election 2020 is the COVID-19 election saturated with post-truth political communication.

    Music Therapy Perspectives The essential role of music therapy in medical assistance in dying By Amy Clements-Cortés and Joyce Yip In Western society, we spend a lot of time celebrating and welcoming new life, but very few cultures celebrate when a person dies. While death is not as taboo as 50 years ago, death is still a topic that many individuals are not comfortable speaking about in conversations.

    Oxford Bibliographies Is gerrymandering “poisoning the well” of democracy? By Ryan Williamson Every ten years, the federal government administers the Census to determine the size of the population as well as how that population is distributed within and across states. These figures are then used to allocates seats within the US House of Representatives. States that grow faster than the rest of the country typically gain seats, necessarily at the expense of states that have lost residents or have experienced the slowest growth.

    Oxford Research Encylopedias: Communications The fight against fake news and electoral disinformation By Bente Kalsnes Just as COVID-19 is a stress test of every nation’s health system, an election process is a stress test of a nation’s information and communication system. A week away from the US presidential election, the symptoms are not so promising. News reports about the spread of so-called “fake news,” disinformation, and conspiracy theories are thriving as they did in 2016.

    Disorienting Neoliberalism What COVID-19 tells us about global supply chains By Benjamin L. McKean President Trump is not the only one bewildered by global supply chains today. Over the past 40 years, it has become normal for the production of many goods to be disaggregated and outsourced around the world. Transnational supply chains now represent 80% of global trade; they’re inextricable from our daily lives. Most people aren’t exactly surprised when their t-shirt comes from the other side of the globe or when their phone contains components from 43 countries, even if we can’t ever quite shake the feeling that there’s something uncanny about the contrast between these extraordinary distances and the ordinary purposes these goods serve.

    Oxford Handbooks Online The politics of punk in the era of Trump By Judith A. Peraino Trump is Punk! It’s a hashtag. It’s a slogan on t-shirts and trucker hats. It’s a click-bait headline. Milo Yiannopoulos, a former Breitbart editor, may have started this buzz with his speech (delivered in drag) at Louisiana State University on 22 September 2016, in which he claimed that “being a Donald Trump supporter is the new punk” because it would “piss off your teachers, piss off your parents, piss off your friends.” Then in October, The Atlantic published “Donald Trump, Sex Pistol: The Punk Rock Appeal of the GOP Nominee,” and after the election, the New York Post ran an opinion piece with the headline “Trump is the Punk-Rock President America Deserves” (9 November 2016). Despite social media protestations, “punk” became shorthand for Trump’s rule-breaking, anti-establishment campaign filled with unapologetic vulgarity and appeals to white male grievance.

    OUP Libraries The socially distanced library: staying connected in a pandemic By Femi Cadmus The concept of a socially distanced library would be considered the ultimate antithesis of the modern-day library. The past two decades have witnessed the evolution of the library from a mostly traditional space of quiet study and research into a bustling collaborative, social space and technology center.

    International Open Access Week 2020: Opening the book By Andy Redman Often when we talk about open access OA, we talk about research articles in journals, but for over a decade there has been a growing movement in OA monograph publishing. To date, OUP has published 115 OA books and that number increases year on year, partly through an increasing range of funder initiatives and partly through opportunities to experiment.

    Publicy Policy & Aging Report Reframing aging in contemporary politics By Patricia D'Antonio Aging is the universal human experience. We all begin aging from the moment we are born. In America, as we approach old age, we start to be treated differently.

    International Open Access Week 2020: Get to know the team By Bethany Drew “In this world of ‘fake news’ and misinformation, free access to the primary literature is worth its weight in gold.” Hear more from OUP’s Open Access Publishing team on how open access research can transform the world.

    Harlots all over the place By Anatoly Liberman Harlot turned up in English texts in the thirteenth century, acquired its present-day sense (“prostitute”) about two hundred years later, and ousted all the previous ones. Those “previous ones” are worthy of recording…

    The poetics and politics of rap music in the UK By Justin Williams Looking at current events in the UK, one can conclude that the Kingdom is far from united. While media outlets such as the BBC and newspapers tell a particular story of the situation, I have found that there is a missing voice in these discourses which shed an important light on these contexts. The British rapper, or MC.

    International Open Access Week 2020: What can a university press do to drive open access? By Ella Percival We’re taking a look at the open access publishing taking place at OUP and how the Press is working with researchers, societies, and libraries to support and develop the wider OA landscape. OUP is the largest university press publisher of OA content.

    When is a patent price ever “unfairly high”? By Yuan Hao The boundaries between patent and antitrust are never crystal clear. Part of the confusion comes from patent law’s historical “monopoly” roots. In early 17th century England, those ‘letter patents’ that originated from meritorious artisans’ grants in Renaissance Venice, took an upsetting twist and degraded into a royal privilege to monopolize trades by those favored by the Crown.

    Making Time for Music They may not be pros—but they’re recording artists now By Amy Nathan “If you give yourself to something that you think isn’t going to work, sometimes it does,” says retired school teacher and lifelong choir member Linda Bluth. She’s commenting on a surprising new musical bright spot that has popped up during the coronavirus pandemic: ordinary people becoming recording artists.

    How cancer impacts older patients By Alice Kornblith The rapid growth of the population in the United States has resulted in an increase in the number of cancer patients who were diagnosed with having cancer when they were older. We need to learn more specifically in what ways cancer affects older cancer patients’ lives compared to those who are younger.

    On the same page: Harlequin, harlots, and all, all, all By Anatoly Liberman Next comes harness, first recorded in English around 1300 with the sense “baggage, equipment; trappings of a horse.” But around the same time, it could also mean “body armor; tackle, gear,” as it still does in German (Harnisch). The route is familiar: from Old French to Middle English.

    Journal of the European Economic Association The importance of occupational skills in understanding why individuals migrate By Alexander Patt, Jens Ruhose, Simon Wiederhold, and Miguel Flores Why do some individuals move to another country, while others don’t? This question is fundamental because it has important implications for the characteristics of migrants, for the speed of integration of migrants into the destination country’s labor market, and, more generally, for the impact of migration on the sending and destination country.

    Beethoven: Variations on a Life Five things you didn’t know about Beethoven By Mark Evan Bonds Films like Immortal Beloved and Copying Beethoven, whatever their value as entertainment, have helped create an image of the composer that often runs counter to the historical evidence. Here are five things that might surprise you about the composer. He laughed a lot Most images of Beethoven—especially those done after his death—show him scowling. But […]

    The emerging economic themes of the COVID-19 pandemic By Daniel Susskind The COVID-19 pandemic has created both a medical crisis and an economic crisis. The tasks currently facing policy-makers are extraordinary. The ideas, arguments, and proposals in a new special issue of OxREP are intended to support them in that urgent work.

    Turn-taking in Shakespeare And thus Zoom turns us all to fools and madmen By Oliver Morgan 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.

    9780190936792 Why do humans have property? By Bart J. Wilson 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.

    Scientific communication in the shadow of COVID-19 By Alan Kelly 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.

    How to write a byline By Edwin L. Battistella 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.

    Where ideas go to die US journalism’s complicity in democratic backsliding By Michael McDevitt The unelected power of the Fourth Estate is never more evident—and potentially destructive—than during campaign seasons, when antagonists exploit the news to test authoritarian themes.

    As daft as a brush and its kin By Anatoly Liberman 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!

    Rooting chimp communication in relevance theory By Charles Forceville 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 […]

    MI5, the Cold War, and the Rule of Law MI5 and Russian interference, now and then By Keith Ewing, Joan Mahoney, and Andrew Moretta 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 […]

    Dangerous Art by James Harold Is it rational to condemn an artwork for an artist’s personal immorality? By James Harold It is one thing to condemn Chuck Close, James Levine, or R. Kelly for their alleged wrongdoing, but another to regard their artworks as though they were somehow polluted by association with their creators.

    The Oxford Book of Theatrical Anecdotes How well do you know the world of theatre? [Quiz] By Gyles Brandreth 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 […]

    Strategy Six leadership practices that create an agile organisation By David Mackay 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 […]


    September 2020 (31))

    Children’s games and some problematic English spellings By Anatoly Liberman 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 […]

    Standing as I do before God Sound relationships: exploring the creative partnership between poet and composer By Cecilia McDowall and Seán Street 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 […]

    MNRAS The enduring mystery of how galaxies grow up By indranil banik, Jan Pflamm-Altenburg, Moritz Haslbauer, Pavel Kroupa, and Srikanth Togere Nagesh 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 […]

    Beethoven 1806 Beethoven’s virtual collaborations By Mark Ferraguto 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 […]

    Multisensory Experiences The senses in an increasingly digital world By Carlos Velasco and Marianna Obrist 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 […]

    Idioms are fun By Anatoly Liberman I have chosen this title for today’s post, because in our life everything is supposed to be fun. Grammar, as I have often noted, is no longer studied at our schools, because grammar is not fun. Neither are math and geography. I am happy to report that, according to my experience, idioms are fun. Even […]

    A tribute to the fallen By Michael Ruse President Trump is reliably reported to have referred to soldiers who have fallen in battle as “losers” and “suckers.” Supposedly, on November 10, 2018, he refused to visit the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial, outside Paris. It was raining and he feared his hair would get mussed. On hearing this—reported in the Atlantic magazine—I was totally surprised […]

    The Human Gene Editing Debate The slippery slope of the human gene editing debate By John H. Evans The ethical debate about what is now called “human gene editing” (HGE) began sixty years ago. At the time, eugenicist scientists wanted to use new knowledge about the structure of DNA to modify humans—to perfect the human species by making us more healthy, musical, intelligent, and generally virtuous. A consensus later formed that gene editing […]

    Oxford African American Studies Center William Sanders Scarborough and the enduring legacy of black classical scholarship By Henry Louis Gates Jr., Mark Lawall, Michele Valerie Ronnick, and John W. I. Lee The American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA) was founded in 1881 as a place “where young scholars might carry on the study of Greek thought and life to the best advantage.” Today, the ASCSA is a center for research and teaching on all aspects of Greece, from antiquity to the present. Its campus in Athens […]

    The New Oxford Organ Method Learning the least accessible instrument By Anne Marsden Thomas and Frederick Stocken Why would anyone choose to learn a musical instrument which is too large and expensive for almost every home, and only accessible if one is prepared to brave a lonely, cold, and dark old building? You guessed it: we are talking about the pipe organ. Yet despite this, the instrument continues to attract players of […]

    Strategy Why business strategy needs to be flexible now more than ever By David Mackay In these unusual times, we need flexible approaches to business strategy more than ever. Strategy is commonly viewed as a roadmap outlining how to get from A to B. Typically created by the upper echelons of an organisation, “having a strategy” means that there is an agreed masterplan which co-ordinates organisational efforts and the use […]

    Harlequin’s black mask By Anatoly Liberman This is the conclusion of the sequence begun three weeks ago: see the post for September 2, 2020. Last week’s gleanings delayed the climax. In 1937, Hermann M. Flasdieck, an outstanding German philologist, brought out a book on Harlequin. It first appeared as a long article (125 pages) in the periodical Anglia, which he edited. […]

    The myth of the power of singing By Liz Garnett One morning in 2007 or 2008 I was listening to the news in my regular wait to turn onto the Birmingham Inner Ring Road, when I was surprised to hear a cheering headline: the UK government had pledged a significant sum of money to encourage singing in primary schools. Over the next few years, the […]

    MNRAS How old galaxy groups stay active in retirement By Konstantinos Kolokythas As recently as the start of the 20th century, the idea that the Milky Way contained everything that existed in the Universe was predominant and astronomers were unaware of the existence of other galaxies or any kind of star systems outside our galaxy. A few observed nebulae that had been identified as clusters of stars […]

    Global Health Impact by Nicole Hassoun How protecting human rights can help us increase our Global Health Impact By Nicole Hassoun As the COVID-19 pandemic surges across the world, justice and equality demand our attention. Does everyone have a human right to health and to access new essential medicines researchers develop? Can pharmaceutical companies patent the medicines and charge high prices, selling them to whoever can pay the most? How can data help us address global […]

    The Tough Standard by Ronald Levant and Shana Pryor The role of masculinity in reforming police departments By Ronald F. Levant and Shana Pryor For decades there have been murders of unarmed black people by the police, which in recent years has been exposed and protested by the #BlackLivesMatter movement. This summer, unprecedented numbers of protesters have voiced their outrage in response to the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the very recent and utterly senseless shooting of […]

    Etymology gleanings for August 2020 By Anatoly Liberman These gleanings should have been posted last week, but I wanted to go on with Harlequin. That series will be finished next Wednesday; today, I’ll answer the questions I have received. The idea of offering more essays on thematic idioms was received very favorably, and I am grateful for the suggestions. Yet let me repeat […]

    BioScience Bring living waters back to our planet By Rebecca Tharme, Julian Olden, Michael McClain, Angela Arthington, Mike Acreman, and Dave Tickner Demanding the Indian government take action to clean and save the nation’s Mother River, the Ganga, activist and former civil engineer Professor G.D. Agarwal died from heart failure in 2018, after fasting for 111 days. Agarwal’s hunger strike remains symbolic of the mounting desperation many of us feel faced with the fragility of rivers, lakes, […]

    Eastern Medieval Architecture The reconversion of Hagia Sophia in perspective By Robert G. Ousterhout At the beginning of January 1921, a special service was held in the cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, with Orthodox and Episcopal clergy offering prayers in six languages—Hungarian, Greek, Arabic, Russian, Serbian, and English—for the restoration of Hagia Sophia as a Christian sanctuary. As reported in the New York Times, the […]

    Becoming a Critical Thinker by Sarah Birrell Ivory Do you feel sorry for first year university students? By Sarah Birrell Ivory “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Said by Dickens many years ago but with eerie relevance to our current situation. The global pandemic is itself an overwhelming health tragedy. Moreover, it has laid bare so many other local, national, and global issues that have been simmering beneath the surface. […]

    The Puzzle of Prison Order by David Skarbek Smaller prisons are smarter By David Skarbek There is a growing consensus across the political spectrum that the United States incarcerates far too many people and that this has tragic and unjust consequences that fall disproportionately on disadvantaged socioeconomic and minority communities. Yet, not only do we lock up too many people, but all too often they are incarcerated in prisons that […]

    Introducing Shakespeare to young readers By Stanley Wells No one has a duty to like Shakespeare, just as no one is obliged to prefer coffee to tea, or classical music to pop, or soap operas to documentaries. On the other hand, just as it is highly inconvenient to know nothing about the internet, or how to boil an egg, so it is liable […]

    What does a linguist do? By Edwin L. Battistella Linguists get asked that question a lot. Sometimes by family members or potential in-laws. Sometimes by casual acquaintances or seatmates on a plane (for those who still fly). Sometimes from students or their families. Sometimes even from friends, colleagues, or university administrators. It turns out that linguists do quite a lot and quite a lot […]

    Six books for budding lawyers [reading list] By Craig Prescott and John Stanton In celebration of National Read a Book Day 2020 today, here are a list books for anyone working in, or interested in, the legal world. Studying for a law exam, or just looking for a court-based drama? Take a glimpse of the titles below and select one for yourself. My Brief Career: The Trials of […]

    The Churchill Myths The defacing of Churchill’s statue By Steven Fielding During Britain’s strange summer of 2020 the statues of long-dead figures became live political issues. Black Lives Matter protesters threw slave-trader Edward Coulston’s effigy into Bristol harbour, an act that shocked many, but that was as nothing to the reaction provoked by the treatment meted out to Winston Churchill’s statue in Parliament Square. During another […]

    How text messages are helping people fight counterfeit medicine in Africa By Marius Schneider and Vanessa Ferguson According to World Health Organization statistics, 42% of detected cases of substandard or falsified pharmaceuticals between 2013-2017 occurred in Africa— substantially more than on any other continent. Poor, underdeveloped countries experience a penetration rate of approximately 30% of counterfeit pharmaceuticals as opposed to less than 1% in developed countries. In Ivory Coast, Adjame, the biggest […]

    Antibody Therapeutics Searching for “magic bullet” antibodies to combat COVID-19 By Mitchell Ho Several cases of mysterious pneumonia (now called COVID-19) were reported in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China in late December 2019. SARS-CoV-2, a novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, was later identified. In the past eight months, COVID-19 cases have been reported in 188 countries all over the world, with over 20 million confirmed cases and […]

    Harlequin’s tricky name By Anatoly Liberman I am picking up where I left off last week. In the post for August 26, 2020, I discussed some words that surround Harlequin on a dictionary page. He ended up among harlots, harangues, and the harrowing of hell. I also touched on the possible origin of some European words for “war,” and in a […]

    What the Home Intelligence unit revealed about British morale during the Blitz By Jeremy Crang During the Second World War, the morale of the British public was clandestinely monitored by Home Intelligence, a unit of the government’s Ministry of Information that kept a close watch on the nation’s reaction to events. Intelligence from a wide range of sources and every region of the United Kingdom was collected and analysed by […]

    Gottfried Leibniz: the last universal genius By OUP Philosophy Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a German seventeenth-century philosopher, an incredible logician, and one of the most important contributors to the philosophy of metaphysics, philosophical theology, mathematics, and ethics. His metaphysical career spanned over thirty years, and he was an inspiration to other contemporary philosophers from the Enlightenment period. Born in 1646 in Leipzig, Germany, Leibniz’s […]

    Campus activists show us how to end gender-based violence By Ruth Lewis and Susan Marine Protest and resistance thrive proudly on many university campuses. In recent history, students and faculty have organized to protest the Vietnam war in the United States, recognize the occupation of Tiananmen Square in China, resist capitalism in France, and react to many other injustices. More recently, activism to decolonise SOAS in the United Kingdom, to […]


    August 2020 (35))

    Rebuilding better: designing the future of cities and governance By Eric Gordon and Gabriel Mugar In city and town meetings throughout the United States, “we need to rebuild better” has become a common refrain from progressive political leaders to communicate their response to COVID-19 and the subsequent demands for racial justice. It is shorthand for the urgency of economic recovery while acknowledging the reality of structural inequities. The pandemic’s indiscriminate […]

    Generations science is bunk By Cort Rudolph, Rachel Rauvola, David Costanza, and Hannes Zacher The ideas of generations and generational differences are ubiquitous. Millennials are characterized as job-hoppers; Baby Boomers are painted as selfish and materialistic. Media accounts blame generations for everything from changes in red meat consumption to the declining popularity of high-heeled shoes, doorbells, and paper napkins. Generations are likewise accused of disrupting normative ways of life and social institutions; these ideas are alluded to and supported […]

    Six of the best Italian comedies By William V. Costanzo An astonishing array of Italy’s finest films are comedies. Some of the most memorable performances by actors like Marcello Mastroianni, Sophia Loren, Giancarlo Giannini, and Roberto Benigni have been in comic roles. The humor in these comedies harks back to the commedia dell’arte street performers of the Italian Renaissance and, before that, to the Roman […]

    Harlequin’s environment By Anatoly Liberman Marley was dead, to begin with, as all of us know. Likewise, the origin of the word Harlequin is controversial, to begin with. Henry Cecil Wyld’s excellent dictionary, to which I often refer, says that all ideas about the etymology of Harlequin are mere speculations. This is not true and was not quite true even […]

    Communicating and connecting with your teenager leaving for college By Carol Landau In a previous post I described topics of conversations to have with a teenager leaving home for college. Equally, if not more important, is the process of communication. Understand the positive power of a strong family foundation. The power of a supportive family is almost unlimited. Let me be clear that a family does not need to […]

    Urban Studies, city life, and COVID-19 [podcast] By Steven Filippi Oxford Bibliographies celebrates its 10th anniversary this year; in a decade, OBO has grown from 10 subject areas to over 40, and this fall will see the introduction of a new subject area that is highly relevant to our COVID-19-afflicted times: Oxford Bibliographies in Urban Studies.

    How germs (or the fear of them) spawned Modernism By Victoria Rosner The world’s attention has been fully trained for many months on detecting a microbe that, inevitably, most people will never see for themselves: SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. We take for granted the invisibility of this new enemy. But when scientists first ventured the hypothesis that germs were the cause of many virulent diseases, […]

    Addressing racism within academia: a Q&A with UNC-Chapel Hill PhD of Social Work Students By Anderson Al Wazni, Melissa Jenkins, and Stefani N. Baca-Atlas Anderson Al Wazni is a white Muslim woman, Stefani Baca-Atlas is a US-born Latina, and Melissa Jenkins is a biracial Black woman; all three women are doctoral students. They experience the world in different ways and have worked together to share their perspectives on challenges and opportunities for non-Black students with marginalized statuses to work […]

    “Camping” with the Prince of Wales through India, 1921-22 By Joseph McAleer As senior correspondent of the London Times, Sir Harry Perry Robinson travelled the world in search of a good story. In November 1921 he was invited by the newspaper’s proprietor, Lord Northcliffe, to make a passage to India, following the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VIII) on his nearly five-month goodwill tour of the East. For […]

    The AI Delusion by Gary Smith Don’t blame AI for the A-Levels scandal By Gary Smith Many years ago, when I was a young assistant professor of economics, I had to endure a minor hazing ritual—serving for one year on the admissions committee for the PhD program. As a newbie, I was particularly impressed by a glowing letter of recommendation that began, “This is the best student I have had in […]

    Inca Apocalypse by R. Alan Covey The apocalypse of the Inca empire [timeline] By R. Alan Covey The Inca Empire rose and fell over the course of a millennium, driven to its demise by internal strife and Spanish conquistadors. This timeline highlights a few key events from the rise of the Inca Empire to its apocalypse. ??? Header image by Eliazaro via Pixabay

    How emerging adults can manage the uncertainty of the future [reading list] By Abigail Luke Jeffrey Arnett describes emerging adulthood as a distinct stage of development from the late teens through the twenties; a life stage in which explorations and instability are the norm. As they focus on their self-development, emerging adults feel in-between, on the way to adulthood but not there yet. Nevertheless, they have a high level of optimism […]

    English idioms about family life and conjugal felicity By Anatoly Liberman Several friendly comments urged me to continue the series on English idioms I started last week (see the post for August 12, 2020). That post was devoted to naval phrases. The comments suggested all kinds of topics, sewing and cooking among them. However, not all subjects are equally easy to tackle. Though in the shoreless […]

    How communities can help stop COVID-19 By Ted Lankester What impact will COVID-19 have on the world? We will be confronting the genius of COVID-19 for a long time and in many ways. At the time of writing this, coronavirus is increasing its multiple harms day on day. The world peak and many more national and regional peaks have not yet been reached. We […]

    Why chemical imbalance is the wrong way to talk about depression By Elizabeth Ryznar Depression has often been described as a “chemical imbalance.” This description is helpful in that it shifts the view of depression from a moralizing, personal stance into a medical model, and it can help encourage people to receive treatment. However, the “chemical imbalance” model is outdated and inaccurate. The chemical imbalance theory started in the […]

    How parents can support their teenagers starting college in uncertain times By Carol Landau How do you reassure and prepare for college during this time of crisis? I have been treating high school and college students for over 30 years and this is a season like no other. Previously, parents were often ambivalent; melancholy about their children growing up and moving away but happy for the privilege of college […]

    Human rights must be the foundation of any COVID-19 response By Benjamin Meier and Lawrence O. Gostin The escalating Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic has challenged global health as never before. Within months, the disease swept across every country, exposing the fragility of our globalized world. Unlike anything seen since the Influenza pandemic of 1918, health systems have faltered under the strain of this pandemic, with cascading disruptions as borders closed, businesses shuttered, […]

    Winston Churchill and the media in the 1945 British general election By Richard Toye Seventy-five years ago this week, the House of Commons in Britain began debating the legislative programme of Clement Attlee’s Labour government, elected by a landslide at the end of the previous month. John Freeman, one of the fresh intake of socialist MPs, declared boldly: “Today, we go into action. Today may rightly be regarded as […]

    Coping with COVID deaths and what cinema tells us By Eelco Wijdicks It has come to this. We have reached an arbitrary new landmark in COVID-19 deaths in the United States. Inexorably oncoming, some respected epidemiologists are spooked by the specter of more waves and say we may go to 1 million. Such numbers would not make this pandemic any more unique. These large numbers, as any […]

    Cyntoia Brown and the legacy of racism for children in the legal system By Kelly C. Burke and Margaret C. Stevenson Bette L. Bottoms In 2004, 16-year-old Cyntoia Brown shot and killed a man who paid her for sex – a position she was forced into by an older man who took advantage of her. Brown never denied shooting the man (in fact, she was the one who called the police the next day), but she claimed it was […]

    Whatever happens, the Oxford Etymologist will never jump ship! By Anatoly Liberman One does not have to be a linguist to know that English is full of naval metaphors and phrases. How else could it be in the language of a seafaring nation?! Dozens, if not hundreds of metaphors going back to sailors’ life and experience crop up in our daily speech, and we don’t realize their origin. Nor should we, for speakers are not expected to think of the etymology of the words and collocations they use.

    Petrostates in a post-carbon world By Giuliano Garavini “This is our biggest compliment yet.” Greta Thunberg answered with these words to the comments by OPEC’s Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo that climate concerns were becoming the organization’s “greatest threat.” An increasing number of people view fossil fuels, and petroleum in particular, as the key cause of climate change and thus as the greatest threat […]

    How the healthcare system is failing people with eating disorders By Pamela K. Keel One death every 52 minutes occurs in the United States as a direct result of an eating disorder, according to a report by the Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders, the Academy for Eating Disorders, and Deloitte Access Economics. I have studied eating disorders for over 30 years, and I was shocked by this […]

    We hear Beethoven’s music as autobiography, but that wasn’t always the case By Mark Evan Bonds At a pre-COVID live performance of one of Ludwig van Beethoven’s cello sonatas, I was in the front row and had a great view of the musicians. Beethoven was watching, too, in the form of a scowling bust at the back of the stage. And the two just didn’t match. The music was playful and […]

    Nine books on philosophy and race [reading list] By OUP Philosophy Team Featuring a selection of new titles from leading voices, and major works from across the discipline, the OUP Philosophy team has selected several of its important books exploring race from different philosophical perspectives. From David Livingstone Smith’s On Inhumanity, which provides an unflinching guide to the phenomenon of dehumanization, to Naomi Zack’s The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy […]

    How to prepare students for jobs in the 21st century By Stephen Reed A common goal for educators is to identify, and then teach, cognitive skills that are needed for the workplace. In 2017 a group of investigators at the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, New Jersey, investigated which skills are needed as a result of the rapid changes occurring as the United States shifted from an industrial […]

    How summer camps adapted to COVID-19 (and everything else) By Meryl Nadel The ballfields are quiet. The lake is placid. The bunks/cabins are empty without towels and bathing suits hung out to dry. For summer camps, this summer season has been rife with challenges, including the difficult decision not to open. But challenge and change are not new to camps. Over the past century, camps have adapted […]

    Raising a teenager with an eating disorder in a pandemic By B. Timothy Walsh and Deborah R. Glasofer Many people have already written about the difficulties we’re having in the midst of COVID-19 – they are numerous and far-reaching, some as insidious as the disease itself. As researchers and clinicians in the field of eating disorders, we are now challenged to consider how we can best help those who are quarantined with a […]

    Five books related to power and inequality at work [reading list] By Rebecca Olley What is it like to work in the 21st century? Which factors influence our careers? Are there equal opportunities in society today? With a focus on technological advancements, both at home and at work, is reliance on technology beneficial for both employees and employers? Are workplaces using technology to exercise greater levels of control? Will the […]

    Etymology gleanings for July 2020 By Anatoly Liberman Thanks everybody for the questions, comments, and suggestions! The state of Spelling Reform The six most promising schemes of reformed spelling, with summaries, can be found on the Society’s website (The English Spelling Society). The second (virtual) session of the International English Spelling Congress will probably take place in November. If you are interested in the fate of Spelling Reform, please register (it is free).

    Nine titles on the frontiers of psychology research [reading list] By Sarah Butcher What is the responsibility of psychologists to their clients and their communities during times of crisis? Annually, the American Psychological Association meets to present the research and best practices to meet the needs of the profession and the broader world. These nine new titles present the latest, most advanced research to create a bridge between […]

    The ethics of exploiting hope during a pandemic By Jeremy Snyder The COVID-19 pandemic has had enormous negative effects on people around the globe, including death and long-term health impacts, economic hardships including loss of savings, businesses, and careers, and the emotional costs of physical separation from friends and loved ones. Since the first emergence of COVID-19, people have hoped that these harms could be contained […]

    Conjunction dysfunction By Edwin L. Battistella Everyone of a certain age remembers the FANBOYS of Conjunction Junction fame: for, and, nor, but, or, yet and so. In the lyrics of the 1973 song, we mostly hear about and, but and or with a brief mention of or’s pessimistic cousin nor. A conjunction’s function is to “hook up words and phrase and clauses” […]

    Progressive American Christianity fosters racism By Kristopher Norris Theologian and priest Kelly Brown Douglas begins her book, What’s Faith Got To Do With It, with this question: if Christianity has been used for centuries to oppress black people, “Was there not something wrong with Christianity itself?” In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, many Christian leaders took to the streets in solidarity with […]

    Forgotten Danish philosopher K E. Løgstrup By OUP Philosophy Very little attention has been paid to Danish philosopher Knud Ejler Løgstrup in the English-speaking word until recently. His philosophical interests focused on three strains in particular: ethics, phenomenology, and theological philosophy. He studied theology at the University of Copenhagen from 1923 until 1930, though was inclined towards the philosophical aspects of the subject. He […]


    July 2020 (49))

    What we can learn from ancient Greeks about tyranny By Paul Woodruff In their brand-new democracy, the people of ancient Athens knew there was one form of government they never wanted to suffer through again: tyranny. But they loved to see plays depicting tyrants on stage. These rulers typically do not listen to advice or expert opinion. But authority figures who don’t listen don’t learn; they make […]

    The technocratic politics of the American right By Jason Blakely Conservatives today often present themselves as populists running against a left said to be out of touch with the common people and enamored of technocratic rule by experts. This is, in fact, a longstanding critique found not only in grassroots ideological discourse but also in the work of conservative philosophers like Michael Oakeshott, who suggested that the left was […]

    What we can learn from tragedy By Adam Hansen June 2020 marked the third anniversary of the Grenfell Tower disaster, when 72 people died as a result of a fire in a block of flats in one of the poorest parts of the richest parts of London. Before and since the fire, in recent years the United Kingdom’s most marginalised and vulnerable communities have […]

    Exploring hypothetical thinking By Timothy Williamson What is hypothetical thinking? We do it continually. Consider making a decision, from choosing what to eat to choosing what to do about a dangerous disease. In deciding between options, you have to consider each of them, working out what’s likely to happen if you take it, then compare the results. A natural human way to […]

    “Scram” and its ungainly kin By Anatoly Liberman On April 18, 2012, while discussing the etymology of shrimp, I wrote that I had once looked up the word scrumptious, to find out its origin. Much to my surprise, I read that scrumptious is perhaps sumptuous, with -cr- added for emphasis. On May 2, 2012, I attacked shrew. My romance with shr- ~ scr-words abated, but I never forgot it. Today, I’ll continue those two stories and again look at shr- and scr-.

    Smartphones are pacifiers for tough times By Shiri Melumad The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated consumers’ reliance on new technologies in almost all aspects of their lives, from how they shop, to how they work, to how they communicate with colleagues and loved ones. While a number of technologies have played an important role in this transformation—such as the growth of reliance on video conferencing—among […]

    Five things to know about F. Scott Fitzgerald By Philip McGowan Synonymous with the Jazz Age of the American 1920s which his novels did so much to define, F. Scott Fitzgerald hardly needs any introduction. Reading The Great Gatsby in school has become as much a rite of passage as first kisses and the furtive adolescent rebellion of drinking alcohol before coming of age. Much of […]

    It’s cheaper to preserve the Amazon than we might think By Eduardo Souza Rodrigues “The cattle need ladders to graze here.” That is what my wife’s relatives used to tell her after they moved to the Amazon rainforest. She visited their farm when she was 13, and the planted grass was taller than she was. Grass grows tall there because of the substantial amount of nutrients left on the […]

    How water conflicts hurt marginalized populations By Naho Mirumachi There are 286 international transboundary river basins that are shared by 151 countries. These basins are the source for water as well as livelihoods to 2.8 billion people. In many of these places the already vulnerable and marginalised are at great risk due to problems managing water. Sudden, sharp changes in these basins are not […]

    Writing a non-fiction historical thriller By Jonathan Schneer The distinguished biographer, Ben Pimlott, used to say that historians should try to write like novelists. To my knowledge, he never developed the thought, but what he meant was clear. While the historical monograph may make a significant contribution to knowledge, too often it is boring to read. He wanted us to deploy the skills […]

    Charles Darwin’s five-year journey [timeline] By Andrea Standrowicz Charles Darwin is most known for his journey to the Galapagos Islands, and for the work he published around the theory of evolution, The Origin of Species, as a result of that trip. And though his time in the Galapagos was vital to Darwin’s work, he also visited many other places, a small selection of […]

    Dry and thirsty, part 2: “dry” By Anatoly Liberman The beginning of this story appeared a week ago, on July 15, 2020 (Cut and dried, Part 2), and we found out that the Old Germanic languages had two words for “dry”: thur-s- (from which Modern English has the noun thirst; thor-s is the Gothic form) and dreag-, the parent of dry. Seeing how concrete and unambiguous the idea of dryness is, we wondered why Germanic needed two synonyms for this word.

    How much do you know about media law? [quiz] By Clare Weaver and Tyler Hawtin If you are working in the journalism industry, studying for an exam, or just interested in media law and journalism, we have had a bit of fun putting together a light-hearted quiz on media law in the United Kingdom. Take the quiz to test your knowledge or learn something new. Featured Image Credit: Women look […]

    How we decide on cultural canons By Theodora A. Hadjimichael Libraries, museums, and galleries are a few of the places where humanity attempts to preserve and transmit its cultural memory. The contents change depending on the period, even the time of the year, the community, and the target audience, but the aim remains the same: to preserve and renew memory and by extension to transfer […]

    What the United States can learn from Portuguese politics By Robert M. Fishman Donald Trump’s Independence Day attack on the culture of inclusion and equality highlights a problem long with us. Far from being united by principles enshrined in the country’s origins, America has long suffered deep discord over what lessons to draw from the nation’s history and how to tell the story of our past. Conflict over the treatment of […]

    Three philosophical problems for curious people [reading list] By Sarah Lobar It is part of human nature to be curious and to want to know or learn something. There are papers that fulfil this yen for knowledge and explore some of the more unusual philosophical questions that you never knew you wanted to know the answer to, for example; What did the tortoise say to Achilles […]

    How face masks can help us understand the world By Sarah Anne Carter When historians only focus on written sources, they risk missing vital aspects of the historical record. The material traces of the past, the things people have chosen, made or used, can offer important evidence allowing us to understand the historical value of the material world. We can understand the relationship between material culture and history […]

    A philosopher’s perspective on the cruelty of Donald Trump’s immigration policies By Michael Blake The Trump administration announced earlier in the month that it was changing the rules for foreign students in the United States. Given that COVID-19 forced most universities to shift to online teaching, foreign students had been allowed to stay in the United States and continue their educations online. The Trump administration tried to take this […]

    How John Harrison invented the first portable precision timekeeper By Jonathan Betts It’s been over 50 years now since Colonel Humphrey Quill wrote his biography (1966) of the great pioneer of the marine chronometer, John Harrison (1693–1776). Since then, there has been a increasing interest in Harrison and the events surrounding his inventions and discoveries. Indeed, over the years, this interest has caused something of a stir […]

    Six books to help us understand eating disorders By Abigail Luke Some 70 million people worldwide have an eating disorder and, with the prevalence of disordered eating on the rise, it’s clear that this presents a significant public health issue. Despite this, many myths and misconceptions abound that are significant barriers to both treatment and public understanding of eating disorders. Anyone can develop an eating disorder, regardless of […]

    What face masks and sex scandals have in common By Leslie Dorrough Smith While Donald Trump’s legacy will be marked by many things, we can add to the list his resistance to wearing a face mask in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which up until recently he had not done in public. The overt reason for his hesitancy to follow this mainstream medical advice is that Trump […]

    Cut and dried, part 2: “dry” By Anatoly Liberman The murky history of the verb cut was discussed two weeks ago (June 24, 2020). Now the turn of dry has come around. When people ask questions about the origin of any word, they want to know why a certain combination of sounds means what it does. Why cut, big, den, and so forth?

    How COVID-19 could help social science researchers By Anne Nassauer and Nicolas M. Legewie The US passed 2.5 million Covid-19 cases, there are more than 10 million confirmed cases worldwide, and global deaths passed 500,000 at the end of June. We face unprecedented challenges during this global pandemic and we may see profound and permanent changes to how we do things. Surveys and digital trace data have been used […]

    How we experience pandemic time By Beryl Pong COVID-19 refers not only to a virus, but to the temporality of crisis. We live “in times of COVID” or “corona time.” We yearn for the “Before Time” and prepare for the “After Time.” Where earlier assessments of pandemic time focused on rupture, we are now reckoning with an open-ended, uncertain future. This endeavour would […]

    How to listen when debating By Colin Swatridge Those Americans who call themselves Republicans are disinclined to take seriously the views of those Americans who vote for the Democrats; and those Democrats will rarely see merit in the views of Republicans. Few Israelis will give ear to the cause of the Palestinians; and few prisoners in Gaza will defend the right of the […]

    Testing Einstein’s theory of relativity By Clifford M. Will Albert Einstein is often held up as the epitome of the scientist. He’s the poster child for genius. Yet he was not perfect. He was human and subject to many of the same foibles as the rest of us. His personal life was complicated, featuring divorce and extramarital affairs. Though most of us would sell […]

    How companies can use social media to plan for the future By Maureen Meadows Many organisations use scenario planning to explore uncertainties in their future operating environments and develop new strategies. Scenario planning is a structured method for imagining possible futures based on the identification of key uncertainties in the external environment, and it may involve a variety of stakeholder groups from inside and outside the main organisation, including […]

    How Broadway’s Hamilton contributes to the long history of small screen racial discourse By Kelly Kessler On 3 July 2020, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton—perhaps somewhat inadvertently—took its place alongside decades of Broadway shows and stars which had helped foster an awareness of American race relations via the small screen. When Disney won the $75 million bidding war for the global theatrical distribution rights of Hamilton, the filmed recording of the show’s original cast performing […]

    How governments can promote real diversity By Robyn Klingler-Vidra and Ye Liu As with most of contemporary life, the pandemic has magnified the impacts of unequal access to technologically innovative employment on livelihoods. The COVID-19 digital divide has meant that some people continue to safely work and earn from home, while others are forced to decide whether to endure physical risk in order to get to work, […]

    A little jazz piano: exploring the building blocks of music By bob chilcott Soon after the COVID-19 lockdown started, I began doing combined piano and theory lessons with my daughter, who is eleven, and her friend, who is a year or two older, using Skype. I tried to show them a little about some different functions that help to build a piece of music, and in the end […]

    Social needs are a human right By Kimberley Brownlee In April 2020, an ER physician in Toronto, Ari Greenwald, started an online petition to bring tablets and phones to his patients in hospital, because hospitals had imposed strict No Visitor rules to limit the spread of COVID-19. Greenwald said that, “As challenging as this COVID-era of healthcare is for us all, the hardest part […]

    Five tips for clear writing By Richard Toye Blaise Pascal, the seventeenth century mathematician and philosopher, once apologised for the length of a letter, saying that he had not had time to write a shorter one. All of us face situations where we need to compress much information into little space. Perhaps we have to fill in an online form with a character limit or write a cover letter for […]

    How education could reduce corruption By Jay Albanese We live in an era of widely publicized bad behavior. It’s not clear if there’s more unethical behavior occurring now than in the past, but communications technology allows every corrupt example to be broadcast globally. Why are we not making better progress against unethical conduct and corruption in general? Morals are the principles of good […]

    The scientific mysteries that led to Einstein’s E=mc^2 equation By John C. H. Spence Scientists deal with mysteries. As Richard Feynman once commented: “Science must remain a continual dialog between skeptical inquiry and a sense of inexplicable mystery”. Three examples: it is profoundly mysterious as to why mathematics can so accurately describe our physical world, and even predict events, such as the motion of the planets or the propagation […]

    Etymology gleanings for June 2020 By Anatoly Liberman Response to some comments: The verb cut. The Middle Dutch, Dutch, and Low German examples (see the post for July 1, 2020) are illuminating. Perhaps we are dealing with a coincidence, because such monosyllabic verbs are easy to coin, especially if they are in at least some way expressive.

    Why Brexit could make it harder to fight money laundering By Hugo D. Lodge The prime minister says the United Kingdom will not extend the Brexit transition period. The UK is leaving transition on 31 December 2020, with or without a deal. London lawyers have questioned whether intelligence sharing has become a political bargaining chip in ongoing negotiations. The City of London is asking whether Brexit risks making the UK’s money laundering […]

    Is motion an illusion of the senses? By Demetris Nicolaides According to Aristotle, Zeno of Elea (ca. 490 – ca. 430 BCE) said, “Nothing moves because what is traveling must first reach the half-way point before it reaches the end.” One interpretation of the paradox is this. To begin a trip of a certain distance (say 1 meter), a traveler must travel the first half of it (the first 1/2 m), but before he does that he must travel half of the first half (1/4 m), and in fact half of that (1/8 m), ad infinitum.

    Five great comedies from Hong Kong By William V. Costanzo At a time when Hong Kong’s status as a semi-autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China is under threat, we should not forget what the area’s former independence from the mainland once meant for its citizens and their cultural identity. During the 99 years that Hong Kong was under British governance, the tiny territory […]

    Why we can’t tell if a witness is telling the truth By Adrian keane Imagine that you are a juror in a trial in which the chief witness for the prosecution gives evidence about the alleged crime which is completely at odds with the evidence given by the accused. One of them is either very badly mistaken or lying. On what basis will you decide which one of them […]

    The dividing line between German culture and Nazi culture By Moritz Föllmer In November 1942, Anne Frank drafted a fictional advertising brochure for the rear part of the building in central Amsterdam that sheltered her and other Jews. Turning Nazi oppression on its head, she ruled that “all civilized languages” were permitted, “therefore no German.” Still, she was prepared to qualify the ban on the language of […]

    Accept death to promote health By Michael Stein and Sandro Galea We all die and, despite some fanciful ideas to the contrary, we will, as a species, continue to do so. Our daily routines tend to distract us from this fact. However, because death is inevitable, we need to think about how we can live healthy lives, without ignoring how they end. Once we accept that […]

    Don’t vote for the honeyfuggler By Edwin L. Battistella In 1912, William Howard Taft—not a man known for eloquence—sent journalists to the dictionary when he used the word honeyfuggle. Honey-what, you may be thinking. It turns out that honeyfuggler is an old American term for someone who deceives others folks by flattering them. It can be spelled with one g or two and sometimes with an o replacing the u. To honeyfuggle is to […]

    Why are there different welfare states in the Middle East and North Africa By Ferdinand Eibl Most political regimes in the Middle East and North Africa are non-democratic, but the lived reality of authoritarian rule differs widely across countries. This difference is particularly apparent when it comes to social policies. While resource-abundant, labour-scarce regimes in the Arab Gulf have all established generous welfare regimes, the picture among labour-abundant regimes in the […]

    There’s no vaccine for the sea level rising By William Rouse We will get by the current pandemic. There will be a vaccine eventually. There will be other pandemics. Hopefully, we will be better organized next time. Waiting in the wings are the emerging impacts of climate change, the next big challenge. There will be no vaccine to stem sea level rise.

    Why victims can sometimes inherit from their abusers- even if they kill them By Brian Sloan It is a basic rule of English law that a person who kills someone should not inherit from their victim. The justification behind the rule, known as the forfeiture rule, is that a person should not benefit from their crimes and therefore forfeits entitlement. Many other jurisdictions have the same basic rule for fundamental reasons of public […]

    Why big protests aren’t a good measure of popular power By Sandra Leonie Field The recent wave of protests of the Black Lives Matters movement in the United States and around the world has opened up a space of political possibility for proposals, like disbanding abusive police departments, which seemed radical and utopian only weeks earlier. In the broad sweep of history, a similar process has been seen time […]

    Public health and Georges Canguilhem’s philosophy of medicine By OUP Philosophy Team Born in Castelnaudary in France 4 June 1904, Georges Canguilhem was a highly influential 20th century French philosopher of medicine. He took particular interest in the evolution of medical philosophy, the philosophy of science, epistemology, and biological philosophy. After serving in the military for a short period he taught in secondary schools, before becoming editor for Libres […]

    Cut and dried By Anatoly Liberman A less common synonym of the idiom cut and dried is cut and dry, and it would have served my purpose better, because this essay is about the verb cut, and two weeks later the adjective dry will be the subject of a post. But let us stay with the better-known variant.

    The history of Canada Day By Donald Wright Because they raise difficult questions about who we are and who we want to be, national holidays are contested. Can a single day ever contain the diversity and the contradictions inherent in a nation? Is there even a “we” and an “us”? Canada Day is no exception. Celebrated on 1 July, it marks the anniversary […]


    June 2020 (43))

    Five questions about PTSD By Barbara O. Rothbaum and Sheila A.M. Rauch Post-traumatic stress disorder is an often discussed, and often misunderstood, mental health condition, that affects up to 7% of adults during their lifetime. Here we answer five questions related to misconceptions that often prevent people from seeking care. 1. Is PTSD a veteran disease? While a significant minority of veterans suffer from PTSD, this disorder can impact anyone who has experienced life-threatening trauma. Approximately 70% of people […]

    Why transforming higher education can promote racial equality By Cheryl Johnson-Odim I was very active politically in the 1960s, 70s, and the early 80s. Life became more difficult in the late 1980s with the arrival of a third child, and as I focused to publish enough to get tenure in a large Midwestern university. Today, as I look back on that time, I struggle with two […]

    The criminal justice system’s big data problem By Sarah Lageson We are now witnessing enormous potential for criminal justice reform. State legislatures and mayoral offices are beginning to respond for calls for law enforcement transparency and broad shifts in police resources. At the same time, a broad range of private sector actors have publicly announced they will distance themselves from criminal justice institutions. Gannett, the […]

    How understanding science can be made easy By Goren Gordon When I was a teenager, I was awed by popular science writings. I was most affected by Roger Penrose’s The Emperor’s New Mind, with its detailed and fascinating account of quantum mechanics and relativity. However, it was not an easy read and it gave only one perspective of these amazing theories. Some 30 years later […]

    How we can understand ourselves through games By C. Thi Nguyen Games are a distinctive art form — one very different from the traditional arts. Game designers don’t just create an environment, or characters, or a story. They tell you who to be in the game. They set your basic abilities: whether you will run and jump, or move around your pieces geometrically, or bid and […]

    India Cooper and the art of copyediting By Joellyn M. Ausanka and Susan Ferber The editor behind many of Oxford University Press USA’s highest profile titles was not a staff member. But it is impossible to measure the significance of the impact she had on Oxford’s history, biography, and music lists. First hired as a freelance copy editor by OUP’s legendary managing editor, Leona Capeless, she became one of […]

    Accepting uncertainty creates freedom By Cheryl Krauter We all want to be in control. Our quest for control in the current atmosphere of fear has resulted in the hoarding of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and face masks. In the illusion of control, we close our minds and our hearts to the possibility of the meaning we may discover during a time of […]

    The blunt edge of “knife” By Anatoly Liberman The word knife came up in one of the recent comments. I have spent so much time discussing sharp objects (adz, ax, and sword) that one more will fit in quite naturally. The word that interests us today turned up in late Old English (cnif) and is usually believed to be a borrowing of Old Norse knífr (both i and í designate a long vowel, as in Modern Engl. knee)

    The 1968 riots and what Trump could learn from LBJ By J. Samuel Walker The demonstrations that have spread across the country since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25 May unavoidably invite comparisons with the massive riots that occurred in more than one hundred cities after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. on 4 April 1968. The most serious disturbances broke out in Washington, DC. […]

    Art and theater after Stonewall [podcast] By Steven Filippi As we’ve seen over recent weeks, direct action is sometimes necessary in order to exact social change. On June 28, 1969 in Greenwich Village, a bastion for New York City’s gay community, a riot broke out after police raided the popular Stonewall Inn. The demonstration became the catalyst for the modern LGBTQ movement in the United States; it immediately led to organizing and the formation of gay rights groups in New York City, and the first New York Pride march occurred on the anniversary of the riot in 1970. The Stonewall riots truly transformed the United States of America.

    Black lives matter in prisons too By Michael Rocque and Steven E. Barkan Recent events have spotlighted the pervasive and historic problem of racial disparities in criminal justice treatment in the United States. Videos of people seeking to use the police for racial control as well as videos of black people being killed by police have sparked outrage across the nation, and the world. Much of the attention, […]

    How Buddhist monasteries were brought back from destruction By Gregory Adam Scott In Beijing in 1900, as the chaos of the Boxer Uprising raged on, a Buddhist monk arrived at Dafo Monastery, seeking master Datong to make him an offer. The visitor was abbot of Cihui Monastery and wanted to offer Cihui Monastery to Datong. Datong agreed, and he arrived at his new monastery to find it […]

    Income inequality drives health disparities By Michael Stein and Sandro Galea Pretax incomes for the poorest 50% of Americans have stayed mostly unchanged for the past 40 years, widening income gaps in the country. We leave the question of why inequality matters for the economy to others. What is of concern to us is whether income inequality matters to our health, and, to the extent that […]

    Understanding quantum mechanics [quiz] By Jim Baggott Mechanics is that part of physics concerned with stuff that moves, from cannonballs to tennis balls, cars, rockets, and planets. Quantum mechanics is that part of physics which describes the motions of objects at molecular, atomic, and sub-atomic levels, such as photons and electrons. Although quantum mechanics is an extraordinarily successful scientific theory, on which […]

    Why we should revive dead languages By Ghil‘ad Zuckermann Approximately 7,000 languages are currently spoken worldwide. The majority of these are spoken by small populations. Approximately 96% of the world’s population speaks around 4% of the world’s languages, leaving the vast majority of tongues vulnerable to extinction and disempowering their speakers. Linguistic diversity reflects many things beyond accidental historical splits. Languages are essential building […]

    Are militaries justified in existing? By Ned Dobos Pacifism, in its most recognisable form, is an absolute, principled condemnation of war. Military abolitionism is the view that institutions devoted to war are not justified in existing. Most pacifists are also military abolitionists. This is unsurprising. After all, if you think that going to war is always wrong, then you’ll likely think that having […]

    Why talk about bad actors versus good people misses the problem of systemic racism By Linda C. McClain In an eerie echo of the 2016 presidential campaign, President Trump has denied that the brutal murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin reveals systemic racism and implicit bias in the U.S., instead describing it as a horrible act by a “bad apple.” Tweeting about law and order and vowing that the police […]

    How an unlikely pair became legendary molecular biologists By Paul M. Wassarman In 1962 the Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded jointly to John Kendrew (1917-1997) and Max Perutz (1914-2002). They were the first scientists to accurately describe the three-dimensional structure of proteins. Enzymes, hormones, and antibodies are only a few examples of the many kinds of proteins present in all living organisms and knowledge of their […]

    Growing up in the shadow of Sri Lanka’s civil war By Christina P. Davis Today’s Sri Lankan young adults grew up during the 26-year civil war between the Sri Lankan government and an insurgent group, the Tamil Tigers, between 1983 and 2009. People living in the Sinhala-majority south were far from battlefields in the north and east of the island, but Tamil minorities everywhere lived under ethnic tension and […]

    Remembering Anna Arnold Hedgeman By Jennifer Scanlon As we reflect on the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and on the continuation of white supremacy’s enactment through police violence, we might also reflect on the region’s histories of integration and segregation, community building and racism, which in the Twin Cities as elsewhere have long gone hand in hand. Take, for example, the […]

    English “brand” and the etymology of “sword”: the denouement By Anatoly Liberman With this post behind me, I’ll finally be able to beat my sword into a workable plowshare. Today, the immediate theme is the history of the word brand and its cognates, but it is also a springboard to an important conclusion.

    Black studies for everyone By Armond R. Towns It is a sad commentary on the state of education in this society that educators hesitate to include a subject in the curriculum because students want to learn about it. —Armstead Robinson In 1968, Yale University hosted the Black Studies in the University symposium. A product of the student activism of Yale’s Black Student Alliance, the symposium would be important for […]

    What literature can teach us about living with illness By Lisa Mendelman The recent interest in the epidemics of the last century coincides with growing media attention to the emotional ramifications of living with mass death and disease. COVID-19 has wrought an extended encounter with acute powerlessness and human frailty—a confrontation with mortality that is perhaps especially unmooring for those of us who live privileged lives. We […]

    Eat your oats By Renee Korczak Old Fashioned, quick, instant and steel cut are all examples of oat varieties. Is one type of oat more nutritious than the other? No. All varieties of oats provide similar amounts of nutrients, calories, and fiber; a nutrient that is chronically underconsumed in the United States. Oats are an example of a whole-grain and full […]

    Six French comedies you should see By William V. Costanzo Many of the top box office hits in France are little known in the United States and most have been comedies. While some of these have been remade by Hollywood (think of The Birdcage in 1996, Dinner for Schmucks in 2010, or The Upside in 2017), rarely are the remakes as good as the originals. […]

    The emotional toll of the COVID-19 pandemic on teenagers By Carol Landau A growing body of evidence supports my clinical experience that younger people, high schoolers especially, are having more psychological problems during the pandemic than adults. There are many reasons for this. Adolescents are in the developmental stage of forming a new social world away from their parents. Social needs tend to dominate their lives and yet currently […]

    Why politics is so polarized, even though Americans agree on most key issues By Carl Hunt, Lawrence Kuznar, and Stuart Kauffman In 1971, Jerry B. Harvey created “The Abilene Paradox” to describe a pernicious failure: mismanagement of agreement. The late professor and management consultant posited that “the inability to cope with agreement, rather than the inability to cope with conflict, is the single most pressing issue of modern organizations.” “Getting on the bus to Abilene,” as […]

    Why research needs to be published in new and accessible formats By Charlotte Crouch Technological advancements, accessibility needs, and study practices have and will continue to develop at a rapid pace. We find, use, and publish research completely differently than we did 25 years ago. But Oxford University Press has been publishing Very Short Introductions throughout this period. Launched in 1995, these publications offer concise introductions to a diverse […]

    Seven ways to talk to terminal patients By Elaine Wittenberg, Joy Goldsmith, Sandra Ragan, and Terri Ann Parnell Before COVID-19 arrived in our lives, chronic illness was considered the next worldwide pandemic. But COVID-19 did arrive and life as we knew it has radically changed. Healthcare workers, particularly nurses and physicians, are now having frequent palliative care (the area of end-of-life care that focuses on patient comfort) conversations although most are not trained […]

    How to foster national resilience during a crisis By Katherine van Wormer Resilience means overcoming adversity by successfully adapting to negative life events, trauma, stress, or risk. At the individual level, people who are resilient draw on their own internal resources and aptitudes, and on external supports such as mutual aid networks. Community resilience refers to cultural strengths that insulate members from external attacks. Such attacks might […]

    Etymology gleanings for May 2020 By Anatoly Liberman I promised not to return to Spelling Reform and will be true to my word. The animated discussion of a month ago (see the comments following the April gleanings) is instructive, and I’ll only inform the contributors to that exchange that nothing they wrote is new. It is useful to know the history of the problem being discussed, for what is the point of shooting arrows into the air?

    Why global crises are political, not scientific, problems By Robert Garner In his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize he was awarded in 2007, Al Gore, the former American Vice President, made the claim that “the climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity.” The reason why Gore does not see climate change as a political […]

    Six ways to reduce your environmental impact By F Stuart Chapin Over the last 50 years, human population has doubled, and global trade has increased ten-fold, drawing more deeply on Earth’s natural resources, warming the climate, and polluting the global environment. If current climate trends continue, a third of the global population will live in places warmer than the heart of the Sahara Desert 50 years […]

    The life of Charles Dickens [timeline] By Kim Behrens Charles Dickens is credited with creating some of the world’s best-known fictional characters and is widely regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian age. Even before reading the works of Dickens many people have met him already in some form or another. Today marks the 150th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ death and to commemorate his life we created a short timeline showcasing […]

    John Dewey’s aesthetic philosophy By OUP Philosophy Team John Dewey was an American philosopher, psychologist, and social reformer who developed theories that changed philosophical perspectives and contributed extensively to education, democracy, pragmatism, and the philosophy of logic, politics, and aesthetics in the first half of the twentieth-century. Born in Burlington, Vermont, in 1859, Dewey graduated from the University of Vermont in 1879. Following […]

    How anti-immigration policies hurt public health By Michael Stein and Sandro Galea Immigration is neither a new issue nor an exclusively American one. In 2017, there were more than 250 million immigrants living worldwide, and about 2.4 million people migrate across national borders each year. Migration also occurs within national borders—it is estimated that more than 750 million people live within their country of birth, but in a […]

    Everyone and their dog By Edwin L. Battistella A writer friend of mine posted a social media query asking for advice on verb choice. The phrase in question was “… since everyone and his poodle own/owns a gun…” Should the verb be in the singular or the plural? More than fifty people weighed in. Some reasoned that there was a compound subject […]

    How paternity leave can help couples stay together By Arna Olafsson and Herdis Steingrimsdottir The birth of a child is accompanied by many changes in a couple’s life. The first few weeks and months are a time of acquiring new skills and creating new habits which allow parents to carry on with their other responsibilities while also caring for the new family member. Many decisions need to be made: […]

    Twelve books that give context to current protests [reading list] By OUP Academic Cities across the United States have seen ongoing protests since the death of George Floyd while in police custody on 25 May. Conversations are taking place on social media as well as in the real world, and media coverage has been relentless. We at Oxford University Press would like to highlight some of our books across politics, history, and philosophy that we hope can contribute to the important conversations currently taking place and provide valuable context. Where possible, we’ve made some of these books available at no cost for a limited time.

    The history of the word “sword”: Part 2 By Anatoly Liberman Last week (May 27, 2020), I discussed two attempts to solve the etymology of sword. The second of them would not have deserved so much attention if Elmar Seebold, the editor of the best-known German etymological dictionary, had not cited it as the only one possibly worthy of attention. His is a minority opinion, which does not mean it is wrong, though I believe it is.

    What history can tell us about infectious diseases By John Ashton One of the remarkable achievements of the past hundred years has been the reduction of the global toll of death from infectious disease. The combination of applied biological science, improved living and working conditions, and standards of living, together with the benefits of planned parenthood, have transformed the health landscape for millions of people, not […]

    How after school music programs have adapted to online music playing By Amy Nathan “OrchKids is working hard to stay ahead of the curve!” That’s the message delivered this spring to friends and supporters of OrchKids, a free after-school music instruction program for more than 2,000 Baltimore students, pre-K through high school. In March 2020, OrchKids staff had to totally change their way of teaching. The public schools where they […]

    Eight books that make you think about how you treat the earth By Gabriella Baldassin The foods we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the climate that makes our planet livable all comes from nature. Yet, most that live here treat our planet superfluously, rather than something to be admired. During this COVID-19 pandemic, nature seems to be sending us a message: To care for ourselves […]


    May 2020 (35))

    Why recognizing different ethnic groups is good for peace By Cyrus Samii and Elisabeth King In a time of global crisis that has reproduced many inequalities and reinforced mistrust across lines of identity in diverse societies, one may easily succumb to a sense that meaningful redress and social cohesion are impossible. But, learning from contexts of large scale violence and civil war, there’s reason to believe that “recognition” based strategies can […]

    Moving beyond toxic masculinity: a Q&A with Ronald Levant By Ronald F. Levant In 2018, the American Psychological Association released its first ever Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men. At the time of the release, these guidelines were met with criticism by some who viewed them as pathologizing masculinity, but since the guidelines were released the discussion of “toxic masculinity” has spread to all areas of […]

    Should we fear death? By Carl Solberg and Espen Gamlund We are currently faced with a global crisis. A virus has spread to all parts of our planet, and thousands of people have died from the coronavirus. Many people now fear that they are going to be sick and die. Fear of sickness can certainly be rational. It is more questionable whether fear of death is […]

    Returning to the cutting edge: “sword” (Part 1) By Anatoly Liberman Those who have read the posts on awl, ax(e), and adz(e) (March 11, 18, and 25, 2020) will find themselves on familiar ground: once again “origin unknown,” numerous hypotheses, and reference to migratory words. This is not surprising: people learn the names of tools and weapons from the speakers of neighboring nations (tribes), adapt, and domesticate them. Dozens of such names have roots in the remotest prehistory.

    How ancient Christians responded to pandemics By Michael Flexsenhar Ancient Christians knew epidemics all too well. They lived in a world with constant contagion, no vaccines, medieval medical practices, and no understanding of basic microbiology. Hygiene was horrendous, sanitation sickening. People shared “toilette paper”(a sponge-on-a-stick). Besides that, in the second and the third centuries CE, two pandemics rocked the Roman World. The first, the […]

    How conspiracy theories hurt vaccination numbers By Michael Stein and Sandro Galea Near the end of 2018, data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that a small, but growing, number of children in the United States were not getting recommended vaccinations. One in 77 infants born in 2017 did not receive any vaccination. That’s more than four times as many unvaccinated children as the country […]

    Why anti-vaxxers are rising again By Jack Gorman and Sara Gorman In the midst of a health crisis when our only hope is a new vaccine, many have begun to wonder how those with anti-vaccination sentiments might respond to the current COVID-19 crisis. Many have guessed that the only natural, rational response would be for anti-vaxxers to change their minds and wholeheartedly embrace the prospect of a new […]

    Why the Eurovision Song Contest still matters in 2020 By Philip V. Bohlman What would be left of the Eurovision Song Contest once wrenched from the spectacle and ritual of its annual Grand Finale in May? Could it survive, stripped of glitz, pyrotechnics, and camp, its penchant for ever-expanding excess? Would the legions of fans worldwide, who love the contest, retain their passion and return in 2021? Such […]

    How violent images can hurt us By Constance Duncombe and Helen Berents In January 2020, the world became aware of a novel coronavirus spreading beyond the borders of China. We saw bare supermarket shelves, hastily taped Xs on pavements outside shops, empty streets and parks juxtaposed against overrun emergency wards, the bruised and exhausted faces of healthcare workers and makeshift hospitals and burial grounds amidst what once […]

    How working from home is changing our economy forever By Ariadna Estévez The virus lurks on car door handles, on doorknobs and the floor, on the breath of others or in a friend’s hug, on onions in the supermarket, and on the hands of the valet who parks your car. If you venture outside, everything and everyone is a threat. So, it is better to stay home, […]

    “The devil to pay” and more devilry By Anatoly Liberman It is amazing how often the Devil is invoked in English idioms: he has certainly been given his due. Some phrases must go back to myths. The Devil and his dam reminds us of the ancient stories in which two monsters play havoc with human lives. A famous example is Grendel and his mother (Beowulf), but folklore is full of similar examples.

    Pandemic practicalities and how to help teenagers manage time at home By Carol Landau It’s May and many of us have fond memories of springtime when we were in high school. There was some stress from exams and final papers to be sure, but also more outdoor activities, sports, banquets or awards assemblies, proms, and most of all, looking forward to the summer. High school students today, however, have […]

    How a stork helped the UK get through the First World War By Joseph McAleer Harry Perry Robinson was elderly (age 54) and infirm at the outbreak of the First World War. But he was also a senior correspondent of The Times with a distinguished service record; a confidante of the proprietor, Lord Northcliffe; and a rabid patriot long convinced of the German threat to world peace. There was really no stopping […]

    The persistence of white supremacy 50 years after the Jackson State tragedy By Nancy Bristow In the early morning hours of 15 May 1970, the Mississippi Highway and Safety Patrol and the Jackson city police marched deep into the campus of the historically black Jackson State College in Jackson, Mississippi, leveled their weapons at students gathered outside a women’s dormitory, and let loose a 28-second barrage of bullets and buckshot […]

    How to prepare for death By Peter J. Adams The main challenge in reflecting on one’s own death is the way the various aspects of death and dying are intertwined which make it difficult to discern personal mortality. First there is the prospect of me dying; of me entering whatever is in store at the end of my life. How long will it last? […]

    Quantitative thinking during a pandemic By Steven J. Osterlind Today is not right. The weather is fine. My family and friends are healthy and waiting to hear from me, ready for ordinary things like coffee and conversation. Normally, I’d be taking my grandkids to daycare and checking up on grocery and laundry lists. Then, a bit of reading and some writing. But, instead of […]

    The words of the day By Anatoly Liberman The readers of newspapers will have noticed the deadening repetition of the same words (I don’t mean pandemic, virus, distance, or opening—those are probably unavoidable). No, everybody nowadays hunkers down (the activity formerly reserved for the greatest leaders at their secret meetings), while many admire Sweden, where people trust their government.

    How children going viral is shaping our world By Dr Bryoni Trezise Last year my seven-year-old daughter came home from school and “flossed” in the middle of our lounge room. For the uninitiated (as I was) and for the oldies (as I am), flossing is not your average teeth-cleaning ritual, but “a dance in which you move your hips from side to side while simultaneously moving your hands […]

    The life and legacy of Florence Nightingale [timeline] By Molly Dixon This year, to celebrate the role nurses and midwives play in providing health services across the world, the World Health Organisation has declared that 2020 is the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. In honour of this, we are taking this opportunity to recognise the work of Florence Nightingale, a British nurse, statistician, […]

    Envisioning a post-crisis world By Carl W. Hunt and Stuart A. Kauffman Early in World War II, in August 1941, before the United States had entered the war and Britain stood alone against Adolph Hitler, President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill steamed in secret aboard their respective battleships and met off the coast of Newfoundland on HMS Prince of Wales. Their aim: Shape the Post […]

    Is collecting medical data really essential for health care? By Michael Stein and Sandro Galea The United States spends an inordinate amount of money on health care. Much of this spending goes to data acquisition, to medical monitoring, and to assessment of how our health systems function. But are there other areas where money devoted to gathering health data might be better spent? Our health is a product of the […]

    I’m the mother I am thanks to my daughter’s disability By Eva Feder Kittay On the first Mother’s Day that my daughter, Sesha, no longer lived at home with us, I received a lovely basket with various hand-crafted gifts from her. With help from her aide, she handed it over to me, and as I gushed she looked so very pleased. Mother’s Day is a time for children to […]

    Understanding guilt in mother-child relationships By Matthijs Kalmijn “You never write…you never call….” The guilt-tripping mother is common stereotype in movies and TV. But how many adult children harbor feelings of guilt toward their aging parents? Who experiences this guilt, and why? About one in five adult children experience feelings of guilt toward their ageing mothers, based on data from a nationally representative […]

    War, memory, and morale during a pandemic By Daniel Ussishkin In a seemingly natural way, reports of societal responses to the COVID-19 crisis in Britain invoked the very familiar images of the Blitz and the wartime Home Front more broadly. Such images and representations are now everywhere: references to the “Army of Volunteers” raised to aid vulnerable groups; notions of the spirit, character, resolve, or […]

    Why performance poetry still matters after 24 centuries By Derek Attridge Glastonbury Festival, England, June 2019 AD: the spoken-word poet Kate Tempest performs her poems before a huge, enthusiastic audience. Panathenaia Festival, Athens, June 419 BC: the Greek rhapsode Ion performs the poems of Homer before a huge, enthusiastic audience. Is there a historical connection between these events 2,400 years apart? Western poetry had its beginnings […]

    Five books to help us understand global health problems [reading list] By Bhawana Soni Health economics combines economic concepts with medical evidence to show how health care institutions function and how globalization affects global health problems. To raise awareness of the importance of the study of health economics, we have created a list of books along with free chapters that explore the policy concerns relevant to health systems in […]

    Etymology gleanings for April 2020 By Anatoly Liberman I have read two comments on my post of April 29, 2020 and John Cowan’s post and came to the expected conclusion: even those who favor the idea of the Reform will never agree on what should change and in what order changes should be instituted. Every suggestion makes sense.

    Confronting mortality in the COVID-19 pandemic By Mark Lazenby In the last four months, the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has marched across the globe. It has stomped to every continent and, as of my writing, to 134 of the 195 countries in the world, sickening hundreds of thousands of people – and killing thousands of them – on its way to global […]

    Music schools respond to COVID-19 shutdown By Amy Nathan Keeping Upbeat in Tough Times is the new motto for the San Francisco Community Music Center. The phrase sums up the school’s attitude toward the abrupt transition to online instruction that it had to make this spring, after local schools closed their doors because of a government-ordered mandate aimed at slowing the spread of the COVID-19 […]

    Why we need humour at a time like this By William V. Costanzo Comedy has always offered swift relief in times of stress. A good laugh can be good therapy, can lift us out of sadness and depression. Our sense of humor can restore us to high spirits and renew our sense of hope. Some scientists even believe that humor activates pathways in our brain that circumvent the […]

    Figuring out phrasal verbs By Edwin L. Battistella English contains a bewildering number of so-called phrasal verbs: two- or three-word compounds that seem to consist of a verb and a preposition—things like bring up, fill in, give away, pay back, work out, and many more. The Oxford Phrasal Verbs Dictionary lists 6,000 of them in its 2016 edition. Native speakers of English learn these naturally in the course […]

    Why the COVID-19 pandemic feels like a movie By Eelco Wijdicks I read there is a spike in streaming of the 2011 film Contagion by Steven Soderbergh. The film uses a made-up virus loosely modeled after a Nipah virus outbreak. Contagion opens with a black screen, and we hear a woman coughing. The fictional virus MEV-1 hits the brain (and not the lungs as in corona virus pandemics), and we […]

    A pandemic of boredom By Andreas Elpidorou It was just the two of them: on a raft, lost, floating off the coast of Africa—the lone survivors of a shipwreck. Years before, struck with stupendous boredom, Hymie Basteshaw decided to become boredom’s master. He read what others wrote about boredom, studied its physiology, and discovered its secrets in the wavering folds of human […]

    Intermittent fasting can help people in high-stress jobs By Hunter Waldman During times of crisis such as the COVID-19 outbreak, citizens often rely on first responders to ensure their daily living remains largely unaffected. However, behind the scenes, people serving in high-stress occupations (i.e. soldiers, police officers, nurses, firefighters, etc.) are often plagued with lack of sleep, shift work, poor eating habits and lack of access […]

    A.J. Ayer and Logical Positivism By OUP Philosophy Alfred Jules Ayer (1910-89) was a philosopher and a leading English representative of Logical Positivism. He was responsible for introducing the doctrines of the movement as developed in the 1920s and 1930s by the Vienna Circle group of philosophers and scientists into British philosophy. Ayer’s philosophy was also influenced by empiricism of David Hume and the […]


    April 2020 (43))

    How childhood trauma resurfaces during COVID-19 By Ellen Walser deLara Children who are victims of bullying often suffer a sense of helplessness. They don’t know what to do during bullying episodes and they don’t really believe anything will change or anyone can intervene effectively. Children subjected to bullying say it makes them feel sick, afraid, and helpless. It can also lead to feelings of anxiety, […]

    The ethics of defeating COVID-19 By Charles Smith, Jay Jacobson, Leslie Francis, and Margaret Battin Isolation, quarantine, cordon sanitaire, shelter in place, physical distancing. These were unfamiliar words just a few weeks ago. Now, your life and the lives of many others may depend on them. Isolation is the separation of someone who has been identified as ill so that she cannot spread the disease to others. Isolation requires careful management to […]

    Spelling reform: not a “lafing” matter By Anatoly Liberman I keep receiving letters explaining to me the futility of all efforts to reform English spelling and even extolling the virtues of the present system. I will spend minimal time while rehashing what has been said many times and come to the point as soon as possible. The seemingly weighty but not serious objections are three. 1) If we reform spelling, we’ll lose a lot of historical information. Quite true, but spelling is not a springboard to an advanced course on etymology.

    G.E.M. Anscombe on the evil of demanding unconditional surrender in war By John Schwenkler and Mark Souva During military conflict, what are the constraints on the things that a warring nation may do to achieve their objectives? And what constraints are there on the objectives that such a nation should have in the first place? A traditional answer to the first of these questions draws a sharp line at the deliberate killing […]

    Denying climate change is hurting our health By Michael Stein and Sandro Galea In recent years, global environmental climate change has become a third rail in American culture, dividing us along political lines. The Republican party espouses a range of positions, from the denial of climate change (the earth is not getting warmer) to denial of our role in causing the problem (even if climate change exists, humans […]

    How austerity measures hurt the COVID-19 response By Cristina Flesher Fominaya The 2008 global financial crash brought with it a series of aftereffects that are shaping how different nations face the current pandemic. Austerity politics took a firm hold across Europe and other countries whose economies were hard hit, with governments and financial institutions arguing that they were an unavoidable consequence of the crash. While many […]

    Six tips for teachers who see emotional abuse By Viann Nguyen-Feng and Eric Rossen The scars of emotional abuse are invisible, deep, and diverse; and unfortunately, emotional abuse likely impacts more students than we think. Emotionally abusive behavior broadly consists of criticism, degradation, rejection, or threat. Emotional abuse (also known as psychological maltreatment or verbal assault) can happen anywhere, both within and outside of families, and can refer to […]

    The process of dying during a pandemic By Gregory Eastwood The process of dying – what happens during those days, months, even years before we die – has changed a great deal in recent decades. We live longer than our parents and grandparents, we die for different reasons, we are less likely to die at home, we receive astonishing treatments, and our dying costs more. […]

    Who is Dr. Doddipol? Or, idioms in your back yard By Anatoly Liberman Would you like to be as learned as Dr. Doddipol? Those heroes of our intensifying similes! Cooter Brown (a drunk), Laurence’s dog (extremely lazy), Potter’s pig (bow-legged), Throp’s wife (a very busy person, but so was also Beck’s wife)—who were they? I have at least once written about them, though in passing (see the post for October 28, 2015). They show up in sayings like as drunk as…, as lazy as…, as busy as…, and so forth. Many people have tried to discover the identity of those mysterious characters.

    Space for concern: Trump’s executive order on space resources By James S. J. Schwartz Among the bevy of executive actions undertaken by President Donald Trump during the COVID-19 crisis is, of all things, an executive order (issued on 6 April 2020) promoting the development of space resources, which states in part that: Americans should have the right to engage in commercial exploration, recovery, and use of resources in outer […]

    Earth Day at 50: conservation, spirituality, and climate change [podcast] By Steven Filippi Today is Earth Day. In fact, it is the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day, when, at the behest of Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, an estimated 20 million people across the United States gathered to raise awareness for environmental protection and preservation.

    COVID-19 and employment law in the UK By Astra Emir The last couple of weeks have seen a raft of new legislation in the United Kingdom, hurriedly passed to deal urgently with the coronavirus situation. It has clearly been drafted quickly, with guidance that goes well beyond the legislation, and so this has led to some confusion as to what exactly the law now says. […]

    How we can equip ourselves against climate change By Ilan Kelman Earth Day highlights the need for climate action, but what role does human-caused climate change play in creating disasters? Science paints a nuanced picture, instructing us to focus on reducing vulnerabilities to weather and climate, irrespective of how the environment is changing. Starting with the basics, a disaster is a situation requiring outside help for […]

    What the Civil War can teach us about COVID-19 By Jason Phillips More than any crisis in recent memory, the coronavirus pandemic is changing how Americans understand time and imagine the future. Greater threats, like climate change, loom on the horizon, but they haven’t transformed time, because slower perils do not disrupt life and shutter society like COVID-19. During this crisis, familiar rhythms that structure time seem […]

    Is the fetus a resident or a body part? By Elselijn Kingma Pregnancy has variously been described as unique, confusing and full of ambivalence; as involving a doubling or splitting the person; and as challenging widely-held philosophical assumptions about firm distinctions between self and other or mind and body. But what, exactly, is pregnancy? What is this unique human – and mammalian – state? What is its […]

    Eight rules for teaching during COVID-19 By Jennifer Snodgrass At 10:50 a.m. recently, I was all set to teach my Theory II class. My I-Pad was charged. I had the links queued up to the textbook for screen share, and I had already created several videos explaining the concepts. When the 11:00 a.m. hour arrived and only two students were visible on Zoom, my […]

    Lessons learnt from Coronavirus and global environmental challenges By Amandine Orsini The whole world is now shaken by the tragic coronavirus pandemic. Despite its unprecedented and devastating dynamic, such a crisis provides crucial insights to the state of the current international system, including its capacity to respond to worldwide emergencies. This helps us gauge our system’s ability to tackle more long-term issues, such as the global […]

    It’s time for the government to introduce food rationing By Robert Garner The current COVID-19 emergency has much to interest students of politics. Does it demonstrate that authoritarian regimes are able to tackle a pandemic rather more easily and efficiently than liberal democracies? Given the origin of the virus, what does it tell us about our relationship with non-human nature? Is the pandemic a product of globalization? […]

    English, Chinese, and all, all, all By Anatoly Liberman I think I should clarify my position on the well-known similarities between and among some languages. In the comment on the March gleanings (April 1, 2020), our correspondent pointed to a work by Professor Tsung-tung Chang on the genetic relationship between Indo-European and Chinese. I have been aware of this work for a long time, but, since I am not a specialist in Chinese linguistics and do not know the language, I never mentioned my skeptical attitude toward it in print or in my lectures.

    The importance of character during war By Michael D. Matthews Nearly 20 years of war following the events of September 11 has resulted in advances in military psychology that stand to improve the well-being of all people, military and civilian alike. The symbiotic relationship between psychology and the military traces back to World War I. With the advent of US involvement in the war, the […]

    Can you tell the difference between real and fake therapy? [quiz] By Francis A. Martin Counseling and psychotherapy are professions that should be held to the highest standards—ethical standards, professional standards, and scientific standards, just as all health care services should comply with high standards. In providing health care services to clients, we are asking them to come to us in a state of vulnerability and trust that we are […]

    Protecting workers from COVID-19 By John Cherrie,Sean Semple Everyone deserves to go home from work safe and healthy. Sadly, during the current pandemic that will not be the case; some workers will die because they became infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus, the official name for the virus responsible for COVID-19, in their workplace. We expect that employers will take all reasonable steps to protect their workers […]

    Why COVID-19 could change how we work By Daniel Susskind and Richard Susskind During the coronavirus crisis, technology will help transform the work of professionals in ways that would have seemed unimaginable only a few weeks ago. AI and the Internet have already led to enormous advances for doctors, lawyers, teachers, auditors, architects, and many others. Technology has not just streamlined traditional ways of working, but also in […]

    Children Aid’s Society neighborhood-based programs By Karen M. Staller Established in 1853, the Children’s Aid Society provided services to homeless children and poor families. Although CAS’s first secretary, Charles Loring Brace, is best known for the “orphan trains”—an initiative that placed children with families in the West—he also built an impressive network of community-based programs in the city. Starting from a small office on […]

    Why we like a good robot story By Henry Wellman Jim and Kerry Kelly live in a small town in the rural Midwest. Their sons, Ben, six, and Ryan, twelve, attend the local public school. Their school district is always short staffed. The closest town is 40 miles away and the pay for teachers is abysmal. This year, the district’s staffing has hit a critical […]

    Keeping social distance: the story of the word “aloof” and a few tidbits By Anatoly Liberman It is amazing how many words like aloof exist in English. Even for “fear” we have two a-formations: afraid, which supplanted the archaic afeard, and aghast. Aback, aboard, ashore, asunder—a small dictionary can be filled with them (but alas and alack do not belong here). The model is productive: consider aflutter and aglitter. One feature unites those words: they cannot be used attributively. Indeed, an asunder man and an astride rider do not exist.

    The city will survive coronavirus By Thomas J. Campanella,Lawrence J. Vale In a recent essay, New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman asked “Can City Life Survive Coronavirus?” It seems an apt question in this extraordinary time of mandated retreat from public life. City streets and spaces normally teeming with people are nearly deserted now, evoking scenes from a Terry Gilliam film. In an effort to slow the […]

    Why war stories could reinjure those affected By Tochi Onyebuchi When my mother was born, the Federal Republic of Nigeria was less than one year old. Language barriers, and eventually death, prevented me from asking my grandparents what life under the colonial rule of the Royal Niger Company had been like, their fates twisted and tugged by the company’s board of directors in London. I […]

    Inspirational TV shows to watch during this pandemic By Charlotte E. Howell There are many ways people are passing time with staying home during the pandemic. Some are taking up new hobbies. Some are exploring virtual museums. Some may even be preparing for a neighborhood sing-along out their windows. But many people are turning to television to provide entertainment, comfort, and/or escape. Since the late 1990s, as […]

    Untold stories of the Apollo 13 engineers By Brandon R. Brown Late on 13 April 1970, the night shift had started in Houston’s Manned Spaceflight Center. Engineers tried to sift through reams of odd data coming about the Apollo 13 spacecraft, from instrument readings to the confused reports from three astronauts. It looked like they were rapidly losing their oxygen supply. “First of all, we thought […]

    Six jazz movies you may not know By Kevin Whitehead The film industry started making jazz-related features as soon as synchronized sound came in, in 1927: “I’m gonna sing it jazzy,” Al Jolson’s Jack Robin optimistically declares in the pioneering talkie The Jazz Singer, before taking off on Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies.” (He gets closer to the jazzy mark whistling a quasi-improvised chorus of “Toot Toot […]

    Why gun owners could be the decisive vote in 2020 By Mark R. Joslyn Recently, Joe Biden visited a construction plant in Michigan. A worker confronted Biden and accused the former vice president of “actively trying to diminish our Second Amendment right and take away our guns.” Biden, in turn, responded, “You’re full of shit.” The exchange continued, cameras rolling, Biden clearly sensed an opportunity, recognized the political value of the […]

    Maths can help you thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic By Susan D'Agostino When Isaac Newton practiced social distancing during the Great Plague that hit London in 1665, he was not expected to transition from face-to-face work with scientist colleagues to a patchwork of conference calls and email. With no children underfoot who needed care at home, he concentrated on developing early calculus ideas. With no exposure to a […]

    The Perfect Tenses in English By Edwin L. Battistella What could be simpler than grammatical tense—things happening now are in the present, things happening before are in the past, and things that haven’t happened yet are in the future. If only it were so easy. Consider the present tense. Its meaning often refers not to things happening right now but to some general state […]

    How religious sects can be a force for good By Melissa Wei-Tsing Inouye On Sunday, 29 March, Russell M. Nelson, president of the 16-million-member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, released a video from Salt Lake City calling on church members everywhere to join in a fast “to pray for relief from the physical, emotional, and economic effects of this global pandemic.” Some 71 years before, on […]

    Why vaccines should be compulsory By Alberto Giubilini and Julian Savulescu Imagine we develop a vaccine against the coronavirus (COVID-19). Suppose the vaccine has some very small chance of some serious side effects, for instance seizures. However, this vaccine can save millions of lives globally, in the same way as other vaccines do. You are the prime minister and you have to decide whether to make […]

    The surprising scientific value of national bias By Anne C. Rose Emotions seem by their very nature to defy scientific analysis. Private and evanescent, and yet powerful and determining, feelings resist systematic observation and measurement. We are lucky to catch a glimpse in a facial expression or inflection of speech. The emotions of animals are all the more difficult. Without words to communicate what might be […]

    How downward social mobility happens By Jessi Streib The common story about downward mobility is one of bad luck: recent generations have the misfortune of coming of age during an economic downturn, a student debt crisis, declining job security, and, now, a pandemic. Of course, these factors relate to downward mobility, but they are not all that matters. The truth is that many […]

    Re-reading Camus’s The Plague in pandemic times By Oliver Gloag Sometime in the 1940s in the sleepy colonial city of Oran, in French occupied Algeria, there was an outbreak of plague. First rats died, then people. Within days, the entire city was quarantined: it was impossible to get out, and no one could get in. This is the fictional setting for Albert Camus’s second most famous novel, The Plague (1947). And yes, there are some similarities to our current situation with the coronavirus. First, […]

    Donald Trump’s insult politics By Edwin L. Battistella Political commentators and satirists love to mock Donald Trump’s verbal gaffs, his simplified vocabulary and vague, boastful speech. But if you judge his oratory by its effect on the audience, Donald Trump’s rhetoric, particularly with large crowds of enthusiastic supporters, is undeniably effective. People have studied the art of rhetoric for millennia – so how […]

    Etymology gleanings for March 2020 By Anatoly Liberman Should it be business as usual with the Oxford Etymologist? Closing the blog until better days will probably not benefit anybody. The terrain is like a minefield, but I’ll continue gleaning.

    Police enforcement measures to control social disorder in the midst of COVID-19 By Stephen Reicher and Clifford Stott As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads we have to take unprecedented steps to deal with it, people are being denied rights and resources they have long regarded as inalienable. And the police are in the unenviable position of having to enforce these restrictions. What happens when people feel they have to go out to work but […]

    How G. E. M. Anscombe revolutionised 20th-century western philosophy By OUP Philosophy Team Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe (b. 1919-d. 2001) was an important figure and gave significant contributions to the field of analytic philosophy, philosophy of mind, and moral and religious philosophy. Born in Limerick in March 1919 to Allen Anscombe and Gertrude Anscombe (nee Thomas), the family returned to England when her father returned from the British Army […]


    March 2020 (47))

    How to rate and rank potential doctoral students By Peter Erdi Graduate education, particularly the training of doctoral students, plays crucial role in the progress of society. Around 1,500 of the country’s 4,500 or so universities award doctoral degrees. In 2018 according to the Survey of Earned Doctorates 55,185 students were doctorate recipients in the United States. To match potential graduate students and graduate programs needs the […]

    How to be an ally for transgender rights By Melissa R. Michelson and Brian F. Harrison The last day of March is the International Transgender Day of Visibility, celebrated each year to honor transgender people around the world and the courage it takes to live authentically and openly. It is also an opportunity to raise awareness about the severe, ongoing discrimination and violence that transgender people often face every day. Estimates […]

    Why self-help won’t cure impostor syndrome By Katherine Hawley Do you feel as if your professional success is due to some kind of mistake? That you don’t deserve your grades, promotions, or accolades? That you’re somehow getting away with a fraud which could be uncovered at any moment? We have a name for that cluster of anxieties: you’re suffering from impostor syndrome. At the heart […]

    A guide to parent self-care during the COVID-19 pandemic By Cara Kiff As school closures and quarantines take place across the globe, the overwhelming anxiety is palpable in the newfound realities of a pandemic. Trips to the grocery store are now strategized, as shoppers face empty shelves and shortages of household staples. This will undoubtably continue as anxiety thrives on uncertainty increasing stress and driving us to […]

    Maria Edgeworth, Jane Austen’s forgotten idol By Linda Bree In the first years of the nineteenth century the most prominent, and highly respected, novelist in Britain was a woman. It was not Jane Austen but her contemporary, Maria Edgeworth. Indeed Austen was herself a fan of the woman regarded as “the great Maria.” “I have made up my mind to like no Novels really, […]

    A visual history of skyscrapers [infographic] By Julia Baker Where did the structural capability for skyscrapers come from? The 1860s saw the refinement of the Bessamer process, or a steel-making process, now largely superseded, in which carbon, silicon, and other impurities are removed from molten pig iron by oxidation in a blast of air in a special tilting retort, pushing skyscraper construction into unstoppable […]

    Yesterday’s fake news: Donald Trump as a 1980s literary critic By Leigh Claire La Berge In 1987, during a CNN interview with Republican political consultant Pat Buchanan, author and real estate developer Donald Trump was asked about his taste in literature. “Well I have a number of favorite authors,” Trump replied. “I think Tom Wolfe is excellent.” “Did you read Vanity of the Bonfires?” Buchanan asks. “I did not,” Trump responds. […]

    Why it’s so hard to write a William Wordsworth biography By Stephen Gill “A divine morning–At Breakfast William wrote part of an ode—Mr Olliff sent the Dung & William went to work in the garden.” This entry in Dorothy Wordsworth’s journal for 1802 is characteristically straightforward, but for the biographer how to deal with it is anything but. After years of unsettled wandering William and Dorothy Wordsworth had returned to the Lake District where […]

    The story of “adz” By Anatoly Liberman I am picking up where I left off last week. The word adz(e) was coined long ago and surfaced more than once in Old English texts. It had several local variants, and its gender fluctuated: adesa was masculine, while adese was feminine. Also, eadesa and adusa have come down to us. Apparently, the tool had wide currency.

    Seven classics for comfort reading [reading list] By Eleanor Chilvers The impact of the COVID-19 can be felt in all areas of our lives, with many staying at home for the next few weeks. Perhaps this is an opportunity to finally start your copy of War & Peace that’s been on the to-be-read pile for years or you find yourself revisiting old friends in Jane Austen’s world. […]

    Why an Irish Buddhist resisted empire in Burma By Laurence Cox, Alicia Turner, and Brian Bocking On 2 March 1901, during the full moon festival at Rangoon’s Shwedagon pagoda, the Buddhist monk U Dhammaloka confronted an off-duty colonial policeman and ordered him to take off his shoes. Burmese pagodas are stupas, containing relics of the Buddha, so wearing shoes on them (as white colonials did) was a serious mark of disrespect. […]

    How African presidents rig elections to stay in office By Michael Amoah There are at least 19 African countries where the heads-of-state have overstayed beyond their term limits via (un)constitutional revisions: Algeria, Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo , Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea (which is trying once more in 2020), Rwanda, Senegal, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. […]

    The story of COVID-19, by the numbers By Mark Davis The COVID-19 pandemic was announced on 11 March 2020 by the World Health Organization, marking a turning point for the public health systems serving the health of constituent populations across the globe. This declaration moment is important for narrative on COVID-19 because it is the point at which it is accepted that the virus is not […]

    Harvey Weinstein and the decriminalization of prostitution By Stuart P. Green The New York trial of Harvey Weinstein, which ended last month with a guilty verdict on charges of rape and sexual assault and an acquittal on more serious charges of predatory sexual assault, has already elicited extensive commentary from pundits of all stripes. Everyone wants to know what it will mean, for example, for the […]

    How Title IX changed American ballet By Melissa R. Klapper It has been nearly 50 years since Title IX of the Education Amendments was passed in 1972, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex by federally funded entities. Title IX proved critical in opening many fields of endeavor to girls and women and is perhaps most famous for its impact on sports. According to Women’s […]

    How New York City became a technology hub By Sharon Zukin Recently in New York, as in other cities, the coronavirus pandemic has spurred an urgent shift from working in offices to working at home and given a massive boost to digital platforms for telecommuting, teleconferencing, and online teaching. Yet the tech industry has also generated some of the most significant spaces for face-to-face interaction of […]

    How olive oil promotes brain health By Gary L. Wenk Diets and superfoods are all the rage. From acai berries to the Zone diet, many a dietary trend has come along promising a range of benefits, such as weight loss, heart health, and improved cognition. But the science behind these claims is often sketchy at best. One dietary regime that has stood the test of […]

    How work conditions shape healthcare By Mark Lazenby A few hours before he died, my patient, a 21-year-old man (a boy, really) who was undergoing treatment for a blood cancer came to my ward from the emergency department where he had presented with fever. His parents came with him. The emergency clinicians had begun the right protocol to address his fever. My duties, […]

    The mystery of the Elder Pliny’s skull By Roy Gibson Has part of the body of the Elder Pliny, the most famous Roman victim of Vesuvius, been recovered? The story surrounding the relic is a source of continuing fascination. When Vesuvius erupted in 79 C.E. the Elder Pliny was under 20 miles away. He was quite unaware that Vesuvius was a volcano, despite publishing Rome’s […]

    How religion affects global pandemics By Katherine Brown People sometimes see religion as an unwelcome infection affecting the secular politics of international relations. Such attitudes easily present themselves in consideration of terrorism and violence. Religion is seen to distort and hamper the healthy peaceful progress of secular politics, operating as an outside pathogen that inflames tensions and challenges already present in global affairs. Religion […]

    How strategists are improving team decision-making processes By Dr Mikko Arevuo How companies and teams make decisions can be very challenging. Poor or ill-structured decision-making processes can make the organization less successful and create destructive conflicts in decision-making teams. But there are a few strategies companies can try that help organizations make big decisions in a better way. People operate in complex and dynamic environments, making […]

    How emotions affect the stock market By John Marsh Last year marked the 90th anniversary of Black Thursday, the October day in 1929 when stocks stopped gradually falling, as they had since the start of September, and started wildly crashing. All told, the Dow Jones dropped from 327 at the opening of trading on the morning of Tuesday, 22 October to 230 at the close […]

    An etymological ax(e) to grind, followed by the story of the English word “adz(e)” By Anatoly Liberman Wherever we look for the history of the names of instruments and tools, we confront a similar problem: the available material is either too copious or too scanty. Last week (March 11, 2020), we followed a hectic but inefficient hunt for the etymology of the word awl, and I promised a continuation: a post on adz (spelled as adze in British English).

    Governments should tackle air pollution by banning old cars By Francisco Gallego, Juan-pablo montero, and Nano Barahona Air pollution continues to be a serious problem in many cities around the world in part because of a steady increase in car use. In an effort to contain such a trend and persuade drivers to give up their cars in favor of public transport, authorities increasingly rely on limits to car use. Some places […]

    Seven women who changed social work forever By Sadye Logan We celebrate National Professional Social Work Month each March. The theme for Social Work Month in 2020 is Generations Strong. This is a great opportunity to look at the lives of pivotal figures in the history of social work and social welfare. The seven women discussed below made important contributions to people’s lives and to social […]

    Why cost-benefit analysis is flawed and how to improve it By Matthew D. Adler Cost-benefit analysis is a key component of the US regulatory state. How it works and the function it plays in policymaking is not widely understood, however. Even the most substantive media outlets rarely discuss it. But cost-benefit analysis is a linchpin of the regulatory process. Its structure and role—and its flaws—should therefore be grist for […]

    Seven books on the fascinating human brain [reading list] By Abigail Luke The human brain is often described as the most complex object in the known universe – we know so much, and yet so little, about the way it works. It’s no wonder then that the study of brain today encompasses an enormous range of topics, from abstract understanding of consciousness to microscopic exploration of billions of neurons. […]

    Why Iran’s dependence on China puts it at risk By Daniel Markey The depth of ties between China and Iran was revealed dramatically in late February 2020, when news broke that some of Tehran’s most senior officials had contracted the coronavirus. By early March, one of Iran’s vice presidents, the deputy health minister, and 23 members of parliament were reported ill. A member of the 45-person Expediency […]

    What is the place of human beings in the world By Thomas Hofweber Philosophers disagree on what philosophy is supposed to do, but one popular candidate for what is part of the philosophical project is to try to understand the place of human beings in the world. What is our significance in the world as whole? What place do human beings have in the universe and in all of […]

    How air pollution may lead to Alzheimer’s disease By Diana Younan Air pollution harms billions of people worldwide. Pollutants are produced from all types of combustion, including motor vehicles, power plants, residential wood burning, and forest fires so they are found everywhere. One of the most dangerous of these, fine particulate matter, is 20 to 30 times smaller than a strand of human hair. Their tiny […]

    What good writers do By Martin Cutts In his novel Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez writes: Florentino Ariza moved through every post during thirty years of dedication and tenacity in the face of every trial. He fulfilled all his duties with admirable skill … but he never won the honour he most desired, which was to write one, just […]

    Lessons for the coronavirus from the 1899 Honolulu plague By James C. Mohr Public health officials all over the United States—indeed globally—are trying to decide how to deal with the world’s coronavirus pandemic. They know the coronavirus originated in China, and they know they can identify it with certainty. But they do not know what might kill it, and they have no cure for anyone who contracts […]

    Learning microbiology through comics What do most people know about microbes? We know that they are tiny creatures that can attack us, causing illness, and kill us. Recent outbreaks such as measles and the Wuhan coronavirus are discussed in the media heavily.

    Why we like a good robot story By Kanta Dihal and Stephen Cave We have been telling stories about machines with minds for almost three thousand years. In the Iliad, written around 800 BCE, Homer describes the oldest known AI: “golden handmaidens” created by Hephaestus, the disabled god of metalworking. They “seemed like living maidens” with “intelligence… voice and vigour”, and “bustled about supporting their master.” In the Odyssey, Homer […]

    Some of our tools: “awl” By Anatoly Liberman The names of weapons, tools, and all kinds of appurtenances provide a rare insight into the history of civilization. Soldiers and journeymen travel from land to land, and the names of their instruments, whether murderous or peaceful, become so called migratory words (Wanderwörter, as they are called in German: words errant, as it were). I […]

    Let people change their minds By Alexandra Plakias Everyone does it. Some people do it several times a day. Others, weekly, monthly, or even just a few times in their lives. We would be suspicious, and rightly so, of someone who claimed never to have done it. Some have even become famous for doing it. Making a public show of it can make […]

    Scientific facts are not 100% certain. So what? By Bradley E. Alger Science affects everyone. Generally, people want to trust what scientists tell them and they support science. Nevertheless, groups, such as climate-change deniers, tobacco industry employees, and others, find fertile ground for their obfuscatory messages in the public’s lack of understanding of science. While the entrenched economic, political, or social interests that feed the various controversies […]

    Four women’s quest to end global poverty By Eveline Herfkens and Constantine Michalopoulos Gender matters for policymaking: there is no better evidence than the experience of four women who, twenty years ago, became ministers in charge of international development in their governments and collaborated to develop new approaches to end global poverty. Eveline Herfkens from the Netherlands, Hilde F. Johnson from Norway, Clare Short from the United Kingdom, […]

    Nine books that make you think about a woman’s role in society [reading list] By Social Sciences Department at Oxford University Press Every year in March we celebrate Women’s History Month, a perfect time to be inspired by the triumphs of real-life heroes. Let us not forget the path it took to get this far and the tribulations that these women endured. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which granted […]

    Transnational labour regulation and international trade: towards a complementary approach By Maayan Menashe In today’s globalised economy, the free movement of goods, services and capital impels countries to compete for trade and foreign investment by lowering their labour standards. International trade is therefore widely perceived as instigating regulatory competition between countries, or a ‘race to the bottom’. The challenge that international trade poses for countries’ labour standards has been a central concern of the International Labour Organization (ILO) since its establishment.

    100 years of the Nineteenth Amendment and women’s political action By Holly J. McCammon and Lee Ann Banaszak On 28 August 2020 we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the day the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified. Although the Amendment did not enfranchise all women –African American, Native American, and Latina women would wait decades before they could vote on equal terms– the event is an important milestone in women’s political […]

    How fake things can still help us learn By Erich Hatala Matthes We often appreciate things that have a certain weathered look about them. From clothes to home furnishings, people find aesthetic value in the distressed, the tarnished, the antique. Yet underlying this interest in the appealing look of age is an expectation that vintage things be of their vintage. Knockoffs, fakes, and otherwise inauthentic things are quick to undermine […]

    Why law librarians are so important in a data-driven world By Femi Cadmus For well over a century, law librarians have been a force in leading research initiatives, preservation, and access to legal information in academia, private firms, and government. While these traditional skills emerged in a predominantly print era, there has been a perceptible expansion and recent acceleration of technological expertise. The profession has progressively become infused […]

    Bring—brought—brought By Anatoly Liberman Soon after the previous gleanings (February 26, 2020) were posted, a correspondent asked me to clarify the situation with the “prefix” br- in breath and bring (see the post on breath for January 22, 2020). I mentioned this mysterious prefix in connection with Henry Cecil Wyld, who accepted its existence in bring but doubted its validity in breath. From a historical point of view, we have two different components, even if both go back to Indo-European bhre-. James A. H. Murray thought that br- in breath is a remnant of the root meaning “burn,” as in breed ~ brood, while br- in bring traces allegedly to the zero grade of the verb bear (zero grade is a term of ablaut; in this case, no vowel stands between b and r in br-; hence, “zero”); so Wyld, though, as we will see, the idea was not his. By contrast, in the full grade, as in bear, from Old Engl.

    How women can support each other to strive for gender equality By Lennie Goodings Hovering over almost all women who stand up and insist on being heard is a putdown only used in for the female of the species; a word that is particular to the attempt to belittle and silence women. That word is “shrill.” It was used more liberally by detractors in the early days of feminism, […]

    The physics of swarm behaviour By Helmut Satz The locusts have no king, and yet they all go forth in ranks, noted King Solomon some three thousand years ago. That a multitude of simple creatures could display coherent collective behavior without any leader caused his surprise and amazement, and it has continued to do so for much of our thinking over the following […]

    Grammar in Wonderland By Edwin L. Battistella Lewis Carroll was a mathematically-inclined poet who published Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1865 and Through the Looking-Glass in 1872 as well a number of poems and math and logic texts. Last summer I saw an outdoor production of Alice in Wonderland and it reminded me of all the linguistics in the two books. Carroll touches on questions of […]


    February 2020 (28))

    The remarkable life of philosopher Frank Ramsey By Cheryl Misak Frank Ramsey, the great Cambridge philosopher, economist, and mathematician, was a superstar in all three disciplines, despite dying at the age of 26 in 1930. One way to glimpse the sheer genius of this extraordinary young man is by looking at some of the things that bear his name. My favourite was coined by Donald […]

    The scientists who transformed modern medicine By John Meurig Thomas ?Structural biology, a seemingly arcane topic, is currently at the heart of biomedical research. It holds the key to the creation of healthier, cleaner and safer lives, since it guides researchers in understanding both the causes of diseases and the creation of medicines required to conquer them. Structural biology describes the molecules of life. It […]

    Etymology gleanings for January and February 2020 By Anatoly Liberman Anatoly Liberman addresses three comments left on recent posts, as well as recent letters sent to him.

    The architectural tragedy of the 2019 Notre-Dame fire By Kevin D. Murphy Sometimes it takes a catastrophic loss for us to realize how important historic architecture and cityscapes are to our lives. For instance, repairs are still ongoing following a 2011 5.8 magnitude earthquake that caused more than $30 million dollars’ worth of damage to the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. And on 15 April 2019 a […]

    How youth could save the Earth By Amandine Orsini Major global environmental problems threaten us. Recent scientific reports show that we are falling short on tackling climate change or stopping biodiversity loss, meaning that the Earth’s climate is under threat and natural species are undergoing a mass extinction wave. While these global environmental issues persist and become more urgent, policymakers have trouble elaborating and […]

    Seven psychology books that explore why we are who we are [reading list] By Sarah Butcher Social Psychology looks at the nature and causes of individual behavior in social situations. It asks how others’ actions and behaviors shape our actions and behaviors, how our identities are shaped by the beliefs and assumptions of our communities. Fundamentally it looks for scientific answers to the most philosophical questions of self. These seven books […]

    How Roman skeptics shaped debates about God By John A. Jillions More than a third of all millennials now consider themselves atheist, agnostic or “religiously unaffiliated.” But this doesn’t mean that they have all given up on spiritual life. Some 28% of the unaffiliated attend religious services at least once or twice a month or a few times a year (and 4% go weekly). 20% of them […]

    How sabre-toothed cats got their bites By Mauricio Anton Big cats are the most specialized killers of large prey among carnivorans. Dogs, bears, or hyenas have teeth fit to deal with non-meat food items like bone, invertebrates or plants. Not the cats: In the course of evolution they lost almost all teeth not essential for killing prey or cutting meat. But in the distant […]

    How academics can leave the university but stay in academia By Daniel Ginsberg When “quit lit,” the trend of disillusioned PhDs writing personal essays about their decision to leave academia, hit its peak around 2013, I was just finishing my own PhD coursework. It seemed that every day, as I revised my dissertation proposal and worked on recruiting potential field sites, there was another column about the scarcity of tenure-track […]

    Muddy waters By Anatoly Liberman When a word is isolated, etymologists are in trouble. A typical example is Engl. hunt, discussed last week (the post for February 12, 2020). But often, the cognates are so numerous that researchers are lost, embarrassed by the riches they face. This is what happens when we begin to investigate the origin of the English word mud.

    Nine books to read for Black History Month [reading list] By Tyler Simnick The month of February has been officially designated Black History Month since 1976 in order to, in President Gerald Ford’s words, “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” In keeping with this tradition, we have gathered the below titles, which all engage in […]

    Five philosophers on the joys of walking By Emily Thomas René Descartes argued that each of us is, fundamentally, a thinking thing. Thought is our defining activity, setting us aside from animals, trees, rocks. I suspect this has helped market philosophy as the life of the mind, conjuring up philosophers lost in reverie, snuggled in armchairs. But human beings do not, in fact, live purely […]

    How dating apps reflect our changing times By Jeanette Purvis As we look forward to explore what’s next in love and sex, it makes sense to examine to the heart. That which lovers have once worn on their sleeve is now being navigated in the palm of our hands. With mobile devices and apps letting us literally explore desires with our fingertips, as social scientists […]

    An etymologist is not a lonely hunter By Anatoly Liberman The posts for the previous two weeks were devoted to all kinds of bloodsuckers. Now the time has come to say something about hunters and hunting. The origin of the verbs meaning “hunt” can give us a deeper insight into the history of civilization, because hunting is one of the most ancient occupations in the world: beasts of prey hunt for food, and humans have always hunted animals not only for food but also for fur and skins.

    How to teach history better By Trevor Getz These days, we often hear of a crisis in the discipline of history. It’s not a crisis of research. To be sure, there are debates and disputes over new methodologies, theoretical frames, the price and speed of publication, and even the relative value of publishing in public, digital, and traditional media. There is also the […]

    How to diversify the classics. For real. By Philip Nel As (I hope) Barnes and Noble and Penguin Random House have just learned, appropriating the concept of diverse books for an opportunistic rebranding insults the idea they claim to honor. If you were off-line last week, here’s a brief recap. The bookseller and publisher announced (and then abandoned) plans to publish “Diverse Editions” – not books by writers of […]

    Why the Great Recession made inequality worse By Ken-Hou Lin and Megan Tobias Neely Many compare the Great Recession to the Great Depression for its severity and scale. Yet, a decade later, it is clear that their consequences on the distribution of economic resources in the United States cannot be more different. The decades following the Great Depression substantially reduced the wealth of the rich and improved the economic […]

    How to use maps to solve complex problems By Arnaud Chevallier Imagine that you’ve just been appointed the head of operations for a five-star hotel in Manhattan. Your boss calls you in her office on your first day and says: “Our biggest problem is how slow elevators are. Everyone complains about it, and we can’t have that. Speed them up.” How would you do it? Most […]

    The problem with overqualified research By David H. Foster Not all research findings turn out to be true. Of those that are tested, some will need to be amplified, others refined or circumscribed, and some even rejected. Practicing researchers learn quickly to qualify their claims, taking into account the possibility of improved measurements, more stringent analyses, new interpretations, and, in the extreme, experimental or […]

    Four reasons why the Indo-Pacific matters in 2020 By Kai He and Li Mingjiang If there is one place in the world that we need to keep our eyes on for a better understanding of the dynamics of international affairs in 2020, it is the Indo-Pacific region. Here are four reasons why. The Indo-Pacific is hard to define Politically, the Indo-Pacific is still a contested construct in the making. […]

    How old music conservatories turned orphans into composers By Robert O. Gjerdingen If you approached bystanders on a street corner in sixteenth-century Naples and asked them “What do conservatories conserve?” the likely answers would not have been “performing arts” or “rare plants.” No, you would have been told confidently that conservatories conserved orphans and foundlings. These church-sponsored orphanages practiced a kind of alchemy—they took in defenseless little […]

    Celebrating Black History Month with America’s top musicians [playlist] By Julia Baker Black History Month is cause for celebration and remembrance of black excellence throughout American history. This February, we’re celebrating with a playlist highlighting some of the most remarkable musicians of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Beginning with ragtime pioneer, Scott Joplin, this playlist navigates through the many different musical movements created and perfected by black artists. Ragtime gave […]

    Etymological insecticide By Anatoly Liberman This story continues the attempts of the previous week to catch a flea. Anyone who will take the trouble to look at the etymology of the names of the flea, louse, bedbug, and their blood-sucking allies in a dozen languages will discover that almost nothing is known for certain about it. . This fact either means that we are dealing with very old words whose beginnings can no longer be discovered or that the names have been subject to taboo (consequently, the initial form is beyond recognition), or, quite likely, both factors were in play.

    The language gap in North African schools By Lotfi Sayahi When children start school in an industrialized country, their native language is for the most part the one used by the teachers. Conversely, in many developing countries, the former colonial languages have been proclaimed languages of instruction within the classroom at the expense of native indigenous languages. A third scenario is something in-between: The language […]

    Using math to understand inequity By Cailin O'Connor What can math tell us about unfairness? Bias, discrimination, and inequity are phenomena that are deeply complex, context sensitive, personal, and intersectional. The mathematical modeling of social scenarios, on the other hand, is a practice that necessitates simplification. Using models to understand what happens in our social realm means representing the complex with something much […]

    Six books to read to understand business innovation [reading list] By Bhawana Soni According to McKinsey & Company, 84% of executives agree on the importance of innovation in growth and strategy in their organizations but only 6% know the exact problem and how to improve in innovation. As the world is moving faster and getting more complex, it is important to find ways to constantly innovate for organizations and […]

    Usage issues—How are you doing? By Edwin L. Battistella When people talk about grammar problems, they often mean usage issues—departures from the traditional conventions for edited English and the most formal types of speaking. To a linguist, grammar refers to the way that language is used—by speakers of all types—and the way that it works—how it is acquired, how it changes, and so on.

    Henry David Thoreau and the nature of civil disobedience – Philosopher of the Month By OUP Philosophy Team Henry David Thoreau was an American philosopher, environmentalist, poet, and essayist. He is best known for Walden, an account of a simpler life lived in natural surroundings, first published in 1854, and his 1849 essay Civil Disobedience which presents a rebuttal of unjust government influence over the individual. An avid, and widely-read, student of philosophy from the classical to the contemporary, Thoreau pursued philosophy as a way of life and not solely a lens for thought and discourse.


    January 2020 (23))

    How the UK is facilitating war crimes in Yemen By Anna Stavrianakis More than 100,000 people have died in the war in Yemen since March 2015, including over 12,000 civilians killed in direct attacks. All parties to the war have committed violations of international law, but the Saudi-led coalition—armed and supported militarily and diplomatically by the United States and the United Kingdom primarily—is responsible for the highest number […]

    How far can a flea jump? By Anatoly Liberman Stinging and gnawing insects are not only a nuisance in everyday life; they also harass etymologists. Those curious about such things may look at my post on bug for June 3, 2015. After hovering in the higher spheres of being (eat, drink, breathe: those were the subjects of my most recent posts), I propose to return to earth and deal with low, less dignified subjects.

    Making Shakespeare a classic By Daniel Blank Despite his foundational status in today’s academy, William Shakespeare was not particularly welcome in the early modern English universities. In the 1570s and 1580s, just as the commercial playhouses were gaining steam in London, the authorities of both Oxford and Cambridge Universities enacted statutes banning “common stage players” from performing within university precincts. Chancellors lacked the […]

    Taking a knee: sports and activism [podcast] By Robert Turner In the fall of 2016, the San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick created a firestorm when he took a knee during the national anthem. He was protesting police brutality perpetuated against African-American men, and the reaction to his simple act of dissent was immense.

    “Breath” and “breathe” By Anatoly Liberman I decided to make good on my promise to complete a series devoted to a few words referring to the most basic functions of our organism. The previous posts dealt with eat, drink, and throat. Now, as promised, a story of breath is coming up. The basic word here is the noun breath; it already existed in Old English and had long æ. The verb breathe is a later derivative of the same root; it also had a long vowel.

    Does Consciousness Have a Function? By Ryota Kanai Perhaps, the most fascinating question about consciousness is the Hard Problem. It’s the problem of explaining why and how subjective experiences arise from complex electrochemical interactions happening in the brain. It is Hard because the working of the brain should be fully described in term of physical interactions, leaving no room for subjective experiences to fit within our current views of the physical world.

    How China spurs global dissent By Robert R. Bianchi China’s rulers launched the New Silk Road venture—a trillion-dollar development campaign that is often compared to the Marshall Plan—to promote connectivity across what they believed to be poorly integrated regions of Eurasia and Africa. Much to their surprise, however, they discovered that many of these societies were already wired to the hilt—not by the infrastructure […]

    W. T. Stead: A Newspaper Prophet for a Secular Age? By Stewart J. Brown W. T. Stead (1849-1912) journalist, social reformer, women’s rights advocate, peace campaigner, and spiritualist–was one of the best-known public figures in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Britain. He pioneered in Britain what was called the New Journalism, or journalism with a mission; he is well known for his investigative journalism and political activism.

    Why doctors are like pilots By Abraham Fuks A recent analysis of the Boeing 737 Max disasters concludes that while technical malfunctions contributed to the crashes, “an industry that puts unprepared pilots in the cockpit is just as guilty.” Journalist William Langewiesche uses the term “airmanship” to encompass an array of skills and experience necessary to the safe and effective guidance of an airplane. “It includes a visceral sense of navigation, an operational understanding of weather and weather information, the ability to form mental maps of traffic flows, fluency in the nuance of radio communications and, especially, a deep appreciation for the interplay between energy, inertia and wings. Airplanes are living things.”

    Innovative dynamism allows all to flourish By Arthur Diamond The poor who lack jobs often suffer from substance abuse, violence, and unstable families. As the suffering persists for many of these outsiders to our system, scholars and politicians on both the left and right ask how to reform or overturn our current economic system so that all can flourish. The Great Fact of economic […]

    How well do you know Anne Brontë? [quiz] By Eleanor Chilvers Anne Brontë was born on 17 January 1820 and best known for her novels, Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. In honour of the bicentenary of Anne Brontë’s birth, we have created a quiz to help you determine how well you know the youngest member of the Brontë literary family. Quiz image: Anne Brontë. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons. Feature […]

    Agency in Gerwig’s Little Women – but for whom? By Anne K. Phillips Summing up nineteenth-century American literature as Moby Dick and Little Women, Greta Gerwig, writer-director of the newest film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, argues that the latter is “one of our great works of American literature, but because it’s a women’s novel, it’s treated like an asterisk.” Little Women came into being because others had recognized gendered divisions in […]

    Seven ideas for a new choral year By Ashley Danyew The New Year has arrived and with it comes that familiar feeling of a fresh start. Everything is bright and full of possibility. If you’re the planning type, you probably have a typed list of shiny goals and resolutions already hung in a prominent place to remind you of your intentions for this year. Even […]

    Before you eat, drink, or breathe: “throat” By Anatoly Liberman At the end of 2019, I wrote about the origin of the verbs eat and drink. The idea was to discuss a few other “basic” verbs, that is, the verbs referring to the most important functions of our organism. My next candidate is breathe, but, before I proceed to discuss its complicated history, it may be useful to look at the derivation of the names of the organs that allow us to inhale the air and get the food through.

    How to write about science or technology clearly By Oscar Linares, Gertrude Daly, and David Daly Today, English is the international language of science and technology. People around the world read and write science or technical articles in English. A clear writing style helps to make your work easier to read, both for the colleague down the hall, and the one on the other side of the world. One key to […]

    The problem of consciousness By Peter Carruthers Many people find consciousness deeply puzzling. It is often described as one of the few remaining problems for science to address that is genuinely deep—perhaps even unsolvable. Indeed, consciousness is thought to present a challenge to the prevailing scientific image of the universe as physical through-and-through. In part this puzzlement arises because people are (at […]

    Hilary Putnam on mind and meanings – Philosopher of the Month (January 2020) By OUP Philosophy Team Hilary Putnam was an American philosopher who was trained originally in the tradition of logical positivism. He was one of the most influential philosophers of science of the twentieth century and had an impact on philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, epistemology and metaphysics.

    Women on the front lines: Military service, combat and gender By Ayelet Harel-Shalev and Shir Daphna-Tekoah The 1990s saw women beginning to fill a wider range of roles in the military, with many countries relaxing their bans on women serving in combat roles. As a result, women are able to fly combat aircraft, serve in artillery units, staff missile emplacements, serve as combat medics, and fill various other roles that involve potential combat exposure. Additionally, many more women are assigned to combat-support roles located on the front line. Yet most research on women involved in military life still concerns itself with the wives of enlisted men, women in civilian posts within the military, women that were sexually assaulted in the military, or women in non-combat-related military service. It is thus patently obvious that women combatants and veterans who fulfill assignments in conflict zones deserve closer attention.

    Etymology gleanings for December 2019 By Anatoly Liberman Once again, my thanks are to everybody who read this blog in 2019 and commented on its fifty two posts. However, I still have to wave a friendly goodbye to the ghost of the year gone by and do some gleaning on the frozen field of December.

    A Job I Never Expected By Thomas R Cole In her late eighties, my mother begins to lose her grip. Checks bounce. Bills are misplaced and go unpaid. Bottles of Grey Goose vodka appear more frequently in her recycling bin. Afraid for her safety, friends begin putting her in a cab after they finish playing bridge. Soon she is dropped from the group.

    Codes and Ciphers By Edwin Battistella My book group recently read a 2017 mystery called The Lost Book of the Grail by Charlie Lovett. In the novel, an English bibliophile and an American digitizer track down a mysterious book thought to lead to the Holy Grail. The chief clue: a secret message hidden in the rare books collection of the fictional Barchester Cathedral Library.

    Test how well you know police shows [quiz] By Rebecca Olley Are you currently studying for a legal exam? Do you need a revision break? Are you a fan of policing-based television series and movies? In celebration of National Trivia Day (United States) test your knowledge of police themed television series and films with our trivia quiz. Covering character relationships, places of work, and police rank… […]

    Top Eight Developments in International Law 2019 By Merel Alstein For those who support and believe in the power of international law to effect positive change in the world, 2019 was difficult. There were however a number of important bright sparks, in the form of efforts to negotiate treaties on the protection of marine biodiversity, business and human rights, and the elimination of work place […]


    December 2019 (20))

    How linguistics can help us catch sex offenders By Emily Chiang and Tim Grant Between 2009 and 2011, a now convicted sexual offender in his early twenties was spending much of his time online persuading young girls and boys to produce and share with him sexual images and videos.

    How to combat global economic challenges facing the 21st century By Bhawana Soni The world economy has been through a lot of challenges in recent years—from the challenges in healthcare, income inequality, restrictions in trade, and gender inequality and unemployment, to name a few. In this post, we’ve excerpted some thought-provoking chapters from recent titles that address central problems facing the field of economics today, while addressing some possible improvements.

    Exploring the seven principles of Kwanzaa: a playlist By Meghann Wilhoite and Tim Allen Beginning the 26th of December, a globe-spanning group of millions of people of African descent will celebrate Kwanzaa, the seven-day festival of communitarian values created by scholar Maulana Karenga in 1966. The name of the festival is adapted from a Swahili phrase that refers to “the first fruits,” and is meant to recall ancient African harvest celebrations.

    Why the holidays are the loneliest time for seniors By Deborah Carr The winter holidays are a time to celebrate family, friends, and community. But for the millions of older adults worldwide who have no family, few friends nearby, or are lonely and socially isolated, December is far from the most wonderful time of the year. A survey carried out by AARP in 2017 found that 28 percent of […]

    How medieval English literature found a European audience By Aisling Byrne At some point in the year 1430, a scribe working in the city of Ceuta on the north African coast put the final touches to a story collection. The collection had travelled a great distance: through two languages and across well over a thousand miles.

    Some of our basic verbs: “drink” By Anatoly Liberman Last week, I discussed the origin of the verb eat, which probably has the same root as the ancient Indo-European name of the tooth. Time will tell whether my idea to devote a few posts to such basic verbs will arouse any interest, but I decided to try again. So today the story will be devoted to the verb drink.

    AI is dangerous, but not for the reasons you think. By Gary Smith In 1997, Deep Blue defeated Garry Kasparov, the reigning world chess champion. In 2011, Watson defeated Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, the world’s best Jeopardy players. In 2016, AlphaGo defeated Ke Jie, the world’s best Go player. In 2017, DeepMind unleashed AlphaZero, which trounced the world-champion computer programs at chess, Go, and shogi. Perhaps computers have moved so far beyond our intelligence that we should rely on them to make our important decisions. Nope.

    How pictures can lie By Emanuel Viebahn On 9 August 1997, The Mirror printed an edited photo of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi Fayed on its front page. The edited photo shows Diana and Fayed facing each other and about to kiss, although the unedited photo reveals that at that point Fayed was facing an entirely different direction. Did The Mirror lie to its readers?

    Why recognizing the Anthropocene Age doesn’t matter By Carlos Santana You’ve probably heard that we’re living in the Anthropocene, a new geological epoch in which human activity is the dominant geological process. If you’ve been attentive to discussion surrounding the Anthropocene, you probably also know that the Anthropocene Working Group, a panel of scientists tasked to make a recommendation as to whether geologists should formally recognize the Anthropocene, voted just a few months ago to recommend recognizing the new epoch.

    Aunt Lydia could be the voice of conservative women By Carol Mason Fans of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 The Handmaid’s Tale proliferated as the novel’s scenarios came to resemble the realities of American women who were subject to more regulation and surveillance. In its 2019 sequel, The Testaments, Atwood gives us a different voice and a different tale, told largely from the perspective of someone who perpetuated the authoritarian regime instead of […]

    Why scientists should be atheists By Mano Singham My friend and colleague George asked me, “Do you think a scientist can be an atheist?” I replied, “Not only can a scientist be an atheist, he should be one.” I was teasing because I knew what response George wanted to hear and this was not it. Sure enough, he shook his head. The only logical position that a scientist can take, he said, is to be an agnostic because we can never know the answer to the question of whether God exists or not.

    Some of our basic verbs: “eat” By Anatoly Liberman Whoever the Indo-Europeans were and wherever they lived several thousand years ago, by the time they began to write, they had produced a word for “eat” that sounded nearly the same all over the enormous territory they occupied. In Latin, Celtic, Slavic, Baltic, Greek, Sanskrit, and beyond, the verb for devouring food resembles Engl. eat.

    The Oxford Place of the Year 2019 is… By Alison Block After a close round of voting, the winner of our Place of the Year 2019 is the atmosphere! While the global conversation around climate change has increased in recent years, 2019 set many records – this past summer tied for the hottest one on record in the northern hemisphere, continuing the trend of extreme weather set […]

    Why there is a moral duty to vote By Julia Maskivker In recent years, democracies around the world have witnessed the steady rise of anti-liberal, populist movements. In the face of this trend, some may think it apposite to question the power of elections to protect cherished democratic values. Among some (vocal) political scientists and philosophers today, it is common to hear concern about voter incompetence, which allegedly explains why democracy stands on shaky ground in many places. Do we do well in thinking of voting as a likely threat to fair governance? Julia Maskivker propose a case for thinking of voting as a vehicle for justice, not a paradoxical menace to democracy.

    Why we don’t understand what a space race means By Mai’a K. Davis Cross Fifty years after the first moon landing, a quantum leap is underway in space as a domain of human activity. Over 70 countries have space programs and 14 have launch capabilities. These developments have involved intense cooperation across borders, both across public and private sectors.

    Etymology gleanings for November 2019 By Anatoly Liberman I agree: no voice should be silenced, but it does not follow that every voice deserves equal respect. I called the previous two posts “Etymology and Delusion” and deliberately did not emphasize such words as madness, lunacy, and derangement, for perfectly normal people can also be deluded. In etymology, the line separating amateurs from professionals is in most cases easy to draw.

    How hip hop and diplomacy made an unlikely partnership By Mark Katz Google “hip hop” and “diplomacy” and what images come up? Black men wearing gold chains and baggy clothes, holding microphones. White men in suits shaking hands, flanked by flags. The contrast is stark: informal/formal, loud/quiet, the resistance/the establishment, black/white. These images reflect common perceptions but also misconceptions about diplomacy and hip hop. Both are, in fact, more […]

    How to address the enigmas of everyday life By John Kekes Here are some hard questions: Is the value of human life absolute? Should we conform to the prevalent values? The questions are hard because each has reasonable but conflicting answers. When circumstances force us to face them, we are ambivalent. We realize that there are compelling reasons for both of the conflicting answers. This is not an abstract problem, but a predicament we encounter when we have to make difficult decisions whose consequences affect how we live, our relationships, and our attitude to the society in which we live.

    Philosopher of the Month – A 2019 Review By OUP Philosophy As 2019 draws to a close, we look back at the philosophers who have featured in our monthly Philosopher of the Month posts and their significant contribution to philosophy and the history of intellectual thought.

    How to use the existential “there” By Edwin L. Battistella When I read something, one of the things I notice right away is overuse of non-referential there as a means of sleepwalking from topic to topic. Also known as the existential there, this grammatical form asserts the existence (or non-existence) of something and is often used to introduce new information, to shift the topic of discussion or to call something to mind.


    November 2019 (34))

    Why young people suffer more from pollution By Pamela Hill Around the world, young adults are voicing concern that the climate is in crisis and are correctly describing this as an intergenerational inequity. The adults who determine the quality of our air are continuing to burn fossil fuels, which release the pollutants that science shows could negatively and dramatically alter planetary conditions as early as […]

    Rescuing capitalism from itself By Daniel W. Bromley In mid-August, 2019, 183 leaders of some of America’s largest companies—AT&T, American Airlines, Johnson & Johnson, JPMorgan Chase, Chevron, Caterpillar, Citigroup, and John Deere—issued a “Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation” under sponsorship of the Business Roundtable.

    Thanksgiving: Behind the Pilgrim Myth The driving force behind making Thanksgiving a national holiday was Sarah Josepha Hale, who was born in 1788 in Newport, New Hampshire. After her husband’s death, Hale turned to writing to generate money. Her novel Northwood: A Tale of New England (1827) included an entire chapter devoted to a Thanksgiving dinner. Its publication brought Hale […]

    Etymology and delusion, part 2 By Anatoly Liberman Last week (November 20, 2019), I discussed one aspect of etymological lunacy. Looking for a (or even the) protolanguage is a sound idea, even though specialists’ efforts in this direction have been both successful and disappointing. The existence of Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Semitic can hardly be doubted; yet many crucial details remain unknown.

    The truth about ‘Latinx’ [a revision] By Arturo Hernandez In recent years, the term Latinx has become popular in academic settings in English to designate a group of people without reference to gender, which is designated by -o and -a endings in some Romance languages. While academics and Twitter users have begun to use the term, only 2% of the U.S. population actually identifies with this word. Latinx has become so widely used that Elizabeth Warren has taken to using it on the campaign trail.

    Connecting families through open adoption By Abbie E. Goldberg The term “open adoption” is unfamiliar to much of the general public, and yet it describes the reality of adoption today. These are adoptions in which there is some contact or exchange of information between birth families and adoptive families, before or after the adoption. With growing awareness of the benefits of openness for children […]

    What is coercive control and why is it so difficult to recognize? By Charlotte Barlow, Sandra Walklate, and Kelly Johnson Engaging in controlling and/or coercive behaviour in intimate or familial relationships became a new criminal offence in England and Wales in December 2015. Coercive Control involves a pattern of abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten the victim. Four years on since the legislation was enacted and with no compulsory national level training or support, what has actually changed?

    Eight things you didn’t know about George Eliot By Charis Edworthy Throughout her life, George Eliot was known by many names – from Mary Anne Evans at birth, to Marian Evans Lewes in her middle age, to George Eliot in her fiction – with the latter name prevailing in the years since her death through the continued popularity of her novels. Eliot has long been recognised as one of the greatest Victorian writers, in life and in death, having published seven acclaimed novels and a number of poems, in addition to her work as a translator and a journalist.

    George Eliot 200th anniversary timeline By Eleanor Chilvers George Eliot (born Mary Anne Evans) was born 22 November 1819, 2019 marks the 200th anniversary of her birth. Eliot is considered one of the most important and influential writers in the history of English literature and her novels are often praised as being the prototypes for the modern novel, full of rich detail of English country life and complete with characters whose motivations are laid bare by the author’s probing psychological dissections.

    What lies behind Asia’s thriving shadow education industry By Sun Sun Lim In another side of the country so glamorously showcased in the hit move Crazy Rich Asians, families in Singapore spent a staggering S$1.4 billion last year on academic enrichment for their school-going children. Behind this eye popping figure lies a thriving shadow education industry that provides a mind-boggling diversity of services, from brain stimulation classes for pre-schoolers to language immersion holiday camps and robotics workshops, not to mention grade-oriented academic tuition.

    Etymology and delusion, Part 1 By Anatoly Liberman In 1931, Ernest Weekley, the author of a still popular English etymological dictionary and many excellent books on the history of English words, brought out an article titled “Our Early Etymologists.” It appeared in Quarterly Review 257. In our fast-paced, Internet-dominated world, few people are inclined to leaf through old periodicals.

    Announcing the shortlist for the Place of the Year 2019 By Alison Block and Ashley Noelle Over the past few weeks, hundreds of you voted on our eight nominees for Place of the Year 2019. While competition was fierce, we have our final four: New Zealand, Greenland, the Palace of Westminster, and the Atmosphere! But which one is most emblematic of 2019? Which location has truly impacted global discourse? Refresh your […]

    From Stradivari to Spotify: How new technology has always inspired new music By Peter Townsend Successful composers, authors, and scientists have distinctive writing styles which define all their works. They are rarely in isolation from their contemporaries, so their work is inherently time stamped. Similarities can exist with their students and followers, so they set the pattern of writing over one or two generations.

    The truth about ‘Latinx’ By Arturo Hernandez Editor’s Note: An updated version of this article addresses the error where the author incorrectly states that the plural neuter term in Latin is “Latinae.” Please read the updated article here. We regret the error. In recent years, the term Latinx has become popular in academic settings in English to designate a group of people without reference […]

    What universities get wrong about free speech By Ulrich Baer When racist firebrands claimed a right to speak at various universities two years ago, free speech absolutists on the left and right rushed to their defense.

    To-Day and To-Morrow; the rediscovered series that shows how to imagine the future By Max Saunders Almost a century ago a young geneticist, J. B. S. Haldane, made a series of startling predictions in a little book called Daedalus; or, Science and the Future. Genetic modification. Wind power. The gestation of children in artificial wombs, which he called “ectogenesis.” Haldane’s ingenious book did so well that the publishers, Kegan Paul, based a whole series on the idea.

    Thomas Kuhn and the paradigm shift – Philosopher of the Month By OUP Philosophy Thomas S. Kuhn (b. 1922–d. 1996) was an American historian and philosopher of science best-known for his book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) which influenced social sciences and theories of knowledge. He is widely considered one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century.

    “To lie doggo,” an idiom few people seem to know By Anatoly Liberman Last week (November 6, 2019), in passing, I mentioned my idea of the origin of the word dog and did not mean to return to this subject, but John Cowan suggested that I consider an alternative etymology (dog as a color word). I have been aware of it for a long time, but why is my idea worse?

    Seven events that shaped country music By Richard Carlin Developed from European and African-American roots, country music has shaped American culture while it has been shaped itself by key events that have transformed it, leading to new musical styles performed by innovative artists. 1. 1927, Bristol, Tennessee: country music’s “Big Bang” In late July of 1927, New York producer Ralph Peer arrived in a […]

    How meningitis has (almost) been conquered By Janet R. Gilsdorf Scientific discovery is often a messy affair. It’s sometimes intentional, sometimes accidental, sometimes cluttered with error, and always complicated. The ultimate value of scientific observations may not be recognized for many years until the discovery emerges to shed new insight on old problems and become etched in the scientific canon. Such is the story of the conquest of meningitis, a devastating infection of the brain that is usually fatal if not treated.

    Video surveillance footage shows how rare violence really is By Anne Nassauer Watching the news, violence seems on the rise all around us. Most Americans think crime is going up, have a pessimistic outlook of the future, and feel increasingly unsafe. As a result, people accept more and more surveillance to protect themselves from violent and criminal behavior. Surveillance cameras are installed with the assumption that we need to fear […]

    Introducing the nominees for Place of the Year 2019 By Alison Block and Ashley Noelle 2019 has been a year of significant events – from political unrest to climate disasters worldwide. Some of the most scrutinized events of the past year are tied inextricably to the places where they occurred – political uprisings driven by the residents of a city with an uneasy history, or multiple deaths caused by the […]

    Q&A with author Craig L. Symonds By Craig L. Symonds There are a number of mysteries surrounding the Battle of Midway, and a breadth of new information has recently been uncovered about the four day struggle. We sat down with naval historian Craig L. Symonds, author of The Battle of Midway, newly released in paperback, to answer some questions about the iconic World War II battle.

    How firms with employee representation on their boards actually fare By E. Han Kim, Ernst Maug, and Christoph Schneider Board-level employee representation has re-entered the political agenda. Even in countries that have traditionally been skeptical about giving employees more say in corporate decision-making now discuss board-level employee representation. Former UK Prime Minister Theresa May suggested changes in this direction in her country in 2017. More recently, Senator Elizabeth Warren, one of the leading presidential […]

    Two years into the opioid emergency By Michael Fraser Two years ago the Trump administration declared the opioid crisis in the United States a public health emergency, positioning federal agencies to respond to what has been called the public health crisis of our time. Congress followed, appropriating billions of dollars to federal agencies and state and local governments to support a variety of programs to address opioid addiction treatment and overdose prevention.

    What we learned from the financial crisis of 2008 By Allen N. Berger, Philip Molyneux, and John O. S. Wilson It has been over a decade since the global financial crisis of 2007-2008, which threatened to destroy the financial system, and wreaked havoc on the financial well-being of households, firms, and governments.

    Monthly gleanings for October 2019 By Anatoly Liberman I received a question about the origin of French adieu and its close analogs in the other Romance languages. This question is easy to answer. The word goes back to the phrase à Dieu “to God,” which is the beginning of the longer locution à Dieu commande, that is, “I commend (you) to God” or, if we remain with French, “je recommande à Dieu.” The European parting formulas are of rather few types.

    Heretics to demigods: evangelicals and the American founders By Gillis J. Harp In recent years, many evangelicals have lauded the American Founders. It has become customary for them to heap effusive praise on the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Even those who were openly contemptuous of Christian orthodoxy such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine […]

    Eight books to read to understand African economies [reading list] By Bhawana Soni Africa’s GDP growth is projected to accelerate to 4.0 percent in 2019 and 4.1 percent in 2020. The economy continues to improve in future. The study of African economy consists of trade, agriculture, finance and employment.

    Why people disagree By Andrea Onofri People disagree. Human beings often express conflicting views about a variety of different issues, from food and music to science and politics. With the development of advanced communication technologies, this fact has become more visible than ever. (Think of Twitter wars.) The extent and depth of our disagreements can lead many to despair of making […]

    Our souls make us who we are By Richard Swinburne The vast majority of today’s scientists and philosophers believe that human beings are just physical objects, very complicated machines, the essential part of which is our brain which is sometimes conscious. Richard Swinburne argues that on the contrary each human consists of a body which is a physical object, and a soul which is an immaterial thing, interacting with their body; it is our soul which is conscious and is the essential part of each of us.

    Completing your verbs—infinitive and gerunds By Edwin L. Battistella Most of us have been told at some point that a sentence has a subject and predicate and that the predicate consists of a verb and an object—the girl kicked the ball. We may have been introduced to distinctions such as transitive, intransitive, and linking verbs (like carry, snore, and become, respectively). But there is much more to the intricacies of what must follow a verb.

    The Kingmaker is a movie about Imelda Marcos that snubs earlier documentary By Celine Parreñas Shimizu My thrill in seeing Ramona Diaz’s film Imelda (2004), streaming for free online this month, was dampened by the hype surrounding a new film about the former first lady of the Philippines. I was puzzled to read about The Kingmaker (2019) by Lauren Greenfield, touted for its “unprecedented access” (Showtime) by a filmmaker “perfect” for the subject (Variety). Frankly […]

    Polychromy in Greek and Roman sculpture [video] By Stephen Mann Coined by archaeologist and architectural theorist Antoine-Chrysostome Quatremère de Quincy, the term “polychromy” has been in use since the early 19th century to denote the presence of any element of colour in Greek and Roman sculpture.


    October 2019 (32))

    Seven things you didn’t know could kill you By Molly Dixon Medicine has advanced so much over the years, it’s hard to believe that some diseases still exist or don’t have a cure. Commonly known conditions such as cancer, stroke, and heart disease are scary enough, but there are plenty of other conditions that are potentially deadlier.

    An etymological aid to hearing By Anatoly Liberman As promised, I am continuing the series on senses. There have already been posts on feel and taste. To show how hard it may be to discover the origin of some of our most basic words, I have chosen the verb hear. Germanic is here uniform: all the languages of this group have predictable reflexes (continuations) of the ancient form hauzjan.

    How Brexit may have changed Parliament forever By Anne Dennett During 2019, the Brexit process has radically changed the dynamics between the prime minister and the House of Commons. Normally the United Kingdom’s government, led by the prime minister and her Cabinet, provides leadership, and drives and implements policy while Parliament exercises control over the government by scrutinising its actions and holding it to account.

    How to communicate with animals By Tory Higgins More than ever, humans need to find new ways to connect to other animals. In the United States alone, over 150 million people have a pet. There are over 10,000 zoos worldwide, with each of the larger zoos having several thousand animals. These and millions of other animals rely on humans for their survival. It […]

    Brexit: when psychology and politics clash By Bruce Hood With the recent publication of the UK Government’s Yellowhammer document outlining the financial disaster forecasted for Brexit, it would seem reasonable for people who voted to leave the European Union to change their opinions. Psychological research, however, suggests that once people commit to a decision, albeit a bad one, they are reluctant to change their minds. Why do […]

    How birth shapes human existence By Alison Stone Many classic existentialists—Camus, Beauvoir, Heidegger—thought that we should confront our mortality, and that human existence is fundamentally shaped by the fact that we will die. But human beings do not only die; we are also born. Once we acknowledge that birth as well as death shapes human existence, existentialism starts to look different. The outlines of a ‘natal existentialism’ appear.

    Our five senses: taste By Anatoly Liberman Having discussed the origin of the verbs smell (“The sense and essence of smell”) and feel (“Fingers feel, or feel free”), I thought that it might be worthwhile to touch on the etymology of see, hear, and taste. Touch, ultimately of onomatopoeic origin, has been mentioned, though briefly, in one of the earlier posts. I’ll begin the projected series with taste.

    A full century later, the 1919 World Series remains the most historic of all By Charles Fountain What makes a World Series historic? It’s a given that fans of any particular team are going to remember the ones where their team triumphs. In San Francisco, the early 2010s will always be the time of the Giants and Madison Bumgarner. The mid-1970s are never going to be long ago in Cincinnati, where the […]

    How alternative employment contracts affect low wage workers By Nikhil Datta, Giulia Giupponi, and Stephen Machin Contemporary labour markets are characterised by more atypical or alternative work arrangements. Some of these – like independent contractors – have emerged in the context of self-employment, while others – like zero hours contracts and temporary work – are evolutions of traditional employment contracts.

    How Asia got richer By Deepak Nayyar Two centuries ago, in 1820, Asia accounted for two-thirds of world population and more than one-half of world income. The subsequent decline of Asia was due largely to its integration with the world economy shaped by colonialism and driven by imperialism. By 1962, its share in world income had plummeted to 15%. Even in 1970, […]

    What does ‘Honest to God’ tell us about Britain’s “secular revolution”? By Sam Brewitt-Taylor On 17 March 1963, John Robinson, the Anglican bishop of Woolwich, wrote an article for the Observer entitled “Our Image of God Must Go.” He was writing to advertise his new book, Honest to God, which made a deeply controversial argument: that modern Christians would eventually find it necessary to reject classical theism. God Himself, Robinson argued, was causing […]

    Brexit’s challenge to maritime security By Timothy Edmunds and Barry J. Ryan The politics of Britain’s security after Brexit are contentious and fast moving. But most discussion has focused on the security of land. The security of the sea has received less attention.

    The Holocaust and the illusions of hindsight By Mark Roseman Historians’ 20-20 hindsight makes them in a way blind, trapped on the far side of history’s moving wall from the actors they wish to study. Nowhere is this truer than when writing the history of periods of great uncertainty and struggle. The only chance of understanding those caught up in the maelstrom of such moments, is to plunge, as far as that is possible, into the uncertain waters of their present.

    Phyllis Tate – A Family Portrait By Colin and Celia Frank Colin and Celia Frank, the children of 20th-century composer Phyllis Tate, reflect on her life and works. Phyllis Tate, or Phyl as she was known to her friends, worked in what was then very much a man’s world, epitomized by a photo of members of the Composers’ Guild in which she is the only woman. […]

    How rivers can help in climate change resilience By Ellen Wohl Resilience is a much-desired characteristic. The dictionary defines resilience of materials as the ability of a substance to spring back into shape – elasticity. Resilience is increasingly applied to individuals and institutions, as in the other dictionary definition: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties – toughness.

    Fingers feel, or feel free! By Anatoly Liberman Now that I have said everything I know about the etymology of the word finger (see the posts on feeling fingers), and those who agree and disagree with me have also made their opinion public, one more topic has to be discussed, namely, the origin of the verb feel.

    How to speak rugby By Simon Horobin For the uninitiated, the commentary on a rugby game – foot-up, hand-off, head-up, put-in, knock-on – can make it sound more like a dance routine than the bruising sport it really is. If you don’t know your forwards from your backs, or have no idea why a player might opt to go blind, this guide is for you.

    Fake news gone viral: How misunderstanding scientific uncertainty leads to epidemics By Kevin McCain Recently, I went to a top oral surgeon at a university hospital to have a fairly routine procedure. While I was being prepped for surgery the attending nurse took me through the usual battery of questions.

    How James Glaisher discovered the jet stream By Tim Woollings James Glaisher and Henry Coxwell are best known for a dramatic balloon ascent in 1862, in which they launched from Wolverhampton and reached heights above the top of Everest within an hour. The aeronauts went on to perform many highly successful ascents, recording invaluable data of the upper atmosphere. On one trip in 1864, Glaisher noted a characteristic warm, south-westerly wind blowing above the country. His thoughts proved to be well over a hundred years ahead of their time.

    The connection between online hate speech and real-world hate crime By Matthew Williams National governments now recognize online hate speech as a pernicious social problem. In the wake of political votes and terror attacks, hate incidents online and offline are known to peak in tandem. This article examines whether an association exists between both forms of hate, independent of ‘trigger’ events.

    Telling it like it is: opening up about my vulnerability By May-May Meijer It was quite a shock for me when the independent psychiatrist asked me during my forced stay in the mental hospital what I thought of my diagnosis “schizophrenia”. It was the first time I heard my diagnosis. For the rest of our conversation the diagnosis “schizophrenia” echoed in my head. I associated “schizophrenia” with: being […]

    Mary Astell on female education and the sorrow of marriage (philosopher of the month) By OUP Philosophy Mary Astell is widely considered one of the first and foremost English feminists. Her pioneering writings address female education and autonomy in the early modern period and had a profound influence on later generation of feminists. Astell was born into a middle class family in 1666. Her father was Newcastle coal merchant who died when […]

    Monthly gleanings for September 2019 By Anatoly Liberman Some more finger work: in the posts for September 25 and October 2, 2019, the etymology of the word finger was discussed. Some comments on the first one require further notice. Final -r. I deliberately stayed away from the origin of -r in fingr-, though I did mention the problem.

    The journalist who created Jack the Ripper By Andrea Nini Many of us know the name Jack the Ripper. Perhaps we associate it with a dark shadow wearing a top hat and holding a knife in the middle of a foggy street in Victorian London. But not many of us know that this image is very far away from any reliable fact that has reached us about the 1888 tragic events that took place in Whitechapel.

    Natural disasters make people more religious By Jeanet Sinding Bentzen Philosophers once predicted that religion would die out as societies modernize. This has not happened. Today, more than four out of every five people on Earth believe in God. Religion seems to be serving a purpose that modernization does not replace. New research finds that people become more religious when hit by natural disasters. They are more likely […]

    The moral mathematics of letting people die By Theron Pummer Imagine that, while walking along a pier, you see two strangers drowning in the sea. Lo and behold, you can easily save them both by throwing them the two life preservers located immediately in front of you. Since you can’t swim and no one else is around, there is no other way these folks will […]

    Reading, writing and readability—appreciating Rudolph Flesch By Edwin L. Battistella This October marks the thirty-third anniversary of the passing of Rudolph Flesch, the patron saint of brevity.

    Nine articles on problems in access to mental health services [reading list] By Abigail Luke Mental Illness Awareness Week occurs every year in the first full week of October. This year, we’re focusing on the breaking down the barriers that prevent individuals with mental health issues from receiving adequate treatment.

    The underrated value of stargazing By Chris Lintott When did you last look up at the night sky? Before the advent of streetlights, paying attention to the heavens above us would have been an everyday part of existence, as commonplace as noticing the weather. Now, as many of us hurry from brightly lit office buildings to the cosy lights of home, few remember […]

    What American literature can teach us about human rights By Brian Goodman The arrival of a new child destroys a household’s ordinary sense of time. At least, it did for us. When our first son was born last fall, two leading scholars had just published books that each, in their own way, describe how contemporary US fiction has been shaped by the dramatic rise of human rights in global politics since the 1970s.

    Feeling fingers, part 2 By Anatoly Liberman Finger seems to be a transparent word, but this transparency is an illusion, for what is fing- (assuming that we understand what -er is)? Our story began last week (see the post for September 25, 2019), and I attempted to show that one of the two best-known etymologies of finger, namely, from the numeral five, is “less than fully convincing” (a common academic euphemism for “nearly unacceptable”).

    The important role of animals in refugee lives By Benjamin Thomas White Refugees are people who have been forcibly displaced across a border. What do animals have to do with them? A lot.


    September 2019 (32))

    Banking regulation after Brexit By Charles Morris It is a truism that Brexit will have a significant impact on banks and the wider financial services industry. The loss of passports by UK firms has received some attention from the non-specialist media, and is relatively well-understood. However, the loss of passports, significant as it is, is just one of many issues. Others have received no or little coverage outside the industry. In this blog, we will touch upon some of them.

    How Congress surrenders its constitutional responsibilities By Sean Theriault and Mickey Edwards If there is a single overriding narrative about the current Congress, the institution America’s founders considered the first and most important branch of government, it is that partisan warfare has rendered it almost impossible for Republicans and Democrats to agree on anything, and especially on any question of significance.

    How to talk to your political opponents By Tory Higgins Imagine that you are having a heated political argument with a member of the “other” party over what the government should or should not do on various issues. You and your debate partner argue about what should be done about immigrants who want to come into the country. You argue about what should be done about the never-ending mass murder of people in schools, places of worship, and entertainment venues by killers using assault weapons. You argue about what should be done to improve employment and to improve the healthcare system.

    The trouble with disease awareness campaigns By Rachel Kahn Best In October, pink ribbons promoting breast cancer awareness decorate everything from sneakers to buckets of fried chicken. In addition to breast cancer, October is simultaneously ADHD Awareness Month, AIDS Awareness Month, Down Syndrome Awareness Month, Rett Syndrome Awareness Month, and Selective Mutism Awareness Month. Campaigns to raise awareness about diseases have been a major feature […]

    Why supply is the secret to affordable housing By Mario Polèse Housing has become unaffordable for all but the lucky few in many of the world’s great cities. Who can afford to live in New York or Paris? Yet, housing prices can be kept in check. Some cities have succeeded in doing so, as we shall see. The secret is simple: housing supply, which can be […]

    Feeling fingers By Anatoly Liberman This will be a story of both protagonists mentioned in the title: the verb feel and the noun finger. However, it may be more profitable to begin with finger. In the year 2000, Ari Hoptman brought out an article on the origin of this word (NOWELE 36, 77-91). Although missed by the later dictionaries, it contains not only an exhaustive survey of everything ever said about the etymology of finger but also a reasonable conjecture, differing from those he had found in his sources, both published and unpublished.

    Why love ends By Eva Illouz Western culture has endlessly represented the ways in which love miraculously erupts in people’s lives, the mythical moment in which one knows someone is destined to us; the feverish waiting for a phone call or an email, the thrill that runs our spine at the mere thought of him or her.

    Music and spirituality at the end of life By Noah Potvin Music and spirituality are two mediums frequently – almost ubiquitously – partnered in cultures around the world with the intention of enhancing engagement with the divine. Spiritual practices are infused with music to intensify the transpersonal components of worship, meditation, and ritual. Correspondingly, musical encounters are infused with spiritually-based beliefs and practices to provide individuals […]

    Why more democracy isn’t better democracy By Robert B. Talisse Democracy is necessary for a free and just society. It is tempting to conclude that democracy is such a crucial social good that there could never be too much of it. It seems that when it comes to democracy, the more the better. Yet it is possible to have too much democracy. This is not […]

    The long trauma of revenge porn By Kristen Zaleski In case you haven’t been paying attention, the intersection of sexual violence and technology has become an invisible tidal wave heading for the shores of our smart phones. Revenge porn – academically known as image-based abuse, non-consensual pornography, or the non-consensual sharing of intimate images – is one of a host of cyber-sexual violations clustered […]

    Looking back on 10 years of global road safety By Margaret M. Peden According to the World Health Organization there were 1.35 million road traffic deaths globally in 2016 and between 20 and 50 million more people suffered non-fatal injuries and/or disabilities. Most of these collisions occurred in low- and middle-income countries and involved pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. In addition, road traffic collisions are the leading killer of those between 15 and 29 years of age.

    Ten Facts about World Peace By Alex J. Bellamy The United Nations’ International Day of Peace is celebrated on 21 September each year, marking efforts to bring the world closer to a state of harmony and further away from violence. Here are some surprising facts about peace and the quest to achieve it:

    Why hurricanes are deadly for older people By Deborah Carr Meteorologists have pinpointed 10 September as the peak of hurricane season. September is the most active month of the year for Atlantic hurricane season, and 2019 is no exception. In early September, Dorian devastated the Bahamas, and wreaked havoc on the southeastern United States. Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico in September 2017, just weeks after Harvey […]

    The ‘What If’ moments of modern Britain By Andrew Hindmoor We often talk about there being days that “changed history”; modern British history has had its fair share of them. But what about the days that looked as though they would – but didn’t? Which days once felt like they would change everything but, with the benefit of hindsight, now seem false-starts? Here are three […]

    Fears of a Latino invasion: demographic panic then and now By Juliet Hooker How are Donald Trump’s racist tweets about “rat-infested” Baltimore, his tacit endorsement of chants of “send her home” about representative Ilhan Omar at his rallies, and the mass shooting in El Paso, TX, targeting Latinos by a gunman concerned about a Mexican “invasion” of the United States connected?

    (Sweet and) sour By Anatoly Liberman Last week (September 11, 2019), I discussed the origin of sweet and promised to tackle its partial opposite. Sour has been attested in nearly all the Old Germanic languages: nearly, because, like sweet, it never turned up in the Gothic gospels.

    Cancer patient or cancer survivor? Understanding illness identity. By Melissa Thong and Volker Arndt The good news is that many people now survive their cancer. They are either cured or live with cancer as a chronic illness. However, life after cancer can vary between cancer survivors. Some are almost symptom free and return to a normal life after completion of treatment, while others could experience persistent side effects of cancer and treatment long after treatment has ended.

    Slavoj Žižek on what really makes him mad By Slavoj Žižek What really makes me mad when I read critical (and even some favorable) reactions to my work is the recurring characterization of me as a postmodern cultural critic – the one thing I don’t want to be. I consider myself a philosopher dealing with fundamental ontological questions, and, furthermore, a philosopher in the traditional vein […]

    Despite Brexit, there is still plenty to learn from government successes By Mallory Compton and Paul 't Hart For those who follow the news, it is all too easy to form the impression that governments are incompetent, slow, inefficient, unresponsive to ordinary citizens’ needs, and prone to overreach and underdeliver. Easy, since Brexit is currently the public’s main measure of the competence of government. And yet across many public policy domains, for most […]

    Originality in Arabic music By Sami Abu Shumays How artists express individual style and creativity within the context of a cultural tradition is one of the central questions of Aesthetics. This is applicable to an extraordinary range of artistic practices across different cultures, although its answers and solutions differ widely. Our views on the problem can be easily distorted by the particular solution adopted in Europe and America in the modern period: to abandon traditions as much as possible and strive for total originality.

    How the prime minister can suspend Parliament By Kara Dimitruk On 28 August, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson officially notified Parliament and the public of his decision to prorogue (i.e., suspend or end) the session by mid-September. Proroguing is the term for ending a legislative session of parliament. All sessions are technically prorogued and most in recent memory have happened without much ado. What makes […]

    John Duns Scotus – The ‘Subtle Doctor’ – Philosopher of the Month By OUP Philosophy Team John Duns Scotus (b. c. 1265/1266–d. 1308) was one of the most significant Christian philosophers and theologians of the medieval period. Scotus made important and influential contributions in metaphysics, ethics, and natural theology. Little was known of his life but he was born in Scotland, became a Franciscan monk, spent his learning and professional life […]

    Hispanic American heritage in the arts [slideshow] By Charis Edworthy Hispanic Americans are a core demographic of the United States, making up roughly 18% of the population. This highly diverse group includes recent immigrants and families whose US roots extend back many generations, with some ancestors originating from areas in southern US states that belonged to Mexico prior to the Mexican-American War (1846-48). To celebrate the achievements of […]

    Continuing Jane Austen’s unfinished novel Sanditon By Kathryn Sutherland Unfinished works tease us. They come with baggage. They cling to their authors whose lives, in turn, weigh heavy upon them. Why were they broken off? How might they be continued?

    Sweet (and sour) By Anatoly Liberman The post on the origin of the word smell has been read by more people than any other in recent months. On the wave of this unexpected popularity, I decided to write an essay or two on related themes. If they arouse enough interest, I may continue in the same vein.

    Understanding the Multi-functional Nature of the Countryside By Andrew Davis, Katharine Foot, and Will Manley It is tempting to see the countryside through a haze of a pink washed nostalgia as somewhere where life continues with a perceived simplicity in tandem with the seasons and inherited practises. However, just as urban areas change and evolve, so does the countryside. With this, comes a more complex wordscape that combines the traditional language of […]

    Seven things you don’t know about Johnny Hodges By Con Chapman Over the course of four decades, Cornelius “Johnny” Hodges became the most famous soloist in the Duke Ellington orchestra, and the highest-paid. His pure tone on the alto saxophone was his calling card, and he used it both on lush, romantic ballads and on bluesier numbers that kept the band grounded in the music of […]

    Ten things you need to know to become a police officer By Robert Underwood Applying to become a police officer in the UK is undoubtedly complex and challenging. While there are variations in the minimum qualifications to join, many requirements for applicants are common to all forces. Applicants must be at least 18 years, must have been resident in the UK for more than three years, and must not have a criminal record. The format of Recruitment Assessment Centres and the health and fitness requirements are the same for all forces.

    The last shot at American Idioms By Anatoly Liberman The use of metaphors is relatively late in the modern European languages; it is, in principle, a post-Renaissance phenomenon. The same holds for the idioms based on metaphors. No one in the days of Beowulf and perhaps even of Chaucer would have coined the phrase to lose one’s marbles “to become insane,” even if so long ago boys were as intent on collecting marbles as was Tom Sawyer.

    The science behind ironic consumption By Caleb Warren When I turned 21, my friends brought me to a dive in East Atlanta called the Gravity Pub. The menu offered burnt tater tots, deep fried chili cheese dogs, and donut sandwiches. Happy hour featured rot-gut whiskey, red-eye gin, and one-dollar cans of Schlitz. We listened to Bon Jovi, Spice Girls, and a medley of yacht rock and boy band blue eyed soul crackling through rusty speakers.

    A new twist on rapid evolution in the Anthropocene By Allison Snow Many people view evolution as an extremely slow, long-term process by which organisms gradually adapt and diversify over millennia. But researchers also have found that rapid evolutionary change can occur over mere centuries, or even decades. Such ongoing rapid evolution is the focus of a fast-moving field of empirical work, made easier by new techniques […]

    Celebrating banned books week By Edwin L. Battistella Book banning is not a new phenomenon. The Catholic Church’s prohibition on books advocating heliocentrism lasted until 1758. In England, Thomas Bowdler lent his name to the practice of expurgating supposed vulgarity with the 1818 publication of The Family Shakespeare, edited by his sister.


    August 2019 (36))

    It’s not just young people who are pre-drinking By Jason Ferris Pre-drinking, the act of drinking at home before going out, is an issue of global concern due to its links with greater overall drinking across the night, and increased risk of assaults, injuries, and arrest. Generally people pre-drink due to the high cost of drinks in licensed premises, to socialize with friends, reduce social anxiety before going […]

    11 books that deal with contemporary government and comparative political science [Reading List] By Muzaffar Bhatti Our Comparative Politics series deals with contemporary government and politics. Global in scope, books in the series are characterized by a stress on comparative analysis and strong methodological rigour. It is a series for not just students and teachers but for researchers of political science too. Books in the series range from coalition governance to […]

    Monthly gleanings for August 2019 By Anatoly Liberman As is known, glamour is a spelling variant of glamor even in American English. The question I received was about the connection between glamour and grammar. The word glamour appeared in printed books only in the 18th century. It occurred in Scottish ballads and meant “magic, enchantment.”

    The problem with Buddhist law in Sri Lanka By Benjamin Sconthal Several weeks after the Sri Lanka’s Easter tragedy, in which suicide attackers with links to ISIS killed more than 250 people in a series of coordinated bombings, the country’s president announced that he was releasing a Buddhist monk from prison. The monk, Ven. Galagoda Atte Gnanasara, was the country’s most controversial cleric, having risen to prominence […]

    Reviewing for scientific journals: A how to By Michael Hochberg Scientific journals are complex ecosystems, bringing together different actors in what is loosely akin to an inquisitorial court of law. The chief editor is the judge. She will decide whether a manuscript goes out for review and makes the final decision should the paper be peer reviewed. Members of the editorial board are like council, […]

    Why we need more biographies of suffragists By Susan Ware One of the most striking characteristics of the American women’s suffrage movement is that its history has traditionally been told through the lives of its leading figures. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, Anna Howard Shaw, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Alice Paul and the organizations they founded and led dominate the story to […]

    How helping disabled people find employment affects the job market By Barbara Petrongolo, Felix Koenig, and John Van Reenen Policy makers have long been concerned with helping people on disability benefits find some employment as this group has grown dramatically in recent decades. In the UK, as in several other countries, there are now many more people on disability benefits than on unemployment benefits.

    Beyond open defecation: a free, clean India By Philipe Cullet The Right to Sanitation in India: Critical Perspectives, edited by Philipe Cullet, Sujith Koonan, and Lovleen Bhullar, represents the first effort to conceptually engage with the right to sanitation and its multiple dimensions in India. We sat down with editor Philipe Cullet to analyse the contributions of the law and policy framework to the realisation of the right to sanitation in India, the place the book holds in the socio-political landscape, and its international and comparative relevance.

    What professors can do to boost student success By David Kirp Dear Professor, If you are at all like me, you have been living a mostly placid life as a professor. You do your research and sit on committees. Like most of your colleagues, you regard yourself as an above-average teacher, and you get okay student ratings. The only time you are pay attention to policy […]

    Five fascinating facts about Leonard Bernstein and Japan By Mari Yoshihara On 25 August 2019, which would have been Leonard Bernstein’s 101st birthday, the busy centenary year filled with performances, exhibitions, publications, and events comes to a close. Much of Bernstein’s status as a world maestro tends to be discussed in terms of his relationship to Israel and Europe, but once we turn our attention eastward […]

    Enoch Powell and the rise of neo-liberalism By Paul Corthorn The Conservative politician Enoch Powell is best known for his outspoken opposition to immigration, but he also adopted distinctive positions on a range of other prominent issues in the post-1945 era. Indeed, he was the most prominent early exponent of neo-liberalism, the free-market perspective linking economic and political freedom in British politics. Yet there has […]

    Do we unfairly demonise food processing? By Alan Kelly Today, we constantly hear concerns about the dangers of processed food and it is sometimes portrayed as opposite to natural and healthy food. Is this warranted? What does ‘food processing’ even really mean? To a food scientist, food processing is any method used to make food safe to eat, enhance its stability, or change its form.

    The sense and essence of smell By Anatoly Liberman This post owes its existence to a letter from our correspondent, who was surprised to discover that dictionaries call the origin of the word smell unknown. Not that two and a half pages later this origin will become “known,” but the darkness around it may become less impenetrable.

    How the Ebola crisis affected people’s trust in their governments By Ali Sina-Önder, Markus Ludwig, and Matthias Flückiger Legitimacy and trust fundamentally determine a state’s ability to effectively implement policies. Without legitimacy, governments cannot rely on citizens to voluntarily comply with centrally mandated policies, making their implementation costly and the provision of public goods inefficient. This is particularly true in the case of public health interventions, where adherence to recommendations of governments determines the […]

    The first gay president? By Thomas Balcerski The topic of the sexuality of President James Buchanan has become a talking point in the media of late due to the presidential campaign of openly gay candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg of Indiana. In that spirit, we turn to the life of our nation’s only bachelor president and his intimate personal relationship with William Rufus King of Alabama […]

    How women are fighting sexist language in Russia By Valerie Sperling Coal miners are predominantly male, and kindergarten teachers predominantly female. Professions are gendered, as any Department of Labor survey, anywhere in the world, illustrates. And until the 1980s, the nouns used in English to describe some occupations were also gendered, such as fireman, or stewardess. Feminists in English-speaking countries fought this largely by neutralizing male […]

    The future of humanitarian medicine By Amy Kravitz and Tammam Aloudat Humanitarian medicine aims to provide essential relief to those destabilized by crises. This concept, the humanitarian imperative, expands the principles of humanity to include, as a right, the provision of aid to those suffering the consequences of war, natural disaster, epidemic or endemic diseases, or displacement. Providing assistance to those in crises is a premise as […]

    Why American cities remain segregated 50 years after the Fair Housing Act By Henry S. Webber Fifty years after passage of the Fair Housing Act, large urban areas still remain highly segregated by both race and income. A report last year in the Washington Post concluded that that although the United States is on track to be a minority-majority nation by 2044, most of us have neighbors that are the same race as us.

    A 13-year-old scholar shares her research experiences By Nora Keegan I noticed that sometimes after using a hand dryer my ears would start ringing. At first I didn’t really pay attention to it, but then I wondered if they were too loud, and that was why my ears were hurting. Also, I noticed that in many cases, when children were in washrooms with hand dryers, […]

    Eighty years of The Wizard of Oz By Walter Frisch The summer of 1939 was busy for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, one of Hollywood’s major studios, as it rolled out The Wizard of Oz, a movie musical almost two years in preparation. The budget for production and promotion was almost $3 million, making it MGM’s most expensive effort up to that time. A June radio broadcast introduced the songs and characters to the public.

    Flatterers and bletherskites By Anatoly Liberman Almost exactly twelve years ago, on August 2, 2006 (see this post), when the world and this blog were much younger, I mentioned some problems pertaining to the etymology of the verb flatter. Since that time, I have written several posts on kl– and sl-words and discussed sound symbolism more than once. There is little […]

    What went wrong with Poland’s democracy By Wojciech Sadurski Poland had been one of the most successful of the European states that embarked upon a democratic transformation after the fall of Communism. After joining the European Union, Poland has been held up as a model of a successful European democracy, with a reasonably consolidated rule-of-law based state and well-protected individual rights. And yet, this […]

    History of clashes in and around Jewish synagogues By Michael Flexsenhar One Sabbath day in the late-second century CE, a slave and future pope named Callistus (Calixtus I) entered a synagogue and, hoping to die, picked a fight with the Jews. For the opening salvo, he stood and confessed that he was a Christian. A melee ensued. But the Jews only dragged Callistus before Rome’s city […]

    Progressive black radio weighs in on Trump’s base By Micaela di Leonardo “Tom and Sybil, you guys lifted us up mightily for so many years,” said President Barack Obama to the Tom Joyner Morning Show anchors on 2 November, 2016. “I could not be more grateful.” Economic insecurity or racism? Immediately following Donald Trump’s shocking 2016 electoral-college presidential win, commentators rushed to explain the results by focusing on white […]

    Robot rats are the future of recycling I just watched WALL-E for the first time in five years or so. It’s the story of a plucky little robot tasked with cleaning up the world by compacting rubbish into blocks and building structures out of the blocks to minimize the amount of land they take up. Of course, he falls in love and saves the […]

    Why academics announce plans for research that might never happen By David H. Foster Why do academic writers announce their plans for further work at the end of their papers in peer reviewed journals? It happens in many disciplines, but here’s an example from an engineering article: Additionally, in our future work, we will extend our model to incorporate more realistic physical effects . . . We will expand the detection […]

    Racial biases in academic knowledge By Ryuko Kubota The word of racism evokes individual expressions of racial prejudice or one’s superiority over other races. An outrageous yet archetypical example is found in the recent racist tweets made by the President Donald Trump, attacking four congresswomen of color by suggesting that they go back to the countries where they are originally from if they criticize America. […]

    Some American phrases By Anatoly Liberman This is a continuation of the subject broached cautiously on July 17, 2019. Since the comments were supportive, I’ll continue in the same vein. Perhaps it should first be mentioned that sometimes the line separating language study from the study of history, customs, and rituals is thin.

    Friedrich Schiller on Beauty and Aesthetics – Philosopher of the Month By OUP Philosophy Team German poet and playwright, Friedrich Schiller is considered a profound and influential philosopher. His philosophical-aesthetic writings played an important role in shaping the development of German idealism and Romanticism in one of the most prolific periods of German philosophy and literature. Those writings are primarily concerned with the redemptive value of the arts and beauty […]

    How quantitative thinking shaped our worldview By Steven J. Osterlind Over the past couple of months or so, I’ve had a few opportunities to speak with individuals and groups about “us” — who we are and how we came to be ourselves. By “us,” I do not mean self-reflection and the introspection of following self-help conventions; rather, I mean the “us” to be our worldview: our thinking, acting, and doing.

    How the Eurovision Song Contest has been depoliticized By Philip V. Bohlman When Duncan Laurence of the Netherlands briefly acknowledged his victory in the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest with the dedication, “this is to music first, always,” he was making a claim that most viewers would have found unobjectionable. Laurence’s hopefulness notwithstanding, the real position of music in the 2019 Eurovision Grand Finale on 18 May 2019 in Tel Aviv was more troubling than secure.

    McCarthyism and the legacy of the federal loyalty program [video] By Anne Marie Turner As World War I finally concluded on November 11, 1918, the United States became swept up in a fear-driven, anti-communist movement, following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. From 1919-1920, the United States entrenched itself in the First Red Scare, the American public anxious at the prospect of communism spreading across continents.


    The international reporting you never see By Lindsay Palmer It’s your morning routine. You open your tablet, go to your favorite news app, and skim the headlines over a cup of coffee. Your screen floods with images of election protests in one region of the world, wars in another region, and diplomatic skirmishes in another. If you tap on an image and dive in for more information, you might see the familiar name or face of the foreign correspondent who is standing in the very places you’re reading about.

    8 books to help us re-imagine populism and privilege [reading list] By Gabriella Baldassin The 115th American Political Science Association Annual Meeting’s conference theme is “Populism and Privilege”. It will highlight the self-identified populist movements around the globe, whose main unifying trait is their claim to champion the people against entrenched “elites.”

    The life and work of Herman Melville By Eleanor Chilvers August 1st marks the 200th anniversary of Herman Melville’s birth. We have put together a timeline of Melville’s life to celebrate the event. ?? Feature Image credit: “Arrowhead farmhouse Herman Melville” by United States Library of Congress. Public domain via Wikimedia.


    July 2019 (35))

    Monthly gleanings for July 2019 By Anatoly Liberman As always, many thanks to those who left comments and to those who sent me emails and asked questions. Rather long ago, I wrote four posts on the etymology and use of the word brown (see the posts for September 24, October 1, October 15, and October 22, 2014). The origin of the animal name beaver was mentioned in them too. Here I’ll say what I know about the subject.

    Why Anna Burns’ Milkman is such a phenomenon By Clare Hutton Few contemporary novels will have had a year like Milkman by Anna Burns. It was published, without a great deal of fanfare or advance publicity, in May 2018. But then it began to attract attention by dint of being longlisted, and then shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Some were surprised when it won. I wasn’t. In the course of a long commute to work, I had listened to the remarkable audiobook of Milkman twice.

    Constructing Organizational Life George R. Terry Book Award winners – past and present By OUP Business marketing team We are proud to announce that the winner of this year’s George R. Terry Book Award is Constructing Organizational Life, by Thomas B. Lawrence and Nelson Phillips. The George R. Terry Book Award is awarded to the book that has made the most outstanding contribution to the global advancement of management knowledge.

    How microwaves changed the course of the Battle of the Atlantic By David Seagal Sir Robert Watson Watt is credited as the inventor of radar. In Britain radar was known as RDF (radio direction finding). The way that radar works is that pulses of microwave radiation of controlled frequency and polarisation are emitted from a transmitter. Some of these microwaves reach an object (an aircraft or submarine for example) directly […]

    Why British communities are stronger than ever By Jon Lawrence Although it’s fashionable to bemoan the collapse of traditional communities in Britain and the consequent loss of what social scientists have come to call “social capital”, we should be wary of accepting this bold story at face value.

    How Germany’s financial collapse led to Nazism By Tobias Straumann The summer of 1931 saw Germany’s financial collapse, one of the biggest economic catastrophes of modern history. The German crisis contributed to the rise of the Nazi Party. The timeline below shows historic events that led up to Adolf Hitler’s taking control of Germany.

    Mangling etymology: an exercise in “words and things” By Anatoly Liberman We read that Helgi, one of the greatest heroes of Old Norse poetry, sneaked, disguised as a bondmaid, into the palace of his father’s murderer and applied himself to a grindstone, but so bright or piercing were his eyes (a telltale sign of noble birth, according to the views of the medieval Scandinavians) that even a man called Blind (!) became suspicious.

    How medical marijuana hurts Mexican drug cartels By Evelina Gavrilova, Floris Zoutman, and Takuma Kamada Public support for marijuana legalization has grown substantially. The consumption of recreational marijuana has been legalized in Uruguay, Canada, and several US states. In addition, many European countries, most US states, and Thailand have passed laws that allow the consumption of cannabis for medical reasons. Given the growth in public support, it is important to […]

    The surviving letters of Jane Austen By Steven Filippi Famed English novelist Jane Austen had an extensive, intimate correspondence with her older sister Cassandra throughout her life, writing thousands of letters before her untimely death at the age of 41 in July 1817. However, only 161 have survived to this day. Cassandra purged the letters in the 1840s, destroying a majority and censoring those that remained of any salacious gossip in a bid to protect Jane’s reputation.

    Summer music camps aren’t just for kids anymore By Amy Nathan Kids aren’t the only ones about to head off to sleep-away summer camps. Scores of adults are packing bags—and musical instruments—to spend a week at summer programs that let them experience “camp food, lumpy beds, and music from 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.—what could be better? I return to work energized, inspired, and at peace. […]

    Boris Artzybasheff, C. S. Lewis, and lost art By Stephanie L. Derrick In September 1947 the paths of two great minds and almost exact contemporaries crossed when Boris Artzybasheff painted a portrait of C. S. Lewis for the cover of Time magazine. Lewis was by then an established name in Britain and a rising star in America, while the distinctive style (if not name) of Russian-born New Yorker Artzybasheff […]

    How will wars be fought in the future? By Tracey German Russia’s actions in Ukraine, the rise (and apparent fall) of ISIL in Syria and northern Iraq, and Chinese activity in the South China Sea have prompted renewed debate about the character of war and conflict, and whether it is undergoing a fundamental shift. Such assertions about the apparent transformation of conflict are not new; one […]

    From the farm to rocket road: one engineer’s story By Brandon R. Brown Retired engineer Henry Pohl can vividly recall his first encounter with a rocket. During the early 1950s, the Army drafted him and shipped him from Texas to the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. “That dadgum thing looked pretty simple,” he says of the rocket engine. It didn’t look much bigger than the tractor engine back […]

    The paradox of alliances– strong economics but fragile politics By John Child, David Faulkner, Stephen Tallman, and Linda Hsieh It’s not just in international relations that identity politics can sabotage opportunities to cooperate for mutual economic benefit. Much the same can happen to cooperation between firms. Organizations form alliances because they make strategic and economic sense. Yet often the potential for collaboration is undermined by the distrust and fears of the partners.

    Did Caravaggio paint Judith Beheading Holofernes? By Keith Sciberras A disconcerting exclusion of alternative views and scholarship has marked the very carefully choreographed two-year long build-up toward the most controversial sale of a seicento picture this year—that of the so-called Toulouse Judith Beheading Holofernes, ascribed to Caravaggio.

    Idioms: the American heritage By Anatoly Liberman Idioms, especially if we add proverbs and familiar quotations to them, are a shoreless ocean. Especially numerous are so-called gnomic sayings (aphorisms) like make hay while the sun shines, better safe than sorry, and a friend in need is a friend indeed. Their age is usually hard or even impossible to determine. Since most of them reflect people’s universal experience, they may be very old.

    A forgotten African satirist: A.B.C. Merriman-Labor By Danell Jones In 1904, twenty-six-year-old A.B.C. Merriman-Labor stamped the red dust of Freetown’s streets from his shoes and headed for London. There he intended to prove his literary skill to the world. The Sierra Leone Weekly News had assured him that his color would no obstacle there, and he could “go anywhere, wherever his merits, either intellectual or social, will take him.”

    Twenty years since Eyes Wide Shut By Robert P. Kolker and Nathan Abrams Twenty years after Stanley Kubrick’s death and the release of his last film, Eyes Wide Shut, the film and its director have reached a peak of popularity and public interest. The film met with a decidedly mixed reception on its original release as audiences, led to believe they were about to see an erotic film with […]

    Nell Blaine, the artist who wouldn’t allow disability to cramp her style By Cathy Curtis The wonderful and amazing thing about Nell Blaine—whose polio attack came at age 37, during what appeared to be the peak of her career—is that the work she made afterward is far superior to the earlier paintings.

    How austerity politics hurts prisoners By Nasrul Ismail The Battle of Dunkirk–the 1940 allied evacuation of 338,226 Belgian, British, and French troops from the beaches of Northern France–has been continually accentuated as a critical moment of the World War II. In “a miracle of deliverance,” as Winston Churchill, the then-prime Minister called it, hundreds of thousands of soldiers came together in a resourceful feeling of togetherness. Today, Dunkirk remains a symbol of determination against adversity.

    The evolution of the book to the digital page By Dennis Duncan Ever the early-adopter, I recently bought myself a Kindle. The e-reader is now available in a variety of models pitched at a variety of price points. Mine is called a Paperwhite. The name, like much about the digital reading experience, looks to elide the gap between reading on paper and reading on a plastic screen.

    Standing in Galileo’s shadow: Why Thomas Harriot should take his place in the scientific hall of fame By Robyn Arianrhod The enigmatic Elizabethan Thomas Harriot never published his scientific work, so it’s no wonder that few people have heard of him. His manuscripts were lost for centuries, and it’s only in the past few decades that scholars have managed to trawl through the thousands of quill-penned pages he left behind. What they found is astonishing—a glimpse into one of the best scientific minds of his day, at a time when modern science was struggling to emerge from its medieval cocoon.

    From rabbits to gonorrhea: “clap” and its kin By Anatoly Liberman Three years ago, I discussed the origin of several kl– formations, all of which were sound-symbolic: kl- appeared to suggest cleaving, cluttering, and the like. In this context, especially revealing is the etymology of cloth. The problem with such consonant groups is that there is rarely anything intrinsically symbolic in them.

    What America’s history of mass migration can teach us about attitudes to immigrants By Marco Tabellini International migration is one of the most pervasive social phenomena of our times. According to recent UN estimates, as of 2017, there were almost 260 million migrants around the world.

    The worrying future of trade in Africa By Michael Ehis Odijie Africa is on the cusp of creating the African Continental Free Trade Area. This will be the first step on a long journey towards creating a single continental market with a customs union and free movement of people and investment – similar to the European Union.

    Why the law protects liars, cheats, and thieves in personal relationships By Jill Elaine Hasday So how does the law respond to duplicity within dating, sex, marriage, and family life? People often assume that intimate deception operates in a completely private realm where courts and legislatures play no role.

    The not-so ironic evolution of the term “politically correct” By Edwin L. Battistella Punctuation-wise, most of us fall between these two extremes. We are neither staccato nor breathless. Instead, we use punctuation to establish a comfortable pace for readers by grouping and emphasizing certain chunks of information.

    G.E. Moore – his life and work – Philosopher of the Month By OUP Philosophy Team G.E. Moore (1873-1958) was a British philosopher, who alongside Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein at Trinity College Cambridge, was a key protagonist in the formation of the analytic tradition and central figure during the “golden age” of philosophy.

    How technology is changing reproduction and the law By Dov Fox Millions of Americans rely on the likes of birth control, IVF, and genetic testing to make plans as intimate and far-reaching as any they ever make. This is no less than the medicine of miracles. It fills empty cradles, frees families from terrible disease, and empowers them to fashion their lives on their own terms.

    The gender riots that rocked Cambridge University in the 1920s By Sarah Watling On 20 October 1921, a sombre procession took over King’s Parade, a usually bustling thoroughfare in Cambridge. A hearse made halting progress, bearing the weighty effigy of the Last Male Undergraduate, and accompanied in shuffling steps by ‘Mere Males’: bowed and wretched figures wearing long grey beards. Their sprightlier colleagues made speeches about the risks of female governance at the side of the road, hassled young women on bicycles and eventually raised the cry: “We Don’t Want Women!”

    Etymology gleanings for June 2019 By Anatoly Liberman Like every journalist (and a blogger is a journalist of sorts), I have an archive. Sometimes I look through the discarded clippings and handwritten notes and find them too good to throw away. Below, I’ll reproduce a few rescued tidbits.

    How feminism becomes a tool of neo-imperialism By Serene J. Khader Serene Khader explores the theory of “missionary feminism,” a set of epistemic values that creates a filter for the Western world to view the situations of “other” non-Western world women, for gain.

    Connecting performance art and environmentalism By Jane Chin Davidson For many of us, the reality of global warming and environmental crisis induces an overwhelming sense of hopelessness because there seems to be a lack of real solutions for ecological catastrophes. The looming sense of crisis is the reason why people came out in droves to the Derwent River on an overcast day in June 2014 to participate in Washing the River, artist Yin Xiuzhen’s performance event in Hobart, Tasmania. Audience members took brushes and mops to engage in a ceremonial act, taking part in the symbolic cleansing of a monumental stack of 162 frozen blocks of dark brown ice made from the water of the Derwent River.

    It’s not you, it’s me: the problem of incivility By Amy Olberding We regularly decry this or that latest episode of incivility, and can thereby find temporary satisfaction. Maybe we feel heartened to see the uncivil criticized, the critique itself a reassurance that incivilities still meet some resistance. Maybe we find relief in collective condemnation of the uncivil, solidarity in shared disapproval. Or maybe we just experience […]

    How new technology can help advocates pursue transitional justice By Daniela Gavshon People today document human rights incidents faster than it can be processed or analysed. Documentation includes both official and unofficial information, ranging from reports and inquiries to news articles, press releases, statements, and transcripts. These can all serve as a record of a human rights violation.


    June 2019 (29))

    #MeToo and Mental Health: Gender Parity in the Field of Psychiatry By Gianetta Rands Psychiatry is not the only space in which women are silenced or burdened, but as a discipline it’s one lens through which we can analyse a larger phenomenon. Now more than ever, it’s essential to discuss, in real time, women’s experiences as health professionals and as patients in mental health services.

    LGBT Pride month timeline: The 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising By Panumas King 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a series of revolts by gay, lesbian, and transgender people against police harassment in Greenwich Village, New York City, in 1969. The riots are considered a pivotal moment in the LGBTQ rights movement.

    How drawing pictures can help us understand wine By Kathryn LaTour It’s notably very difficult for most people to talk about wine. Part of this may because wine is a fairly complex product. But the language itself may also be a barrier to understanding.

    Mad Pride and the end of mental illness By Mohammed Rashed When we think of mental illness we’re likely to recall experiences, behaviours, and psychological states that are bad for the individual: a person with severe depression loses all interest in life; another with anxiety might not be able to leave the house; auditory hallucinations can be terrifying; paranoia can make social interaction impossible; and delusions take the person away from a shared reality.

    Seven! By Anatoly Liberman 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.

    Five attitudes of mindfulness for the performing musician By Vanessa Cornett Mindfulness is the mental skill that can help musicians practice the more abstract philosophies of this performance mindset. A trendy synonym for awareness, mindfulness is simply the deliberate and nonjudgmental focus of attention on the thoughts and events of the present moment.

    A visual history of slavery through the lens [slideshow] By Matthew Fox-Amato During the 1840s and 1850s, enslavers began commissioning photographic portraits of enslaved people. Most images portrayed well-dressed subjects and drew upon portraiture conventions of the day, as in the photograph of Mammy Kitty, likely enslaved by the Ellis family in Richmond, who placed an arm on a clothed, circular table.

    Using technology to help revitalize indigenous languages By Mark Turin and Aidan Pine Our planet is home to over 7,000 human languages currently spoken and signed. Yet this unique linguistic diversity—the defining characteristic of our species—is under extreme stress, as are the communities that speak these increasingly endangered languages. The pressures facing endangered languages are as severe as those recorded by conservation biologists for plants and animals, and in many cases […]

    First ladies throughout American history By Betty Boyd Caroli Attention to the spouse of the president of the United States has been a constant throughout American history, but the role of the first lady has changed over time. The first lady has always been an exemplar of idealized femininity and thus connected to expectations of the role women should play in society. While initially […]

    What biodiversity loss means for our health By Aaron Bernstein Among the great lies I learned in medical school was that a human being was the product of a sperm and an egg. Yes, these gametes are necessary, but they are hardly sufficient to create and sustain a human life. Each one of us stays alive only with the help of trillions of other organisms – the human microbiome – that live on and in every surface of our body exposed to the outside world.

    Numerals, especially the number nine, in folklore and language By Anatoly Liberman 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.

    Michel Foucault on the insane, the criminals, and the sexual deviants By Panumas King 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 […]

    Four remarkable LGBTQ activists By Charis Edworthy 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 […]

    Why morning people seek more variety By Kelley Gullo, Jonah Berger, Jordan Etkin, and Bryan Bollinger 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 […]

    The trouble with how we talk about climate change By Lisa Reyes Mason and Jonathan Rigg 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, […]

    How well do you know your fictional fathers? By Esther Morrison 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 […]

    Why urgent action is needed to avoid centuries of global warming By Eelco Rohling 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.

    The impeachment illusion By Donald A. Ritchie 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 […]

    Two cruces: “slave” and “slur” By Anatoly Liberman 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.

    The Trump administration’s Africa policy By Nick Westcott 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 […]

    When narcolepsy makes you more creative By Isabelle Arnulf 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.

    Why posh politicians pretend to speak Latin By Gordon Campbell 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 […]

    Quiz: How well do you know Albert Camus? By Panumas King 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.

    250 Years of Oxford weather By Stephen Burt 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.

    Why even Mormons are pushing for LGBT inclusion By Jana Riess 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% […]

    Etymology gleanings for May 2019: Part 2 By Anatoly Liberman 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.

    What early modern theater tells us about child sexual abuse By Scott A. Trudell 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.

    The effects of junk science on LGBTQ mental health By Stephanie Schroeder and Teresa Theophano Studies and statistics can be interpreted in wildly different ways. It’s concerning how false and misleading uses of data collected about LGBTQ people affect our communities. In general, studies and resulting data about LGBTQ people and mental health are a positive step in moving toward culturally competent mental health care for all. For example, the Williams […]

    What is the Middle Voice? By Edwin L. Battistella Punctuation-wise, most of us fall between these two extremes. We are neither staccato nor breathless. Instead, we use punctuation to establish a comfortable pace for readers by grouping and emphasizing certain chunks of information.


    May 2019 (40))

    Keep eating fish; it’s the best way to feed the world By Ray Hilborn The famous ocean explorer, Sylvia Earle, has long advocated that people stop eating fish. Recently, George Monbiot made a similar plea in The Guardian – there’s only one way to save the life in our oceans, stop eating fish – which, incidentally, would condemn several million people to starvation. In both cases, it’s facile reasoning. The oceans may suffer from […]

    Predicting the past with the periodic table By Ben McFarland Predicting the future is the pinnacle of what science can do. It’s impressive enough for a scientist to look at existing data and compose a theory explaining it. It’s even more impressive for a scientist to predict what data will look like before they are collected. The periodic table is central to chemistry precisely because […]

    Defining Central Europe in the aftermath of World War I By Jochen Böhler The Great War ended the age of empires in continental Europe. National narratives of the successor states have it that they materialized like the proverbial jack-in-the-box in 1918. In reality, the transition from empire to nation state was a process that lasted years, and thus prolonged the violence of the World War long into the postwar area. It is only logical, if one thinks about it: in Central Europe, a vast area between Russia and Germany was turned into a tabula rasa on which now new borders had to be drawn. It certainly does not come as a surprise that this was not achieved by peaceful means. In 1919, while peace was established in Paris, fighting went on in Central Europe.

    Etymology gleanings for May 2019 By Anatoly Liberman 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.

    Bryant Park Reading Room 2019 By Lindsey Stangl Oxford University Press has once again teamed up with the Bryant Park Reading Room on their summer literary series. Established in 1935, the Bryant Park Reading room was created by the New York Public Library as a refuge for thousands of unemployed New Yorkers during the Great Depression.

    Water scarcity, warfare, and the paradox of value By Scott M. Moore Back in 1995, then World Bank Vice President Ismail Serageldin made an important prediction about the future: “The wars of the next century will be fought over water.” Thankfully, No wars have been fought strictly over water in modern history. In fact globally the number of international agreements over water far exceeds the number of international conflicts. That paradox shows that water can be just as powerful a driver of cooperation as of conflict between nations, regions, and communities. But that doesn’t mean Serageldin is wrong.

    Investing in women’s reproductive health makes economic sense By Debra Lancaster and Yana van der Meulen Rodgers There is no gender equality without access to reproductive health services, including access to contraceptives and safe abortions. In fact, economists are paying increasing attention to the economic benefits of investing in women’s reproductive health and finding gains not only for women but also for their families and for the economy at large.

    The eclipse that proved Einstein’s theories By Steven Carlip The confirmation of Einstein’s new general theory of relativity on the 29th of May 1919 made headlines around the world. Arthur Stanley Eddington’s measurement of the gravitational deflection of starlight by the Sun was a triumph of experimental and theoretical physics.

    The surprising similarities between Game of Thrones and the Hebrew Bible By David G. Garber Note: This post contains spoilers for the series finale of Game of Thrones. From prophecies and their cryptic interpretations to stories of warring kings and their exploits, the narrative world that George R. R. Martin has created in his fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire, shares much in common with the narrative world of the Hebrew […]

    High pressure processing may be the future of food By Alan Kelly For millennia, mankind has understood that we can apply heat to raw food materials to make them safe to consume and keep their quality for longer. Cooking is even credited as being key to human evolution, as its discovery (a trick unique to humans) greatly reduced the amount of energy bodies needed to digest and extract nutrients from food, allowing saved energy to be diverted into useful pathways such as those which developed more sophisticated brains.

    Albert Camus and the problem of absurdity By Panumas King Albert Camus (1913-1960) was a French philosopher and novelist whose works examine the alienation inherent in modern life and who is best known for his philosophical concept of the absurd. He explored these ideas in his famous novels, The Stranger (1942), The Plague (1947), and The Fall (1956), as well as his philosophical essays, The Myth of Sisyphus (1942) and The Rebel (1951). […]

    Using economics to find the greatest superhero By Brian O'Roark In case you missed it, the world was recently saved by the Avengers, a Marvel Comics superhero, super-team who defeated Thanos, a genocidal maniac of galactic proportions. However, the real victory belongs to Disney, which owns the Marvel movie properties. Avengers: Endgame annihilated the record for the largest opening weekend box office haul, raking in […]

    How to protect your family from sun exposure this summer By Yelena Wu and Kenneth Tercyak Sun exposure is the primary risk factor for skin cancer: increased exposure due to ozone depletion is expected to lead to increases in the incidence of skin cancers, including melanoma. Sun exposure in childhood is predictive of skin cancer later in life.

    Queen Victoria’s 200th birthday By Charis Edworthy and Katy Roberts Few lives have been as heavily documented as Queen Victoria’s, who kept a careful record of her own life in journals from a young age. In celebration of Victoria’s 200th birthday today, discover six facts you may not have known about one of the longest-reigning British monarchs.

    Imitation in literature: inspiration or plagiarism? By Colin Burrow Imitation is a complex word with a long and tangled history. Today, it usually carries a negative charge. The Oxford English Dictionary’s second definition of the word is “a copy, an artificial likeness; a thing made to look like something else, which it is not; a counterfeit.” So an imitation of a designer handbag might be a tatty […]

    Why climate change could bring more infectious diseases By Lidiya Angelova Human impact on climate and environment is a topic of many discussions and research. While the social, economic, and environmental effects of climate change are important, climate change could also increase the spread of infectious diseases dramatically. Many infectious agents affect humans and animals. Shifts of their habitats or health as a result of climate change and […]

    Disbanding the etymological League of Nations By Anatoly Liberman 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.

    Is social media a platform for supporting or attacking refugees? By Nina Hall On March 15th 2019, a white nationalist opened fire during Friday prayers, killing fifty Muslims and injuring at least fifty others in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. The attack was the largest mass shooting in New Zealand’s history and came as a shock to the small and remote island nation which generally sees itself as free from the extreme violence and terrorism seen elsewhere in the world.

    James Harris, the black scientist who helped discover two elements By Jeannette Brown The year 2019 is the 150th anniversary of the publication of Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev’s Periodic Table. The Periodic Table is a tabular arrangement of all elements. Mendeleev developed it to recognize patterns of the known elements. He also predicted that later scientists would fill in new elements in the gaps of his table. Today’s […]

    Should the people always get what they want from their politicians? By John Owen Havard Should we listen to the voice of “the people” or the conviction of their representatives? Britain’s vote to leave the European Union has inspired virulent debate about the answer. Amidst Theresa May’s repeated failure to pass her Brexit deal in the House of Commons this spring, the Prime Minister appealed directly to the frustrations and feelings of the people. “You the public have had enough,” she asserted in a speech of March 20.

    A linguistic League of Nations By Anatoly Liberman 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.

    Looking at Game of Thrones, in Old Norse By Carolyne Larrington The endtime is coming. The night is very long indeed; sun and moon have vanished. From the east march the frost-giants, bent on the destruction of all that is living. From the south come fiery powers, swords gleaming brightly. A dragon flies overhead. And, terrifyingly, the dead are walking too.

    Why banishment was “toleration” in Puritan settlements By Samuel Stabler Typically, sociologists explain the growth of religious toleration as a result of people demanding religious freedom, ideals supporting tolerance becoming more prevalent, or shifting power relations among religious groups. By any of these accounts, Puritan New England was not a society where religious toleration flourished. Yet, when contrasted to a coterminous Puritan venture on Providence Island, it becomes clear that New England’s orthodox elite did […]

    How do we measure the distance to a galaxy and why is it so important? By Ignacio Trujillo On March 3, 1912, Henrietta Swan Leavitt made a short contribution to the Harvard College Observatory Circular. With it she laid the foundations of modern Astronomy. Locked in solitude due to her deafness, Leavitt was the first person to discover how to measure distance to galaxies, thus expanding our understanding of the Universe in one giant leap.

    5 things we should talk about when we talk about health By Sandro Galea Americans spend more money on health than anyone else in the world, yet they live shorter, less healthy lives than citizens of other rich countries. The complex reason for this is the multiple factors that affect our health. The simple reason is the fact that people seldom talk about these factors. Here are five things […]

    The worrying ideology that helps Trump’s new friendship with Brazil By Mark Sedgwick As the conflict develops in Venezuela between the US-backed Juan Guaidó and the incumbent government of Nicolás Maduro, one staunch supporter of the United States position is Brazil.

    Why politicians do care what the UN thinks By Joshua Busby, Craig Kafura, Jonathan Monten, and Jordan Tama In a January 2019 press briefing at the White House, US National Security Adviser John Bolton flashed a legal pad with “5,000 troops to Colombia” written on it, a not-so hidden message to contested Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro that the United States was considering sending troops to the region. Maduro is presiding over a Venezuela in economic […]

    Preaching as teaching in the Medieval church By Christopher Cannon We have long assumed that medieval sermons were written for the laity, that is, those with no Latin and probably minimal literacy. But most of the sermons that survive in English contain a significant amount of Latin. What did a medieval lay person understand when he or she heard a sermon?

    Can plants help us avoid a climate catastrophe? By David Beerling The amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by burning of fossil fuels is at a staggering all time high of 34 billion tonnes, having risen every decade since the 1960s.

    On snuff and snout By Anatoly Liberman 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.

    5 of the most important women working in endocrinology By Caitlin R. Ondracek PhD Gender inequality persists in all sectors of society, including science and medicine disciplines. While female clinicians and researchers are increasing in number and now comprise almost 50% of medical school graduates in the United States, they remain underrepresented in scholarly publications and academic positions (20% to 49% of researchers in 12 countries and regions). Although nearly half of medical […]

    What stops us from following financial advice? We may be more biased than you think By Oscar Stolper and Andreas Walter While improving consumers’ financial literacy has finally received the attention it deserves among policymakers, many people still lack the knowledge to make informed financial decisions. Thus, when it comes to financial matters, the majority of households turn to advisors. Clearly, however, advisors’ recommendations—however beneficial they might be—do not translate into informed financial decisions if clients […]

    Using punctuation to pace By Edwin L. Battistella Punctuation-wise, most of us fall between these two extremes. We are neither staccato nor breathless. Instead, we use punctuation to establish a comfortable pace for readers by grouping and emphasizing certain chunks of information.

    Economics can help us protect the world’s wildlife By Nick Hanley and Jason Shogren People affect nature, nature affects people. This interaction of humans and nature creates opportunities and risks to both. One major challenge today is how to protect biodiversity. Across the world, scientists tell ­­us the diversity and abundance of life on earth is declining. From coral reefs affected by bleaching and pollution, to lions in Africa, […]

    Eight facts about past poet laureates By Charis Edworthy The poet laureate has held an elevated position in British culture over the past 350 years. From the position’s origins as a personal appointment made by the monarch to today’s governmental selection committee, much has changed about the role, but one thing hasn’t changed: the poet laureate has always produced poetry for events of national […]

    How research and policy affect responses to sexual violence By Jelke Boesten and Marsha Henry Sexual violence in war has never been as visible as in the last ten years or so. We talk about it in global and national policy spaces, the media reports about sexual violence in conflicts around the world, and research in this area is booming.

    How historians research when they’re missing crucial material By Matthew S. Seligmann It can be deeply frustrating to know that that all the answers on a particular topic were once on a scrap of paper that is now gone forever. However, neither the blank page nor the dreaded word ‘weeded’ need be an insuperable barrier to historical research. Alternative sources nearly always exist; it is just a matter of finding them.

    9 forgotten facts about Leonardo da Vinci By Steven Filippi For over 500 years, the masterful works of Leonardo da Vinci have awed artists, connoisseurs, and laypeople alike. Often considered the first High Renaissance artist, Leonardo worked extensively in Florence, Milan, and Rome before ending his career in France, and his techniques and writings influenced artists for centuries after his death. However, to refer to Leonardo da Vinci as just an artist minimizes his role in numerous areas of study; in addition to painting, sculpture, and drawing, the quintessential “Renaissance Man” left an indelible mark on architecture, engineering, science, philosophy, and even music.

    Sniff—snuff—SNAFU By Anatoly Liberman 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.

    Exploring the Da Vinci Requiem By Cecilia McDowall Wimbledon Choral Society and conductor, Neil Ferris, commissioned me to write the Da Vinci Requiem to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death. Leonardo died on 2 May 1519 at the Château du Clos Lucé, Amboise, France; Wimbledon Choral Society will premiere the work in the Royal Festival Hall, London, on 7 May 2019.


    April 2019 (37))

    Gardens and cultural memory By Gordon Campbell Most gardens are in predictable places and are organised in predictable ways. On entering an English suburban garden, for example, one expects to see a lawn bordered by hedges and flowerbeds, a hard surface with a table for eating al fresco on England’s two days of summer, and a water feature quietly burbling in a corner.

    Writing about jazz in the post-modern gig era By Barry Kernfeld How should music reference works deal with jazz in the era of multi-genre freelancing? Back in November 1983, when I asked Stanley Sadie, series editor for Grove Dictionaries of Music, if he’d ever thought of having a New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, jazz seemed to be a reasonably coherent genre with a connected succession of styles. Maybe I was just being young, naive, ignorant. Or maybe the notion of jazz as something coherent hadn’t yet started to completely unravel, even though all sorts of challenges were nipping at it, especially as the fusions emerged (jazz-rock, jazz-funk, and so forth).

    How Rabindranath Tagore reshaped Indian philosophy and literature By OUP Philosophy Team Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) was a highly prolific Indian poet, philosopher, writer, and educator who wrote novels, essays, plays, and poetic works in colloquial Bengali. He was a key figure of the Bengal Renaissance, a cultural nationalist movement in the city.

    Racist jokes may be worse than racist statements By Claire Horisk Jane Austen’s Emma Woodhouse tells her father, “Mr. Knightley loves to find fault with me, you know—in a joke—it is all a joke.” Mr. Knightley isn’t joking, as he and Emma know; he presents his criticisms without a hint of jocularity. But if Emma persuades Mr. Woodhouse to believe Mr. Knightley is joking, he “would not suspect such a circumstance as her not being thought perfect by everyone.” A little over 200 years after Emma was published, the comedian Roseanne Barr defended a racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett, President Obama’s former adviser, in a further tweet, “It’s a joke—”.

    In America, trees symbolize both freedom and unfreedom By Jared Farmer Extralegal violence committed by white men in the name of patriotism is a founding tradition of the United States. It is unbearably fitting that the original Patriot landmark, the Liberty Tree in Boston, sported a noose, and inspired earliest use of the metaphor “strange fruit.” The history of the Liberty Tree and a related symbol, […]

    Can the taste of a cheese be copyrighted? By Eleonora Rosati Copyright is an intellectual property right that vests in original works. We know that works like novels, paintings, photographs, sculptures, and songs are examples of what copyright law protects.But how far can copyright protection go? Can copyright protect, say, a perfume or the taste of a food product?

    Why Robinson Crusoe is really an urban tale By Thomas Keymer Robinson Crusoe (1719) was Daniel Defoe’s first novel and remains his most famous: a powerful narrative of isolation and endurance that’s sometimes compared to Faust, Don Quixote or Don Juan for its elemental, mythic quality.

    On getting in (and out of?) scrape By Anatoly Liberman 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.

    Poetry: A Very Short Introduction: a Q & A with Bernard O’Donoghue For National Poetry Month, we sat down with Bernard O’Donoghue, author of Poetry: A Very Short Introduction. O’Donoghue discusses the importance of poetry, the influence social media has, and his own process when it comes to writing. Eleanor Chilvers: Why is poetry important? Bernard O’Donoghue: Poetry seems to have been thought important in all known societies, […]

    Notre-Dame, a work in progress By Richard Ingersoll At dusk on Monday, April 15th, just in time for the evening news, the world was treated to the horrendous spectacle of uncontrollable flames licking the roof of Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris. The fire spread from a scaffold that had been installed six months earlier for restorations.

    Who invented modern democracy? By Joanna Innes Did modern democracy start its long career in the North Atlantic? Was it invented by the Americans, the French and the British? The French Revolution certainly helped to inject modern meaning into a term previously chiefly associated with the ancient world, with ancient Greece and republican Rome.

    Spring gleaning (Spring 2019) By Anatoly Liberman 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.

    Explaining Freud’s concept of the uncanny By Mark Windsor According to his friend and biographer Ernest Jones Sigmund Freud was fond regaling him with “strange or uncanny experiences with patients.” Freud had a “particular relish” for such stories. 2019 marks the centenary of the publication of Freud’s essay, “The ‘Uncanny.’” Although much has been written on the essay during that time, Freud’s concept of the uncanny is often not well understood.

    Will robots really take our jobs? By Daniel Aaronson and Brian Phelan Will computer technology and robotics lead to the automation of our jobs, leading to rising job losses and income inequality? Or could the use of technology intended to replace certain low-wage jobs lead to offsetting employment growth in other types of jobs?

    At least in Green Book, jazz is high art By Krin Gabbard I’m anxiously awaiting the release of Bolden, a film about the New Orleans cornettist Buddy Bolden (1888 – 1933) who may actually have invented jazz. But since Bolden will not be released until May, and since April is Jazz Appreciation Month, now is a good time to talk about the cultural capital that jazz has recently acquired, at least in that […]

    12 of the most important books for women in philosophy By Panumas King To celebrate women’s enormous contributions to philosophy, here is a reading list of books that explore recent feminist philosophy and women philosophers. Despite their apparent invisibility in the field in the past, women have been practising philosophers for centuries.

    Is it right to use intuition as evidence? By Nevin Climenhaga Dr. Smith is a wartime medic. Five injured soldiers are in critical need of organ transplants: one needs a heart, two need kidneys, and two need lungs. A sixth soldier has come in complaining of a toothache. Reasoning that it’s better that five people should live than one, Smith knocks out the sixth soldier with […]

    Harold Wilson’s resignation honours – why so controversial? By Toby Harper On February 6 Marcia Falkender, the Baroness Falkender, died. She was one of the late Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s closest and longest-serving colleagues, first as his personal then political secretary. An enigmatic figure, she has been variously reviled, mocked, and defended since the end of Wilson’s political career.

    The Cambridge Philosophical Society By Susannah Gibson In 2019, the Cambridge Philosophical Society celebrates its 200th anniversary. When it was set up in 1819, Cambridge was not a place to do any kind of serious science. There were a few professors in scientific subjects but almost no proper laboratories or facilities. Students rarely attended lectures, and degrees were not awarded in the […]

    How industry can benefit from marine diversity By Peter N. Golyshin Oonagh McMeel Manuel Ferrer The global economy for products composed of biological materials is likely to grow 3.6% between now and 2025. This in response to serious environmental challenges the world will face. Such products have enormous potential to provide solutions to global challenges like food security, energy production, human health, and waste reduction. This economic growth may strongly […]

    National Women’s History Month: A Brief History By Emily S. Johnson Every year, I teach a course on U.S. women’s history. Every year, I poll my students to find out how many of them encountered any kind of women’s history in their pre-college educations. They invariably say that they didn’t learn enough about women (this is a self-selecting group after all), but they also easily recite key components of U.S. women’s history: the Salem witch trials, Sojourner Truth, the nineteenth amendment, Rosie the Riveter, second-wave feminism, among others.

    Yes means yes: why verbal consent policies are ineffective By Donna Freitas Communication around sex on college campuses tends to be poor in general—not only do students struggle to communicate and have hang-ups and fears about communicating, but hookup culture is one that privileges noncommunication. After all, what better way to signal a casual attitude toward your partner than to ignore him or her? Because students are […]

    Germanic dreams: the end By Anatoly Liberman 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.

    What makes the EU, the UN, and their peers legitimate? By Klaus Dingwerth Antonia Witt The first “Brexit” is almost a century old, and it did not even involve Britain. It occurred on 14 June 1926, when Brazil notified the League of Nations it would leave the world organization. Paraguay, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chile, Venezuela, and Peru, together with Germany, Italy, Spain, and Japan, followed in the 1930s. […]

    What makes arrogant people so angry? By Alessandra Tanesini Arrogant people are often intolerant of questioning or criticism. They respond to genuine and even polite challenges with anger. They are bullies that attempt to humiliate and intimidate those who do not agree with, or explicitly defer to, their opinions. The arrogant feel superior to other people and arrogate for themselves special privileges. This sense of entitlement […]

    What is kidnap insurance? By Anja Shortland Millions of people live and work in areas where they cannot rely on the state to keep them safe. Instead, their security is provided by armed groups: for example, community or clan militias, warlords, rebel movements, drug cartels, or mafias – i.e. local strongmen that can defend their territory against intruders and keep order within it. But their deal with the population usually goes far beyond providing physical security.

    When the movie is not like the book: faithfulness in adaptations By James Harold The 2018 movies Crazy Rich Asians, It, Black Panther, The House with a Clock in Its Walls, Mary Poppins Returns, and Beautiful Boy have very little in common with one another, except the fact that all are based on popular books.

    W(h)ither the five-paragraph essay By Edwin L. Battistella I was surprised to learn from my students that many of them are still being taught to write the five-paragraph essay in high school. You know it: an introductory paragraph that begins with a hook and ends in a thesis statement.

    Why do girls outperform boys on reading tests around the world? By Margriet van Hek All around the world, girls outperform boys on reading tests. Why is this? In and outside of academia, people have been concerned about girls’ under-performance in math, or more generally: STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). There have been fewer academic studies and media coverage about boys’ under-performance in reading. This is surprising, since it might offer an explanation for boys’ lagging educational attainment today.

    Three big threats to wildlife in 2019 By Charlotte Parr Our Planet, Netflix’s new nature documentary voiced by David Attenborough, arrives on the online streaming platform today. The series explores the wonders of the natural world, focusing on iconic species and stunning wildlife spectacles.

    Why the forgotten alternative translations of classical literature matter By Stuart Gillespie The English-language heyday of classical verse translation, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, produced works that people still read, enjoy, and study today. Translation has been central in what we now call the reception of ancient poetry through the ages.

    Does gender bias influence how people assess children’s pain? By Brian D. Earp and Katelynn E Boerner A recently published paper in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology has attracted much media attention for its analysis of a subject that has long been debated: how do our beliefs about male-female differences influence our decision-making? Specifically, do our beliefs about the pain expressions of boys and girls influence our assessment of their pain experience? The authors found that when adult […]

    Perchance to dream? Ay, there’s the rub By Anatoly Liberman 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.

    How to really build a better economy By William G. Gale Through our tax and spending policies, we can expand our economy or let it wither; make society more equal, or less; expand opportunity or continue to let tens of millions of struggling families fend for themselves. There is a way to pay for the government that people want, and shape that government and the economy in ways that serve us all.

    Why most scientists think birds are dinosaurs – and you should too By Joyce C. Havstad We used to think—and many of us were taught in school—that the dinosaurs went extinct many millions of years ago. But now it seems like this might not be the case.

    What can we learn from meme culture? By Simon Evnine If you go on-line, the chances are that you have encountered memes. What exactly is a meme? Some people take memes to be simply images with added text. The artist Barbara Kruger is often cited as a pre-internet forerunner of this practice.

    From orientalism to ornamentalism By Alyssa Russell Recently, the Metropolitan Museum of Art hosted an exhibit called China Through the Looking Glass. The exhibition’s spectacular and unabashed display of Orientalist commodification and appropriation charmed many and repelled others. The exhibition, extended months beyond its original schedule due to its enormous popularity, reminds us how enduring the so-called Asian fetish still is in western culture and how […]


    March 2019 (47))

    New ways to think about Autism and why it matters By Neil S. Greenspan What’s wrong with using the word “spectrum” to describe autism? Perhaps some would suggest that the precise terminology used for referring to these medical conditions is relatively unimportant. In fact, the current terminology facilitates views that distort or oversimplify reality and may be causing harm.

    The maestro speaks: Ennio Morricone on life and music By Steven Filippi Over his esteemed six decade career, Italian composer Ennio Morricone has scored hundreds of movies across numerous genres, most famously the Spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone.

    Celebrating notable women in philosophy: Philippa Foot By Panumas King This March, in honour of Women’s History Month, and in celebration of the achievements and contributions of women to the field of philosophy, the OUP philosophy team honours Philippa Foot (1920–2010) as its Philosopher of the Month. Philippa Foot is widely regarded as one of the most distinctive and influential moral philosophers of the twentieth-century.

    What Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel tells us about women’s music By Angela Mace Christian Everyone loves a good plot twist. And what better plot twist than finding out that a work of art, scientific discovery, or other creation was the achievement not of a well-known man, but rather a woman? Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel was a talented composer of the early 19th century who worked mostly in private. As an upper-class woman with […]

    Perchance to dream? Part 1 By Anatoly Liberman 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.

    How singing in a choir can improve life for seniors By Amy Nathan “When my mother died, the music stopped in my house,” said Isabel Heredia. Her mother wasn’t a professional singer, “but she had a fantastic voice. She sang at parties.”

    Social Work The myth of a color-blind justice system in America By Susan McCarter Ever wonder why Lady Justice looks the way she does? She is modeled after the Roman goddess Iustitia and is an allegorical personification of the justice system. She is usually depicted with a scale in one hand, a sword in the other, and wearing a blindfold. Why? Well, she is to use the scale to weigh the evidence.

    How Tony Blair’s special advisers changed government By Dr. Jon Davis Tony Blair is one of the great conundrums of our time. We all know his legacy, from the widely-condemned invasion of Iraq to bequeathing a great National Health Service to the United Kingdom. But how he governed, how decisions were made, is still hotly debated. Was he radical, was he “unconstitutional”? Public service reform, from […]

    Has China’s one child policy increased crime? By Dandan Zhang, Lisa Cameron, and Xin Meng China’s launched its one child policy in 1979 as a means of reducing population growth in the world’s most populous nation. Several authors draw attention to the potential for crime and social conflict – and a 2013 study finds that crime is higher in provinces with higher ratios of men to women.

    The ethics of the climate emergency By Robin Attfield During the last few days of February we experienced the warmest Winter day since records began, with a high of 20.6 degrees (Celsius) at Trawscoed in mid-Wales. As if that was not enough, the record was broken again the next day with 21.2 degrees at Kew Gardens.

    Better detection of concussions using vital signs By Ryan CN D’Arcy As a father of a young ice hockey player, I’m all too familiar with every parent’s concern about concussions. As a neuroscientist, I chose not to accept that it was okay to rely on subjective and error-prone tests to understand how best to care for our brains after concussion. We dared ourselves to think bigger, and to […]

    Four important women who championed peace By Charis Edworthy Though history favours the warriors, monarchs, and rebels, female pacifists and mediators behind the scenes were just as vital in the fight for equality.

    The long-term effects of life events on happiness are overestimated By Reto Odermatt and Alois Stutzer Positive events were linked to a strong increase in life satisfaction, and negative events to a strong decrease. However, people overestimate how long the effect of an event continues. Recently married people, for example, overestimate how happy they will be in five years.

    Women of substance in Homeric epic By Lilah Grace Canevaro Men carve meaning into women’s faces; messages addressed to other men. In Achilles’ compound, the message had been: Look at her. My prize awarded by the army, proof that I am what I’ve always claimed to be: the greatest of the Greeks. Pat Barker’s book The Silence of the Girls is one of a wave of novels giving a […]

    Reconsidering the period room as a museum-made object By Marie-Ève Marchand Period rooms were widespread among European museums during the last decades of the nineteenth century, and became popular in North American institutions in the early twentieth. But the debate about whether period rooms are “authentic” or “fake” tends to ignore what they really are: a museum-made object.

    Uncovering social work’s scientific rigor By Jeane W. Anastas It seems that we know more about the “heart” of social work—the dedication to service—than we do about its “head”—the contributions the profession has made to other areas of research.

    On sluts and slatterns By Anatoly Liberman 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.

    Notable female microbiologists you’ve never heard of By lidiya angelova Female microbiologists many not have had professor or doctor in front of their names, instead listed as laboratory assistants or technicians, but in many cases their skills were critical for numerous notable discoveries. It is worth reminding ourselves who they are and how they changed the world for good.

    Warning: music therapy comes with risks By James Hiller and Susan C. Gardstrom Bob Marley sings, “One good thing about music—when it hits you, you feel no pain.” Although this may be the case for some people and in some circumstances, we dispute this statement as a global truth.

    Theranos and the cult of personality in science and tech By Dr Sunny Bains Elizabeth Holmes was a chemical engineering student who dropped out of Stanford to found Theranos: a silicon-valley start-up company that, at one point, was valued at US$9 billion. Her plan was to be another Steve Jobs. Today, she is facing fraud and other criminal charges.

    The future of borders in the Middle East By Ariel Ahram The collapse of Arab regional order during the 2011 uprisings provided a chance to reconsider the Middle East’s famously misshapen states. Most rebels sought to control the central government, not to break away from it. Separatist, in contrast, unilaterally sought territorial autonomy or outright secession.

    How boring was life in the British Empire? By Jeffrey Auerbach For centuries, the British Empire has been portrayed as a place of adventure and excitement. Novels and films, from Robinson Crusoe to Lawrence of Arabia, romanticized the empire. Yet in 1896, after only one month in India, twenty-one year old Winston Churchill declared Britain’s largest and most important colony “dull and interesting.”

    The case for citizenship for US immigrants serving in the military By Michael J. Sullivan The United States has a long history of immigrant military service. Immigrants who serve in the armed forces during declared hostilities, including the period after 11 September 2001, are eligible for expedited naturalization.

    Seven reasons why failure is impossible for feminists By Gail Ukockis In 1906, an 86-year-old woman greeted a room full of suffragists who were still fighting for the right to vote. Susan B. Anthony made her last public statement: “But with all the help with people like we have in this room, failure is impossible.” She died a month later, and it took until 1920 for women […]

    When a river is dammed, is it damned forever? By Jeff Duda, Ryan Bellmore, and George Pess Since the dawn of advanced civilizations, humanity has sought to manage the flow of rivers. Protection from floods, water for drinking and irrigating crops, and extraction of resources like food and energy are among the most popular reasons for building dams.

    Beer before wine – can we avoid hangovers that way? By Jöran Köchling Dr Kai Hensel As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, many dread the incapacitated hangover of the day after – when the nausea hits you and you cannot do anything but lay in bed and every movement worsens your pounding headache. Wouldn’t it be helpful to have ways to lessen the burden of alcohol-induced hangover? A hangover is a complex […]

    Truth and truthfulness in democracy (and the problem of Brexit) By Kai Spiekermann When it comes to democracy, the cynics are having a field day. Whether it’s Brexit or Trump – it’s currently popular to be a pessimist, or – more politely – a “realist” about democracy.

    Is there room for creative imagination in science? By Tom McLeish Not just once, but repeatedly, I have heard something like “I just didn’t see in science any room for my own imagination or creativity,” from young students clearly able to succeed at any subject they set their minds to. It is a tragedy that so many people do not perceive science as a creative. Yet […]

    Why do homo sapiens include so much variety? By Felipe Fernández-Armesto The past is a mess. To pick a path through the mire, historians have appealed to providence, progress, environmental determinism, class struggle, biology and fate. No explanation has worked – so far. But try shifting perspective: look for the broadest possible context, the most suggestive comparisons. Climb the cosmic crow’s nest. Imagine what history might […]

    The “sl”-morass: “slender” and “slim-slam-slum” By Anatoly Liberman 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.

    9 books to help us reimagine international studies The 60th International Studies Association Annual Meeting & Exhibition will be held in Toronto from March 27th – March 30th. This year’s conference theme is “Re-visioning International Studies: Innovation and Progress.”

    Can we solve environmental problems without international agreements? By Hamish van der Ven While the problems associated with consumption are well-known, international agreements to address them have fallen short of expectations.

    Rediscovering Francesco de’ Medici’s private Renaissance room By Lindsay Alberts Between 1570 and 1575, Francesco I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, commissioned a private studiolo – a small room – in Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio. Four centuries later, a discovery in the archive changes our understanding of one the last great Renaissance studies.

    Is Trump’s assault on international law working? By Harold Hongju Koh For centuries, international law has functioned as an instrument of nation-states working in concert, acting out of a sense of legal obligation. Since World War II, this combination of state practice driven by legal obligation—in the form of both treaties and customary international law—has served as a prime mechanism for shaping and addressing complex global responses to pressing planetary challenges.

    The brave new world of cannabis: chronic vomiting By Christopher N Andrews A young patient, let’s call him Chad, goes to the doctor. He complains of attacks of nausea from the moment he wakes up in the morning. Sometimes his belly hurts as well. It’s been happening, on and off, for years. He gets cold and shaky. At times, it will progress to full-fledged vomiting, uncontrollable with any medications. The nausea is unbearable. Sometimes, getting in a very hot shower will take the edge off the nausea, but not always. In many cases a trip to the emergency room is needed for rehydration and intravenous anti-nausea medications.

    Fanny Burney in her own words By Charis Edworthy Born in 1752, Frances Burney (better known as Fanny Burney) was well known as a satirical novelist in her time, anonymously publishing her first book, Evelina, in 1778. Despite her literary influence, Fanny Burney is a name unknown to many aside from the most ardent scholars. Did you know, for instance, that the title of Jane Austen’s Pride and […]

    Women in law: a legal timeline By Rebecca Olley In celebration of International Women’s Day, explore our interactive timeline detailing women’s legal landmarks throughout history. Covering from 1835, when married women’s property laws began to be reformed in America, through to future considerations on how the English judiciary system can continue to improve diversity, delve into the key milestones of women’s legal history. In […]

    Reflecting on gender justice By Gina Heathcote, Jo Wojtkowski, Lisa McIntosh Sundstrom, Sandra Fredman, and Valerie Sperling The Charter of the United Nations (signed in 1945), was the first international agreement to uphold the principle of equality between men and women. Since then there have been many significant achievements in the struggle for the international protection of women’s rights, most notably the United Nation’s landmark treaty the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the second most widely ratified human rights treaty in existence.

    Up at Harwich and back home to the west via Skellig By Anatoly Liberman 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.

    Schizophrenia and ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky By Emilio Fernandez-Egea Schizophrenia is the most iconic of all mental illnesses but both its conceptualization and causes remain elusive. The popular image portrays patients convinced of being persecuted and hearing voices that nobody else can hear.

    The growing role of citizen scientists in research By Andrew M. Allen A movement is growing where science is no longer restricted to academics but instead it has become a pursuit for the public in general. Nature lovers have unwittingly been acting as data collectors, especially people that create lists of wildlife they see at home, in the park, or during a hike. Birdwatchers are known for […]

    Public support for tax hikes on the rich is nothing new By Matt Guardino In a 60 Minutes interview in early January, newly elected US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez started a serious political debate when she suggested creating a new 70% tax bracket for annual incomes above $10 million.

    Contemporary lessons from the fall of Rome By H. A. Drake It’s a time-honored game, and any number can play. The rules are simple: just take whatever problem is bothering you today, add the word “Rome,” and voilà. You have just discovered why the mightiest empire in Western history came to an end.

    Where did the phrase “yeah no” come from? By Edwin L. Battistella I’ve noticed myself saying “yeah no.” The expression came up in a class one day, when I had asked students to bring in examples of language variation. One student suggested “yeah no” as an example of not-quite standard California English.

    Could too low blood pressure in old age increase mortality? By Sven Streit With increasing age, blood pressure rises as a consequence of arterial stiffness, caused by the biological process of ageing and arteries becoming clogged with fatty substances, otherwise known as arteriosclerosis. Large hypertension trials showed that lowering blood pressure in people over 60 is beneficial and lowers the risk of heart attacks, stroke, and all-cause mortality, even in people over 80. Since arterial hypertension, high blood pressure in the arteries, is the most important preventable cause of cardiovascular disease, it seemed obvious for at least two decades to treat hypertension without restrictions even patients over 60.

    Celebrating women in politics: 10 books you need to read for Women’s History Month We’ve compiled a brief reading list that explores the achievements and challenges of women in politics.

    Why gender matters so much in policy making By Susan L. Averett, Laura M. Argys, and Saul D. Hoffman The 2018 U.S. elections changed many things, including, most notably, the gender composition of elected representatives in Washington and throughout the country. Both the Senate and House of Representatives are now nearly 25% female, a record high and more than double the percentage of 20 years ago. Nine women are currently serving as governors (tying […]


    February 2019 (37))

    Frederick Douglass’ family and the roots of social justice By Celeste-Marie Bernier Frederick Douglass. Just the name alone is enough to inspire us to think of a life lived in activism and an unceasing fight for social justice. But there are other names in the life story of Frederick Douglass that are far more unknown to us, those of his daughters and sons: Rosetta, Lewis Henry, Frederick Jr., Charles Remond and Annie Douglass.

    The birth of exoplanetary science By Karel Schrijver The hunt for exoplanets was inspired by advances in understanding of the formation of stars: it was becoming clear that the gases that were contracting to form new stars were somehow shedding the bulk of their energy of rotation, while new observations were revealing disks full of gas and dust, spinning around such forming stars, and containing a lot of energy of rotation.

    In Coventry and elsewhere By Anatoly Liberman There is no reason why we should not continue our journey and go to Coventry, a town in Warwickshire, 94 miles away from London. The name was widely known to those who lived through World War II because of the devastating bombing raid on Coventry in November 1940.

    How six elements came together to form life on Earth By David W. Deamer How did life begin? We will never know with certainty what the Earth was like four billion years ago, or the kinds of reactions that led to the emergence of life at that time, but there is another way to pose the question. If we ask “how can life begin?” instead of “how did life begin,” that simple change of verbs offers hope.

    Letters from the Antebellum By Whitney Davis While tensions continued to boil in the United States with the outbreak of the civil war in 1861 on the horizon, those aiming to assist slaves in securing their freedom often used letter correspondences to plan escape routes and share elated stories of their successes.

    Five ways to help musicians think like entrepreneurs By Jeffrey Nytch Entrepreneurship for musicians need not be mysterious. It’s really just a different way of looking at your world and capitalizing on opportunities. How do you develop that kind of mindset? Here are five things you can start doing that may help you think like an entrepreneur.

    There are no aliens… at least officially By D.W. Pasulka “There are no aliens, officially, at least….” Elon Musk, writing on his Twitter account, is one of a number of smart technopreneurs who considers that if there is extraterrestrial life, it would most likely already be observing us, and, it will be technological. Artist and singer David Bowie came to a similar conclusion years ago, […]

    The ongoing significance of racism in American medicine By Tina K. Sacks Healthcare for black people seems to hover somewhere between willful neglect and overt malfeasance. We need only look to the ongoing lead poisoning disaster in Flint, Michigan, or the black maternal mortality crisis as examples.

    The state of black cinema in 2019 By Peter Lurie This year’s Academy Awards presentation takes places at the end of Black History Month. The congruence of this fact with the increased profile of heretofore minority cinema is more than felicitous. Since the Twitter campaign #Oscarsowhite following the announcement of the 2015 nominations, both the Academy and the motion picture industry have made visible efforts to promote work by Asian, Latino, and African-American directors, writers, actors, and musicians.

    Animal spotlight: 7 facts about North American eagles By Bioscience, Integrative Comparative Biology, The Auk, and The Condor From Bald Eagle Appreciation Days in Wisconsin to soaring Golden Eagles as a tradition at Auburn University, North American eagles are viewed as stately and powerful creatures. However, these two resident eagles of North America have not survived without a struggle.

    Philosopher of the Month: Plato [infographic] By Panumas King This February, the OUP Philosophy team honours Plato (c. 427–347 BCE) as their Philosopher of the Month. Together with Socrates and Aristotle, Plato is recognized as one of the most influential figures of ancient Greek philosophy.

    Black Press: The advent of the first African American newspapers By Whitney Davis In the decades preceding the Civil War, the free black community in the North struggled both for freedom from racial oppression and for the freedom of their enslaved southern brethren. Black newspapers reflected these twin struggles in their own fight for survival—a fight that most black newspapers in the antebellum era lost in a relatively short time.

    Going places By Anatoly Liberman When one reads the obsolete phrase go to, go to, the meaning is still understood quite well. After to, one “hears” the word hell. However, directions vary, and the origin of the idioms beginning with go to is less trivial than it may seem.

    Do events like Davos really make a difference? By Diane Stone Convening the relevant stakeholders to global problems through conferences like that at Davos is the first step towards developing effective and coordinated action.

    Some value safety, others value risk By Valerie Tiberius No one has ever crossed the Antarctic by themselves and without help from other people or engines. To me, this is very unsurprising and uninteresting. No one (outside of superhero movies) has ever shrunk themselves to the size of an ant, or turned back time by causing the earth to rotate backwards either. Big deal. […]

    A bull-session with bacteria By Arthur S. Reber Arthur S. Reber’s new book argues that consciousness was present in the first living cells, and that even the simplest of organisms, the prokaryotes like bacteria, are sentient. In this piece, he imagines what it would be like to sit down with two bacteria and hear their opinions on consciousness, and how their sentience helps them keep alive despite the best efforts of humans.

    Ice Cube and the philosophical foundations of community policing By Luke Hunt The recent “First Step Act” is the most significant federal criminal justice reform in decades. Still, it is a modest first step. The law eases the sentences of some inmates in federal prison, but it will not impact the problem of mass incarceration significantly because it does not address the many inmates incarcerated in state and local facilities.

    Who decides how much the world can warm up? [Video] By Anne Marie Turner and Stephen Mann Over the past 20 years, scientists and governments around the world have wrestled with the challenge of climate change. The Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement, and other international climate negotiations seek to limit warming to an average of two degrees Celsius (2°C). This objective is justified by scientists that have identified two degrees of warming as the point at which climate change becomes dangerous.

    Congratulations to Cyberwar Oxford University Press has won the 2018 R. R. Hawkins Award, which is awarded by the Association of American Publishers to a single book every year to “recognize outstanding scholarly works in all disciplines of the arts and sciences.”

    Can Self-Help Save the World? By Jaime Kucinskas Mindfulness meditation, which has grown exponentially in popularity in recent years, is commonly associated with a wide-ranging set of contemplative practices aimed at training oneself to pay “attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgmentally,” as defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society.

    Oral sex is good for older couples By Hui Liu, Shannon Shen, and Ning Hsieh Is it difficult or even embarrassing to imagine grandparents having oral sex? Indeed, most studies of oral sex focus on adolescents or younger adults, while research on sexuality in late life is primarily focused on sexual dysfunctions from a medical perspective, contributing to the prevailing stereotype that most older adults are sexually inactive or asexual […]

    Dissecting the verb “hitchhike” By Anatoly Liberman It is hard to believe how recent the verb hike is. Slightly more than a hundred years ago, The Century Dictionary (CD) found a slot for hike only in the supplement.

    Black History Month: a reading list By Eleanor Robson and Mara Sandroff February marks the celebration of Black History Month in the United States and Canada, an annual celebration of achievements by Black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S history. Dr. Carter G. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life, which initiated the first variation of Black History month, titled, Negro History Week in 1926 during the second week of February. The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History expanded the February celebration in the early 1970’s, renaming it Black History Month, however, it was not until 1976 that every president designated the month of February as Black History Month.

    What the Paris Peace Conference can teach us about politics today By Anand Menon, Margaret MacMillan, and Patrick Quinton-Brown One hundred years ago, the treaty of Versailles, the centerpiece of a set of treaties and agreements collectively known as the Paris Peace Settlements, was signed in the glittering hall of mirrors in the former home of France’s Sun King.

    The Man who Mapped LSD By Amanda Feilding Ingesting 250 micrograms of the compound, Albert Hofmann experienced strong sensory and cognitive alterations, which reminded him of mystical episodes of his youth. That was the advent of the modern psychedelic age, which would go on to change society fundamentally.

    Photography and sex in Amos Badertscher’s Baltimore By Barry Reay The Baltimore photographer Amos Badertscher has been cataloguing queer lives in his city since the 1960s: male sex workers and their girlfriends, the 1990s Baltimore and Washington club culture, transgender people, crack and heroin addiction, and the impact of AIDS. His is the largest extant photographic record of the short lives of hustlers (male sex […]

    Simone de Beauvoir at the movies By Lauren Du Graf Does it make you less of an intellectual woman, any less of a feminist, to derive insight and even pleasure from films where women appear as instruments in the service of male desire?

    Preventing miscommunication: lessons from cross-cultural couples By Kaisa S. Pietikäinen We might expect that people will have trouble understanding one another when they are using a foreign language, but several studies have found that overt misunderstandings are relatively uncommon in such situations. The reason for this is that when people can anticipate that some problems of understanding may occur, they adapt the way they speak.

    150 Years of the Periodic Table 2019 marks the 150th anniversary of the creation of the periodic table, and it has been declared the International Year of the Periodic by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

    Etymology gleanings for December 2018 and January 2019 By Anatoly Liberman In December and January, the ground, as we know from the poem about two quarrelling little kittens, was covered with frost and snow, so that there has not been too much for me to glean, but a few crumbs were worth picking up.

    How to do fact checking By Edwin L. Battistella The actor Cary Grant once said of acting that, “It takes 500 small details to add up to one favorable impression.” That’s true for writing as well—concrete details can paint a picture for a reader and establish credibility for a writer. Details can be tricky, however, and in the swirl of research and the dash of exposition, it is possible to get things wrong: dates, names, quotes, and facts.

    How to see inside a pyramid: the power of the mysterious Muon By Nicholas Mee By the mid-1930s, just five fundamental particles were known. This concise collection of building blocks revealed the true nature of matter and light. Three types of particle: electrons, protons, and neutrons, formed the wide array of atoms known to chemistry.

    Happy Chinese New Year! By Julie Kleeman This year, the Chinese New Year begins today, February 5th, and people all around the world will be ringing in the year of the Pig. Oxford Chinese Dictionary editor, Julie Kleeman, shares some insight into the traditions associated with the Chinese New Year celebrations.

    The best strategies to prevent cancer By Kiashini Sriharan February 4th marks World Cancer Day and this year, the launch of a new three year campaign called “I Am and I Will,” led by the Union for International Cancer Control. The focus lies on emphasising the importance of each person’s role in the fight against cancer, and reinforcing that everyone has the power to reduce the […]

    The Treaty of Versailles: A Very Short Introduction By Michael Neiberg National self-determination was supposed to be the answer to the so-called “ethnic problem” of the 19th century. The prewar, multi-ethnic Russian, German, and Austro-Hungarian empires, all on the wrong side of history, had disappeared at the end of the First World War never to return.

    Based on a true story [podcast] By Diana Walsh Pasulka In the world of film, members of the audience perceive what they see on screen as realistic, even if what they’re seeing is not actually real. The role and influence of academic consultants has been debated as the impact of historical films in the lens of educating a populous is in question. On this episode, […]

    Raising daughters changes fathers’ views on gender roles By Joan Costa-Font, Julia Philipp, and mireia borrell-porta Researchers who have looked into attitudes towards gender are divided. While some posit that attitudes can change over the life course, others argue that they are formed before adulthood and remain fairly stable thereafter. We explored this question in greater detail by studying the effect of raising daughters on parental attitudes.


    January 2019 (22))

    The last shot at “robin” By Anatoly Liberman What else is there to say about robin? Should I mention the fact that “two Robin Redbreasts built their nest within a hollow tree” and raised a family there?

    Happy sesquicentennial to the periodic table of the elements By Eric Scerri The periodic table turns 150 years old in the year 2019, which has been appropriately designated as the International Year of the Periodic Table by the UNESCO Organization.

    The challenges of representing history in comic book form By Trevor Getz When I wrote my first graphic history, based on the 1876 court transcript of a West African woman who was wrongfully enslaved and took her case to court, in 2012, I received a diverse and gratifying range of feedback from my fellow historians. Their response was overwhelmingly but not universally positive.

    Why terminology and naming is so important in the LGBTQ community By Stephanie Schroeder and Teresa Theophano It is imperative that we explore the evolution of queer identity with regard to mental health, detail experiences that foster resilience and stress-related growth among people, and examine what comes after marginalized sexual orientation and gender identity status is disentangled from their historical association with the concept of mental illness.

    Are our fantasies immune from morality? By Anna Cremaldi and Christopher Bartel Immoral fantasies are not uncommon, nor are they necessarily unhealthy. Some are silly and unrealistic, though others can be genuinely disturbing. You might fantasize about kicking your boss in the shins, or having an affair with your best friend’s spouse, or planning the perfect murder.

    A possible humble origin of “robin” By Anatoly Liberman Some syllables seem to do more work than they should. For example, if you look up cob and its phonetic variants (cab ~ cub) in English dictionaries, you will find references to all kinds of big and stout things, round masses (lumps), and “head/top.”

    Philosopher of The Month: William James (timeline) By OUP Philosophy Team This January the OUP Philosophy team honours William James (1842-1910) as their Philosopher of the Month. James was the founder of pragmatism, an influential Harvard philosopher and scholar on religion and was arguably considered one of the dominant figures in psychology of his day, before Sigmund Freud.

    The rightful heirs to the British crown: Wales and the sovereignty of Britain By Sioned Davies The dating and chronology of the tales are problematic – they were probably written down sometime during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, against a background which saw the Welsh struggling to retain their independence in the face of the Anglo-Norman conquest. Although Wales had not developed into a single kingship, it certainly was developing a shared sense of the past, and pride in a common descent from the Britons.

    What can history tell us about the future of international relations? By Georg Sørensen and Jørgen Møller According to Cicero, history is the teacher of life (historia magistra vitae). But it seems fair to say that history has not been the teacher of International Relations. The study of international relations was born 100 years ago to make sense of the European international system, which had just emerged from four years of warfare.

    The robin and the wren By Anatoly Liberman In Surrey (a county bordering London), and not only there, people used to say: “The robin and the wren are God’s cock and hen” (as though the wren were the female of the robin, but then the wren is indeed Jenny). In Wales, the wren is also considered sacred.

    The tortures of adapting Samuel Richardson’s ‘Pamela’ By Thomas Keymer The term “bestseller” is a bit of a stretch for the eighteenth century, when books were expensive (though widely shared), and information about print-runs is hard to come by. But if any early novel deserves the title, it’s Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, which on publication in 1740 rapidly caught the imagination of Britain, Europe, and indeed America (the Philadelphia printing by Benjamin Franklin was the first unabridged American edition of any novel).

    Music in history: overcoming historians’ reluctance to tackle music as a source By Matt Karush Music histories like these do not offer anything as technical as a musicological analysis, yet they treat music as much more than a soundtrack. They delve deeply into the stylistic attributes, technological production and commercial distribution of music, while situating it within broader contexts shaped by migration, empire, and war, as well as by racial, ethnic, and gender hierarchy.

    Protest songs and the spirit of America [playlist] By James Sullivan In a rare television interview, Jimi Hendrix appeared on a network talk show shortly after his historic performance at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair. When host Dick Cavett asked the guitarist about the “controversy” surrounding his wild, feedback-saturated version of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Hendrix gently demurred.

    In the face of such ridicule, why would any sane women run for office? By Gail Ukockis No matter one’s political affiliation, it is worth noting that ridicule has been a strategy of silencing women in politics for centuries.

    Cervical cancer and the story-telling cloth in Mali By Eliza Squibb and Kathleen J. Van Buren Around the world, the arts are being used within communities to address local needs. For such projects to be most effective, program participants must: ensure that their program goals are locally-defined; research which art forms, content, and events might best feed into their program goals; develop artistic products that address their goals; and evaluate these products to ensure their efficacy.

    Life as a librarian in the Maori community By Moana Munro I wanted to make a difference and support a growing shift to acknowledging and reclaiming Maori language, history, traditions and culture. Due to my work as a Kaitiakipukapuka Maori, I have made many connections with local iwi (tribal groups) and their marae (community spaces). There is a growing awareness that libraries are not just about books; they are community spaces where people can share, learn, and engage with each other.

    On Robin and robin By Anatoly Liberman “Then the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake scuffled down from the bank and said: ‘My young friend, if you do not now, immediately and instantly, pull as hard as ever you can, it is my opinion that your acquaintance in the large-pattern leather ulster’(and by this he meant the Crocodile) ‘will jerk you into yonder limpid stream before you can say Jack Robinson’.

    A new geological epoch demands a new politics By John S. Dryzek and Jonathan Pickering Young people have become increasingly vocal in castigating older generations for their failure to act on climate change. University students are at the forefront of campaigns to divest from fossil fuels. A group of 21 young Americans launched a high-profile court case against the US government to pursue a legal right to a stable climate.

    How sibling rivalry impacts politics By Bernard Capp Was Ed Miliband right to stand against his brother David for the leadership of the Labour party in 2010? Or should he have stepped aside to give his elder brother a clear run? There was much media debate over his decision to challenge David, and relations between the brothers have remained cool and distant to […]

    How women really got the vote By Jad Adams The most important date is 1949, when the populous nations of China, India and Indonesia enfranchised women; that was 40 per cent of the world’s female population. What was driving these enfranchisements? The great movements of women’s suffrage, where tens of nations enfranchised in a few years, are associated with national solidarity and re-organisation.

    The continuing life of science fiction By David Seed In 1998 Thomas M. Disch boldly declared in The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of: How Science Fiction Conquered the World that science fiction had become the main kind of fiction which was commenting on contemporary social reality. As a professional writer, we could object that Disch had a vested interest in making this assertion, but virtually every day news items confirm his argument that SF connects with an amazingly broad range of public issues.

    How to use the passive voice By Edwin L. Battistella Writing instructors and books often inveigh against the passive voice. My thrift-store copy of Strunk and White’s 1957 Element of Style says “Use the Active Voice,” explaining that it is “more direct and vigorous than the passive.” And George Orwell, in his 1946 essay on “Politics and the English Language,” scolds us to “Never use the passive where you can use the active.”


    December 2018 (55))

    Stories behind Oxford’s top 10 carols and Christmas pieces for 2018 By Hannah Smith The OUP hire library is a hive of activity running up to Christmas. Months in advance, the hire librarians receive requests for perusal scores of longer Christmas works. From September, hundreds orders for carols flood in – sometimes up to 15 carols in one order!

    Top ten developments in international law in 2018 By Merel Alstein This year was, once again, one of great political turmoil. The international legal order is not immune from the impact of the rise of populism and increasingly strained relations between many of the world’s most powerful states. A positive view is that we are witnessing a period of global re-adjustment. A more negative take is that there is a real risk of the fabric of the international legal order, created so carefully in the aftermath of the First and Second World Wars, unravelling.

    OUP Philosophy Philosophy in 2018: a year in review [timeline] By OUP Philosophy Team 2018 has been another significant year for the philosophy world and, as it draws to a close, the OUP philosophy team reflects on what has happened in the field. We’ve compiled a selection of key events, awards, and anniversaries, from the bicentenary of the birth of Karl Marx to Martha Nussbaum winning the Berggruen Prize and the death of the philosopher Mary Midley.

    Will Congress penalize colleges that increase tuition? By Edward A. Zelinsky Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa will serve as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee during the upcoming 115th Congress. Senator Grassley’s decision to lead the Finance Committee may have important consequences for the nation’s colleges and universities.

    The history of holiday traditions [podcast] One of the best parts of the holiday season is that everyone celebrates it in their own unique way. Some traditions have grown out of novelty, such as eating Kentucky Fried Chicken dinners on Christmas in Japan. Others date back centuries, like hiding your broom on Christmas Eve in Norway to prevent witches and evil spirits from stealing it to ride on.

    A Christmas Carol cover book A classic christmas dinner with the Cratchits “There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn’t believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal admiration. Eked out by apple-sauce and mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family; indeed, as Mrs Cratchit said with great delight (surveying one small atom of bone upon the dish), they hadn’t ate it all particular, were steeped in sage and onion to the eyebrows!”

    Carbon tax myths By Gilbert E. Metcalf Over a two-week period in November 2018, the Camp Fire, the deadliest forest fire in California history, burned over 150,000 acres, killed more than 80 people, and destroyed some 18,000 buildings. A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report documents the unusually warm and dry conditions that sparked this fire.

    Dancing politics in Argentina By Victoria Fortuna Argentina’s rich history of 20th and 21st century social, political, and activist movements looms large in popular imagination and scholarly literature alike. Well-known images include the masses gathered in the Plaza de Mayo outside the iconic pink presidential palace during populist President Juan Domingo Perón’s first terms (1946-1955). This scene was imprinted in popular culture, for better or worse, by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita.

    On observing one’s past By Christopher McCarroll Let me share a memory with you. It’s a childhood memory, about an event from when I was around 13 or 14 years old. My father and I are playing soccer together. He is the goalkeeper, standing between the posts, I am the striker, taking shots from outside the box.

    A European peace plan turns 325 By Andrew R. Murphy 2018 marks the 325th anniversary of the publication of William Penn’s Essay towards the Present and Future Peace of Europe, which proposed, among other things, the establishment of a European Parliament.

    How politicians tried to sell Brexit to us By Steven McKevitt If we examine the two campaigns in terms of their message strategy, i.e. the way in which they sought to influence swing voters, significant differences become apparent.

    From “odd,” “strange,” and “bad,” to reclaiming the word “queer” By The Keywords Project, Colin MacCabe, and Holly Yanacek The adjective queer poses etymological problems. Its sense of “strange, odd, peculiar, eccentric” is given an initial Oxford English Dictionary (OED) date of 1513; thus John Bale in 1550 writes of chronicles that “contayne muche more truthe than their quere legendes.”

    Brian Eno’s Music for Airports 40 years later By John T. Lysaker Forty years ago, Brian Eno released Ambient 1: Music for Airports and Virgin-EMI has just given it a deluxe vinyl re-issue. The first work to formally identify itself as “ambient,” it garnered modest attention and a bit of derision; Rolling Stone referred to it as “aesthetic white noise.”

    Feeling my oats for the last time this year By Anatoly Liberman Having sown my wild oats (see the post for December 12, 2018), I can now afford the luxury of looking at the origin of the word oat. It would be unfair to introduce the holiday season by discussing a word of unknown etymology. A Christmas carol needs a happy end, and indeed I have something reassuring to say.

    OUP Mexico on Place of the Year 2018 By Mara Sandroff Mexico is the 2018 Place of the Year, and we are celebrating its win. To get to know Mexico better, we asked our friends at OUP Mexico what they love most about their country. From fresh guacamole to the warmth of the people, their responses bring Mexico to life.

    The merits of and case for Land Value Taxation By Iain McLean and Martin Rogers Politics matters for tax as tax matters for politics. The high-minded Scottish economist Adam Smith had ‘four maxims of taxation’: 1) Tax should be progressive. 2) Tax should be certain, not arbitrary. 3) Tax should be paid at the time most convenient to the contributor. 4) Tax should take as little from the contributors as possible to pay for the state.

    A timeline of American music in 1917 By E. Douglas Bomberger The entrance of the United States into World War I on April 6, 1917 inspired a flood of new music from popular songwriters. Simultaneously, the first recording of instrumental jazz was released in April 1917, touching off a fad for the new style and inspiring record companies to promote other artists before year’s end.

    Bob Chilcott shares his memories of Sir David Willcocks By bob chilcott I joined King’s College Choir as a boy treble in 1964. This was a time of real energy in the media, recording and concert world, and this possibly brought a different kind of perspective to David’s work with the choir. There were a number of firsts for the choir around this time.

    The evolution of the word “terror” By The Keywords Project, Colin MacCabe, and Holly Yanacek Terror comes into English in the late fourteenth century, partly from Middle French terreur, and partly directly from Latin terror. The word means both “the state of being greatly frightened” and “the cause of that state,” an ambiguity that is central to its future political meanings. In Early Modern English, terror comes to stand for a state of fear provoked on the very edge of the social.

    OUP Philosophy 2018 Philosophers of the Year: Schopenhauer, Marx, Merleau-Ponty [quiz] By Panumas King This December, the OUP Philosophy team marks the end of a great year by honouring three of 2018’s top Philosophers of the Month. The immeasurable contributions of Arthur Schopenhauer, Karl Marx and Maurice Merleau-Ponty to the field of philosophy ensure their place among history’s greatest thinkers.

    Desires for power: sex scandals and their proliferation By Amanda Lucia The unapologetic authoritarianism of guru-disciple relationship makes it a revealing case study through which to analyze power relations, particularly those related to physical touch and sexuality. As I argue in a recent article, “Guru Sex,” in the guru-disciple relationship there are social conventions surrounding touch, what I call haptic logics.

    Place of the Year 2018: Mexico, a year in review By Madeline Johnson In mid-January, a group of divers from the Gran Acuifero Maya (GAM) project connected two underwater caverns in eastern Mexico, revealing what was believed to be the biggest flooded cave on the planet.

    What do you value most in life? [quiz] By Christopher Peterson, Martin Seligman, and Stephanie King Everyday choices are guided by a person’s strongest character virtue, and show what they value most in life. This personality quiz,based on a psychometrically validated personality test developed by expert psychologists, will help you discover what your defining character virtue is and how it can help guide your future life choices.

    Improvising with light: Nova Express psychedelic light show By Jonathan Weinel Paul Brown is best known for his work as an artist creating visual art that uses self-generating computational processes. Yet before Paul started creating art with computers, he worked with Nova Express, one of the main psychedelic light shows performing in Manchester and the North of England during the 1960s and early 1970s.

    Did emotional appeals help to win the Brexit referendum? By Steven McKevitt “[Brexit] was a big fundamental decision: an emotional decision,” said Nigel Farrage in an interview with The Guardian’s John Harris in September 2018. For once at least the former UKIP leader, a key figure in the campaign to Leave the European Union, was 100% right.

    The adventures of a nitrogen atom By William B. Irvine You have more than six hundred muscles in your body. Pick one of those muscles at random—say one of the eight in your tongue. Its cells will contain protein fibers. These consist of long chains of amino acids, which in turn contain nitrogen atoms. Now pick, at random, one of those nitrogen atoms.

    There’s a map for that: tracing pathways through the ever-changing brain By Jack M. Gorman Within the brain, there are many different substructures, each connected by axons and dendrites to multiple other substructures. In the 1970’s, neuroanatomy courses meant memorizing something that looked as complicated as the New York City subway map.

    Making music American: a playlist from 1917 By E. Douglas Bomberger The entrance of the United States into World War I on April 6, 1917 inspired a flood of new music from popular songwriters. Simultaneously, the first recording of instrumental jazz was released in April 1917, touching off a fad for the new style and inspiring record companies to promote other artists before year’s end.

    Sowing one’s etymological oats By Anatoly Liberman For many years I have been studying not only the derivation and history of words but also the origin of idioms. No Indo-European forms there, no incompatible vowels, not consonant shifts, but the problems are equally tough.

    How does the Supreme Court decide what the Constitution means? By Jay M. Feinman The US Constitution declares itself to be “the supreme law of the land.” Unfortunately, the meaning of the constitutional text is not always clear. Consider the abortion case Roe v. Wade.

    How to face the moral challenges of organizations from the inside By Lisa Herzog When you enter your workplace on Monday morning, is it you who enters it, or is it someone else? A mask, a role you play in order to get through the work day? And does that matter? Many people would say it is a matter of choice, or perhaps of aesthetic sensibilities, whether or not you want to play a role in your job, or be true your own self.

    Donuts, dogs, and de-stressing: library programs to ease student stress By Katie Bennett To help prepare their patrons for the long hours of studying, writing, and prepping, librarians have created anti-procrastination, stress-relieving events that seek to ease the pain of the finals push. We chatted with librarians from the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada about their specific programs, and the impact they have on students’ health and well-being during this tense time.

    How video may influence juror decision-making for police defendants By Margaret C. Stevenson and Cynthia J. Najdowski In recent years, these videos [depicting police brutality] have become increasingly available to the public and widely disseminated, fueling the launch of the Black Lives Matter movement demanding justice for minority victims of police violence. Yet, little research has explored how video is impacting juries when police actually go to trial as defendants.

    The past, present, and future of MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States By Gary Totten Gary Totten is Editor-in-Chief of the journal MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States. In this interview session, we ask Gary Totten a few questions to learn more about his work, and the coming work for the field and the journal.

    Dynasties: tigers and their solitary homes By Charis Edworthy Tasked with closing BBC documentary Dynasties, tigers are very unlike any of the other species featured throughout the series. Find out more about this solitary big cat through our selection of facts about how tigers behave and interact with others.

    There are two different types of Jane Austen fans By E.M. Dadlez There is a theory current among many of my fellow Janeites about what kind of a Jane Austen devotee one can be. Either, it is said, one unreservedly cleaves to the Austen of Pride and Prejudice and Emma, or one emphatically embraces the Austen of Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility.

    Have you heard of René Blum? By Judith Chazin-Bennahum Well? Have you? If not, it’s probably because René Blum’s lifelong career in the arts has been safely hidden from the history books. Only his brother Léon Blum, the first Socialist and Jewish Prime Minister of France, received enormous attention. But Judith Chazin-Bennahum knows why René Blum deserves to be remembered: because he was an extraordinary man. Chazin-Bennahum’s book introduces the reader to the world of the Belle Epoque artists and writers, the Dreyfus Affair, the playwrights and painters who reigned supreme during the late 19th century and early 20th century period in Paris. Below she provides us with just a few of his most impressive accomplishments.

    Why paying tax can be good news for companies By Colin Mayer For the past 35 years, Ipsos MORI, the UK market research company, has undertaken a survey of which professions in Britain people trust. Each year, they ask 1,000 people whether they trust people in different professions to tell the truth.

    A surprisingly religious John Stuart Mill By Timothy Larsen Your most recent book, John Stuart Mill: A Secular Life, is in OUP’s ‘Spiritual Lives’ series and is essentially a religious biography of Mill. Mill decided that strictly in terms of proof the right answer to that question of God’s existence is that it is ‘a very probable hypothesis’.

    Hasidic drag in American modern dance By Rebecca Rossen On 27 February 1932, the American modern dancer Pauline Koner presented a concert at New York City’s Town Hall. For the occasion, Koner, who was Jewish, premiered Chassidic Song and Dance, a solo in which she portrayed a young Hasidic Jew. Her characterization of an Eastern European Jew was not so different from the other exotics that constituted Koner’s repertory in the 1930s.

    Forty years of democratic Spain By William Chislett Spaniards are celebrating with some fanfare the 40th anniversary of their democratic constitution that was approved overwhelmingly in a referendum on 6 December 1978, sealing the end of the 36-year dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, the victor of the country’s civil war. Whichever way one looks at it, Spain has been transformed profoundly since then.

    Words always matter By Thomas Holtgraves The run-up to the recent mid-term elections saw commentators across the political spectrum claiming that “words matter.” Much of this was in response to violent acts – in particular the Pittsburgh Synagogue massacre and the pipe bombs sent to Democrats – that some argued was a consequence of Donald Trump’s rhetoric. Words always matter of course. But due to the timing and the stakes – in this instance, an upcoming mid-term election of considerable consequence – it turned into a literal war of words. Language was weaponized to an extent not seen before.

    Etymology gleanings for November 2018 By Anatoly Liberman I used to post my “gleanings” on the last Wednesday of every month, but it is perhaps more practical to do it on the first Wednesday of the month following, for, given this schedule, I can also answer the most recent questions. Plants and the home of the Indo-Europeans I used gorse in the previous […]

    Kosher beers for Hanukkah By Garrett Oliver I always knew that my family was a little different, but it wasn’t until my mid-teens that I realized exactly how weird we were. An African-American family living in the suburban greenery of Hollis, Queens, at the outskirts of New York City, we thought little of the fact that my father’s big hobby was hunting game birds. With dogs, no less. Often on horseback.

    The secrets of newspaper names By Edwin L. Battistella A few years ago, two colleagues of mine traveled around the country documenting what was going on in the newspaper industry, talking to editors, reporters, and publishers in all 50 states. Reading their book, Practicing Journalism: The Power and Purpose of the Fourth Estate, I was struck by the great passion of journalists and their commitment to public service.

    Let us now praise human population genetics By Harry Ostrer Exactly who are we anyway? Over the last generation, population genetics has emerged as a science that has made the discovery of human origins, relatedness, and diversity knowable in a way that is simple not possible from studying texts, genealogies, or archeological remains. Viewed as the successor to a race science that promoted the superiority of some human groups over others and that provided a basis for prejudice, forced sterilization, and even extermination, population genetics is framed as a discipline that is based on discovery using the amazing content of fully sequenced human genomes and novel computational methods.

    The Oxford Place of the Year 2018 is… By Madeline Johnson Our polls have officially closed, and while it was an exciting race, our Place of the Year for 2018 is Mexico. The country and its people proved their resilience this year by enduring natural disasters, navigating the heightened tensions over immigration and border control, engaging in civic action during an election year, and advancing in the economic sphere. The historic events in Mexico in 2018 have resonated with our followers.

    On the Town and the long march for civil rights in performance By Carol J. Oja As we celebrate the golden anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a significant aspect of the struggle for racial equality often gets ignored: racial activism in performance. Actors, singers, and dancers mobilized over the decades, pushing back against racial restrictions that shifted over time, and On the Town of 1944 marked an auspicious but little-recognized moment in that history.

    Healthy aging and the Mediterranean diet By Rozalyn Anderson In this Q&A, Rozalyn Anderson, PhD and Co-Editor in Chief of the biological sciences section of The Journals of Gerontology, Series A, sits down with Luigi Fontana, PhD, and Mediterranean Diet expert.

    How video may influence juror decision-making for police defendants By Margaret C. Stevenson and Cynthia J. Najdowski In recent years, these videos [depicting police brutality] have become increasingly available to the public and widely disseminated, fueling the launch of the Black Lives Matter movement demanding justice for minority victims of police violence. Yet, little research has explored how video is impacting juries when police actually go to trial as defendants.

    Dynasties: painted wolves on the prowl By Charis Edworthy The endangered painted wolves are unusual in the animal kingdom for their cooperative social system. In the penultimate episode of BBC’s Dynasties, Sir David Attenborough is educating us about painted wolves and we’ve gathered some facts for you to enjoy as an accompaniment to the show.

    Plato’s mistake By norman solomon It started innocently enough at a lunch-time event with some friends at the Randolph Hotel in the centre of Oxford. ‘The trouble with Islam …’ began some self-opinioned pundit, and I knew where he was going. Simple. Islam lends itself to fanaticism, and that is why Muslims perpetrate so much violence in the name of religion. The pundit saw himself as Christian, and therefore a man of peace, so I had my cue. ‘Look out of the window. Over there in the fork of the road you see the Martyr’s Memorial. In 1555 the Wars of Religion were in full spate, Catholics were burning Protestants at the stake, Protestants were no less fanatical when their turn came, and things got even worse with the Civil War. So why are Muslims any worse?’

    Celebrating the Christmas season with choral music By johnny goodson For many people, the celebration of the Advent-Christmas-Epiphany season begins as they wind their way through St. Olaf College’s buildings during the first weekend of December to attend the annual St. Olaf Christmas Festival.

    A better way to prevent the spread of HIV By Richard A. Crosby, Ralph J. DiClemente HIV prevention is now focused on finding at least 90% of the existing cases, putting at least 90% of those people in HIV treatment, and keeping the virus from multiplying in the body among 90% of those people retained in care (known as durable viral suppression). Despite these admirable goals, known as the United Nations’ “90-90-90” programme, HIV transmission rates have not declined since 2011.


    November 2018 (66))

    Place of the Year 2018 contenders [quiz] By Mara Sandroff Before we announce the 2018 Place of the Year, we are looking back at the diverse places that topped the shortlist. Myanmar, North Korea, Mexico, the International Space Station, and the Pacific Ocean all have unique histories and have topped international headlines this year. Take this quiz to see how well you know each of our contenders.

    Improving immunizations for older people By Barbara Resnick The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends multiple immunizations for older adults, including flu, two pneumonia vaccines, vaccination against herpes zoster, and a one-time tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 63% of annual hospitalizations, and 90% of influenza-related mortality, occurs in people over 65. Fortunately influenza vaccinations can prevent hospitalizations related to respiratory illness and even more importantly, vaccination may prevent an increased risk for stroke and myocardial infarction that occurs following the flu.

    Travels with “gorse” in search of its kin By Anatoly Liberman In the long history of this blog, I have rarely touched on the origin of plant names, but there have been posts on mistletoe (December 20, 2006) and ivy (January 11, 2017). Some time ago, a letter came with a question about the etymology of gorse, and I expect to devote some space to this plant name and its two synonyms.

    the psychology of music What can psychology tell us about music? By Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis Music can intensify moments of elation and moments of despair. It can connect people and it can divide them. The prospect of psychologists turning their lens on music might give a person the heebie-jeebies, however, conjuring up an image of humorless people in white lab coats manipulating sequences of beeps and boops to make grand pronouncements about human musicality.

    Meet the editors of International Studies Quarterly: a Q&A with Brandon Prins and Krista Wiegand By Brandon Prins and Krista E. Wiegand Brandon Prins and Krista E. Wiegand will become the new lead editors of International Studies Quarterly, the flagship journal of the International Studies Association, in 2019. We asked them about trends in international studies scholarship and teaching, what global issues aren’t getting the attention they should, and their goals for the journal.

    Dynasties: lions with pride By Charis Edworthy Lions are arguably the most respected and feared creatures of the animal world. It is no surprise that their group structure has once more been examined in BBC’s Dynasties.

    Immigration, the US Census, and political power By Michael Anthony Lewis As I write these lines, a key court case has begun in New York. That case centers on the US Census. At issue is the Trump administration’s addition of a question to the Census which will ask people whether they’re US Citizens.

    The politics of “political” – how the word has changed its meaning By The Keywords Project, Colin MacCabe, and Holly Yanacek Over the course of history, the word “political” has evolved from being synonymous with “public sphere” or “good government” to meaning “calculating” or “partisan.” How did we get here? This adapted excerpt from Keywords for Today: A 21st Century Vocabulary explains the evolution. The problems posed by political result from a combination of the term’s semantic shift over the last several centuries and the changing face of post-national politics that have become so important since mid-twentieth century.

    Reflections on anthologising By john rutter The year was 1968 and I was a young postgraduate music student walking down King’s Parade in Cambridge when I saw the revered figure of David Willcocks, director of King’s College Choir, striding towards me. He had rock-star status in Cambridge and beyond, and although I knew him from his weekly harmony and counterpoint classes which I had attended, I wasn’t quite sure whether to nod politely, say ‘good afternoon, Mr Willcocks’, or hurry past hoping he hadn’t noticed me. Fortunately he spoke first.

    National Day of Listening [podcast] In 2008, StoryCorps created World Listening Day for citizens of all beliefs and backgrounds to record, preserve, and share the stories of their lives. This year, we invite you to celebrate by listening to our podcast, The Oxford Comment.

    alcohol and alcoholism Anywhere, anytime: children’s exposure to alcohol marketing By Tim Chambers and Louise Signal Alcohol and Alcoholism publishes papers on the biomedical, psychological, and sociological aspects of alcoholism and alcohol research, provided that they make a new and significant contribution to knowledge in the field.

    What is the role of a doctor in 2018? By Binay Gurung The winner of the Clinical Placement Competition 2018 is Binay Gurung. We asked Binay to tell us more about the inspiration behind his entry, and about his time in the Nepalese hospital featured in his picture.

    The politics of food [podcast] Gearing up for Thanksgiving and the holiday season brings excitement for decorations and holiday cheer, but it can also bring on a financial burden – especially where food is concerned. The expectation to host a perfect holiday gathering complete with a turkey and trimmings can cause unnecessary pressure on those who step up to host family and friends.

    Plant lore: gorse By Anatoly Liberman In the long history of this blog, I have rarely touched on the origin of plant names, but there have been posts on mistletoe (December 20, 2006) and ivy (January 11, 2017). Some time ago, a letter came with a question about the etymology of gorse, and I expect to devote some space to this plant name and its two synonyms.

    It’s time to raise the retirement age again By Edward A. Zelinsky 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.

    How well do you know William Godwin? [quiz] By Panumas King 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’.

    What is “toxic” about anger? By Ephrem Fernandez 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.

    What Matthew Shepard’s interment taught us about religion By Brett Krutzsch 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 […]

    On animal sight and behaviour By Michael Land 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.

    Detroit music [quiz] By Mark Slobin 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.

    A lesson in allegorical storytelling [podcast] By Howard Schwartz 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.

    Place of the Year 2018 nominee spotlight: International Space Station By Madeline Johnson 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 […]

    International law regarding use of force By Alexandra Hofer 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.

    Dynasties: emperor of all penguins By Charis Edworthy 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.

    Graffiti artists are gaining recognition—and rights By K. E. Gover 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.

    Big money, dark money, and the two Gilded Ages By Robert E. Mutch 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.

    Why is it so difficult to throw away fetuses? By Tinne Claes 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.

    George Balanchine: mythology and reality By James Steichen 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.

    Time for new targets to treat blocked arteries By Heather Y. Small and Sarah Brown 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,

    Place of the Year 2018 nominee spotlight: Myanmar By Madeline Johnson 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 […]

    Twelve philosophy books everyone should read: from Plato to Foucault [slideshow] By OUP Philosophy Team This month, to mark World Philosophy Day, we’ve curated a reading list of historical texts by philosophers that shaped the modern world and who had important things to say about the issues that we wrestle with today such as freedom, authority, equality, sexuality, and the meaning of life.

    Why We Fall for Toxic Leaders By Jean Lipman-Blumen The Oxford Word of the Year is a word or expression chosen to reflect the passing year in language. Every year, the Oxford Dictionaries team debates over a selection of candidates for Word of the Year, choosing the one that best captures the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of that particular year. The 2018 Oxford Word […]

    Place of the Year 2018 nominee spotlight: Mexico By Madeline Johnson Mexico has had an eventful 2018, both on the national and international stage. With conversations centered on immigration, natural disasters, economic advancements, and political protests, the country and its people have been front and center. On November 5, Mexico City received their first wave of migrants from a large group of people travelling through Mexico […]

    The Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine is recruiting! We’re looking for medics to join our team to contribute to the eleventh edition of the Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine. Unique among medical texts, the Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine is a complete and concise guide to the core areas of medicine that also encourages thinking about the world from the patient’s perspective, offering […]

    Stan Lee on what is a superhero By Stan Lee What is a superhero? What is a supervillain? What are the traits that define and separate these two? What cultural contexts do we find them in? And why we need them? Editors Robin S. Rosenberg, PhD and Peter Coogan, PhD collected a series of essays examining these questions from both major comic book writers and editors, such as Stan Lee and Danny Fingeroth, and leading academics in psychology and cultural studies, such as Will Brooker and John Jennings.

    Sick of sickness! Recovering a happier history By Hannah Newton Horrible histories are not just for young readers: adult historians also seem to have a penchant for painful tales of disaster and distress. This is especially apparent in the realm of medical history, where it has been said that before the birth of modern pharmaceutics the complete recovery of health was so rare that it barely existed as a concept.

    Place of the Year 2018 nominee spotlight: Pacific Ocean By Madeline Johnson A study in March of 2018 revealed that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP), the world’s largest collection of ocean garbage, has grown to more than 600,000 square miles. That’s twice the size of Texas, or three times the size of France. The mass weighs 88,000 tons, a number which is 16 times higher than […]

    Resisting slavery By Susan Valladares Once known by the name of “Bristol”, he gained notoriety as “Three-Fingered Jack”; the slave (anti)hero whose actions so fascinated the eighteenth-century imagination that his story was variously told and retold in popular treatises, novels, chapbooks, and plays.

    World antibiotic awareness: are we doing enough? By Kiashini Sriharan Microorganisms resistant to treatment pose as one of the biggest threats to global healthcare and have been identified to be present globally. This current healthcare crisis is more generally known as antimicrobial resistance, and refers to the ability of bacteria, viruses or parasites to stop an antimicrobial from working.

    Remaking Europe after the First World War By Conan Fischer In the wake of the November 11, 1918 armistice between Germany and the Allies, high-minded idealism confronted a mélange of very unpleasant realities. All the belligerents had claimed to be fighting for a noble set of aims, and the United States President, Woodrow Wilson, went further. He proposed the creation of a supranational agency, the League of Nations, to govern international relations in a pacific age of transparent, altruistic diplomacy.

    Russian disinformation – How worried should we be? By Yevgeniy Golovchenko The Russian government’s use of disinformation, i.e. intentionally misleading content, has raised serious concern not only among Russia’s neighbors, but also in Western nations more broadly. Responses to the perceived threat range from attempts to monitor the disinformation, to U.S. court’s legal indictment of Russian individuals and companies.

    Remembering the final moments of The Great War [excerpt] By Peter Hart 11 November 2018 marks 100 years since the end of the Great War. Victory came at a great cost, seeing millions of fatalities in one of the deadliest wars in history. In the below excerpt from The Last Battle, World War I historian Peter Hart shares testimonies about the war’s end from the men who fought until the eleventh hour.

    Dynasties: chimpanzees and their community By Charis Edworthy Sir David Attenborough returns to our screens tonight narrating a new nature documentary: Dynasties. We will be starting the series with one of our closest relatives in the animal kingdom, who we diverged from roughly six million years ago: chimpanzees.

    How disconnecting from digital pressures can boost learning By Jennifer Rauch If we do “reflect on our phone use in society” and make student success the top priority, we can summon the collective will to realize the benefits of smartphone constraints. This means overcoming some logistical obstacles.

    The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Existentialist By Jonathan Webber At the end of the second world war, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre launched the “existentialist offensive,” an ambitious campaign to shape a new cultural and political landscape. The word ‘existentialism’ was a popular neologism with no clear meaning. They wanted to profit from its media currency by making their philosophy its definition. Sartre’s talk “Existentialism is a Humanism” was an instant legend.

    Place of the Year 2018 nominee spotlight: North Korea By Madeline Johnson North Korea dominated the headlines in 2018 with historic meetings and heightened tensions over nuclear threats. This year Kim Jong-Un, Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea and Supreme Leader of North Korea, has met with multiple world leaders, and has been vocal about his stance on the North Korean nuclear program. This has ignited […]

    Promoting digital technologies for disease prevention among Latinos By Yoshimi Fukuoka and Julie Hooper Half of Americans live with at least one chronic disease, such as diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease. Chronic diseases take an economic toll and account for a large proportion of health care costs.

    The 1950s is a vanished world, but have we made social progress? By Anthony F. Heath Britain has seen huge social changes over the course of my lifetime. The world of the 1950s, when I grew up in a modest suburb of Liverpool, has vanished forever. The material standard of living we enjoyed then would nowadays seem to be distinctly substandard. We didn’t have a family car; I shared a bedroom with my older brother; and there was no television set, though we did have a telephone – a rather unfamiliar contraption which we were all too scared to use. There never seemed to be quite enough to eat and we were all rather skinny. There was no problem of obesity in our family, but we didn’t grow particularly tall. Today’s younger generation tower over us.

    Ypres: the city of ghosts By Mark Connelly and Stefan Goebel Today’s Ieper still has thousands of British visitors, with tourism as important to the economy of the city as it was in the twenties. But, in addition to the British, the Australians, Canadians, and New Zealanders are now coming in even greater numbers, as well as people from many other nations fascinated and intrigued by meeting the last great eyewitness left of the Great War: the landscape. Modern Ieper is a world forged and shaped in the furnace of a conflict that ended one hundred years ago this November.

    Attacking a loaf of bread By Anatoly Liberman This post returns to loaf, noun, which, incidentally, has nothing to do with loaf, verb (but see the picture)! Since loaf, from hlaif-, appears to be a more ancient word for “bread” (as noted in the posts for October 17 and October 24), people must have coined bread, to designate the product that was different from the old one.

    Place of the Year 2018 Shortlist: vote for your pick By Madeline Johnson Oxford’s Place of the Year campaign pulls together the most significant places and events of the year. The 2018 shortlist of nominees brings to light impactful moments in global history, influencing the environment, international relations, humanitarian crises, and space exploration. Explore each of our locations and vote for who think should be recognized as Oxford’s […]

    Facing the challenges of serving the public as an academic By Maria Lee What does it mean to be an academic? To be an academic working in environmental law? One part of our multi-faceted role is what I am calling “public service”—trying to make our small portion of the world a slightly better place. Public service is difficult. Its demands, however, are rather similar to those we face […]

    The German Revolution of 1918-19: democratic ancestry or subjective liberation? By Moritz Föllmer The German Revolution of 1918-19 has never been easy to identify with, and its hundredth anniversary once again throws this difficulty into sharp relief. While it is salutary in principle to appreciate Germany’s often forgotten democratic history, there is a price to pay for downplaying the complexity of the transition from wartime to postwar society in favour of a political narrative for our times.

    Stress management in the work place [infographic] By Anne Marie Turner Employees in the modern work force are faced with obstacles every day that prompt stress. These work-related stressors can lead to different kinds of strains that affect both the health and the well-being of the employee and the organization. Various types of stress management interventions, guided by organizational development and work stress frameworks, may be […]

    The fiddle and the city By Mark Slobin The violin holds special importance to me as part of my upbringing in Detroit, both as part of the musical world of my Jewish community and as an example of the citywide belief in music education. The Detroit that I grew up in had a pulsating inner musical life from the many populations that Detroit attracted to and housed in its vast industrial landscape. For the Jews, the violin literally had a special resonance.

    Life science documentaries Did that moving episode of Blue Planet II pique your interest? Are you excited to discover the secrets of animal families in Dynasties? Delve deeper into key themes raised in these documentaries by exploring our existing blog series.

    The history of The Declaration of the Rights of the Child By James Marten Virtually every news cycle seems to feature children as victims of military actions, gun violence, economic injustice, racism, sexism, sexual abuse, hunger, underfunded schools, unbridled commercialism—the list is endless. Each violates our sense of what childhood ought to be and challenges what we believe childhood has always been. But the ideas that shape our notions of childhood emerged less than a century ago. Reformers and policy-makers had struggled toward creating a modern childhood since the 1830s.

    Does the personalisation of politics have any benefits for democracy? By Jack Corbett and Wouter Veenendaal Democracy in the twenty-first century appears to have reached a fork in the road. On the one hand, over recent decades we have witnessed an explosion in the popularity of democratic norms and values around the globe to the extent that all but two countries label themselves as democracies, which if nothing else indicates how […]

    Learning from nature to save the planet By Tony Prescott Our planet is out of balance as the result of our technologies. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that global temperatures could reach a frightening plus +3° by the end of the century, our ocean ecosystems risk being overwhelmed by non-degrading plastic waste, open rubbish tips scar the landscape and pollute our water supplies […]

    A fresh look at clichés By Edwin L. Battistella Recently a friend gave me a copy of It’s Been Said Before: A Guide to the Use and Abuse of Clichés by lexicographer Orin Hargraves. I was intrigued to read it because I had been wondering about clichés for some time.

    Are we misinformed or disinformed? By Gill Bennett “Disinformation” is a common term at present, in the media, in academic and political discourse, along with related concepts like “fake news”. But what does it really mean? Is it different from misinformation, propaganda, deception, “fake news” or just plain lies? Is it always bad, or can it be a useful and necessary tool of statecraft? And how should we deal with it?

    From the archive: revolutionary discoveries and celebrated voices [timeline] By Charis Edworthy From Darwin to Desmond Tutu, and numerous Nobel Prize winners in between, discover which well-known academics have published in our journals over the course of 140 years through our interactive timeline.

    What to do about Syria? By Reed M. Wood The chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria on 7 April 2018 by the military forces of Bashar al-Assad brought renewed calls for international action to protect civilians and resolve the brutal internal conflict that has persisted for over seven years and produced as many as half a million deaths. Despite calls for action by many Western governments, direct action and intervention have generally been in short supply, perhaps in part because Western observers do not perceive Assad as a particular threat or sufficiently villainous to warrant strong action.

    Concern for global democracy By Erica Frantz A new report by the Democracy Project finds that a majority of Americans view democracy in the United States as weak and getting weaker. Even worse, nearly half of Americans express concerns that the United States is in “real danger of becoming a nondemocratic, authoritarian country.”

    Are you ballot ready? The 2018 midterm elections could see the highest turnout for a midterm since the mid-1960s, another time of cultural and social upheaval. Michael McDonald, Professor of Political Science at the University of Florida, predicted to NPR that “between 45-50 percent of eligible voters will cast a ballot.”

    Time to abandon “beyond reasonable doubt” By Adrian keane and paul mckeown In England and many other countries around the world, the standard of proof to be met by the prosecution in order for the jury to convict an accused is proof “beyond reasonable doubt” or proof that makes the jury “sure” of guilt. These phrases are supposed to convey a very high standard of proof.


    October 2018 (64))

    Etymology gleanings for October 2018 By Anatoly Liberman I have received a letter with a query about whether kibosh might be a borrowing from Hebrew. Both the Hebrew and the Yiddish hypotheses on kibosh are discussed in detail in the book by Gerald Cohen, Stephen Goranson, and Matthew Little on this intractable word (Routledge, 2018).

    Twenty-five years of the medieval area with the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: A Q & A with Dr. Henry Summerson By Henry Summerson Dr Henry Summerson was a research editor for the medieval area (pre-1500) from 1993, and in charge of the medieval era Dictionary between 2004 and his retirement at the end of September. Here he answers questions about the past achievements and future prospects of the Dictionary’s coverage of Britain’s early history.

    How digital artists are questioning artificial intelligence By Jonathan Weinel Steve Goodman is best known for his work DJing as Kode9 and running the Hyperdub record label, one of the pioneering forces of UK bass culture and dubstep since 2004. Through releases by Kode9 & The Spaceape, and Burial, Hyperdub captured a sound that embodied the high-pressure claustrophobia and hyper-surveillance of urban environments in the 21st Century.

    The Heart-Head-Hands Approach to Building Inclusive Classrooms (infographic) By Stephen Mann Increasingly, teachers are being asked to adopt their classrooms to include students with a wide backgrounds and capabilities. The placement of students with diverse abilities in a regular school does not guarantee high-quality education, though. In order to help teachers build an inclusive classroom we have created this guide using the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education.

    Who remembers Goffman? By Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz Erving Goffman died 36 years ago, in 1982, but his work is still frequently cited (Google Scholar documents 260,399 citations as of this writing) and he is certainly remembered by many. This is a meditation on when we remember to think of (and credit) the originator of an idea, and when we don’t, and what difference it makes.

    Does poverty cause terrorism? By Todd Sandler On 11 September 2001 (9/11), some 17 years ago, four hijackings of US commercial planes by al-Qaida terrorists led to almost 3,000 deaths and over 6,000 injuries, and profoundly changed our sense of security.

    Philosopher of The Month: William Godwin [timeline] By Panumas King This October, the OUP Philosophy team honours William Godwin (1756–1836) as their Philosopher of the Month. Godwin was a moral and political philosopher and a prolific writer, best-known for his political treatise ‘An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice’ and ‘Things as they were or Caleb Williams’, a political allegorical novel.

    Animal of the Month: More to the bee than just honey By Sydney Cameron Great truths are often so pervasive or in such plain view as to be invisible. This is the case with bees and their food plants, the world’s quarter million flowering plant species, especially because it’s easy to overlook small things in a world in which whales and elephants hold the imagination of the public. Little […]

    Why major in dance? A case for dance as a field of study in universities in 2018 By Allegra Romita and Nancy Romita Parents, provosts, and authors of recent articles/discussion boards are questioning the purpose or viability for dance programs in contemporary university structures. An article in Dance USA from 2015 presents a narrow view of the role of collegiate dance. Understanding the wider lens on dance education, it can be an excellent path to career success. College programs in dance transcend training an elite artist/athlete.

    Place of the Year 2018 Longlist: vote for your pick By Madeline Johnson With 2018 nearing an end, we are excited to announce the longlist for the Oxford University Press Place of the Year. From a cave in Chiang Rai, to historical political summits, to young activists marching for their lives, we explored far and wide for our contenders. Now it’s your time to choose. Learn more about […]

    Technology, privacy, and politics [podcast] All eyes are on the U.S. political landscape heading into the 2018 Midterm Elections in November. With all 435 seats of the House of Representatives and about one-third of Senate spots up for grabs, the next decade of politics lies in the hands of voters.

    Returning to our daily bread [Part II] By Anatoly Liberman Bread may not be a very old word, but it is old enough, and, whatever its age, its origin has not been discovered. However, the harder the riddle, the more interesting it is to try to solve it. Even if the answer evades us, it does not follow that we have learned nothing along the way.

    On White Fury By Christer Petley By 1807, Simon Taylor’s anger was running hot. This old slaveholder was, by then, approaching seventy, and the abolitionist campaign, which he had vehemently opposed since it first began two decades earlier, was on the brink of a major success.

    It Keeps Me Seeking By Andrew Steane Sometimes spouses will look back on the time of their getting to know one another and say, half-jokingly, that on a given occasion one was putting the other to the test.

    The language of victory: 8 ancient phrases used by Emperor Justinian By Madeline Woda When writing about the Justinian era, historian Peter Heather chooses to use both Greek and Latin terminology as a way to bring Justinian’s legacy to life. We’ve listed out some of the terms that help detail the political and martial history of Emperor Justinian.

    Will Egypt have another uprising? By Bruce K. Rutherford Egypt is well-known for its exceptionally rich history. For many, the country is synonymous with ancient wonders such as the pyramids of Giza and the royal tombs of Luxor. However, in January 2011, modern Egypt suddenly leapt to the center of the public’s imagination. Over a period of 18 days, millions of Egyptians engaged in sit-ins, strikes, and demonstrations as well as pitched battles with the security forces.

    So you think music is beneficial for people with dementia? By Orii McDermott and Felicity Anne Baker Social media often highlights how music awakens strong emotional reactions in people with dementia. Music activities are generally regarded as inclusive and enjoyable for all, and there is a strong sense among the general public that “music is good for people with dementia”.

    Food labels: Can they help us to pick healthy portions? By Hannah May Brown From packaged food products on the supermarket shelves to calories listed on menus in fast food outlets, food labels and the nutrition information they contain are all around us. But what effect do these labels have on consumers? Does food marketing influence what you actually eat?

    From Darwin to DNA: evolution, genomics, and conservation of the Galapagos giant tortoises By Evelyn Jensen, Joshua Miller, Michael Russello, and Adalgisa Caccone Established in 1903, Journal of Heredity covers organismal genetics across a wide range of disciplines and taxa. Articles include such rapidly advancing fields as conservation genetics of endangered species, population structure and phylogeography, molecular evolution and speciation, molecular genetics of disease resistance in plants and animals, genetic biodiversity and relevant computer programs.

    Technology picks up its sword in the service of social justice By John G. McNutt Most Americans think of activism primarily in the context of and petitioning our elected representatives. It’s true that elected officials do have an important influence on the development of policies and programs that affect the lives of Americans—issues like immigration, reproductive rights, gun violence, mass incarceration, sexual harassment, and the opioid crisis are front and center in November’s election.

    Two Cheers for Inconsistency? : Orwell’s Doublethink By David Dwan How concerned should we be about consistency? The answer if you were George Orwell would seem to be not very much. Orwell was, to use one of his own phrases, a “change-of-heart man.”

    The ABCs of successful aging By Alan D. Castel Despite some people saying that the secret to longevity is all in the genes (so pick your parents wisely!), there is a lot we can to do age well. In fact, most of these secrets are really good things to do at any age in life.

    Sitting down with author and historian Colin G. Calloway By Colin G. Calloway The National Book Award is an American literary prize given out each year by the Nation Book Foundation. Five judging panels made up of writers, literary critics, librarians, and booksellers determine a long list, award finalists, and award winners for a selection of categories. We recently had the opportunity to catch up with historian Colin G. Calloway, whose book The Indian World of George Washington has been long listed for the Nonfiction National Book Award. In the interview below, Colin discusses the research behind his book, the complicated relationship between George Washington and Native Americans, and his one key takeaway from Washington’s life.

    Ask OUP: we answer your questions about US elections In September, we asked our followers to send us questions regarding the U.S. midterm elections using the hashtag #AskOUP. We compiled a list of our favorite questions, and answered them below.

    Not by “bread” alone [Part I] By Anatoly Liberman Two recent posts (part 1 and part 2) were devoted to the origin of the word bride, and it occurred to me that a quick look at a few other br-words might be of some use. Breed, brood, and bread have been more than once invoked in trying to explain the etymology of the troublesome Germanic noun. […]

    Alain Locke, Charles S. Johnson, and the establishment of Black literature [excerpt] By Jeffrey C. Stewart In March of 1924, Charles S. Johnson, sociologist and editor of Opportunity: A Journal of Negro Life, approached Alain Locke with a proposal: a dinner was being organized with the intention to secure interracial support for Black literature. Locke, would attend the dinner as “master of ceremonies,” with the responsibility of finding a common language between Black writers and potential White allies.

    Alexander the Great in numbers [quiz] By Frank L. Holt Have you got Alexander’s number? The Treasures of Alexander the Great: How One Man’s Wealth Shaped the World explains the career of the Macedonian king by exploring a set of mind-blowing numbers. Test your knowledge of Alexander’s life with this quiz!

    Oscar Wilde’s lecture tour of the US By Michèle Mendelssohn After Oscar Wilde graduated from Oxford, he moved to London and fell into unemployment and although he tried his hand at different jobs he couldn’t find any stable source of income. However, he did become friends with some of the celebrities of the day and attracted the attention of the caricaturist of Punch magazine, which eventually brought him to the attention of theatre promoter Richard D’Oyly Carte.

    The embracement of student-created visuals in the music room By Kim Milai When students walk into a music room, there is an opportunity to inspire them with a visually stimulating learning environment. This doesn’t mean filling every wall and space with dozens of posters, papers, and colors. This means creating a visual environment which acknowledges your students’ participation and input into the class.

    Oxford Think Festival: 10th – 18th November 2018 By Kim Behrens Oxford University Press is delighted to once again partner with Blackwell’s Oxford to host a weekend of talks and discussions. After three successful years as the Oxford Philosophy Festival, the event returns this year as the Oxford Think Festival.

    Environmental law and the core of legal learning: framing the future of environmental lawyers By Eloise Scotford and Steven Vaughan Environmental law has not been taught or seen as a ‘core’ legal subject, giving environmental law academics freedom to teach the subject in many different ways. This structural sidelining, however, belies important questions about how teaching environmental law relates to the core of legal learning. We are not suggesting that there is a core of […]

    Ants are picky when using tools for foraging By Gábor Lorinczi Tool use, once considered unique to our species, is now known to be widespread in the animal kingdom. It has been reported in most of the major taxonomic groups, with notable exceptions being myriapods, amphibians and reptiles. In insects, one of the best documented examples of tool use is seen in members of the ant […]

    The ‘New Woman’ & American literature In late 19th and early 20th-century America, a new image of womanhood emerged that began to shape public views and understandings of women’s role in society. With the suffrage and labor movements, the “new woman” emerged. These modern women were attending colleges, rejecting domesticity, asserting themselves politically in public, and becoming a part of the cultural landscape through literature. As the 12th century progresses, the voices of women pushed for more self-discovery and freedom from society’s traditional limitations.

    Financial capability for all By Margaret Sherraden Millions of U.S. families find themselves in precarious financial circumstances, living on the wrong side of the growing income and wealth divide. Despite the recent economic recovery, average wages buy about the same amount of goods and services as they did 40 years ago. The federal minimum wage, adjusting for inflation, buys less today than it did in 1968. Income increases have mostly gone to top income earners. Meanwhile, household wealth is even more concentrated.

    Tips for Surviving and Thriving During the Foundation Programme By Catriona Hall, George Collins, Nina Hjelde, and Tim Raine As the new university year begins, many newly-qualified trainee doctors will have already started their training for The Foundation Programme. The UK Foundation Programme (FP) is a two-year standard training programme, established in 2005, for all UK trainee doctors which builds upon medical school training with the generic skills and capabilities needed during specialty training. […]

    Consent on campus minisode [podcast] By Jes Lukes As students head back to university to start their fall semester, the conversation of consent will no doubt surround them on campus. But what can actually be defined as consent? Where do students learn what consent actually means? On this minisode of The Oxford Comment, we hop on a call with Jes Lukes, co-owner of “A Room of One’s Own” an independent book store in the heart of college town Madison, Wisconsin.

    Moral resilience – how to navigate ethical complexity in clinical practice By Cynda Rushton Clinicians are constantly confronted with ethical questions. Recent examples of healthcare workers caught up in high-profile best-interest cases are on the rise, but decisions regarding the allocation of the clinician’s time and skills, or scare resources such as organs and medication, are everyday occurrences. The increasing pressure of “doing more with less” is one that […]

    Animal of the month: the evolution of the imperfect honeybee By Robin Crewe and Robin Moritz Honey bee colonies have historically been considered as marvels of evolution resulting in perfectly cooperative and harmonious societies, and exemplars of what we humans might achieve. This is an appealing image to many, but it is of course a caricature. Nobody is perfect, not even honey bees.

    Are you an informed voter? [quiz] With the 2018 U.S. midterm elections quickly approaching, it’s important that Americans feel prepared to enter the voting booths. To help our U.S. readers feel better prepared on election day, we created a quiz to test your knowledge on key political issues.

    Coming together side by side: avocational musicians performing with professionals By Amy Nathan “It’s such a big deal for non-pros to come in and play with the orchestra, throwing themselves into the ‘deep end.’ Our orchestra musicians are respectful and supportive of them,” says Larissa Agosti, who coordinates the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra’s Rusty Musicians and B-Sides programs, which let avocational musicians perform side-by-side with this Canadian orchestra’s pros.

    Sitting down with author and historian Colin G. Calloway By Colin G. Calloway The National Book Award is an American literary prize given out each year by the Nation Book Foundation. Five judging panels made up of writers, literary critics, librarians, and booksellers determine a long list, award finalists, and award winners for a selection of categories. We recently had the opportunity to catch up with historian Colin G. Calloway, whose book The Indian World of George Washington has been long listed for the Nonfiction National Book Award. In the interview below, Colin discusses the research behind his book, the complicated relationship between George Washington and Native Americans, and his one key takeaway from Washington’s life.

    The bride all dressed in white bows out [Part II] By Anatoly Liberman So where did the word bride come from? Granted, the initial meaning of bride is not entirely clear, but neither is it hopelessly opaque. Whatever the interpretation, the bride has always been a woman who will soon become a wife, and the mystery surrounding the sought-after etymology comes as a surprise, regardless of whether the initial sense of the noun was “the woman to be married,” “the woman after the consummation of the marriage rite,” or even “daughter-in-law” ~ “a new female member of the adopting family.”

    Of gutters and ecosystems: the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act By Ellen Wohl “Rivers are the gutters down which flow the ruins of continents.” – Luna B. Leopold Luna Leopold understood that rivers are far more than gutters. In a 1964 textbook, he wrote figuratively of the role of river channels in transporting sediment to lower elevations. In other writings, however, Leopold’s understanding of rivers was closer to […]

    Dystopia: an update By Gregory Claeys True aficionados of the earthly apocalypse cannot fail to have noted the deepening pessimism in discourses on what is often euphemistically referred to as “climate change”, but what should be designated “environmental catastrophe”. The Paris Agreement of 2015 conceded the need to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, albeit without binding nations to either achieve this specific target or impose specific binding targets in turn on the worst offenders, namely the fossil fuel industries.

    Serena redux: waiting to exhale By Tina K. Sacks By now, much has been written about the Serena Williams-Naomi Osaka-Carlos Ramos fiasco at the 2018 US Open. During the women’s final, the umpire, Carlos Ramos, issued Williams a warning for suspected coaching from her player’s box.

    How well do you know Arthur Schopenhauer? [quiz] By Panumas King This September, OUP Philosophy honors Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 – 1860) as the Philosopher of the Month. Schopenhauer was largely ignored by the academic philosophical community during his lifetime, but gained recognition and fame posthumously.

    Why was Jerusalem important to the first Muslims? By Robert G. Hoyland With the completion of the Dome of the Rock and the Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount in the reign of ‘Abd al-Malik (685-705), Muslims demonstrated the importance of Jerusalem to the world. But why should Islam have had any interest in this city?

    The strange and unusual laws of Italy [interactive map] By Fiona Parker and Sophie Power The International Bar Association Annual Conference will be held in Rome from 7th October through 12th October. It is one of the largest annual events for international lawyers, renowned for its exceptional line-up of speakers from around the world, excellent networking opportunities, and global mission to promote and develop key issues in law.

    Is there a comma after BUT? By Edwin L. Battistella According to editors and grammarians, there is no comma after the word but at the beginning of a sentence. But it is something I see a lot in sentences like “But, there were too many of them to count” or “But, we were afraid the situation would get worse.”

    John Kerry and the Logan Act By Edward A. Zelinsky The Logan Act won’t go away. Most recently, prominent commentators criticized former Secretary of State John Kerry’s conversations with the leaders of Iran, arguing that such discussions violated the Logan Act.

    Pros and cons of GMO crop farming [infographic] By Stephen Mann In the agricultural industry, recombinant DNA technology allows for DNA to be transferred from one organism to another, creating Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Four crops constitute the vast majority of the GM crop production: maize, canola, soybean, and cotton. Since 1995, GM crops have been grown commercially and the global area sown to these crops has expanded over 100-fold over the past two decades.

    ‘Service included?’: tipping in the 19th and early 20th century London restaurant By Brenda Assael If the letters and commentary sections of national newspapers are anything to go by, the question of whether, and how much, to tip is a source of vexation for restaurant patrons in early 21st century London. There has also been more recent criticism of proprietors not passing on tips to their wait staff.

    Research, collection, preservation, and more: Japan’s Kyoto International Manga Museum By Sookyung Yoo Many people both in and out of Japan may be acquainted with the word “manga,” even if they don’t follow it. Manga has played a significant role in Japanese culture for the last century and has recently gained the respect of a wider audience.

    The history of manned space flight [infographic] By Steven Filippi The Soviet Union launched the first man-made satellite, Sputnik, into space in October 1957, initiating the scientific rivalry between the USSR and the United States at the height of the Cold War. In the subsequent decades, the Soviet and American space programs traded milestones as they each embarked upon manned space flight and the exploration of space.

    Renewing the Centre? By Paul Wetherly Have recent events – notably the election (and re-election) of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour party following the Conservative victory in the 2015 general election, and the 2016 vote to leave the EU leading to a ‘hard Brexit’ strategy from the Conservative government – revitalised British politics by breaking from the centrist politics […]

    ‘Unnecessary’ and ‘risky’ – the end of ENT surgery in the NHS? By John S. Phillips and Sally Erskine In July this year, NHS England announced that it planned to cease funding four surgical procedures entirely, and to limit funding for thirteen others. Within this list of procedures, three ear, nose and throat procedures were identified: tonsillectomy for tonsillitis, grommet insertion for glue ear and surgery for snoring. The mainstream media provided mixed opinions, […]

    Bioremediation: using microorganisms to clean up the environment By lidiya angelova Microorganisms are known for their ability to adapt to any environment. We can find them in the most hazardous places on Earth. Their invisible work has led to visible results - terraforming the planet billions of years ago and converting it into the viable green world that is today. Their ability to utilize and adapt to any available substrate in order to gain energy kept the balance in the ecosystem until humans become dominant species.

    Dignified debates: a better way to argue about politics By Walter Sinnott-Armstrong Rebecca Roache expressed a common feeling when in 2015 she blogged, “I am tired of reasoned debate about politics.” Many people today find arguments unpleasant and useless. That attitude is both sad and dangerous because we cannot solve our social problems together if we know that we disagree but do not understand why. Luckily, arguments can help us accomplish a lot even in extreme cases.

    Etymology gleanings for September 2018 By Anatoly Liberman Many thanks to those who have commented on the recent posts and written me privately. My expertise is in Germanic, with occasional timid inroads into the rest of Indo-European. Therefore, I cannot answer questions about Arabic and Chinese. Below, I’ll say something about Hittite, but, obviously, for my information I depend on the authority of others.

    Humanities and scientific explanation: the need for change By Andrew Steane For too long, presentations of science for the general public, and education in schools, has suggested that science wields a sort of hegemonic power, as if its terms and methods gradually replace and make redundant all other discourse; the only reason it has not yet completed its conquest is that the world is complicated—but it is only a matter of time…

    Danger, devotion, and domestic life in Renaissance Italy By Mary Laven Renaissance Italians had many ways of warding off danger. They would hang strings of coral above their beds or place Agnus Dei—small pendants decorated with the Lamb of God and containing fragments of wax from the Easter candle burned at St Peter’s in Rome—in their infants’ cribs.

    Social isolation and loneliness: unique links with healthy lifestyle behaviors during aging By Lindsay Kobayashi Social isolation and loneliness are gaining increasing attention as risks to health and well-being among older adults worldwide. In the United States, about one-third of Americans aged 60 and over are estimated to feel lonely, and one-quarter of Americans aged 65 and over live alone.

    Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month with author, professor, and social worker, Melvin Delgado By Melvin Delgado Born and raised in the South, Bronx by Puerto Rican parents, Melvin Delgado’s research and work has centered on the strengths of communities of color in urban areas. He’s written extensively on social work with Latinos, social justice and youth practice, and most recently the sanctuary movement. We asked Dr. Delgado to answer some of our questions about social work with the Latinx community to commemorate National Hispanic Heritage Month.


    September 2018 (59))

    Cardiologists and nephrologists – the importance of collaboration Bridging the gap between health problems of the heart and kidneys continues to be a talking point amongst specialists. Across both fields, there is clear evidence and recognition that kidney function can affect cardiac health. Kidney patients are vulnerable to a higher level of cardiovascular events as a risk factor and vice versa.

    What are environmental laws? By Hannah Charters “Environmental law ensures that collective action in relation to environmental problems is authoritative and consistent with the rule of law and other principles of legitimate action.” – Elizabeth Fisher, Environmental Law: A Very Short Introduction

    The wisdom of Henry Clay: advice for the modern-day politician By James Klotter Henry Clay succeeded as Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Secretary of State, leader of his party in the Senate, and as “The Great Compromiser.” But most of all, he was a political model for generations. In that capacity, his words speak to us still.

    Thoughts on the origin of the word “bride” [Part I] By Anatoly Liberman The blog named “The Oxford Etymologist,” which started on March 1, 2008, and which appears every Wednesday, rain or shine (this is Post no. 663), owes many of its topics to association. Some time ago, I wrote about the puzzling Gothic verb liugan “to lie, tell falsehoods” and “to marry” (August 15, 2018) and about the etymology of the English verb bless (October 12, 2016).

    How do Christians make God present? A stack of index cards By Ingie Hovland For some, mediating forms may include physical things like churches and communion wafers. For others, mediating forms may also include bodily states such as the experiences of worship, or patterned behavior such as prayer.

    Consent on campus [podcast] By Donna Freitas and Brendan Kiely As students head back to university to start their fall semester, the conversation of consent will no doubt surround them on campus. But what can actually be defined as consent? Where do students learn what consent actually means? From the time of adolescence, students are taught the notion of consent, which impacts how they view the term in their later life.

    Coronations and composite states: the Austrian-Habsburg case By William D. Godsey To mark the 65th anniversary of her coronation, Queen Elizabeth II has given a rare interview in which she talked about the event from the extraordinary perspective of the main participant. Her delightful remark that crowns “are quite important things” betrayed intimate familiarity with the meaning of the ceremonial trappings associated with an ancient tradition that in most places has now died out.

    All about quotations [quiz] By Kim Behrens As Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, ‘By necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we all quote’. Quotations are an essential part of language and are used widely by almost everyone, sometimes out of context and sometimes wrongly attributed.

    A quarter century into the exoplanet revolution By Karel Schrijver In 1969, half a century ago, astronauts first landed on Earth’s sole moon. The first successful robotic landers touched down on the much more distant Venus and Mars in 1970 and 1976, respectively, and in the same decade spacecraft flybys provided the first, fleeting close-ups of Jupiter and Saturn. It was not until two decades […]

    Missing Persons? Aboriginal people in Western Australian mental hospitals By Philippa Martyr Indigenous Australians, like most indigenous peoples, have a long history of engaging with European-style mental health services both in and out of the colonial era. However, their history is poorly documented and largely unexplored.

    This Side of Paradise —Looking Back, A Century Later By Sally Koslow “He fancied that in a hundred years he would like having young people speculate on whether his eyes were brown or blue.” F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote these words in This Side of Paradise approximately a hundred years ago. While speculation on the eye color of Amory Blaine, Fitzgerald’s protagonist, may not currently be top of mind, the author himself, as well as his debut novel, most assuredly are.

    Imagining lost books in the age of Cambridge Analytica By Lindsay Ann Reid I don’t think it coincidental that, at approximately the same historical moment when online sites and services began (both overtly and covertly) preserving and mining our textual interactions en masse, wider culture evinced a perceptible surge of interest in the lost books of past, pre-digital eras.

    2018 Midterm Elections HQ | Oxford University Press The United States midterm elections will decide who controls the Senate and House during the remaining years of the Trump Administration’s first term. In order for the Democrats to gain control over the House, they would need to see a net gain of 24 seats. To regain control of the Senate, Democrats would need to keep all of their seats and capture two of the Republican seats for a 51-49 majority. Of the seats up for election, 35 are held by Democrats, and 9 are held by Republicans. We’ve pulled together a collection of related books, articles, and social media content to help our readers better understand these elections. Be sure to check back each week, and follow our hashtag #BallotReady for more Midterms 2018 content.

    Animal of the month: an interactive experience with the eastern cottontail rabbit Earlier this month, we explored the world of rabbits and facts to enhance our knowledge of the ubiquitous mammal. Now on international rabbit day, we are focusing on the eastern cottontail rabbit, the most common species in North America. What makes it different from other rabbit species? What commonalities can be found across species?

    Paradigms lost, wisdom gained By David P. Barash Tycho Brahe lived with a hand-crafted nose made of brass after his real one was sliced off in a duel. Mr. Brahe was a renowned 16th-century Danish astronomer and a great empirical scientist whose data were used to formulate Johannes Kepler’s three laws of planetary motion. But for our purposes, Tycho Brahe is especially interesting for something other than his prosthetic schnoz or his contributions to astronomy, but for a notable mistake. Confronted with his own irrefutable evidence that the known planets of his day (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) revolved around the Sun, Brahe was nonetheless committed to the prevailing biblical view of a geocentric universe. So he devised an ingenious model in which those planets indeed revolved around the Sun … but with the resulting conglomeration obediently circling a central and immobile Earth!

    Are spirits in space? Exploding spirits and absolute theories of space and time By Emily Thomas Humans exist in space. Our bodies are three dimensional: we have length, breadth, and depth. In the 17th century, philosophers worried about what else exists in space. Teapots. Trees. Planets. All these things seem to exist in space too. What about spirits?

    Science, where are we going? From intellectual passion to a market-driven system By Gianfranco Pacchioni With over 10 million active researchers, more than 2 million scientific articles published each year, and an uncontrolled spread of bibliometric indicators, contemporary science is undergoing a profound change that is modifying consolidated procedures, ethical principles that were deemed inalienable and traditional mechanisms for the validation of scientific outputs that have worked successfully for the last century.

    Selecting repertoire for upper voices – a conductor’s perspective By Joanna Tomlinson and Neil Ferris Choosing inspiring and appropriate choral repertoire for young people can be a challenge but with a huge amount of new music and arrangements being written for upper voice choirs, conductors have some fantastic options to choose from.

    Does TCJA Tax Churches? Should It? By Edward A. Zelinsky Does the new federal tax law, commonly known as the Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA), tax churches as some have argued? If so, is this tax appropriate? The answers are “yes” and “yes.” The TCJA provisions taxing qualified transportation fringes treat secular and religious employers alike, including houses of worship. In a world of […]

    Is Mars still alive? By Stephen James O’Meara Less than 50 days after this year’s World Space Week (4-10 October)—a global network of over 1,000 space-related organizations celebrating the role space plays in bringing the world together for peaceful purposes—NASA’s InSight spacecraft is scheduled to land near the Red Planet’s equator to take the planet’s pulse.

    Spotify Playlist: Broadway tunes in pop culture By Laurence Maslon Popular singers have been covering Broadway for years, introducing show tunes into the mainstream of music. These covers have popularized iconic Broadway tunes and broadcasted show tunes to a larger audience beyond Broadway.

    Blood is thicker than water By Anatoly Liberman Not too long ago (12 October 2016), I wrote a post about the etymology of the verb bless and decided that my next topic would be blood, because bless and blood meet, even if in an obscure way. But more pressing business—the origin of liver (21 March 2018) and kidney (11 April 2018)—prevented me from meeting that self-imposed deadline. Today, Dracula-like, I am ready to tackle blood.

    Northeast India: a new literary region for IWE By Nandana Dutta It’s a young literature – this body of English writings from the eight states of India’s Northeast. Often evaluated in comparison with the rich tradition of Assamese literature (from the largest state in the region and going back several centuries) and overshadowed by the growing dominance of a ‘mainstream India-centred’ Indian writing in English, it began to emerge into the literary-critical scene at the turn of the 20th century, without a splash and with extreme modesty.

    Re-thinking post-war theatre architecture By Alistair Fair The official opening on 14 June 2018 by the Queen and Duchess of Sussex of Chester’s new cultural ‘hub’, Storyhouse, offers a timely moment to consider the theatre as a building type. Storyhouse is an interesting re-thinking of what an Arts building can be. It combines a theatre, cinema, library, and café, in an attempt to break down boundaries between artistic and institutional structures.

    Was it right to pass Israel’s Nation-State Basic Law? By Gideon Sapir Recently, Israel’s Knesset passed by a 62-55 margin, Basic Law: Nation-State. Israel does not have a formal constitution, but rather a set of basic laws with quasi-constitutional status. Among these basic laws are those that deal with structural issues, as well as those that anchor human and civil rights.

    Beyond “The Brady Bunch:” stepfamilies in later life By I-Fen Lin and Susan L. Brown When we think about stepfamilies, images of the perennially popular TV show The Brady Bunch likely spring to mind. Young single parents unite in marriage, bringing together their children from prior unions to form a stepfamily.

    Not your grandmother’s women’s lib movement: Femen’s uncivil disobedience By Candice Delmas Oksana Shachko died on 23 July 2018. She co-founded the feminist socialist collective Femen in her native Ukraine ten years ago, to fight against patriarchy’s three central forms—dictatorship, the sexual exploitation of women, and established religion. One of Femen’s first protests was a guerrilla theater performance protesting sexual harassment at the university.

    Malaria Prevention: An Economic Perspective By Bénédicte Apouey, Gabriel Picone, and Joshua Wilde In 1998, the Roll Back Malaria partnership – the largest global platform in history for coordinated action towards reducing the burden of malaria – was created to fund a series of health initiatives and malaria control interventions in affected countries. However, in spite of large successes in reducing both the incidence of and fatalities from […]

    Multiple inheritances: how the art of Romare Bearden reflects 21st century identities By Mary Schmidt Campbell Bearden’s collages, which burst onto the art world scene in the fall of 1964, made a compelling aesthetic argument for multiple cultural inheritances. He called his vision “the Prevalence of Ritual,” and it was first manifest in Projections, black and white photographic blow ups of collages.

    What would Margaret Cavendish say? By Deborah Boyle Margaret Cavendish (1623-1673) was a philosopher, poet, essayist, and fiction writer, and she had opinions. Lots of them, on topics from the cause of thunder, to the qualities of a good book translator, to the value of diverse opinions themselves (her assessment on this last point: “Several Opinions, except it be in Religion, do no harm.”).

    Philosopher of the Month: Arthur Schopenhauer [slideshow] By OUP Philosophy Team This September, the OUP Philosophy honors Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 – 1860) as the Philosopher of the Month. Schopenhauer was largely ignored by the academic philosophical community during his lifetime, but gained recognition and fame posthumously.

    Pain is real to patient and provider when empathy is present By Beth Hogans “Of pain you could wish only one thing: that it should stop. Nothing in the world was so bad as physical pain. In the face of pain there are no heroes.” - George Orwell, 1984 In 2004, the World Health Organization in cooperation with the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) and the […]

    A bright spot in the dark: Gamma and X-rays tell us the story of the Galactic Centre By Manuel Arca Sedda The central regions of galaxies are extremely crowded places, containing up to a few hundreds of millions of stars. They are generally extremely dense environments, where a variety of phenomena occur frequently.

    The price of precarious labour in contemporary warfare By Maya Mynster Christensen One year previously, a British private security company providing services for the US government reached an agreement with the Sierra Leonean government to employ up to 10,000 Sierra Leonean ex-servicemen for security contracting in Iraq.

    Changing migrants’ mindsets can improve their intercultural experiences By Joshua Katz, Kimberly A. Noels, and Nigel Mantou Lou Immigrants who are not fluent in the local language not only have trouble communicating, but may also feel that they don’t fit into the society in which they live, or that majority members might reject them due to their lack of fluency.

    Do you know your Broadway show tune covers? [quiz] By Laurence Maslon Broadway musicals have enchanted America for decades, so much so that show tunes have made their way into popular culture via recordings by famous artists. These Broadway covers have launched these show tunes into legendary pop culture fame.

    Of course, “our objectionable phrase” By Anatoly Liberman Of course is such a trivial phrase that few, I am afraid, will be interested in its history. And yet, what can be stranger than the shape of this most common two-word group?

    Is the American special education system failing children with autism? By Dr. Bryna Siegel We sat down with Dr. Bryna Siegel and asked about the effectiveness of the modern special education system. In the video below, Dr. Siegel discusses how the push for academic inclusion may actually be putting children with autism at a disadvantage, and offers advice to help parents and educators build better futures for these students as they enter adulthood.

    5 essential focuses in Sociology By Steven Filippi Sociology is a rather new discipline; while its founding theorists lived during the Enlightenment, seminal figures like Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Max Weber shaped the field amid the rise of industrialization and modernity. The scientific and political upheavals of the 19th and 20th centuries brought about a new understanding of how society worked. It is truly a crucial field of study in today’s interconnected world.

    An archaeology of early radio production: doing sound historiography without the sound By Shawn VanCour What did early US radio sound like? During radio’s initial rise to prominence in the 1920s, before the “golden age” of network broadcasting in the 1930s and 1940s, what kinds of programming, production practices, and performance styles greeted audiences’ ears when they tuned into this new medium?

    Revealing the past of childhood before history By Robin Derricourt Through most societies of the human past, children comprised half the community. Archaeologists and their collaborators are now uncovering many aspects of the young in societies of the deep past, too long the ‘hidden half’ of prehistory.

    Animal of the month: 8 facts about rabbits Popular as pets, considered lucky by some, and widely recognised as agricultural nuisances, rabbits are commonplace all over the world. Their cute, fluffy exterior hides the more ingenious characteristics of this burrowing herbivore, including specially-adapted hind legs, extra incisors, and prolific breeding capabilities. Whilst rabbits thrive in most areas, certain species face the common struggle of their specialist habitats being destroyed, and myxomatosis has devastated rabbit populations in the past, at one point destroying 99% of the rabbit population of the United Kingdom.

    Dental students and the smell of fear By Preet Bano Singh and Valentina Parma Human communication takes many forms, but picturing humans using chemical mechanisms to send messages leaves us skeptical. However, this concept becomes more plausible when we think of communication mediated via pheromones in animals.

    A brief look at the post-WWII American military [excerpt] By Joseph T. Glatthaar From the ashes of World War II emerged two victorious superpowers: the United States and the Soviet Union. At the end of the war, America in particular was left with exceptional military strength, a monopoly on atomic weapons, and a home front intact.

    Can “ultra-brief” mindfulness reduce alcohol consumption in heavy drinkers? By Sunjeev Kamboj Scientific interest in mindfulness has grown exponentially since the 1980s. Clinical researchers have been asking whether these practices—which are based on ancient Eastern (Buddhist) contemplative traditions—can be used as psychotherapeutic techniques to ameliorate depression, chronic pain, and addictive behaviour.

    What type of choir director are you? By Ashley Danyew Think about the choir directors you’ve had in the past. What were they like? Each one likely had a different approach to leading, conducting, and communicating. What makes a great leader? Which communication style is most effective? Let’s begin with leadership style.

    Religion and literature in a secular age By Mark Knight There is a long history of people exploring the relationship between religion and literature. We might go back to sacred texts from different traditions and think, for instance, about why there is such a vast array of literary forms in the Judaeo-Christian Bible.

    Are casual hookups sexually empowering for college women? By Jennifer Beste Pursuing this question in conversation with undergraduates inside and outside of the classroom for over ten years, I have found that the vast majority of young women experience hookup culture as disempowering.

    Is Punk (or any alternative culture) an antidote to authoritarian, neotraditionalist nationalism? By Raymond Patton April 30th this year marked the 40th anniversary of the massive Rock Against Racism rally and concert in London, at which some hundred thousand people marched into Victoria Park to the sound of punk and reggae bands, including X-Ray Spex, fronted by Afro-British Poly Styrene.

    Table talk: How do you pay your dues? By Anatoly Liberman To find out how you pay your dues, you have to read the whole post. It would be silly to begin with the culmination. The story will be about phonetics and table talk (first about phonetics).

    Reinventing the textbook in environmental law: time for something new? By Stuart Bell I have spent most of the last 30 years in a Sisyphean state of writing and rewriting an environmental law textbook. The process of producing new editions every 2-4 years has involved too many late nights, missed holidays, and general angst.

    Meet the editors of Diseases of the Esophagus By Giovanni Zaninotto and Neil Gupta This year, professionals and researchers studying the esophagus will convene in Vienna for the 2018 World Congress of the International Society for Diseases of the Esophagus (ISDE 2018). Before the conference gets started, we’ve talked with Drs. Giovanni Zaninotto and Neil Gupta, co-editors-in-chief of the journal Diseases of the Esophagus, about their views on the field and the academic research in the journal.

    Fracturing landscapes: a history of fences on the U.S.-Mexico divide By Mary E. Mendoza In the short, roughly ten-mile stretch, I saw nearly twenty different fence designs made up of at least six different kinds of materials. In one place, there were four fences still standing; each fence representing some previous phase of construction and a stark reminder that Trump’s prototypes aren’t new at all, they are part of a long historical trend.

    Long, short, and efficient titles for research articles By David H. Foster The title of a research article has an almost impossible remit. As the freely available representative of the work, it needs to accurately capture what was achieved, differentiate it from other works, and, of course, attract the attention of the reader, who might be searching a journal’s contents list or the return from a database query.

    The universality of international law By Jo Wojtkowski The 14th Annual Conference of the European Society of International Law will take place at the University of Manchester, from 13th September through 15th September. This is one of the most important events in the international law calendar, attracting a growing network of scholars, researchers, practitioners, and students.

    The flow of physics By David Nolte Galileo was proud of his parabolic trajectory. In his first years after arriving at the university in Padua, he had worked with marked intensity to understand the mathematical structure of the trajectory, arriving at a definitive understanding of it by 1610—just as he was distracted by his friend Paolo Sarpi who suggested he improve on the crude Dutch telescopes starting to circulate around Venice.

    Hamburger semantics By Edwin L. Battistella The students in my class were arguing a question of semantics: is a hamburger a sandwich? One student noted that the menu designer at the restaurant where she worked couldn’t decide if a Chicken Burger should be listed under Hamburgers or Sandwiches.

    How Trump beat Ada’s big data By Gary Smith The Democratic Party’s 2008 presidential primary was supposed to be the coronation of Hillary Clinton. She was the most well-known candidate, had the most support from the party establishment, and had, by far, the most financial resources. The coronation went off script. Barack Obama, a black man with an unhelpful name, won the Democratic nomination and, then, the presidential election against Republican John McCain because the Obama campaign had a lot more going for it than Obama’s eloquence and charisma.

    Fake news: a philosophical look at biased reasoning [excerpt] By Simon Blackburn In the search for moral truth, when we learn what is “right,” we in turn learn what is “wrong.” But how can we know whether our conclusions are sound, or the result of biased reasoning? In the following shortened excerpt from On Truth, Simon Blackburn examines how our minds move, and questions whether or not we’re capable of seeking out “truth.”


    August 2018 (61))

    Modelling roasting coffee beans using mathematics: now full-bodied and robust By Nabil Fadai Coffee is one of the most traded commodities in the world, valued at more than $100 billion annually. Even if you’re not an entrepreneur looking for the next big coffee venture, you’ll probably still care about how to make the 2.25 billion cups of coffee globally consumed every day as delicious as possible.

    How much do you know about opioids? [quiz] By Amy Cluett PAINWeek, the largest US pain conference for frontline clinicians with an interest in pain management, takes place this year from 4th September to 8th September. The conference focuses on several different aspects of pain management, and indeed many different methods of pain management exist.

    Remembering Sterling Stuckey, OUP author and scholar on Slave Culture By Tim Bent Many of us at Oxford noted with sadness the death of Sterling Stuckey on August 15th at the age of 86. Stuckey was the author of Slave Culture: Nationalist Theory and the Foundations of Black America, which OUP first published in 1987 and re-issued 25 years later, and which was a foundational text in our understanding of the culture of slavery—its complexity and richness in its defining forms of resistance, resilience, and celebration.

    Taking your better self to school: 5 renewals for teachers By Peggy D. Bennett For teachers, “back to school” can convey eagerness and excitement. It can also evoke fear, anxiety, and dread. Few of us have the pleasure of thriving in our schools every day, every year. If we learned of ways to bolster ourselves would we try them?

    Etymology gleanings for August 2018 By Anatoly Liberman In a jiffy: Stephen Goranson has offered several citations of this idiom (it means “in a trice”), possibly pointing to its origin in sailor slang. English is full of phrases that go back to the language of sailors, some of which, like tell it to the marines, by and large, and the cut of one’s jib (to cite a few), are well-known.

    Ringtone wins the 2018 George R. Terry Book Award By Seth Cotterman We are proud to announce that the winner of this year’s George R. Terry Book Award is Ringtone: Exploring the Rise and Fall of Nokia in Mobile Phones, by Yves Doz and Keeley Wilson.

    Teenage rebellions: families divided by religion in the Reformation By Rosamund Oates Teenage rebellion is nothing new and religion can be a powerful flashpoint between parents and their children, convinced that the older generation has got it all wrong. As radical Islam attracts teenagers in 21st century Europe, so in early modern England the Reformation produced versions of Protestantism and Catholicism that provided powerful ways for children to reject their parents’ beliefs.

    How the mindful brain copes with rejection By Alexandra Martelli and David Chester Whether it’s being left out of happy hour plans or being broken up with by a significant other, we can all relate to the pain of social rejection. Such “social pain” is consequential, undermining our physical and mental health. But how can we effectively cope with the distressing experience of being left out or ignored? Mindfulness may be an answer.

    A guide to the APSA 2018 conference By Seth Cotterman The 114th American Political Science Association Annual Meeting & Exhibition will be held in Boston this year from August 30th – September 2nd. This year’s conference theme “Democracy and Its Discontents,” explores the challenges facing democracy in the U.S. and in emerging democracies around the world. Drop by the OUP booth (#315) to visit with […]

    Reciprocal loyalty in consumer transactions By Adrian Kuenzler Conventional wisdom holds that the interplay of demand and supply of goods in a free market economy, as if through an invisible hand, provides us with material wealth. This vantage point is based on Adam Smith’s reference to an economy where most of mankind lived in small communities, where self-interest was restrained by a desire to be esteemed by others, and personal relationships bound overweening opportunism.

    The cost of the American dream By Melinda Lewis In its simplest form, the American Dream asserts that success should be determined by effort, not one’s starting point. This is the promise on which most Americans base their hopes and the calculus that is supposed to govern our institutions.

    Exploring Indigenous modernity in North America By Josh Garrett-Davis I work at a history museum with vast Native American collections, and I see every day how stubborn narratives of Native “disappearance” in modern America persist in institutions and among the public. Recent activism and art have begun to present a “reappearance,” but non-specialists have been offered few stories of the paths Native people actually took between, to use iconic incidents, the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890 and the occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973.

    Who is Leonard Bernstein? By Alyssa Russell Best known as the composer of Candide and West Side Story, Leonard Bernstein had an immensely versatile career. Born on August 25, 1918, Bernstein’s career spanned decades, leaving a lasting impression through his work as a conductor, composer, and music educator.

    How well do you know Saint Thomas Aquinas? [quiz] By Catherine Pugh This August, the OUP Philosophy team honours Saint Thomas Aquinas (1224/5-1274) as their Philosopher of the Month. Aquinas is a well-known figure in theology and his ideas are becoming increasingly studied within the discipline of philosophy. His work on Aristotle and his two major texts Summa contra Gentiles and Summa Theologiae have gained him the reputation of being one of the greatest philosopher-theologians of his time.

    Race and political division during American Reconstruction [excerpt] By Allen C. Guelzo Despite succeeding in reuniting the nation after the Civil War, American Reconstruction saw little social and political cohesion. Division—between North and South, black and white, Democrat and Republican—remained unmistakable across the nation. In the following excerpt from Reconstruction: A Concise History, Allen C. Guelzo delves into the complicated nature of race and politics during this […]

    Improving patient outcomes in weight loss surgery By Tomasz G Rogula “Globesity” (the global pervasiveness of obesity) is an epidemic issue across both developed and developing countries. For many nations obesity is a major health issue, but especially the United States.

    Animal of the month: the pride [interactive guide] Pride is one of the most widely-recognised animal collectives in the world. We often picture lions among their family unit, whether they be standing proudly together or hunting down a doomed antelope. These famous social groups are usually formed of between three and ten adult females, two or three males, and the pride’s latest litters of cubs, and they live together (most of the time) across Africa and in the Gir Forest Sanctuary.

    Do you have what it takes to be a copper? By Elena Jones Are you studying to become a police officer? Perhaps you have considered volunteering as a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO)? Whether you are a student of policing, or simply interested in police theory, you can test your knowledge with our short policing quiz.

    The potential preventive promise of music By Kimberly Sena Moore I became a parent around the time I started working in childhood mental health, providing music therapy to children with complex trauma histories. Through these experiences, I became aware both personally and professionally of the profound impact a child’s early environment has on their social and emotional development outcomes and later behavioral and academic ones.

    The shortest history of hatred continued and partly concluded By Anatoly Liberman As a matter of fact, it is a long story, because the distant origin of hate—the word, not the feeling—is far from clear. As usual, we should try to determine the earliest meaning of our word (for it may be different from the one we know) and search for the cognates in and outside Germanic. At the beginning of the month (see the post for 1 August 2018), a good deal was said about the Gothic language.

    Big Data and the Happiness of Cities By Jason M. Barr In today’s world of big data and mass media saturation, statistics and graphs are constantly being thrown at us. For researchers, wading through, and making sense of, the sea of numbers is as much about the journey as the destination. But for most people who are simply trying to live their lives, all these facts […]

    World Humanitarian Day minisode [podcast] Humanitarianism is an active belief in the value of human life. World Humanitarian Day is held every year on 19 August to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and to rally support for people affected by crises around the world. On this minisode of The Oxford Comment, Marketing Coordinator, Katelyn Phillips, speaks […]

    The allure of the peasant in organic farming By Gregory A. Barton Idealizing pre-modern life has a long history in western culture. When Europeans discovered the vast new world of the Americas, new visions and possibilities arose in their imagination, not just of the Native Americans that populated the new continent, but of Europeans themselves. The English philosopher Thomas Hobbes understood Native Americans to live in a pre-civil condition, savages ridden with violence.

    Why We Fall for Toxic Leaders By Jean Lipman-Blumen School shootings, terrorism, cyberattacks, and economic downturns open the door to toxic leaders. Small wonder these dangerous, seductive leaders attract followers worldwide. Toxic leaders typically enter the scene as saviors. They promise to keep us safe, quell our fears, and infuse our lives with meaning and excitement, perhaps, even immortality. Yet, as history grimly attests, […]

    Ten perspectives on music and autism, from ten people on the spectrum By Michael Bakan Since the emergence of autism as a diagnosed condition in the 1940s, the oft-noted musical proclivities of people on the autism spectrum have generated much interest. Reports of savant-like abilities, extraordinary feats of musical memory, and disproportionately high rates of perfect pitch abound, along with a high degree of emphasis on music’s importance in therapeutic interventions.

    Teaching environmental privilege is integral to environmental justice By Christina L. Erickson Privilege has become a serious area of inquiry in recent years. White privilege and male privilege have hit the spotlight, as has racial disparities in police brutality and the #MeToo movement highlighting workplace harassment and sexual assault.

    The Plastic Age By Charlotte Zaidi Recently, the issue of single-use plastic and its impact on the environment has come to the fore, with many companies vowing to cut back their plastic use, and increased media coverage across the globe. It isn’t difficult to see why there is a growing passion for addressing the problem of plastic—its environmental significance is truly shocking—and in 2016 the Ellen MacArthur Foundation published a report that concluded there will be as much plastic in the ocean as fish by 2020.

    World Humanitarian Day [podcast] By Alexandra Eurdolian, Belinda Gurd, Robert Wicks, and Sarah Gehlert On this episode of The Oxford Comment, we take a look at the challenges faced by humanitarians today. Host Erin Katie Meehan sat down with Health & Social Work editorial board member Sarah Gehlert, Belinda Gurd and Alexandra Eurdolian of the UNOCHA, and esteemed psychologist Robert J. Wicks to explore important questions about humanitarianism.

    The Grainy and Grisly History of Crime Photography By Elena Jones Judicial photography dates back to Belgium in the 1840’s when the earliest known photographs of criminals were taken within prisons by prison officials. In Switzerland, 1852, Carl Durheim was commissioned by Attorney General Jacob Amiet, and tasked with taking photographs of arrested vagrants in Bern. During this period, judicial photography was used by local authorities to document individuals who travelled, and were unknown to local police.

    One hundred years of poems “counter, original, spare, strange” By Lesley Higgins Who doesn’t like a centenary? Whether solemn, festive, or celebratory, a centenary can be very instructive, whether conducted individually or collectively. It is a way of acknowledging—often honouring—the past and, at the same time, reassessing the present and imagining the future in the context of the previous event or exemplary person.

    The multigenerational struggle for women’s suffrage in the United States [timeline] By Stephen Mann The Women’s Suffragist movement spans multiple generations. 72 years passed between the Seneca Falls convention in 1848 and the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. During that time, women skillfully organized, mobilized, and built a powerful social movement to achieve their long-sought goal. Let’s look back at the events that led up to that […]

    Oral disease or random object? [quiz] By Amy Cluett, Keith Hunter, Max Robinson, Michael Pemberton, and Phillip Sloan How can medical professionals tell whether individuals have a disease? The simple answer is that body tissues are examined under the microscope, but the long answer involves reams of research and hours of study and intense examination.

    Revolutionary Music and the Social Fabric of Rebellion By David Brenner Rebels are central actors in civil wars. However, their perspectives and lifeworlds remain little understood. In fact, many studies on civil war suffer from what Ranajit Guha criticised as the “prose of counterinsurgency”: scholars often infer the logic of rebellion from second-hand accounts, many of which are produced in the interest of state power. Insofar as scholarship has been interested in the rebel perspective, it mostly focuses on the strategic calculus of revolutionary elites.

    Can the auto industry improve spinal fusion surgery? By Ahmed M. Raslan, Jeffrey S. Raskin, and Jesse J. Liu Systems science is the study of how component parts of a system interact with each other. It may seem counterintuitive to consider that medical care and systems science are linked, but in fact the component parts of a care cycle are infinitely complex.

    The multifaceted art of lying By Anatoly Liberman In 1882, Mark Twain gave a short speech titled “On the Decay of the Art of Lying,” not his best or wittiest. I assume that Oscar Wilde did not miss the published text of that speech, for seven years later, he brought out a kind of treatise in the form of a dialogue with a similar title, namely, “The Decay of Lying—An Observation,” one of his most powerful and brilliant (as always, too brilliant) essays.

    Regifting ideas: How an obscure idea from animal breeding helps us to understand genome evolution By Bruce Walsh One of the more satisfying aspects of science is that an often fairly technical or obscure idea from one field can later turn out to be a key guiding principle in another, rather distant, field. One such example is a historical result from the theory of animal breeding that now provides critical insight into the way evolution structures genomes.

    Democracy and political violence: the case of France By Chris Millington Does democratic politics eliminate political violence? Are citizens of a democracy prepared to resolve their political differences solely at the ballot box? The fighting at Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017 suggests that these are questions as relevant today as at the highpoint of European political confrontation during the interwar years.

    Editing The Scarlet Pimpernel By Nicholas Daly Baroness Orczy’s Scarlet Pimpernel (1905) is one of those popular novels that we tend to assume we already know without having read it. This tale of the French Revolution has been adapted many, many times, for the stage, small and large screens, and radio, and it has been frequently parodied over the decades, most famously, perhaps, by the Carry On team with Don’t Lose Your Head (aka Carry on Pimpernel).

    Putin’s stability becomes Russia’s stagnation By Brian D. Taylor Russia may seem to be on the march globally, but at home Russia is running in place. This inertia is the flip side of Putin’s domestic image as stability tsar, bringing an end to the “wild 90s” that followed the Soviet collapse. Back in 2010, Putin credited his policies with Russia’s successful bid to host […]

    The Geneva Conventions and the minimum standards of humanity By Robert Cryer On the occasion of World Humanitarian Day, it seems appropriate to look to the basic principles of humanitarian law, which show what is always unacceptable. Prior to 1949, there was little international humanitarian law applicable to non-international armed conflicts, although such conflicts were becoming increasingly prevalent and overtaking their international counterparts.

    The vocation of youth By Michael Baizerman and Ross VeLure Roholt We all benefit when young people understand their strengths and talents and use these to make the world a better place through direct action, service, and leadership. We use the idea of vocation to describe this process of them coming to understand their strengths and talents and how these can be applied to address issues they care about in their community.

    Seven myths about feigning By Henry Otgaar and Mark L. Howe Defendants may feign psychiatric disorders to reduce their criminal responsibility. From its detection and prevalence, to its connections with psychopathy, this extract from Finding Truth in the Courtroom debunks seven common myths about feigning, and why people do it.

    The ever-evolving US Supreme Court By Linda Greenhouse Justice Byron R. White, who served on the Supreme Court for 31 years (1962-1993), once observed that every time a new justice joins the court, it’s a new court. His observation may sound counter-intuitive: after all, a new justice joins eight incumbents. Can a single new member make such a difference?

    Animal of the month: 10 facts about lions Lions have enchanted humans since early Antiquity, and were even represented in European cave paintings from 35,000 years ago. They are regularly the main characters in folklore and allegory, appearing everywhere from African folktales to the Bible. It is not hard to see why lions are so ubiquitously revered. Their fearsome yet stunning appearance, combined with their endearing hunting tactics and formidable roar, answers any questions as to why early societies named the lion ‘King of the Beasts’, and indeed explains why this name is still used today.

    Celebrating the NHS at 70 On the 5th of July 2018, the National Health Service (NHS) celebrated its 70th anniversary. Aneurin Bevan, the Minister for Health, founded the NHS in 1948 with the aim of bringing together hospitals, doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, and opticians under a single umbrella organisation for the first time.

    Reflections on two decades of string teaching By David Blackwell and Kathy Blackwell In England, we have the expression ‘Carrying coals to Newcastle’ – a pointless action, since the place in question already has a bountiful supply. In Spain, they take oranges to Valencia and in Portugal, honey to a bee-keeper. If not quite as plentiful as oranges or honey, publishers’ lists are filled with beginner violin repertoire – what possible motivation could there be to write and publish more?

    The shortest history of hatred: Part 1 By Anatoly Liberman It would be unwise to leave the topic of emotions (see the posts on anger, dread, and fear), without saying something about hate and hatred. Although hate refers to intense dislike, it is curious to observe how diluted the word has become: today we can hate orange juice, a noisy neighbor, even our own close relative, and of course we hate not finding the objects we have mislaid. For some reason, to dislike, have little regard for, and resent are not enough for expressing our dissatisfaction.

    Understanding academic impact: fear and failure, stealth and seeds By Matthew Flinders Failure is an unavoidable element of any academic career. For all but a small number of ‘superstar über-scholars’, most of the research papers we submit will be rejected, our most innovative book proposals will be politely rebuffed and our applications for grants, prizes and fellowships will fall foul of good fortune.

    The Little Red Book vs. the Big White Book By Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom and Maura Elizabeth Cunningham There are some similarities between former Chairman of the Communist Party of China Mao Zedong’s most famous book, Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong (“The Little Red Book”) and current General Secretary Xi Jinping’s The Governance of China (“Big White Book”)—the second installment of which came out last year, each volume the same cream color and featuring the same photograph of the author.

    Five significant discussions in history By Steven Filippi History is the academic study of the human race and everything that humans have done stretching back millennia. Though it may tell stories of the past, it is certainly not dead.

    Medical education and the good doctor By Rick Fraser (Guest Author) “Ahhhhh” moans a 16-year-old girl, her face contorted in pain as she lies on a stretcher in a busy emergency room corridor. Her distress is elicited by gentle prods to her abdomen by a young surgeon summoned by the ER staff.

    Why I Oppose the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact By Edward A. Zelinsky Connecticut, where I live, is the most recent state to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. The Nutmeg State was wrong to join this Compact, designed to ensure that the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote also wins in the Electoral College.

    Studying law in the UK: Are you ready? By Kimberley Payne Your favourite club at school was the debating society, and you managed to negotiate an increase in pocket money as a teenager – it was obvious you were going to study law. But how much do you really know about studying for a law degree in the UK? How many people apply? And what pathways […]

    Celebrating Emily Brontë By Helen Small Only one birthday is “celebrated” in Wuthering Heights. It doesn’t go well. The young Catherine Linton begins her 16th birthday with a modestly optimistic plan to buck the established family pattern of solitary mourning to mark the date when she came into the world (“a puny, seven months child”), but her mother died two hours later.

    Are you a forensic psych expert? By Stephanie King The moment a defendant walks into a courtroom, everyone is trying to get in their head to figure out if they actually committed the crime, and what could have driven them to the act. That’s why expert testimony from mental health experts can be critical for juries, especially in high-profile cases. Do you think you […]

    Where to put hyphens By Edwin L. Battistella After reading a draft of something by a colleague, I asked her how she decides when to use hyphens. She responded tartly: “Hyphens. You mean like in well-spoken, or half-assed? I’m not sure. I don’t care for them.” Personally, I’m a big fan of hyphens and sarcasm won’t deter me. Personally, I’m a big fan of hyphens and sarcasm won’t deter me.

    Philosopher of the month: Saint Thomas Aquinas [timeline] By Catherine Pugh This August, the OUP Philosophy team honours Saint Thomas Aquinas (1224/5-1274) as their Philosopher of the Month. The Italian philosopher, theologian, and Dominican friar is regarded by many as the greatest figure of scholasticism. Thomism and Neo-Thomism are both popular schools of thought related to the philosophical-theological ideas of Aquinas.

    Laudable mathematics – The Fields Medal Kicking off the International Congress of Mathematicians 2018 in Rio de Janeiro was this year’s Fields Medal awards ceremony, celebrating the brightest young minds in mathematics. The prize is awarded every four years to up to four mathematicians under the age of 40, and is viewed as one of the highest honours a mathematician can receive.

    Etymology gleanings for July 2018 By Anatoly Liberman Work on a project for reformed spelling is underway (under way). Three comments and letters have come to my notice. Masha Bell called our attention to useful and useless double letters. No doubt, account and arrive do not need their cc and rr, and I am all for abolishing them. I won’t live long enough to see acquire spelled as akwire, but perhaps aquire will satisfy future generations?

    Modified gravity in plane sight By Indranil Banik, David O'Ryan, and Hongsheng Zhao Our Galaxy—the Milky Way—is a vast rotating disk containing billions of stars along with huge amounts of gas and dust. Its diameter is around 100,000 light years.


    July 2018 (66))

    Back to school reading list for educators By Stephen Mann Packing up your beach towels and heading back to the class room? To help make lesson planning and curriculum writing easier, we have prepared you a reading list from the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education.

    Epidemics and the ‘other’ By Samuel Cohn A scholarly consensus persists: across time, from the Plague of Athens to AIDS, epidemics provoke hate and blame of the ‘other’. As the Danish-German statesman and ancient historian, Barthold Georg Niebuhr proclaimed in 1816: “Times of plague are always those in which the bestial and diabolical side of human nature gains the upper hand.”

    Hegemonic comeback in Mexico? The victory of López Obrador By Alejandro García Magos On 1 July, Mexicans elected a new president. The results confirmed what the polls had been predicting for months: Andrés Manuel López Obrador, known as AMLO, won by a landslide of over 50% of the vote—more than 30 points over the second place candidate, Ricardo Anaya of the National Action Party (PAN).

    Making sense of President Trump’s trade policy By Sean D. Ehrlich Trade policy was a cornerstone of US President Donald Trump’s campaigns, both in the primary and general, and has often been a centerpiece of his agenda since in office. Trade policy is once again at the forefront with the recently concluded G-7 summit, largely revolving around the President’s threatened steel tariffs on Canada and the EU which followed recent negotiations with China over a possible trade war.

    Giving young people a voice: a follow-up on El Sistema USA programs By Amy Nathan “Music is my life. I will never stop playing cello,” says Vanessa Johnson, one of the young people whose early experiences with music are featured in the book The Music Parents’ Survival Guide (2014). Since more than four years have passed since it went to press, we are checking in with some youngsters to see how they are doing, focusing on those who participated in free after-school programs inspired by El Sistema, Venezuela’s music-education system which emphasizes ensemble playing right from the start.

    From Galileo’s trajectory to Rayleigh’s harp By David Nolte A span of nearly 300 years separates Galileo Galilei from Lord Rayleigh—Galileo groping in the dark to perform the earliest quantitative explorations of motion, Lord Rayleigh identifying the key gaps of knowledge at the turn into the 20th century and using his home laboratory to fill them in. But the two scientists are connected by a continuous thread.

    Which Brontë sister said it? [quiz] By Kayla Kavanagh Emily Brontë, born 200 years ago on 30 July 1818, would become part of one of the most important literary trinities alongside her sisters, Charlotte and Anne. Emily’s only novel, Wuthering Heights, polarised contemporary critics and defied Victorian convention by depicting characters from “low and rustic life.”

    Wars of national liberation: The story of one unusual rule II By Kubo Macák In the first part of this post, I discussed the chequered history of Article 1(4) of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions. This provision has elevated so-called “wars of national liberation” to the level of inter-state armed conflicts as far as international humanitarian law (IHL) is concerned—albeit only for the parties to the Protocol.

    Donald Trump, Kim Jong Un, and North Korean human rights By Louis René Beres US President Donald Trump traveled to Singapore to negotiate urgent nuclear matters, and not to discuss North Korean violations of basic human rights. Any such willful US indifference to these violations in another country, especially when they are as stark and egregious as they are in North Korea, represents a sorely grievous disregard for America’s vital obligations under international law.

    Women artists in conversation: Tiff Massey Q&A [Part II] By Kathy Battista Tiff Massey is a young artist whose work ranges from wearable sculpture to large-scale public interventions. In the first of this two-part interview, Massey spoke with Benezit Dictionary of Art editor Kathy Battista about her work as well as her vision for bringing art education to underserved areas of Detroit. In the second part of the interview, Massey speaks about her influences and beginnings as an artist.

    How well do you know Merleau-Ponty? [quiz] By Panumas King This July, the OUP Philosophy team honors Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908-61) as their Philosopher of the Month. Merleau-Ponty was a leading French phenomenologist and together with Sartre founded the existential school of philosophy. He was best known for his major work, Phénoménologie de la Perception (1945, Phenomenology of Perception) which established that the body was the centre of perceptions and medium of consciousness.

    Innovation: in and out of the Budongo By Alan G. Gross In 2014, PLOS Biology published an article about a cousin of ours, a member of the Sono Community of wild chimpanzees in the Budongo Forest in northwestern Uganda. In a video shared in relation to the study, an alpha male, NK, gathers moss from a tree trunk just within his reach, a prize he will use to lap up water in a nearby pool.

    Ten facts about dentistry By Amy Cluett You use it every day; it’s a facial feature that everybody sees; and one that enables almost all animals to survive. We’re talking, of course, about the mouth.

    How ‘the future’ connects across subjects By Very Short Introductions ‘Today’s world is complex and unreliable. Tomorrow is expected to be more so.’ – Jennifer M. Gidley, The Future: A Very Short Introduction From the beginning of time, humanity has been driven by a paradox: fearing the unknown but with a constant curiosity to know. Over time, science and technology have developed, meaning that we […]

    Animal of the Month: 4 figures behind orca captivation beyond Blackfish “You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince (1943). The 2013 release of the documentary Blackfish revolutionized the way the world has since focused on orcas. Yet orca captivity in the United States and Canada predates the documentary by almost five decades. So who was behind the plight of these orcas? Using Jason M. Colby’s Orca: How We Came to Know and Love the World’s Greatest Predator, we compiled a list of figures behind the half century of orca captivity beyond Blackfish.

    70 years of Middle Eastern politics, leaders, and conflict [infographic] By Steven Filippi Since the end of the Second World War and the founding of Israel in 1948, the Middle East has been a bastion for the world’s economic, political, and religious tensions. From its economic hold on energy consumption to its complicated, generations-long military conflicts and its unfortunate role as a hotbed of terrorism, the volatile politics of the Middle East have had and will continue to have global implications into the future.

    One-sided etymology By Anatoly Liberman There is a feeling that idioms resist interference. A red herring cannot change its color any more than the leopard can change its spots. And yet variation here is common. For instance, talk a blue streak coexists with swear (curse) a blue streak. One even finds to swear like blue blazes (only the color remains intact). A drop in the bucket means the same as a drop in the ocean. We can cut something to bits or to pieces, and so forth.

    “Fitting in” in the global workplace By Stephen J. Moody With ever-increasing global mobility, today’s workers often find themselves struggling to get along in workplace cultures different from their native norms. Many disciplines, from managerial sciences to linguistics to education, have a vested interest in understanding and addressing these challenges. Research focuses on how international workers adapt to new environments and how local workers accommodate foreign colleagues.

    Celebrating the Fields Medal [infographic] This year, 2018, sees the world’s mathematics community come together once more at the International Congress of Mathematicians, hosted for the first time in South America in Rio de Janeiro. A highlight at every ICM is the announcement of the recipients of the Fields Medal, an award that honours up to four mathematicians under the age of 40, and is viewed as one of the highest honours a mathematician can receive. Here we honour past Fields Medal winners who we are proud to name as our authors. Hover over each name to learn a little more about who they are and what their contributions have been.

    Isobel and me: medieval sanctuary and Whig history By Shannon McSheffrey For the last fifteen years I have been having an intense dialogue in my head with a long-dead historian, Isobel D. Thornley (1893-1941). Isobel is my best frenemy. Two pieces she wrote in 1924 and 1932 remain standard citations for one of my favourite subjects, medieval sanctuary; this is a feat of scholarly longevity that few of her contemporaries can boast.

    Find the missing millions By Philippa C Matthews A young man in my clinic avoids eye contact. Peaked cap pulled low, he directs his unfocused gaze into a corner of the room. Recently diagnosed with hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, he doesn’t know whether to believe this news, how to process it, or what it means for his future.

    How Oscar Wilde got his big break By Michèle Mendelssohn In the late 1870s, when he was still a student, Oscar Wilde gathered his college friends for a late night chat in his Oxford room. The conversation was drifting to serious topics. “You talk a lot about yourself, Oscar,” one of them said, “and all the things you’d like to achieve. But you never say what you’re going to do with your life.”

    Remembering Joseph Johnson By John Bugg Given his near half-century career, the Romantic-era publisher Joseph Johnson (1738-1809) left behind a notably small archive. We know from a letter he wrote on today’s date in 1799 that he destroyed some of his correspondence and business documents while serving a two-year sentence for seditious libel in King’s Bench Prison (imprisonment was a fate that progressive publishers were all too familiar with during the 1790s).

    Living with hysteria: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and “The Yellow Wall-Paper” By Rebecca Coffey Charlotte Perkins Gilman, author of the semiautobiographical short story, “The Yellow Wall-Paper,” was a first-wave feminist determined to live a fully actualized life of work for the common good. Born in Connecticut in 1860, she was a lecturer on ethics, labor, and feminism, and was also the niece of Harriet Beecher Stowe. Charlotte grew up in poverty and was particularly interested in bettering the economic straits of women. Her family moved so often that she was largely home-schooled and self-taught.

    Wars of national liberation: The story of one unusual rule I By Kubo Macák If someone was to make a ranking of the most controversial rules of international law, Article 1(4) of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions would very likely make the top 10. The Geneva Conventions themselves probably need little introduction; these four international treaties were adopted in the aftermath of World War II and now form the core of international humanitarian law (IHL).

    New narrative nonfiction minisode [podcast] After the 2008 recession, print book sales took a hit, but now BookScan has recorded consistent growth in print book sales year over year for the past five years. What has been driving these sales? Surprisingly, adult nonfiction sales. Covering topics from history, politics and law, nonfiction saw a growth of 13 percent during the […]

    Shark Week 2018 By Charis Edworthy With their huge, sharp teeth and menacing demeanor, it’s no wonder this ocean predator has long struck fear into the hearts of many. Thanks to films like Jaws and Sharknado, sharks have gained a reputation for killing and eating humans, yet there are under 100 unprovoked shark attacks each year, and even fewer fatalities—you’re more likely to be killed by lightning or a bee sting than you are by a shark!

    Japan’s pivot in Asia By Richard J. Samuels and Corey Wallace In East Asia, the Brexit vote served as a reminder of how abruptly the improbable could become entirely possible. Could the unwinding of long-taken-for-granted assumptions about regional order and its supporting institutions also take place in Asia? Trump’s election, not even five months later – and then his overture to Pyongyang – made these prospects even more tangible. These concerns are manifest in four policy domains.

    Women artists in conversation: Tiff Massey Q&A [Part I] By Kathy Battista Tiff Massey is a young artist whose work ranges from wearable sculpture to large-scale public interventions. She is the first African-American woman to graduate from Cranbrook Academy of Art’s MFA in Metalsmithing. She cites her influences as ranging from 1980s hip-hop culture and her hometown of Detroit to African art and Japanese fashion.

    Who discovered Newton’s Laws? By Prasenjit Saha and Paul A. Taylor Newton’s famous remark, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants,” is not in his published work, but comes from a letter to a colleague and competitor. In context, it reads simply as an elaborately polite acknowledgment of previous work on optics, especially the work of the recipient of the letter, Robert Hooke.

    New narrative nonfiction [podcast] After the 2008 recession, print book sales took a hit, but now BookScan has recorded consistent growth in print book sales year over year for the past five years. What has been driving these sales? Surprisingly, adult nonfiction sales. Covering topics from history, politics and law, nonfiction saw a growth of 13 percent during the last fiscal year.

    Librarians on bikes: cycling through US libraries By Beth Cramer and John Boyd After working for 26 years as academic librarians, we have reached a point in our careers where we are right-sizing professionally and personally. This year, we requested and were granted a nine-month contract, enabling us to pursue our dream of cycling across the United States, from Washington, D.C., to Astoria, Oregon.

    Pidgin English By Anatoly Liberman There will be no revelations below. I owe all I have to say to my database and especially to the papers by Ian F. Hancock (1979) and Dingxu Shi (1992). But surprisingly, my folders contain an opinion that even those two most knowledgeable researchers have missed, and I’ll mention it below for what it is worth. Several important dictionaries tell us that pidgin is a “corruption” of Engl. business, and I am not in a position to confirm or question their opinion.

    Immuno-oncology: are the top players changing the field? By Kiashini Sriharan Immunotherapy is a form of treatment to improve the natural ability of the immune system to fight diseases and infections, with immuno-oncology (IO) focusing on combatting cancer specifically. Novel immunotherapies are a possible solution for cancers that don’t respond to standard cancer treatments, either as standalone or in combination therapy.

    Who are the super-rich and why they are paid so much? By Vincenzo Carrieri, Michele Raitano, and Francesco Principe ne of the most common arguments against contemporary capitalism is that it generates extreme inequalities. Few individuals – it is often said – earn huge earnings, while the rest of society has to struggle to make ends meet. But, who are the super-rich and why they are paid so much? Observing the composition of top incomes reveals a striking novelty for what concerns the “who” question.

    Enjoying our Universe [slideshow] What do we mean by “the Universe”? In the physics community, we would define “the Universe” as all “observable things”, ranging from the entire cosmos to stars and planets, and to small elementary particles that are invisible to the naked eye. Observable things would also include recently made discoveries that we are slowly coming to understand more, such as the Higgs boson, gravitational waves, and black holes.

    The goals of medicine do not stop at the edge of the body By Eric J. Cassell Over the last 100 years, the world, people, and our society have changed beyond measure. So have diseases, and we are now almost 75 years into the first ever age where cure of disease, successful organ transplants and near complete recovery from trauma has been possible. Despite all of this change, however, medical school curricula have hardly changed in a hundred years.

    London keeps it psychedelic at audio-visual performing arts festival By Jonathan Weinel Entering into a darkened room crowded with people, there is a powerful smell of incense. A robed figure touches the forehead of each initiate, uttering an incantation. In the centre, a figure crouches, swaying slightly, engaged in some kind of mystical ritual.

    Shariah: myths vs. realities By John L. Esposito and Natana DeLong-Bas For many in the West today, “Shariah” is a word that evokes fear—fear of a medieval legal system that issues draconian punishments, fear of relegation of women and religious minorities to second-class citizenship, fear of Muslims living as separate communities who refuse to integrate with the rest of society, and fear that Muslims will seek to impose Shariah in America and Europe.

    Animal of the Month: 5 facts you should know about misnomered orcas For centuries, orcas have accrued a myriad of different names: Orcinus orca (which translates roughly as “demon from hell”), asesinas de ballena (whale killers), Delphinus orca, grampus, thrasher, blackfish, killer whale, to name a few. The names of these animals are overtly violent, but what do we actually know about the alleged “demons from hell”? This month, we want look at the facts about killer whales, and debunk the centuries-old mystery and fear surrounding orcas.

    Where do our teeth come from? [excerpt] By Hugh Devlin and Rebecca Craven We all know that we start with baby teeth which fall out and are replaced with adult teeth, but do we really know why? Where do our baby teeth come from in the first place? This adapted extract below from the Oxford Handbook of Integrated Dental Biosciences highlights how our teeth form, why they erupt through our gums when they do, what causes teething pains, and when baby teeth should begin to appear.

    A Q&A with composer Will Todd By Will Todd British composer and pianist Will Todd has worked at the Royal Opera House, the Lincoln Center in New York, London’s Barbican, and with Welsh National Opera, award-winning choirs The Sixteen, the BBC Singers, and Tenebrae. His music is valued for its melodic intensity and harmonic skill, which often incorporates jazz colours. We caught up with Will to ask him a few questions about his inspiration and approach to composition.

    The gleaner continues his journey: June 2018 By Anatoly Liberman My discussion of idioms does not rest on a solid foundation. In examining the etymology of a word, I can rely on the evidence of numerous dictionaries and on my rich database. The linguists interested in the origin of idiomatic phrases wade through a swamp. My database of such phrases is rather rich, but the notes I have amassed are usually “opinions,” whose value is hard to assess. Sometimes the origin of a word is at stake.

    Brexit threatens food supplies and Ministers know it By martin mckee and Tim Lang The story on the front page of The Sunday Times on 3 June 2018 pulled no punches. Headlined “Revealed: plans for Doomsday Brexit”, it reported on leaked government papers planning for a “no deal” Brexit scenario. They warned that the port of Dover could collapse on day one of exiting the EU, with major food shortages within a few days and medicines shortages within two weeks.

    It’s not just decline and fall anymore… By Oliver Nicholson One evening in mid-October 1764 the young Edward Gibbon sat among the ruins of the Capitol at Rome. The prospect before him must have looked like a Piranesi print–bony cattle grazing on thin grass in the shade of shattered marble columns. It was then and there that he resolved to write the history of the decline and fall of Rome.

    Keeping high risk patients healthy at home By Colin W. O'Brien Staying on top of multiple chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart failure can be a challenge for even the most well-resourced patient – imagine doing so while battling homelessness and schizophrenia. The result is often frequent trips to the emergency department and the hospital. Not surprisingly, many healthcare systems have started implementing programs to address the needs of these patients.

    Stars in the telescopic eye: LVHIS and the nearby Universe By Bärbel Koribalski Spiral galaxies like the Milky Way and its neighbour, the Andromeda Galaxy, contain about 100 billion stars each, the light of which can be seen by eye. Also visible are small amounts of dust, typically enshrouding the sites of young star formations.

    Philosopher of The Month: Maurice Merleau-Ponty [slideshow] By Panumas King This July, the OUP Philosophy team honors Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908-61) as their Philosopher of the Month. Merleau-Ponty was a French phenomenologist and together with Sartre founded the existential philosophy. His work draws on the empirical psychology, the early phenomenology of Husserl, Saussure’s structuralism as well as Heidegger’s ontology. His most famous work Phénoménologie de la […]

    Professionalizing leadership – development By Barbara Kellerman Learning to lead should consist of a certain sequence in a certain order. Like doctors and lawyers, and for that matter like preachers and teachers and truck drivers and hairdressers, leaders should first be educated, then trained, and then developed. Previously we have addressed leadership education and training. What finally is meant by leadership development? How are leaders developed – as opposed to educated or trained?

    The varieties of shame By Krista K. Thomason When my grandmother died in 2009, my far-flung family returned to east Texas to mourn her. People she had known from every stage of her life arrived to pay their respects. At a quiet moment during the wake, my aunt asked my grandfather how he felt about seeing all these people who loved him and who loved my grandmother. He answered, “Shame” and started to cry.

    Nonsurgical challenges in surgical training By Rachel J Kwon Surgical cases dramatized in popular culture are loosely based on reality, but surgery is decidedly less glamorous on a daily basis. Before embarking on my own surgery training, I mentally prepared myself for the long hours and expected demands of caring for sick surgical patients, but looking back, the lessons I remember most came from small, quiet, and often unexpected moments.

    Smoke from wildland fires and public health By Jonathan Long Firefighters, forest managements, and residents are preparing for another fire season in the western part of the United States. Wildfires burn large expanses of forested lands in California, but it’s not just rural Californians who need to worry about effects of such fires. Residents in urban areas and neighboring states experience the through smoke from hundreds of miles away.

    Did Muslims forget about the Crusades? By Michael Lower The crusades are so ubiquitous these days that it is hard to imagine anyone ever forgetting them. People play video games like Assassin’s Creed (starring the Templars) and Crusader Kings II in droves, newsfeeds are filled with images of young men marching around in places like Charlottesville holding shields bearing the old crusader slogan “Deus vult” (God wills it!), and every year books about the crusades are published in their dozens, informing readers about the latest developments in crusader studies.

    The ascent of music and the 63rd Eurovision Song Contest By Philip V. Bohlman At a speed few can fathom, nationalism has become the dirtiest word in all of European cultural politics. Embraced by the right and rising populism, nationalism seemingly poses a threat to the very being of Europe. Nationalists proudly proclaim a euroscepticism that places the sovereignty of self over community.

    Monthly gleanings for June 2018 By Anatoly Liberman The post on pilgarlic appeared on 13 June 2018. I knew nothing of the story mentioned in the comment by Stephen Goranson, but he always manages to discover the sources of which I am unaware. The existence of Pilgarlic River adds, as serious people might say, a new dimension to the whole business of pilgarlic. Who named the river? Is the hydronym fictitious? If so, what was the impulse behind the coinage? If genuine, how old is it, and why so called? What happened in 1883 that aroused people’s interest in that seemingly useless word?

    The Ancient Celts: six things I learned from Barry Cunliffe By George Currie Confession: I’m not an archaeologist nor a historian—at least not in any meaningful sense, though I do delight in aspects of both. But I was lucky enough to see Barry Cunliffe speak about the Ancient Celts at the Oxford Literature Festival earlier this year and then to have front row seats to the recording of this podcast, and I wanted to share a little of what I’ve learned.

    Angling for less harmful algal blooms By Brent Sohngen and Wendong Zhang Blooms bring to mind the emerging beauty of spring—flowers blossoming and trees regaining their splendor. These blooms, unlike spring flowers, are odorous, unpleasant, and potentially toxic. They deter families from engaging in water-related recreational activities such as going to the shore. They discourage anglers from going fishing, which, in turn, affects those who depend on the local fishing economy.

    The greatest witch-hunt of all time By Emerson W. Baker Imagine that a man comes to the highest office in the land with absolutely no political experience. As a young man, he had arrived in the big city to make his fortune and became one of the richest and most famous men in America by making big deals and taking great risks. Some schemes worked out and others did not.

    Beyond nostalgia: understanding socialism markets By Benjamin Julien Hartmann, Katja H. Brunk, and Markus Giesler From Che Guevara t-shirts and Honnecker’s Hostel to Mao mugs and Good Bye, Lenin!—why do millions of consumers in China, Germany, Hungary, Poland, and other former socialist societies still insist on the superiority of socialist products and brands? The standard explanation offered by consumer sociologists and historians is that these thriving socialism markets stimulate political opposition, a yearning for the “better” socialist past.

    The end-of-life sector needs concrete solutions to be truly person-centred By Natalie Koussa In recent years the language used to describe what constitutes good end-of-life care has changed. ‘Shared-decision making’, ‘patient autonomy’, ‘choice’ and ‘advance care planning’ have become buzzwords. This is to be welcomed, of course, but has the sector really changed in practice? According to several policy reports, in addition to feedback from people who use end-of-life services, not particularly.

    How Wayfair opens the door to taxing internet sales By Edward A. Zelinsky In a much anticipated decision, the US Supreme Court in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. declared, by the narrowest of margins, that a state may require an internet seller to collect sales and use taxes even if the seller lacks physical presence in the state seeking to impose the obligation to collect its tax. Wayfair is an important decision, though much of the popular reporting about it has been overstated.

    “Our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor” By Ricardo A. Herrera This year, as the United States celebrates 242 years of independence, I cannot help but reflect upon the sort of country that the Second Continental Congress hoped to create and, more importantly, the sort of men they envisioned leading it. The men who declared independence were men of their time, as indeed was the author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson.

    From Eugène Rougon to Donald Trump: Émile Zola and politics By Brian Nelson Zola modeled the characters, plot, and settings of his novel His Excellency Eugène Rougon (1876) on real people and events, drawing on his own experience as a parliamentary reporter in 1869–71 and secretary in 1870 to the Republican deputy Alexandre Glais-Bizoin. But the novel is not a mere chronicle of politics during the French Second Empire (1852–70).

    How much do patents matter to innovation? By Thomas F. Cotter Patents—rights that governments grant to inventors for new inventions—pervade the modern world. The US alone grants about 300,000 of them annually, mostly for components of, or methods relating to, larger end products. Your smartphone, for example, contains thousands of patented features; but even many seemingly simpler items, such as cosmetics, often contain one or more.

    The politics and power of nostalgia By Matthew Flinders The summer exam season is now upon us so let me start this month’s blog with a simple question: ‘What role does nostalgia play in explaining ‘the populist signal’?’ A recent report suggests that the role of nostalgic narratives has become a central element of contemporary politics that tap into (and to some extent fuel) anti-political sentiments amongst the public.

    How to write a biography By Edwin L. Battistella This year I’ve been reading a lot of biographies and writing some short profile pieces. Both experiences have caused me to reflect back on a book-length biography I wrote a few years ago on the little-known educator Sherwin Cody. Writing a book-length biography was a new experience for me at the time. I learned a lot along the way. Here are a few tips based on my experience.


    June 2018 (78))

    Rediscovering ancient Greek music By Armand D'Angour At the root of all Western literature is ancient Greek poetry—Homer’s great epics, the passionate love poems of Sappho, the masterpieces of Greek tragedy and of comic theatre. Almost all of this poetry was or originally involved sung music, often with instrumental accomp­animent.

    Birkbeck crowned winners of the OUP and ICCA National Mooting Competition 2018 By Kimberley Payne Congratulations to the Queen’s University Belfast team represented by Darren Finnegan and Conor Lockhart, who were crowned champions of the OUP and BPP National Mooting Competition 2016-2017, which took place at BPP Law School, Holborn on 22 June 2017. His Honour Judge Gratwicke returned once again to preside over the final and kept the students on their toes with some keen questioning.

    Sports impairment in youth with inflammatory bowel disease By Christopher F Martin, Jessica P Naftaly, Kristin L Schneider, Michael D Kappelman, Rachel J Walker, and Rachel Neff Greenley Over 80,000 children and adolescents in the United States live with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), which includes Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. These are chronic autoimmune diseases that cause inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract.

    An interactive view of the giraffe Giraffes are some of the best-known, well-loved animals of the African safari. But today, many variations of these long-necked herbivores are listed as vulnerable or endangered due to habitat depletion and poaching.

    Real sex films capture our changing relationship to sex By Belinda Middleweek and John Tulloch In 2001, the film Intimacy was screened in London as the first “real sex” film set in Britain. With a French director and international leads (the British Mark Rylance and New Zealander Kerry Fox), the film was controversial even before screening.

    Five critical concerns facing modern economics By Steven Filippi Due to the nature of globalization and the interconnectedness of modern human society, the discipline of economics touches on other areas of study such as politics, environmentalism, and international relations. This is especially true for the tumultuous times in which we live.

    Top attributes that prove you’re already an entrepreneur By Jeffrey Nytch Time and again I’ve heard musicians express some variation of the following sentiment: “I guess entrepreneurship is fine for some folks, but that’s not me. I’m a musician, not an entrepreneur.”

    Full of fear: really dreadful By Anatoly Liberman Fear is a basic emotion in all living creatures, because it makes them recognize and avoid danger. It is therefore no wonder that so many words for it have been coined. Language can describe fear by registering the physical reaction to it, for instance, shaking and trembling (quite a few words for “fear” in the Indo-European languages belong here) or trying to flee from the source of danger, as in Greek phobós, known from the suffix -phobe and all kinds of phobias (phébomai “I fear; I flee from”; its Russian cognate beg- designates only “running”).

    Bridging partisan divides over scientific issues By Steven Vigdor The current era in the Western hemisphere is marked by growing public distrust of “intellectual elites.” The present U.S. administration openly disregards, or even suppresses, relevant scientific input to policy formulation.

    Basic goods as basic rights By Kenneth A. Reinert f we were to try summarizing the many statements on human rights within the United Nations system, it might be as follows: basic goods are basic rights. True, there was an old approach to human rights that focused exclusively on “negative” political rights and cast doubt on “positive” subsistence rights. For example, it has been argued that we should not focus on economic or social rights because this would distract attention from political rights.

    Drenched in words: LGBTQ poets from US history By Laura Knowles John F. Kennedy stated that “When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.” Poetry attempts to reclaim awareness of the world through language, an entirely human construct that can only be pushed so far but one that is pushed repeatedly and necessarily in order to articulate what it means to be human. Throughout American history, LGBTQ poets have explored myriad themes including identity, sexuality, and historical and political landscapes, in order to comprehend and chronicle human experience.

    Reluctant migrants in Italy By Eileen Ryan The attempted murder of six African immigrants in the streets of the northern province of Macerata in February 2018 brought to mind an earlier history of black bodies in Italy. In April 1943, the fascist Ministry of Italian Africa transported a group of over fifty Africans to Macerata from Naples. Today, immigration is transforming Italy to an increasingly diverse country.

    The scary truth about night terrors By phil starks Do you know what it’s like to stand near, but helplessly apart, from your child while he screams out in apparent horror during the night? I do. I did it almost nightly for months. It wasn’t necessary. My six-year-old son is one of many children who experienced night terrors. Like most of these children, he has a relative who experienced night terrors as well–I had them when I was a child. Night terrors are not bad dreams or nightmares.

    Martin Luther’s Polish revolution By Natalia Nowakowska Last year, Playmobil issued one of its best-selling and most controversial figurines yet, a three-inch Martin Luther, with quill, book, and cheerful pink plastic face. This mini-Luther celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation

    European Public Law: facing the challenge of decline By Armin von Bogdandy and Alexandra Kemmerer In recent years, Europe has lost much of its promise. The financial crisis, the debt crisis, the refugee crisis, the apparent systemic deficiencies of national and supranational governance structures, as well as a fading confidence in democratic government, have led to a certain impression of “messiness.”

    Philosopher of the month: Mulla Sadra [quiz] By Catherine Pugh This June, the OUP Philosophy team honours Mulla Sadra (1571 – 1640) as their Philosopher of the Month. Mulla Sadra was born in Shiraz, southern Iran, but moved around when he was studying and for the many pilgrimages he embarked on in in his lifetime. He later returned to Shiraz when he began teaching and taking on followers of his philosophy.

    Gulls on film: roadkill scavenging by wildlife in urban areas By Amy Schwartz The impact of roads on wildlife (both directly through wildlife-vehicle collisions, and indirectly due to factors such as habitat fragmentation) has likely increased over time due to expansion of the road network and increased use and number of vehicles. In the UK, for example, there were only 4.2 million vehicles on the roads in 1951, compared to 37.3 million by the end of 2016.

    Gun control is more complex than you think By Hugh LaFollette In the public debate over gun control, many people talk as if our only options are to support or oppose it. Although some endorse more expansive views, many still talk as if our choices are quite limited: whether to support or oppose a small number of

    Who cares about scholarly communication? By Rick Anderson Is there really anything that everyone needs to know about scholarly communication? At first blush, the answer might seem to be no.

    Nine “striking” facts about the history of the typewriter By Steven Filippi The first machine known as the typewriter was patented on 23rd June 1868, by printer and journalist Christopher Latham Sholes of Wisconsin. Though it was not the first personal printing machine attempted—a patent was granted to Englishman Henry Mill in 1714, yet no machine appears to have been built—Sholes’ invention was the first to be practical enough for mass production and use by the general public.

    The Kuleshov Fallacy By Murray Smith The face has long been regarded as one of the major weapons in the arsenal of cinema—as a tool of characterization, a source of visual fascination, and not least, as a vehicle of emotional expression.

    Orangutans as forest engineers By Adam Munn and Mark Harrison Orangutans quite literally are “persons of the forest,” at least according to their Malay name (orang means “person” and hutan is “forest”). But this is more than just a name. As well as their distinctively “human” qualities, these large charismatic fruit-eaters are also gardeners, forest engineers responsible for spreading and maintaining a wide array of tree species.

    Global health as a social movement: Q&A with Dr. Joia Mukherjee By Joia S. Mukherjee and Peter Drobac What is social entrepreneurship? In essence, it’s about using the tools of entrepreneurship—opportunity, resourcefulness, innovation—to address stubborn social and environmental problems. A defining feature of social entrepreneurship is the concept of systemic change; that is, change that addresses the underlying social, political, and economic forces that conspire to exclude the poor and marginalised from the opportunities that many of us take for granted.

    Securing the future of the Male Voice Choir By Edward-Rhys Harry During a ‘question and answer’ session at a recent music convention, four contemporary composers of choral music faced a plethora of musicians from all types of backgrounds and traditions. Amongst a selection of interesting and searching questions asked, one brought an eerie silence to the room. The question was: ‘Would you consider writing for a male choir?’

    Law Teacher of the Year announced at the Celebrating Excellence in Law Teaching conference By Rose Wood Oxford University Press hosted its annual Celebrating Excellence in Law Teaching Conference at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool on 20 June. Playing a central role at the conference were the six Law Teacher of the Year Award finalists. Delegates learned what it was that makes them such exceptional teachers, and heard first–hand about their teaching methods, motivations, and philosophies. The conference concluded with current Law Teacher of the Year, Nick Clapham of the University of Surrey, naming Lydia Bleasdale of the University of Leeds as this year’s winner.

    Competing territorial and maritime claims in the South China Sea By Joshua Hagen The Spratly Islands are small. In fact, this remote archipelago is just a collection of rocky islets, atolls, and reefs scattered across the southern reaches of the South China Sea.

    Numbers and historical linguistics: a match made in heaven? By Barbara McGillivray and Gard B. Jenset Whatever you associate with the term “historical linguistics,” chances are that it will not be numbers or computer algorithms. This would perhaps not be surprising were it not for the fact that linguistics in general has seen increasing use of exactly such quantitative methods. Historical linguistics tends to use statistical testing and quantitative arguments less than linguistics generally. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

    Holographic hallucinations, reality hacking, and Jedi battles in London By Jonathan Weinel In 1977, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope captivated audiences with stunning multisensory special effects and science-fiction storytelling. The original Star Wars trilogy sent shockwaves of excitement through popular culture that would resonate for years to come. Beyond the films themselves, the Star Wars universe extended into a wider sphere of cultural artefacts such as toys, books and comics, which allowed audiences to recreate and extend the stories.

    The Oxford Etymologist waxes emotional: a few rambling remarks on fear By Anatoly Liberman It is well-known that words for abstract concepts at one time designated concrete things or actions. “Love,” “hatred,” “fear,” and the rest developed from much more tangible notions. The words anger, anguish, and anxious provide convincing examples of this trend. All three are borrowings in English: the first from Scandinavian, the second from French, and the third from Latin. In Old Norse (that is, in Old Icelandic), angr and angra meant “to grieve” and “grief” respectively.

    Refugees, citizens, and camps: a very British history By Jordanna Bailkin Today, very few people think of Britain as a land of camps. Instead, camps seem to happen “elsewhere,” from Greece to Palestine to the global South. Yet during the 20th century, dozens of camps in Britain housed tens of thousands of Belgians, Jews, Basques, Poles, Hungarians, Anglo-Egyptians, Ugandan Asians, and Vietnamese.

    How nations finance themselves matters By Patrick Bolton and Haizhou Huang To understand how nations should finance themselves it is fruitful to look at how corporations finance themselves, how they divide their financing between debt and equity. Corporations typically issue equity when they need financing for a new profitable investment opportunity, when their shares are overvalued by the stock market, or when they need to raise funds to service their debt obligations.

    The evisceration of storytelling By Sujatha Fernandes In his seminal essay “The Storyteller,” published in 1936, the German philosopher Walter Benjamin decried the loss of the craft of oral storytelling marked by the advent of the short story and the novel. Modern society, he lamented, had abbreviated storytelling. Fast forward to the era of Facebook, where the story has become an easily digestible soundbite on your news feed or timeline.. Complexity is eschewed,

    How deaf education and artificial language were linked in the 17th century By David Cram and Jaap Maat Before the 1550s, it was generally believed that people who are born deaf are incapable of learning a natural language such as Spanish or English. This belief was nourished by the observation that hearing children normally acquire their speaking skills without explicit instruction, and that learning to read usually proceeds by first connecting individual letters to individual speech sounds, pronouncing them one by one, before a whole word is read and understood.

    The 2018 classics book club at Bryant Park Reading Room By Cassidy Donovan Oxford University Press has once again teamed up with the Bryant Park Reading Room on their summer literary series. The Bryant Park Reading Room was first established in 1935 by the New York Public Library as a refuge for the thousands of unemployed New Yorkers during the Great Depression.

    Why are there so many different scripts in East Asia? By Peter Kornicki You don’t have to learn a new script when you learn Norwegian, Czech, or Portuguese, let alone French, so why does every East Asian language require you to learn a new script as well? In Europe the Roman script of Latin became standard, and it was never seriously challenged by runes or by the Greek, Cyrillic, or Glagolitic (an early Slavic script) alphabets.

    Why consumers forget unethical business practices By Rebecca Reczek Imagine a consumer, Kate, who enjoys shopping for fashionable clothing, but who also cares about whether her clothing is produced ethically. She reads an article online indicating that fashion giant Zara sells clothing made by allegedly unpaid workers, but a few days later ends up buying a new shirt from Zara. She either forgets that Zara may be mistreating workers, or she mistakenly recalls that they are one of the brands that have agreed to a strict code of ethical labor practices, including paying a living wage to all workers.

    Revitalizing the Epistemology of Religion By Matthew A. Benton Philosophers studying epistemology debate the exact nature of knowledge, typically by examining the “evidence” behind one’s beliefs: logical processes, sensory perception, and so on.

    Andy Warhol’s queerness, unedited By Jennifer Sichel “I think everybody should like everybody” is one of Andy Warhol’s most iconic quotes. If you type it into Google image search, you get back a grid of dorm-room posters, inspirational desktop wallpaper, t-shirts, and baby onesies. Seeping into popular culture, Warhol’s quote has become a simple, cheeky mantra for how to live the good life—a reminder to get back to the basics.

    A good death beyond dignity? By Sebastian Muders According to the Australian euthanasia activist Philip Nitschke, to choose when you die is “a fundamental human right. It’s not just some medical privilege for the very sick. If you’ve got the precious gift of life, you should be able to give that gift away at the time of your choosing.” This view combines two extreme standpoints in the debate on euthanasia and assisted suicide.

    Top 10 facts about the giraffe This June, people around the globe are marking World Giraffe Day, an annual event to recognise the bovine dwellers of the African continent. While these long-necked herbivores remain a firm favourite of the safari, there remains much about the giraffe which is relatively unknown. In order to celebrate our Animal of the Month, we bring you 10 amazing facts about the giraffe.

    C.P. Snow and thermodynamics, 60 years on By Dennis Sherwood It’s nearly 60 years since C.P. Snow gave his influential “Two Cultures” lecture, in which – among many other significant insights – he advocated that a good education should equip a young person with as deep a knowledge of the Second Law of Thermodynamics as of Shakespeare. A noble objective, but why did Snow highlight this particular scientific law?

    Five things you might not know about Edmund Burke By Emily Jones Edmund Burke (1730-1797) was an Irishman and a prominent Whig politician in late 18th century England, but he is now most commonly known as “the founder of modern conservatism”—the canonical position which he has held since the beginning of the 20th century in Britain and the rest of the world.

    How (un)representative is the British political class? [QUIZ] By Peter Allen The fact that the British political class doesn’t fully reflect the diversity seen in the population as a whole is hardly news. However, many people don’t fully appreciate exactly how unrepresentative its members are, or the specific (and sometimes slightly odd) ways in which the political class differs from Britain as a whole.

    Five ways entrepreneurship is essential to a classical music career By Jeffrey Nytch The other day, I posted something on my professional Facebook page about entrepreneurship and my compositional activities, and someone who I don’t know commented: “Forget entrepreneurship. Just compose.” (Well, they actually put it in somewhat more graphic terms, but in the interests of decorum…) This sentiment is nothing new: resistance to “the e-word” continues; if anything it’s intensified in recent years as entrepreneurship has become an over-used buzzword.

    The amorous and other adventures of “poor pilgarlic” By Anatoly Liberman The word pilgarlic (or pilgarlik and pilgarlick) may not be worthy of a post, but a hundred and fifty years ago and some time later, people discussed it with great interest and dug up so many curious examples of its use that only the OED has more. (Just how many citations the archive of the OED contains we have no way of knowing, for the printed text includes only a small portion of the examples James A. H. Murray and his successors received.) There is not much to add to what is known about the origin of this odd word, but I have my own etymology of the curious word and am eager to publicize it.

    Crises and population health By Joshua M. Sharfstein On the day after the horrific shooting that claimed the lives of 17 students at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the local state representative predicted what would happen next. “Nothing.”

    The IMF’s role in the evolution of economic orthodoxy since the Crisis By Ben Clift The IMF & World Bank’s Spring meetings with finance ministers and central bankers, which took place in Washington DC recently, are one key forum where the IMF performs its mandated role as conduit of international economic co-ordination. The IMF uses its knowledge bank, expertise and mandate for economic surveillance and coordination to act as global arbiter of legitimate or ‘sound’ policy.

    She Preached the Word Ten things to know about women’s ordination in the United States By Dr. Benjamin Knoll and Cammie Jo Bolin Pope Francis recently appointed three women for the first time to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, an important advisory body to the Pope on matters of Catholic orthodoxy. He has also recently established a commission for studying the role of women deacons in the early Christian church. While encouraging for supporters of women’s ordination in the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has also made it clear that he is keeping the door firmly shut in terms of the possibility of women priests.

    The gravity of gravitational waves By Stefano Vitale Rarely has a research field in physics gotten such sustained worldwide press coverage as gravity has received recently. A breathtaking sequence of events has kept gravity in the spotlight for months: the first detection(s) of gravitational waves from black-holes; the amazing success of LISA Pathfinder, ESA’s precursor mission to the LISA gravitational wave detector in space; the observation — first by gravitational waves with LIGO and Virgo, and then by all possible telescopes on Earth and in space — of the merger of two neutron stars, an astrophysical event that likely constitutes the cosmic factory of many of the chemical elements we find around us.

    Divine victory: the role of Christianity in Roman military conquests By Peter Heather The Roman Empire derived its strength from its military conquests: overseeing territories across Europe, Africa and Asia. Before Christianity, emperors were praised and honored for their successes on the battlefield; as Christianity took root throughout Rome, it was used as a means to elevate emperors to an even greater status: raising them from successful imperialists to divinely appointed leaders.

    Looking back at 100 years of flu [timeline] By Anna Shannon This year is the centenary of the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918. However, it was only by 2010 that the industry had started universal flu vaccine trials, following the Swine flu pandemic in 2009. Explore the last hundred years of flu, as we mark the Spanish flu centenary, from the four major pandemics to the medical advances along the way, with this interactive timeline.

    The scientist as historian By Subrata Dasgupta Why should a trained scientist be seriously interested in science past? After all, science looks to the future. Moreover, as Nobel laureate immunologist Sir Peter Medawar once put it: “A great many highly creative scientists…take it for granted, though they are usually too polite or too ashamed to say so, that an interest in the history of science is a sign of failing or unawakened powers.”

    Economic inequality, politics, and capital By John Attanasio Economic inequality and campaign finance are two of the hottest topics in America today. Unfortunately, the topics are typically discussed separately, but they are actually intertwined. The rise of US economic inequality that economist Thomas Piketty chronicles in his renowned book Capital in the Twenty-First Century – starting in the late 1970s and continuing through today – coincides remarkably with the US Supreme Court’s decision of Buckley v. Valeo.

    Why We Need Religion The power of the religious imagination [excerpt] By Stephen T. Asma Although often divided between believers and non-believers, or sacred and secular, spirituality is not dichotomous. Some believers accept the concept of God, but reject the literal existence of God. Some non-believers dismiss religious parables as fiction, but embrace the history and culture that comes with religion. This excerpt from “Why We Need Religion” examines these intermediate positions, and explores how religious imagination helps us find connection and meaning in a mystifying world.

    When and why does Islamic law oblige Muslims to fast? By John L. Esposito and Natana DeLong-Bas An important prophetic tradition maintains that “Islam was built upon five ‘foundations.’” The Five Pillars, (the profession of faith [shahadah], daily prayers [salat], almsgiv­ing [zakat], the fast of Ramadan [sawm], and the pilgrimage to Mecca [Hajj]) blend the theological with the legal and represent the fundamental principles of personal and collective faith, worship, and social responsibility that unite all Muslims and distinguish Islam from other religions.

    History books for Dads [reading list] By Marissa Lynch In recent years, consumer surveys have shown an upward trend in Father’s Day gift-giving. According to the National Retail Federation, U.S. Father’s Day spending in 2017 hit record highs: reaching an estimated $15.5 billion. This change could be related to nature of modern fatherhood: today’s dads report spending an average of seven hours per week on child care (nearly triple what fathers reported 50 years ago). To celebrate Father’s Day, we put together a video collection of books we think dads will love. More details about each book can be found in the list below. If you have any reading suggestions for Father’s Day, please share in the comments section!

    Performing for their lives: LGBT individuals seeking asylum By Sarilee Kahn and Edward J. Alessi The UN Refugee Convention promises safe haven to individuals who, having crossed an international boundary, can prove a well-founded fear of persecution based upon one of five categories. Least well-defined of these categories, and most ambiguous among them, is ‘membership in a particular social group.’ How does one prove lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender ‘membership’?

    Studying mass murder By Ugur Ümit Üngör In the twentieth century, 40 to 60 million defenseless people were massacred in episodes of genocide. The 21st century is not faring much better, with mass murder ongoing e.g. in Myanmar and Syria. Many of these cases have been studied well, both in detailed case studies and in comparative perspectives, but studying mass murder is no picnic.

    Improving care for the family and friends who care for cancer patients By Margaret L. Longacre, Allison J. Applebaum, Mitch Golant, and Joanne S. Buzaglo Many individuals in the United States will receive a cancer diagnosis this year. Such a diagnosis is upsetting to those who receive it and overwhelming to those—relatives or friends—who love them. Cancer is rarely experienced in isolation.

    Safe and supportive schools for LGBTQ-GNC students By Stacey S. Horn and Stephen T. Russell Within its first month, the Trump administration revoked federal guidelines designed to promote protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or gender non-conforming youth (LGBTQ-GNC) public school students. This move received significant media attention, much of which focused on the challenges of growing up LGBTQ-GNC, and the unique role of schools as places that should be safe and supportive for all students.

    French Anglicisms: An ever-changing linguistic case By Valérie Saugera English loanwords have been pushing their way into languages worldwide at an increasing rate, but no language has a history of national resistance as staunch as French. In France where language is an affair of state, opposition to Anglicisms, fronted by the Académie française, is explicitly linguistic (Anglicisms are superfluous and faddish items which must be replaced by French words) and implicitly political (Anglicisms are imports from the hegemonic United States, and the donor status of English exists at the expense of French).

    Etymology gleanings: May 2018 [Part 2] By Anatoly Liberman With one exception, I’ll take care of the most recent comments in due time. For today I have two items from the merry month of May. The exception concerns Italian becco “cuckold.” I don’t think the association is with the word for “beak; nose.” Becco “cuckold” is probably from becco “male goat.” If so, the reference must be to the horns, as discussed in the previous post.

    Smashing black holes at the centre of the Milky Way By Alessia Gualandris and Manuel Arca Sedda The centre of the Milky Way is a very crowded region, hosting a dense and compact cluster of stars—the so-called nuclear star cluster—and a supermassive black hole (SMBH) weighing more than 4 million solar masses. A star cluster is an ensemble of stars kept together by their own force of gravity. These large systems are found in the outskirts of every type of galaxy, being comprised of up to several million stars.

    The global plastic problem [podcast] By Judith S. Weis, Daniel K. Gardner, and Philip J. Landrigan June 5th is World Environment Day. It is the UN’s most important day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment. World Environment Day is the “people’s day” for doing something to take care of the Earth—locally, nationally, or even globally. This year’s host is India and their theme of “Beat Plastic […]

    What you need to know about plastic pollution By Stephen Mann “There’s a great future in plastics,” Mr. McGuire said to recent-grad Benjamin Braddock at his graduation party in one of the most iconic films of the twentieth century, the Graduate. This scene captures more than just the mere parting words of some career advice the older generation tends to give young people at their graduation parties, it signals something more cultural—indeed, more industrial—that had been so prevailing at the time, and so worrisome now.

    Stroboscopic medicine By Abraham Fuks The stroboscope is an ingenious device of rapidly flashing lights that allows engineers and scientists to freeze motion and capture brief slices of time. The resulting image is akin to examining a single frame of a motion picture that provides a sharp image, albeit one without context and with neither past nor future. This is now, sadly, an apt metaphor for contemporary clinical encounters.

    Legal leadership and its place in America’s history and future By Peter Hoffer This past year, I wrote a book about lawyers’ service in the American Civil War, I argued that the lawyers’ part in the US and Confederate cabinets and in their respective Congresses made a civil war a little more civil, and allowed that out of horrific battle came a new respect for rule of law, as well as a new kind of positive, rights-based constitutionalism.

    Defining a network The scientific study of networks is an interdisciplinary field that combines ideas from mathematics, physics, biology, computer science, statistics, the social sciences, and many other areas. It is a relatively understudied area of science, but its multidisciplinary nature means that an increasing amount of scientists are engaging with it.

    Taxing donor-advised funds By Edward A. Zelinsky Congress should extend two taxes to donor-advised funds which currently apply to private foundations. First, Congress should apply to donor-advised funds the federal tax on private foundations’ net investment incomes. Second, Congress should extend to donor-advised funds the federal penalty tax imposed upon a private foundation if it fails to pay out annually an amount of at least equal to five percent of its assets.

    Levels of editing of a scientific paper By Dawn Field There are four key steps to crafting a paper and getting it ready for submission just as there are four levels for editing or reviewing a paper. These steps will help you develop and perfect your idea before it is read. It is just as important to edit your research as it is to copy edit for grammar before turning in your submission.

    The history and importance of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council By Jacob Turner and Lord Mance The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) signifies different things to different people. It is both a court and an advisory body. It rules on disputes ranging from the personal, such as the inheritance of a hereditary title amid accusations of historic infidelity, to those of great public importance, such as the validity of elections, or significant commercially, such as the ownership or control of Turkey’s largest mobile phone company.

    Philosopher of the month: Mulla Sadra [infographic] By Catherine Pugh This June, the OUP Philosophy team honours Mulla Sadra (1571 – 1640) as their Philosopher of the Month. An Iranian Islamic philosopher, Sadra is recognised as the major process philosopher of the school of Isfahan. Mulla Sadra is primarily associated with ‘metaphilosophy’, but also maintains sovereign status as a spiritual leader for the Islamic East.

    Putting modifiers in their place By Edwin L. Battistella Sometimes I misplace things—my sunglasses, a book I’m reading, keys, my phone. Sometimes I misplace words in sentences too, leaving a clause or a phrase where it doesn’t belong. The result is what grammarians call misplaced or dangling modifiers. It’s a sentence fault that textbooks sometimes illustrate with over-the-top examples like these.

    Taking pride in standing up for the transgender community By Michael P. Dentato At the beginning of 2017, following the tumultuous election season it was my hope that there would be few changes made to the years of progress for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights and equality. It was clear that prior to the election of 2016, the Obama administration, U.S. Supreme Court, and the Justice Department were committed to promoting social justice for LGBTQ individuals, and most especially the transgender community.

    Fosse Time!: innovation and influence in the films of Bob Fosse By Kevin Winkler Despite numerous honors throughout his illustrious career, including being the only director to earn the “triple crown” of show business awards—the Oscar, Emmy, and Tony—all in one year, Bob Fosse remains underrated in terms of his influence on the presentation of dance on film. From Sweet Charity, his first film as a director, through his multiple Oscar-winning Cabaret, to his autobiographical, Felliniesque All That Jazz, Fosse created a template for filming dance that has remained influential and remarkably vital years after these films first appeared.

    Can environmental DNA help save endangered crayfish? By Eric R. Larson Most people have a passing familiarity with crayfish: as an occasional food item, or as animals routinely caught by children wading in streams and ditches in the summer. Yet few people likely realize how astoundingly diverse crayfish are globally. Our planet is home to approximately 600 species of crayfish, which use habitats ranging from caves to streams and lakes to terrestrial burrows.

    Kidney transplants, voucher systems, and difficult questions By James Stacey Taylor It is commonly said that necessity is the mother of invention, and this was certainly the case at UCLA Medical Center in 2014 . Howard Broadman, then aged 64 and a retired judge from San Diego County, California, was concerned that his grandson, Quinn Gerlach, would be unable to secure a transplant kidney when he needed one. And so began the first “voucher system” for kidney procurement.


    May 2018 (68))

    Drug-resistant infections and the misuse of antibiotics in children By Theoklis Zaoutis Antibiotics are among the most commonly prescribed drugs used in human medicine and have saved countless lives. But misuse and overuse of these important medications accelerates the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, one of the biggest threats to global health. As experts who focus on this problem in children prepare for the Ninth Annual International Pediatric Antimicrobial Stewardship Conference, held from 31 May to 1 June, Dr. Theoklis Zaoutis, editor-in-chief of the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, shared several insights on drug resistance and antibiotic use among children.

    Etymology Gleanings: May 2018 By Anatoly Liberman Still with the herd: Man, as they say, is a gregarious animal, and wearing horns could become the male of our species, but etymology sometimes makes unpredictable leaps. I of course knew that Italian becco means “cuckold” (the image is the same in all or most of the Romance languages, and not only in them), but would not have addressed this sensitive subject, had a comment on becco not served as a provocation. So here are some notes on cuckoldry from a linguistic point of view.

    Markets aren’t natural: governments have to make them work By Steven K. Vogel hether we recognize it or not, “marketcraft” constitutes a core government function comparable to statecraft. By marketcraft, I refer to all the things governments do to make markets function and flourish, like corporate law, antitrust policy, intellectual property rights, and financial regulation. Marketcraft has profound implications for economic performance, social welfare, and national power – so we should want to get it right.

    Voltaire on death By Alyssa Russell Voltaire, the French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher, wrote over 20,000 letters over his lifetime. One can read through his letters to learn more about his views on democracy and religion, as well as the soul and afterlife. The following excerpts from his letters show how his thoughts and ideas about death and the soul evolved over time.

    What is a mathematical model? By Richard Brown As a mathematician who focuses his attention on a field called dynamics, I am often asked when queried about my area of specialty, exactly what is a dynamical system? I usually answer something like: “I study the mathematics underlying what is means to model something mathematically.” And this seems to work as most people have a basic understanding that mathematics is used in science and engineering to model either a physical or an abstract process and to mine it for information.

    When corporations do the right thing By Amanda Porterfield Delta Airlines was one of more than a dozen companies to cut ties with the NRA after the school shooting in February 2018 that left 17 dead in Parkland, Florida. In a similar spirit six months earlier, CEOs from major American corporations spoke out against racial violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, President Trump’s inadequate response to the violence of white supremacists and their racist rhetoric prompted CEOs from Merck, General Electric, Apple, Goldman Sachs, Unilever, Armor, Dow, and Pepsi to separate themselves from him.

    Mind-body connection: a psychosomatic approach to women’s health By Mira Lal For millennia, medicine has been applied towards three main areas of the human condition: the mind, the body, and the spirit. Traditional Chinese medicine was similar to ancient Indian medicine in that it sought to create a holistic approach to treating illness, and recognised the contributions of psychological and social aspects in disease management.

    Which law applies to adjudicate litigation with a foreign element? By Sagi Peari We live in a rapidly changing world with the constant presence of so-called “foreign elements” in legal cases. Take, for example, a car accident between an Ontario resident and a New York resident that took place in Mexico, or a contract signed in Japan between English and German residents with respect to delivery of goods in Brazil. Given the multitude of “foreign elements” in the factual bases of these cases, which state’s law should the domestic court apply to adjudicate the litigation? Should this be Ontario, New York, Mexico, English, German, Japanese, Brazilian law or even some other?

    Thomas Kuhn and the T. S. Kuhn Archives at MIT By K. Brad Wray After I completed a book on Thomas Kuhn, the author of Structure of Scientific Revolutions, I thought I knew a lot about him. In my book, I argue that Kuhn’s recent, less frequently read work is key to understanding his views. Then I began to look in detail at Kuhn’s past and the influence his early work had in fields other than philosophy of science. I came across an intriguing and unexpected remark by Thomas Walker, a political scientist, in Perspectives on Politics.

    Investment law leads to more investment: A faulty premise? By Taylor St John If a government ratifies investment treaties and provides foreigners with access to investor-state arbitration, they will receive additional foreign investment. This has been the premise of investment law for over 50 years. Is it true? Two decades of studies testing this premise have been inconclusive. Since statistics on foreign investment are notoriously unreliable, they are unlikely to provide a clear answer anytime soon.

    OUP Philosophy Karl Marx: A Reading List By OUP Philosophy Team The OUP Philosophy list boasts cutting-edge scholarship including monographs handbooks and textbooks suitable for graduate and undergraduate use, plus journals, online products, and a collection of scholarly editions. For the latest news, resources, and insights from the Philosophy team, follow us on Twitter @OUPPhilosophy.

    25 years of contemporary war crimes tribunals By Diane Orentlicher Much as a single discovery can transform science, paradigm shifts in international law can emerge with astonishing speed. Twenty-five years ago, the UN Security Council sparked such a shift when it created a war crimes tribunal to punish those responsible for “ethnic cleansing” in the former Yugoslavia.

    How can research impact patients’ health in the “real world”? By Leah Zullig As an academic researcher, my primary goal is to improve population health. I was trained in innovative study designs, rigorous analytic approaches, and taught that fidelity to the methods is of the utmost importance. However, it is just as important that patients actually use the programs that we design to improve their health. Unfortunately, the few health programs that actually make it into the community can take years—even decades—to get there.

    Animal of the Month: 8 things threatening koalas [slideshow] Despite being found only on one continent in the world, many of us appreciate everything koalas have to offer. We celebrated this endearing marsupial earlier this month on Wild Koala Day and have continued the revelries by providing interesting facts throughout the month. Highlighting this iconic Australian mammal is of continued importance as the wild population continues to decrease. According to some estimates, the koala population in Queensland between 1996 and 2016 decreased by as much as 80%. Here, we present some of the leading threats Phascolarctos cinereus face in their bid to survive in the modern world.

    Winged words: the importance of birds in the ancient world By Jeremy Mynott One good reason for studying the natural history of the ancient world is that it takes us outside the bubble we happen to be living in now, and enables us to look back at our world from the outside, as it were, and perhaps see it differently. As T.S. Elliot famously said, “the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

    Encyclopedia editions in the digital age By Anna-Lise Santella When Grove Music Online launched its new website last December, it marked the beginning of a new era for the encyclopedic dictionary that serves as a primary reference tool for music scholars. Grove has been in continuous publication since 1879 and online since 2001, but the version of Grove that was published on December 2017 remade the dictionary for the first time as “digital first”—that is, with online prioritized over print—and is thus Grove’s first truly digital edition.


    April 2018 (76))

    Science and spectacle: exposing climate change through the arts By Stephen Mann Despite scientific consensus about the reality of climate change, one of the challenges facing the scientific community is effectively facilitating an understanding of the problem and encouraging action. Given the complexity of the issue, its many interdependencies, and lack of simple solutions, it’s easy to ignore. For many people, the threat of climate change feels distant and abstract—something they don’t easily perceive in their day-to-day lives. One of the ways that might help people grasp the real complexities of climate change is through narratives and storytelling.

    Considerations for peacemaking and peacekeeping By Stephen Mann Since the end of the Cold War, there has been an increasing amount of attention paid to peacekeeping. Consequently, peace has generated considerable interest in the areas of education, research, and politics. Peacekeeping developed in the 1950s as part of preventive diplomacy. It has since become an essential component of conflict prevention and peacebuilding. Peacebuilding has become embedded in the theory and practice of national governments, nongovernmental organizations, and regional and global intergovernmental organizations. Most regional intergovernmental organizations now have departments for peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding.

    The agonies of the Multilateral Trading System By Mathias Kende As of late, the Multilateral Trading System has been beset by several serious agonies. The symptoms have been obvious. The 11th Ministerial of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which took place in December 2017 in Buenos Aires, has demonstrated that the WTO’s rule-making function is no longer performing as expected: with the exception of a shared willingness to collectively and constructively work further on the issue of disciplining fishery subsidies, it did not result in any new normative multilateral outcome. Likewise, the WTO’s dispute settlement function has been affected by a stalled selection process for its new judges. If this situation persists, the WTO might cease to be the Multilateral Trading System’s final legal arbiter.

    The social importance of dance in the 17th and 18th centuries By Alyssa Russell In the 21st century, dance is a part of life—it can be an occupation, a part of traditional weddings, a hobby, and a pastime, among other things. However, it is regarded quite differently than it was in the time of the Enlightenment, when it was a much more important part of regular social life, especially for the wealthier classes. In this time, young adults went to dance instructors to make sure they were properly trained for the social activities they would soon be a part of. Read on for excerpts of correspondence from Electronic Enlightenment highlighting just how important dancing was to everyday life in the 17th and 18th centuries.

    Trust in face-to-face diplomacy By Nicholas Wheeler President Donald Trump and his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong-un, are due to meet for a historic summit in an as yet undisclosed location to try and resolve the nuclear stand-off on the Korean peninsula. For academics that study the potential of face-to-face diplomacy to de-escalate and transform conflicts, the summit is a fascinating case for testing the validity of their theories and prescriptions.

    Soil protists: a fertile frontier in biology research By enrique lara and stefan geisen For many years, soil has been considered the ultimate frontier to ecological knowledge. Soils serve many ecosystem functions for humans; for example, they provide the basis for most of our nutrition. Yet, the organisms which act as the catalysts for those services—i.e. the soil microbiota—still remain a relatively unexplored field of research.

    Treating people with Alzheimer’s: The non-pharmacological approach. By Steven R. Sabat On 2 January 2018, National Public Radio’s Terry Gross interviewed British neuroscientist Joseph Jebelli, who discussed Alzheimer’s disease and how “much better treatment” for the disease is about ten years away. The improved treatment to which Dr. Jebelli was referring was pharmaceutical/biomedical treatment. Indeed, the vast majority of stories in the mass media about treatment for Alzheimer’s focuses on the long hoped for biomedical treatment, emerging from drug trials or genetic approaches or both, that can stop the progress of the disease or prevent its occurrence. There is, however, a vast difference between treating a disease and treating people diagnosed with the disease — and this difference is especially critical where people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and their families and friends are concerned.

    Supporting grieving students at school following crisis events By Jacqueline A. Brown and Shane R. Jimerson Tragic events such as recent natural disasters and shootings at school affect many children and families. Although these events typically receive immediate media coverage and short-term supports, the long-term implications are often overlooked. The grief among children and adolescents experiencing significant loss generally emerges during the weeks and months following such tragic events. Although there are variations in the expression of grief, bereaved children and adolescents often struggle to meet the cognitive demands of school. Professionals at school, including, school psychologists, school counselors, and other mental health professionals have a tremendous opportunity to help identify and support students in need.

    Finding meaning in poetry The Oxford Dictionary defines poetry as a piece of writing expressing feelings and ideas that are given intensity by particular attention to diction. Poetry at its core is a uniquely personal form of expression. To honor National Poetry Month, we’re sharing what poetry means to the writers of the Pavilion Poetry Series, including a sample from Nuar Alsadir’s new collection Fourth Person Singular. Maybe it will inspire to explore what poetry means to you.

    OUP Philosophy How well do you know Adam Smith? [quiz] By Panumas King This April, the OUP Philosophy team honors Adam Smith (1723-1790) as their Philosopher of the Month. You may have read his work, but how much do you really know about Adam Smith? Test your knowledge with our quiz.

    How will population ageing affect future end of life care? By Anna Bone Increasing population ageing means that deaths worldwide are expected to rise by 13 million to 70 million per year in the next 15 years. As a result, there is an urgent need to plan ahead to ensure we meet the growing end of life care needs of our population in the future. Understanding where people die, and how this could change in the future, is vital to ensuring that health services are equipped to support people’s needs and preferences at the end of life.

    Global Health Days – immunity and community By Paul Klenerman 24 April marks the start of World Immunization Week – an annual campaign first launched in 2012. The week is one of 8 WHO international public health events, which include those targeting major infectious diseases – World AIDS day, World Tuberculosis (TB) day, World Malaria day, and World Hepatitis Day. These infections share a few features with each other which mean they all will continue to be global health threats.

    World Intellectual Property Day quiz By Sophie Power Every year on 26 April, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) celebrates World Intellectual Property Day to promote discussion of the role of intellectual property in encouraging creativity and innovation. As demonstrated by French shoemaker Christian Louboutin’s recent appeal to the European Court of Justice to determine the validity of the trademark protecting the famous red sole, intellectual property law is as relevant as ever. Do you know your rights as a creator?

    The road to safe drugs By Muhammad H. Zaman Healthcare is expensive, and not just in high income countries. Those who are suffering or struck by illness in resource limited countries are often unable to afford services that can provide them the care they need. Inequitable access to health services continues to be among the greatest public health challenges of our time. Since becoming […]

    Who sang it best?: a Chicago mixtape By Celine Aenlle-Rocha Chicago is arguably one of the most famous Broadway musicals of the 20th century, if not the most famous. Based off Maurine Dallas Watkins’ satiric 1926 play, it has spawned a Tony Award-winning revival and Academy Award-winning movie version. Songs like “All That Jazz” and “Cell Block Tango” have become household tunes and were recorded as singles by jazz and pop singers alike. So many versions of the same song can lead to contention: was Chita Rivera’s original “All That Jazz” the most varied interpretation, or does one prefer the breathiness of Renée Zellweger’s raw (if underdeveloped) take on it? How “jazzy” should the song be? (It is a show tune, after all).

    Etymology gleanings for April 2018 By Anatoly Liberman Part 1: A Turning Point in the History of Spelling Reform? On 30 May 2018 the long-awaited International Spelling Congress will have its first online meeting. “The Congress is intended to produce a consensus on an acceptable alternative to our current unpredictable spelling system. The goal is an alternative which maximizes improved access to literacy but at the same time avoids unnecessary change.

    Animal of the Month: ten facts about penguins Penguins are some of the most varied and remarkable creatures on the planet. With 17 extant species’ inhabiting the earth, this bird family contain a vast range of sizes, habitats, skills, and behaviours. This April, to honour our animal of the month, we celebrate 10 amazing facts about the penguin.

    Gregory of Nyssa's Tabernacle Imagery in Its Jewish and Christian Contexts The New Testament: Jewish or Gentile? By Ann Conway-Jones A recent phenomenon in New Testament research is the involvement of Jewish scholars. They perform the vital task of correcting Christian misunderstandings, distortions, stereotypes, and calumnies, with the aim of recovering the various Jewish contexts of Jesus, Paul, and the early Christian movement.

    From early photography to the Instagram age By Alix Beeston In our contemporary moment, as our digital spaces are saturated with feeds and streams of images, it’s clearer than ever that photography is a medium poised between arresting singularity and ambiguous plurality. Art historians have conventionally focused on the singularity of the photograph and its instant of capture. But the digital turn has prompted many scholars to reconsider photography in its many serialized incarnations.

    WANTED: An alternative to Competency-Based Medical Education By J. Donald Boudreau Nicaragua (1984): In a hospital—or at least what was labelled as a hospital—a physician receives an elderly woman in a hypertensive crises. He administers the only anti-hypertensive medication available—Reserpine—a drug that is now rarely used because of its side effects. To his profound dismay the patient suffers a stroke and dies a few hours later. There are no morgues in such rural hospitals. There are no ‘funeral parlours’ in the villages. Families take their departed loved ones home for burial.

    How will Billy Graham be remembered? By Elesha J. Coffman Billy Graham’s death on 21 February, 2018, unleashed a flood of commentary on his life and legacy, much of it positive, some of it sharply negative. Both the length of his career and the historical moment at which he died contributed to the complexity of this discussion. His views on many subjects, including nuclear proliferation, the environment, global humanitarianism, and women’s ordination, changed over time.

    The choppy waters of beach ownership: a case study By Gregory S. Alexander Martins Beach is a spectacular stretch of coastline south of Half Moon Bay in San Mateo County, California. It is a well-known fishing spot, a family picnic destination, and a very popular surfing venue. For nearly a century, the owners of the beach allowed visitors routinely to access the beach using the only available road. In 2008, billionaire Vinod Khosla bought Martins Beach and the surrounding property. After two years of complying with the county’s request to maintain access to the beach, Khosla permanently blocked public access. A California environmental organization filed suit against the property owner.

    Earth Day 2018: ending pollution [quiz] By Beth Bauler Happy Earth Day! Celebrated across the world, this day was created to help raise awareness and encourage action around environmental protection. This year’s earth day focus is on ending plastic pollution. Plastic pollution is threatening the survival of our planet, and is especially harmful within marine environments.

    The international community struggles to end civil wars. How can international organizations help? By Johannes Karreth and Jaroslav Tir Violent armed conflicts elsewhere in the world have equally devastating consequences. Despite these dramatic developments, the international community faces a massive challenge of how to respond to emerging political violence in a decisive and effective manner.

    Sustainable libraries: a community effort By Katie D. Bennett To celebrate Earth Day, Katie D. Bennet takes a look at how environmentally conscious libraries from all over the world are using using sustainable architectural methods to achieve their green-goals. The team at the Vancouver Community Library shed some light on the steps they have taken to build an environmentall sustainable library that aligns with the ideals of the community.

    The promising strategy of rewilding By Stephen Mann Since the 1950s there has been dramatic increase in threats to the world’s plant and wildlife. Scientists around the world agree that we are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction. In response, numerous laws have been enacted in order to halt or slow down this rate of extinction. Scientists and conservationists have teamed up and developed new methods in the field of conservation biology to combat this issue.

    What can brain research offer people who stutter? By Jen Chesters There’s something compelling about watching a person who stutters find a way to experience fluent speech. British TV viewers witnessed such a moment on Educating Yorkshire, back in 2013. When teenager Musharaf Asghar listened to music through headphones during preparations for a speaking exam, he found that his words began to flow. Singers, like Mark Asari who is currently competing on The Voice UK, also demonstrate how using the voice in song, rather than speech, can result in striking fluency.

    Learning to live in the age of humans By Erle C. Ellis A new “great force of nature” is so rapidly and profoundly transforming our planet that many scientists now believe that Earth has entered a new chapter in its history. That force of nature is us, and that new chapter is called the Anthropocene epoch. Will the Anthropocene become a story of awakening and redemption, or a story of senseless destruction? At this point in Earth history, the Anthropocene is still young and the jury is still out.

    Rome: the Paradise, the grave, the city, the wilderness By John Pemble The following is an abridged extract from The Rome We Have Lost by John Pemble and discusses how Rome, the eternal city, the centre of Europe and, in many ways, the world evolved into a city no longer central and unique, but marginal and very similar in its problems and its solutions to other modern cities with a heavy burden of “heritage.” These arguments illuminate the historical significance of Rome’s transformation and the crisis that Europe is now confronting as it struggles to re-invent without its ancestral centre—the city that had made Europe what it was, and defined what it meant to be European.

    Learning about the First World War through German eyes By Jonathan Boff Thanks to the ongoing centenary commemorations, interest in the First World War has never been higher. Whether it be through visiting the poppies at the Tower, touring the battlefields of Belgium and France, tracking grandad’s war or digging in local archives to uncover community stories – unprecedented numbers of people have come face to face with their history in new and exciting ways.

    Next lane please: the etymology of “street” By Anatoly Liberman As long as there were no towns, people did not need the word street. Yet in our oldest Germanic texts, streets are mentioned. It is no wonder that we are not sure what exactly was meant and where the relevant words came from. Quite obviously, if a word’s meaning is unknown, its derivation will also remain unknown. Paths existed, and so did roads. Surprisingly, the etymology of both words (path and road) is debatable.

    Paris in Translation: Eugène Briffault’s Paris à Table [excerpt] By Eugène Briffault “When Paris sits down at the table, the entire world stirs….” Eugène Briffault’s Paris à Table captures the manners and customs of Parisian dining in 1845. He gives a panoramic view of the conception of a dish (as detailed as the amount of coal used in stoves) to gastronomy throughout the city—leaving no bread roll unturned as he investigates how Paris eats. The below excerpt from Paris à Table (translated into English by J. Weintraub) provides statistics to capture the magnitude of the Parisian way of life.

    2019, the year of the periodic table By Eric Scerri The periodic table turns 150 next year. Given that all scientific concepts are eventually refuted, the durability of the periodic table would suggest an almost transcendent quality that deserves greater scrutiny, especially as the United Nations has nominated 2019 as the year of the Periodic Table. These days it seems that physics gives a fundamental explanation of the periodic table, although historically speaking it was the periodic table that gave rise to parts of atomic physics and quantum theory. I am thinking of Bohr’s 1913 model of the hydrogen atom and his extension of these ideas to the entire periodic table.

    Reverse-mullet pedagogy: valuing horror fiction in the classroom By Mathias Clasen Are you familiar with the mullet? It’s a distinctive hairstyle—peculiarly popular in continental Europe in the 1980s—in which the hair is cut short on the top and sides but left long at the back. Whatever the aesthetic gravity of the mullet, it comes with a philosophy. The philosophy of the mullet is this: “Business in the front, party in the back.” I’ll argue that the reverse holds true for the horror genre, didactically speaking. Horror fiction is sexy. Horror has zombies. It has ghosts and vampires. It has Hannibal Lecter and Jigsaw, Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger and Leatherface. It has cannibal hillbillies and crazed college kids.

    The life of an activist-musician: Japanese rapper ECD By Noriko Manabe When the family of the Japanese rap pioneer and activist ECD aka Ishida Yoshinori announced on 24 January 2018 that he had passed away, the music and activist worlds let out a collective sigh of mourning. Zeebra, Japan’s most commercially successful rapper, cried audibly while honoring him on his radio show. Meanwhile, political theorist Ikuo Gonoi credited his constant presence in demonstrations with creating a “liberal moment” mixing culture and politics. But who was ECD, and what were his contributions to Japanese culture?

    We can predict rain but can’t yet predict chronic pain By Steven George Accurate weather forecasts allow us to prepare for rain, snow, and temperature changes. We can avoid driving on icy roads, pack an umbrella, or purchase sunblock, depending on what is predicted. Forecasting also generates information trustworthy enough to evacuate a city at risk from a category 4 hurricane. Meteorology has come a long way; today satellite data inform sophisticated computer weather models. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for forecasting chronic pain. In most cases, health care providers can’t anticipate early or accurately enough which patients might develop long-lasting pain.

    Impunity for international criminals: business as usual? By Kriangsak Kittichaisaree The shocking images capturing the atrocities of armed conflicts in Syria have so shocked the world that, in March 2011, the UN General Assembly set up the International Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) to assist in the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the most serious crimes under international law committed in Syria. The most serious crimes under international law are generally understood to be acts of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The international support for the IIIM gained traction after the reported confirmation that chem­ical weapons had been used in Syria.

    Women artists in conversation: Zoe Buckman [Q&A] By Kathy Battista Zoe Buckman is a young artist and activist whose work in sculpture, photography, embroidery, and installation explores issues of feminism, mortality, and equality. She was born in London in 1985 and lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Buckman was a featured artist at Pulse Projects New York 2014 and Miami 2016, and was included in the curated Soundscape Park at Art Basel Miami Beach 2016. Her new public work, Champ, produced in collaboration with the Art Production Fund, is located on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Sweetzer Avenue in front of The Standard in West Hollywood.

    “The American People”: current and historical meanings By Louis René Beres Virtually all US politicians are fond of “The American People.” Indeed, as the ultimate fallback stance for any candidate or incumbent, no other quaint phrase can seem so purposeful. Interesting too, is this banal reference’s stark contrast to its original meaning. That historic meaning was entirely negative. Unequivocally, America’s political founding expresses general disdain for any truly serious notions of popular rule.

    What’s the deal with genetically modified (GM) foods? By Mary M. Landrigan and Philip J. Landrigan It’s complicated; but here is a quick summary of what the controversy over genetically modified foods is all about. GM engineering involves reconfiguring the genes in crop plants or adding new genes that have been created in the laboratory. Scientific modification of plants is not something new. Since time began, nature has been modifying plants and animals through natural evolution, meaning that the plants and ani­mals that adapt best to the changing environment survive and pass their genes on to their offspring. Those that are least fit do not survive.

    How well do you know the US Supreme Court? [quiz] By Stephen Mann The Supreme Court is at the heart of the United States of America’s judicial system. Created in the Constitution of 1787 but obscured by the other branches of government during the first few decades of its history, the Court grew to become a co-equal branch in the early 19th century. Its exercise of judicial review—the power that it claimed to determine the constitutionality of legislative acts—gave the Court a unique status as the final arbiter of the nation’s constitutional conflicts. From the slavery question during the antebellum era to abortion and gay rights in more recent times, the Court has decided cases brought to it by individual litigants, and in doing so has shaped American constitutional and legal development.

    OUP Philosophy Philosopher of the month: Adam Smith [Timeline] By Panumas King This April, the OUP Philosophy team honors Adam Smith (1723-1790) as their Philosopher of the Month. Smith was an eminent Scottish moral philosopher and the founder of modern economics, best- known for his book, The Wealth of Nations (1776) which was highly influential in the development of Western capitalism.

    Better health care delivery: doing more with existing resources By Boaz Ronen, Joseph S. Pliskin, and Shimeon Pass The healthcare sector faces challenges which are constantly escalating. Populations are growing worldwide and so is the share of the elderly in society. There is a constant proliferation of new medications, diagnostic methods, medical procedures and equipment, and know-how. This huge progress greatly improves the quality of medical treatment but at the same time increases its costs. Governments and authorities are allocating ever growing budgets to healthcare systems but the increased budgets do not cover the increased costs of providing quality healthcare to the public.

    Revered and reviled: George Washington’s relationship with Indian nations By Colin G. Calloway During George Washington’s presidency, Indian delegates were regular visitors to the seat of government. Washington dined with Cherokees, Chickasaws, Creeks, Kaskaskias, Mahicans, Mohawks, Oneidas, and Senecas; in one week late in 1796, he had dinner with four different groups of Indians on four different days—and on such occasions the most powerful man in the United States followed the customs of his Indian visitors, smoked calumet pipes, exchanged wampum belts, and drank punch with them.

    Animal of the Month: the lesser known penguins Penguins have fascinated zoologists, explorers, and the general public for centuries. Their Latin name—Sphenisciformes—is a mixture of Latin and Greek derivatives, meaning ‘small wedge shaped’, after the distinctive form of their flightless wings. The genus of penguins comprises more than just the famous Emperors of the Antarctic, and while public awareness is growing, many of the seventeen extant members of this bird family, their habitats, and threats to their survival, remain relatively unknown.

    Short History of the Third Reich [timeline] By Kim Behrens and Robert Gellately Historians today continue raising questions about the Third Reich, especially because of the unprecedented nature of its crimes, and the military aggression it unleashed across Europe. Much of the inspiration for the catastrophic regime, lasting a mere twelve years, belongs to Adolf Hitler, a virtual non-entity in political circles before 1914.

    Are you of my kidney? By Anatoly Liberman It is perfectly all right if your answer to the question in the title is “no.” I am not partial. It was not my intention to continue with the origin of organs, but I received a question about the etymology of kidney and decided to answer it, though, as happened with liver (see the post for 21 March 2018), I have no original ideas on this subject.

    The modern Prometheus: the relevance of Frankenstein 200 years on By Helena Nicholson This year marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley’s acclaimed Gothic novel, written when she was just eighteen. The ghoulish tale of monsters—both human and inhuman—continues to captivate readers around the world, but two centuries after Shelley’s pitiably murderous monster was first brought to life, how does the tale speak to the modern age? The answer is that the story remains strikingly relevant to a contemporary readership, through its exploration of scientific advancements and artificial intelligence.

    The real price of legitimate expectations By Dr Alexander Brown In early February, the British Legal Aid Agency (LAA) agreed to provide funds to the families of people killed in the 1982 Hyde Park bombing as they pursue a civil lawsuit against the main suspect in the case, John Downey.

    In defense of beating dead horses: probing a subtle universe By Steven Vigdor A February 2017 Workshop on Robustness, Reliability, and Reproducibility in Scientific Research was sponsored by the US National Science Foundation (NSF). The workshop was part of NSF’s response to growing concerns in Congress triggered by increasing media coverage of an apparent lack of reproducibility among findings, especially in clinical sciences. The participants, spanning diverse scientific subfields, were charged to assess the extent of any problems of reliability and reproducibility, and to formulate next steps toward solutions.

    What causes oral cancer and how can we prevent it? By Hugh Devlin and Rebecca Craven We know that excessive consumption of alcohol is detrimental to oral health, but why? We know that tobacco smoking, alcohol, and poor oral hygiene cause increased acetaldehyde levels in saliva. Alcohol itself is not carcinogenic, but it is metabolised to acetaldehyde which has been strongly implicated in the development of oral cancer. The variation between people in how they metabolize alcohol might explain why some are at greater risk of cancer than others.

    Resisting doomsday: The American antinuclear movement By Paul Rubinson An aging TV personality occupies the White House. Representing the Republican Party, he denounces his predecessors for coddling the nation’s enemies. Not long after taking office, he begins rattling nuclear sabers with the country’s most dangerous nuclear rival, threatening complete destruction and promising victory in nuclear war. His rhetoric concerns people at home and abroad. Just as this description applies to Donald Trump in 2017, it also characterizes Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s. A longtime critic of his predecessors’ détente policy, Reagan took a fierce stand toward the Soviet Union.

    The Quotable Guide to Punctuation Quiz Part Two By Stephen Spector Correct punctuation is vital for clear, accurate, and natural writing. Anyone preparing a course assignment, applying for a job or for college admission, or doing any other formal writing needs to know the standard conventions of punctuation. Do you consider yourself a punctuation expert? Do you know the differences between parentheses and square brackets? Test your knowledge with this quiz.

    Being Church as Christian hardcore punk By Amy McDowell What is church? In the social sciences, church is ordinarily conceptualized as a physical gathering place where religious people go for worship and fellowship. Church is sacred; it is not secular. With this idea of church in mind, sociologists find that U.S. Christian youth (particularly young white men) are dropping out of church. Some are dropping out because they have lost faith in God. Others, however, are leaving church because they feel alienated from organized religion, not because they stopped being Christians. This rise in “unchurched believers” raises a question: how are Christian youth creating and expressing church beyond the confines of a religious institution?

    Musician or entrepreneur? My journey began with popcorn By Jeffrey Nytch “Entrepreneurship.” It’s such a troublesome word, partly because it’s been overused and misapplied such that it’s become a buzz-word – which is never conducive to clarity of meaning or purpose. But it’s also a difficult word to get our hands around because it has many different meanings and can play out in so many ways. So what is it about entrepreneurship that I feel is so important for us in classical music to embrace? I can remember quite clearly the moment when I began the path towards entrepreneurship: that moment when you realize you have to change the way you’ve been thinking about things and the way you’ve been approaching a problem.

    The art of microbiology By Sarah Adkins, Rachel Rock, and Jeff Morris Sir Alexander Fleming famously wrote that “one sometimes finds what one is not looking for”. The story of Fleming’s serendipitous discovery of penicillin in the 1920s is familiar to most microbiologists. While the Scottish scientist and his family were on vacation, a fungal contaminant spread across – and subsequently killed – a lawn of bacteria growing on agar plates from one of his experiments.

    The astronomer Johannes Stöffler and the reform of Easter By C. Philipp E. Nothaft In 1518, Johannes Stöffler published the 290-page Calendarium Romanum magnum. This carefully carfted ensemble of astronomical tables and detailed supplementary treatises that qualifies as one of the most impressive manifestations of the mathematical culture of the Northern Renaissance. Find out about the history of the Calendarium and its importance in the debate regarding the date the church celebrates Easter

    National Volunteer Month: a reading list By Deborah Carr On 20 April 1974, President Richard M. Nixon declared National Volunteer Week, to honor those Americans whose unpaid “efforts most frequently touch the lives of the poor, the young, the aged and the sick, but in the process the lives of all men and women are made richer.” This commemoration has since been extended to a full month to recognize those who offer their time, energy, and skills to their communities.

    American Renaissance: the Light & the Dark By Stephen Mann The American Renaissance—perhaps the richest literary period in American history, critics argue—produced lettered giants Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Emily Dickinson. Much like the social and historical setting in which it was birthed, this period was full of paradoxes that were uniquely American.

    The strange case of Colonel Cyril Wilson and the Jihadists By Philip Walker The aftermath of the Arab Revolt of 1916-18 and the settlement in the Middle East after the First World War still resonates, world-wide, after a century. It is not only the jihadists of the so-called Islamic State and other groups who rail against the Sykes-Picot Agreement—the secret arrangement between Britain, France, and Russia that carved up much of the territory of the Ottoman Empire. Many moderate Muslims have a rankling feeling of betrayal, being aware that Sykes-Picot contradicted the British promise—albeit a vague one—of a large independent territory for Sherif Hussein of Mecca, the leader of the Arab Revolt, if he would rise up against the Ottomans, Britain’s wartime enemies.

    The four principles of medicine as a human experience By David Rosen and Uyen B. Hoang The standard in medicine has historically favoured an illness- and doctor-centered approach. Today, however, we’re seeing a shift from this methodology towards patient-centered care for several reasons. In the edited excerpt below, taken from Patient-Centered Medicine, David H. Rosen and Uyen Hoang explore four core principles that underlie the foundation of this clinical approach.

    The return of opiophobia By Robert C. Macauley Opiophobia (literally, a fear of opioids or their side effects, especially respiratory suppression) has been around for a long time. Nowadays it’s primarily prompted by the opioid epidemic that has caused a five-fold increase in overdose deaths over the past two decades. With opioids implicated in over 40,000 deaths in the United States each year, interventions such as daily milligram limits, short-term prescribing, and “risk evaluation and mitigation strategies” are important public health measures.

    What to do about tinnitus? By Erin Martz and yahav oron Tinnitus (i.e., ear or head noises not caused by external sounds) is common among the general population across the world. Tinnitus can be experienced as a “ringing in the ears.” It can also sound like a hissing, sizzling, or roaring noise. It can be rhythmic or pulsating. Tinnitus can be a non-stop, constant sound or an intermittent sound that disappears and returns without a pattern. It can occur in one or both ears.

    Crime and the media in America By Stephen Mann The modern media landscape is filled with reports on crime, from dedicated sections in local newspapers to docu-series on Netflix. According to a 1992 study, mass media serves as the primary source of information about crime for up to 95% of the general public. Moreover, findings report that up to 50% of news coverage is devoted solely to stories about crime. The academic analysis of crime in popular culture and mass media has been concerned with the effects on the viewers; the manner in which these stories are presented and how that can have an impact on our perceptions about crime. How can these images shape our views, attitudes, and actions?

    How Atari and Amiga computers shaped the design of rave culture By Jonathan Weinel I can still recall the trip to Bournemouth to get the Atari ST “Discovery Pack.” The Atari ST was a major leap forward from our previous computer, the ZX Spectrum, offering superior graphics and sound capabilities. It also had a floppy disk drive, which meant it was no-longer necessary to listen to extended sequences of noise and coloured bars while the game loaded (this was an exercise in patience at the time, though retrospectively these loading sequences seem more interesting due to the similarities with experimental noise music!)

    Etymology gleanings for March 2018: Part 2 By Anatoly Liberman Thanks to all of our readers who have commented on the previous posts and who have written me privately. Some remarks do not need my answer. This is especially true of the suggestions concerning parallels in the languages I don’t know or those that I can read but have never studied professionally. Like every etymologist, I am obliged to cite words and forms borrowed from dictionaries, and in many cases depend on the opinions I cannot check.

    The Spirit of Early Evangelicalism Wonder, love, and praise By D. Bruce Hindmarsh T. S. Eliot admired the way seventeenth-century poets could bring diverse materials together into harmony, and for whom thought and feeling were combined in a unified sensibility. However, he famously described a kind of dissociated sensibility that set in at the end of the century with the advent of mechanical philosophy and materialist science.

    Modernization of mortuary practice and grief By Claire White-Kravette Modern western mortuary practices are characterized by the professionalization of the management and presentation of the corpse. These practices serve as a stark contrast to those in traditional societies across the world and those throughout history. Changes to how we treat and dispose of the dead are such that industrialized societies have become outliers on the spectrum of the world’s cultures.

    Conflict-resolution mantras for the workplace and everyday life [infographic] By Marissa Lynch Great leaders show composure during stressful situations. But remaining cool and collected in times of crisis is easier said than done, partly due to our own behavioral patterns. Allowing ourselves to become tethered to a particular agenda or resolution puts us at risk for increased stress and diminished communication. Being open to personal change is the first step to improving conflict-resolution habits. Self-management allows leaders to more effectively manage conflicts. Mantras (or internal chants) are a great way to self-manage: these small reminders can help us control our emotions and, in turn, any conflicts that arise.

    A guide to the ISA 2018 conference By Elena Jones Founded in 1959, the International Studies Association is one of the oldest interdisciplinary associations, dedicated to understanding international and global affairs. With a world-wide presence and growing influence, the ISA is instrumental to the promotion and funding of International Studies. Their annual convention will take place between 4-7 April, this year in San Francisco.

    Arranging the music of J. S. Bach By David Blackwell If composers and arrangers have long reworked the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, they have followed the lead of none other than the composer himself, for Bach was an inveterate transcriber of his own music and the music of others. For solo organ Bach transcribed Vivaldi’s Concerto for two violins Op. 3 No. 8, while his G major Concerto BWV 592 acknowledged the musical efforts of Prince Johann Ernst, nephew of his employer at Weimar, discreetly tidying and improving details in the process. Bach’s great Mass in B minor is a compilation of his earlier compositions, while the exuberant opening sinfonia of Cantata No. 29 is an expansion of the Prelude from his E major Partita for solo violin.

    The Church of the Holy Sepulchre and Jerusalem’s property tax By Edward A. Zelinsky hen is a property tax dispute between a church and a municipality an international controversy? When the church is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the municipality is the city of Jerusalem. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is one of the holiest sites in Christianity. The Church takes its name from what is traditionally believed to be the tomb of Jesus located within the Church.

    Triggered ideas: finding inspiration By Dawn Field Where do find your ideas? Are they buried deep in you and suddenly percolate up? Are they glimmers that appear over time until they coalesce into ‘an idea’? Are they reactions to something you see, hear, or do. Likely, you’ve experienced all three and certainly all are the result of accumulated experiences. The last one is special though, in being what we can call ‘triggered’. Something triggered your emotions or imagination and you acted in response.

    Air Power: how aerial warfare has changed and remained the same By Frank Ledwidge This year is the centenary of the Royal Air Force (RAF), which was the first independent air force. Before I started writing Aerial Warfare, I would have assumed the answer to the question, ‘what was the first air arm?’ to be an early 20th century affair, armed with rickety biplanes.

    The death of democracy in Stump City By Matthew Flinders Some might say that in a world that is arguably defined by a complex set of global challenges (think food security, transnational organised crime, antibiotic resistance, sustainable development, etc.) you might think that the fate of a few trees in a post-industrial city in northern England is hardly worth the political equivalent of a raised eyebrow. You would be wrong. From healthy street tree stock to political laughing stock….

    The language of strategic planning By Edwin L. Battistella My university just completed a round of strategic planning, its periodic cycle of self-evaluation, redefinition, and goal setting. Many of my colleagues were excited about the opportunity to define the future. Others were somewhat jaded, seeing such plans as bookshelf documents to be endured until the next planning cycle. Still others were agnostics, happy to see us have a good strategic plan but determined not to let it get in their way.


    March 2018 (90))

    Artificial intelligence in oncology By Kiashini Sriharan There is no denying the presence of computers in our everyday life, whether it’s through phones, personal virtual assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, or video games. Lately, the interest and development surrounding artificial intelligence (AI) has escalated, and the opportunities to embrace this within the healthcare industry seem to be growing.

    Female first: aerial women in mythology, pop culture, and beyond By Serinity Young The sacred is where you find it. We would be foolish to ignore human awe in contemplating the eternal stability of the night sky and envy for the flight of birds that seemed to fly between the earthly, somewhat troublesome world of constant change, and what appeared to be eternal heavenly realms. The ancient depictions of winged females, and not winged males, suggest women were perceived as having some special power that men did not.

    What is allowed in outer space? By Christopher D. Johnson Humanity is no longer just exploring outer space for the sake of leaving flags and footprints. On February 6, the SpaceX Corporation conducted a successful first flight of its Falcon Heavy rocket, capable of carrying 63,800 kg (140,700 lb) to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), a capability not seen since the Apollo era. As the rocket’s reusable stages can be refueled and reflown, this rocket is a significant innovation and not merely a return to past capabilities.

    Collaboration for a cure: harnessing the power of patient data By Taz Cheema I am a classic example of a fitness fanatic who uses a wearable device to count my steps, measure my heart rate, and track my sleep pattern. Every day, I am armed with data gathered about my physical activity, alerting me as to whether I’ve been slacking in the gym or eating too many bags of crisps. There is no doubt that now, more than ever, we live in a world where ‘big data’ is ubiquitous in influencing our daily decisions.

    Is there a gender bias in teaching evaluations? By Friederike Mengel, Jan Sauermann, and Ulf Zölitz Why are there so few female professors? Despite the fact that the fraction of women enrolling in graduate programs has increased over the last decades, the proportion of women who continue their careers in academia remains low. One explanation that could explain these gender disparities are gender-biased teaching evaluations. Outcomes of teaching evaluations affect hiring, tenure, and promotion decisions.

    The unexpected role of nature at Amiens Cathedral [slideshow] By Mailan S Doquang Medieval church designers drew on nature in surprising and innovative ways. Organic forms appear in unexpected places, framing the portals that provide access to sanctified spaces, punctuating interior walls and supports, and hanging from the vaults that soar above the beholder. These foliate sculptures are often characterized as mere ornamentation, devoid of meaning or purpose.

    Brain tumour awareness: The end counts too By Kiashini Sriharan Here in the United Kingdom, we have the worst survival rates for brain cancer in Europe, with just 14% of patients surviving for ten or more years. Whilst prognosis for most other types of cancer has improved, brain tumour survival rates have remained stagnant, with no game-changing new drugs being developed in the last fifty years. As brain tumours progress, the aggressive nature of the disease becomes apparent.

    That’s what she said: celebrating women in history [slideshow] By Laura Knowles Achievements, contributions, and developments made by women have often gone overlooked or unacknowledged throughout world history. In 1909, “National Women’s Day” was held on 28 February in New York, which was amended to “International Women’s Day” two years later.

    Etymology gleanings March 2018 By Anatoly Liberman One of the questions I received was about dent, indent, and indenture. What do they have in common with dent- “tooth,” as in dental and dentures? Dent, which surfaced in texts in the 13th century, meant “stroke, blow” (a noun; obviously, not a derivative of any Latin word for “tooth”) and has plausibly been explained as a variant of its full synonym or doublet dint.

    Misconceptions of vaccines By Anna Shannon Vaccines help to provide immunity against diseases. Sadly, there are a number of misconceptions surrounding vaccines, leading to some areas of the community opting not to vaccinate. This has a negative impact as decreasing immunisation rates can lead to an increase in diseases that can be prevented by vaccines, as was seen with the whooping cough in California.

    Journal of the American Academy of Religion Aftering critical theory: reimagining civil “religion” By C. Travis Webb Why haven’t the insights of critical theory been more widely incorporated into the work of religious studies scholars in particular, and humanists more generally? Conversely, why have critical theorists missed the cross-cultural patterns of signification that have shaped post-tribal hierarchies for millennia, when they are so adept at finding hidden epistemological linkages within western political hegemonies?

    An interview with March Mammal Madness founder Dr. Katie Hinde By Dr. Katie Hinde and Nicole Taylor March Mammal Madness was created by Dr. Katie Hinde of Arizona State University and is a program which presents a bracket of 64 species of animals. Participants use scientific research to predict which species would win in a face-off. Virtual “battles” between contenders are then narrated on Twitter using scientific research and an element of chance. The species are narrowed down and eventually one winner is declared.

    The untold story of ordinary black southerners’ litigation during the Jim Crow era By Melissa Milewski Discover how Henry Buie, Moses Summerlin, Lurena Roebuck, and almost a thousand other black soutnerners managed to successfully litigate civil cases against white southerners throughout the 85 years following the Civil War. Many different tactics needed to be deployed during this period of injustice, and in a system where those in power often had very different interests and perspectives than their own.

    Opportunity recognition: the heart of entrepreneurial thinking By Jeffrey Nytch With the 2018 Winter Olympics over, I’m reminded of one of the key traits all entrepreneurs possess and all would-be entrepreneurs must develop: the ability to recognize opportunities. You see, one of my favorite Olympic sports is bobsledding. I love the speed and excitement, the precision with which the sleds must be steered to gain the most speed—but also avoid disaster. I’m also fascinated by the tracks themselves.

    How our financial system has gotten out of control [excerpt] By David Kinley Capitalism has been a key force behind human progress for centuries. But as the power of the finance sector has grown, public interests have been sidelined, and human rights concerns have been ignored. The following shortened excerpt from Necessary Evil takes a look at how the finance sector has repeatedly failed to advance the human condition, and why its level of political influence is dangerous for humanity.

    Prohibition and its discontents [Q&A] By W. J. Rorabaugh The Eighteenth Amendment to the US Constitution banned alcohol from 1920 to 1933. Sometimes called the “noble experiment,” this disastrous public policy reduced tax revenues, made gangsters rich, and failed to stop drinking. Alcohol consumption did drop some, but regular drinkers turned to bootleg liquor and moonshine. In the following interview the historian W. J. Rorabaugh discusses prohibition and its discontents.

    The eleventh hour: a look at the final battles of the Great War [timeline] By Marissa Lynch On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, the Great War came to an end. Conventional accounts of the war often allow these closing battles to be overshadowed by opening moves and earlier battles. However, the human costs behind the Allied victory cannot be truly understood without examining the summer of 1918. Using personal accounts featured in The Last Battle, the timeline below captures the final battles of World War I through the eyes of the men fighting them.

    Editing Arthur Machen By Aaron Worth f the challenges Arthur Machen presents to an editor, two, in particular, have shadowed me during the preparation of this new collection of his stories. The first is simply the special sense of responsibility one feels when curating the work of a deeply loved writer—for even when Machen’s reputation has been at low ebb (as, often enough, it has been), he has always had a hard core of devoted admirers.

    Corporate governance from a federal law perspective By Marc I. Steinberg Traditionally, American states have regulated the sphere of corporate governance, encompassing the relations among and between a corporation, its directors, its officers, and its stockholders. With respect to publicly-held companies, Delaware, known as the jurisdiction with an expert judiciary in company law, sound precedent and legislative flexibility, reigns supreme as the state where the greatest number of such enterprises incorporate.

    Italian election reflects voters unhappiness with current economy By Andrea Lorenzo Capussela On 4 March Italians surprised pollsters and observers. They awarded most votes to the centre-right coalition, as predicted, but within it they preferred the conservative League, which quadrupled its votes, to Silvio Berlusconi’s party and its post-fascist allies. Voters punished the Democratic Party (PD), which dominated the past parliament, more harshly than expected. And they rewarded the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (5SM) far more than expected.

    “Watermelon snow” on glaciers: sustaining life in colour By Roman Dial Glacier surfaces around the world often host active communities of specialized organisms, including annelids in Alaska , insects in the Himalayas, and rotifers in Iceland. But these organisms, like all life, need liquid water in order to survive. The most strikingly visible signs of life on glaciers come from the microbes responsible for “watermelon-snow” – so-called both for its colour, and its smell.

    The Quotable Guide to Punctuation quiz By Stephen Spector Correct punctuation is vital for clear, accurate, and natural writing. Anyone preparing a course assignment, applying for a job or for college admission, or doing any other formal writing needs to know the standard conventions of punctuation. Do you consider yourself a punctuation expert?

    OUP Philosophy What is it like for women in philosophy, and in academia as a whole? By Catherine Pugh During Women’s History Month, the OUP Philosophy team has been celebrating Women in Philosophy throughout history and in the present day. While it is easy for most of us to name male philosophers, it is far more difficult for people to name female philosophers even though their influence has been just as great as their male counterparts.

    Shaping the legacy of Dame Cicely Saunders [excerpt] By David Clark She arrived in 1938, at age twenty-one, for the Michaelmas term. In that year, there were 850 women studying at the University, making up a record 18.5% of the student body. Cicely elected to read Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (P.P.E.). This programme of study had been established at Oxford in the 1920s as an alternative to ‘Greats’ or Classics. It was generally known as ‘Modern Greats’.

    The secret of the Earth By Roy Livermore One of the questions currently keeping astrobiologists (the people who would like to study life on other planets if only they could find some) awake at night is, what is the crucial difference that allowed the emergence and evolution of life on Earth, while its neighbours remained sterile? In their violent youth, all the inner planets started out with so much surplus heat energy—from planetary accretion and radioactive decay—that their surfaces melted to form magma oceans hundreds or thousands of kilometres deep.

    You’ve got internet!– connecting rural areas By Peter F. Orazem and Younjun Kim Twenty years ago, if you wanted internet access in many rural areas of America, you had to plug your computer into a phone line, listen to the dialing sound, and hope for the best. Today many people can easily join the cyber world at reliable speeds that few imagined decades ago. Although the percentage of people with broadband has increased, many in rural communities still lack broadband access and the accompanying benefits.

    Ten fascinating facts about the Marshall Plan By benn steil In 1947, with Britain’s empire collapsing and Stalin’s rise in Europe, US officials under new Secretary of State George C. Marshall set out to reconstruct Western Europe as a bulwark against communist authoritarianism. Their massive, costly, and ambitious undertaking confronted Europeans and Americans alike with a vision at odds with their history and self-conceptions.

    Is Debussy an Impressionist? By Eric Frederick Jensen From the start, audiences liked Claude Debussy’s music. Critics, perplexed by its originality, were less enthusiastic. It seemed so non-traditional that they found it difficult to grasp, and a challenge to categorize. That’s what eventually led to the term Impressionism being applied to it. It became an easy way both to classify it and make it seem less unusual. Prior to linking Debussy to it, Impressionism was solely associated with the visual arts.

    Addressing international law in action By Jo Wojtkowski The 112th American Society of International Law’s annual meeting (4-7 April 2018) will focus on the constitutive and often contentious nature of ‘International Law in Practice’. Practice not only reifies the law, but how it is understood, applied, and enforced in practice shapes its meaning and impacts the generation of future international rules.

    Digging into the innards: “liver” By Anatoly Liberman Etymological bodybuilding is a never-ceasing process. The important thing is to know when to stop, and I’ll stop soon, but a few more exercises may be worth the trouble. Today’s post is about liver. What little can be said about this word has been said many times, so that an overview is all we’ll need. First, as usual, a prologue or, if you prefer, a posy of the ring.

    History in 3 acts: a brief introduction to Ancient Greece [excerpt] By Robin Waterfield Ancient Greek history is conventionally broken down into three periods: Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic. However, the language used to describe them highlights an oversight made by generations of historians. By dubbing one period of history as “Classical,” scholars imply that the other two periods are inferior, simplifying the Archaic age as a mere precursor to and the Hellenistic age as a lesser descendant of the Classical age.

    Celebrating the first women Fellows of the Linnean Society of London By Sandra Knapp Diversity in science is in the news today as never before, and it is hard to imagine what it might have been like to be a woman scientist in 1900, knocking at the doors of learned societies requesting that women be granted the full advantages of Fellowship. It might seem trivial to us now, but in the past these societies were the primary arena in which discussions took place, contacts were made and science progressed.

    The forgotten history of free trade: the Medici dynasty and Livorno By Corey Tazzara The Medici had everything, almost. They got immensely rich as bankers during the fifteenth century. As patrons of the arts they assembled some of the finest collections in Italy. They placed two scions on the papal throne as Leo X and Clement VII. They won political control over the city of Florence. The Medici lacked only one thing to render their earthly felicity complete: they lacked a port city.

    How did the plague impact health regulation? By Anne-Emanuelle Birn What do we think of when we hear the word “plague”? Red crosses on boarded-up doors? Deserted medieval villages? Or maybe the horror film-esque cloak and mask of a plague doctor? Unsurprisingly, the history of plague and its impact on health regulation is more complex and far-reaching than many assume. This extract from the Textbook of Global Health looks at the medical and environmental legacy of pandemics.

    The science behind the frog life cycle [interactive guide] Most of us remember learning the life cycle of a frog when we were young children, being fascinated by foamy masses of frogspawn, and about how those little black specks would soon be sprouting legs. That was a while ago, though. We think it’s about time that we sat you down for a grown-ups’ lesson on the life cycle of a frog. Frog eggs face a plethora of challenges from the moment they are laid.

    Arranging The Lark Ascending for small string ensembles By martin gerigk I discovered the violin and piano version of The Lark Ascending in my youth, and I still remember how much I loved playing the violin part, unaccompanied. I was impressed by the programmatic transformation of the underlying poem as well as the liberating setting of the pentatonic scale and transcendent cadenza. Even then, I was already thinking of adapting this wonderful work for a different instrumentation.

    Nuclear warfare throughout history: World War II [timeline] By Rodric Braithwaite With the dropping of the atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the nature of military conflict was changed forever. The nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union escalated throughout the twentieth century, limited by “Deterrance,” a policy of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD).

    To be a mother and a scientist By Magdolna Hargittai Years ago, while researching my book Women Scientists, I asked famous women scientists to name the greatest challenge in their life. Almost without exception, they noted the difficulty of adjusting their family obligations and their work. Chemist Rita Cornforth, wife and colleague of the Nobel laureate John W. Cornforth, said: “I found it easier to put chemistry out of my mind when I was at home than to put our children out of my mind when I was in the lab.”

    A visual history of the New York Crystal Palace [slideshow] By Edwin G. Burrows When New York’s Crystal Palace opened in 1853, it quickly became one of the most celebrated landmarks in the city. But five years later, the building was gone—engulfed in flames and reduced to a heap of smoldering debris. The below photographs from The Finest Building in America recapture the sensation and spectacle behind the New York Crystal Palace: a building that mattered so much to antebellum Americans and New Yorkers, yet was never rebuilt.

    How Trump is making China great again By Astrid H. M. Nordin and Mikael Weissman Over the last year, scholars, pundits, and policymakers interested in China have rhetorically asked whether US President Donald Trump will make President Xi Jinping’s China “great again.” There is now mounting evidence that the answer to that question is “yes.” Since his inauguration, there are a number of ways in which Trump has contributed to China’s rise, and Xi Jinping’s tightening grip on power.

    “Alas, poor YORICK!:” death and the comic novel By Ian Campbell Ross Tragedy provokes sorrow and concludes with downfall and death. Comedy elicits laughter and ends happily. Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy is one of the funniest novels of world literature. But does the work, overshadowed by death, end happily? Can death and comedy mix? “Everybody dies. If you are going to take that badly, you’re doing it wrong. So you have to take it as a joke.” The sentiments of the celebrated Spanish cartoonist Antonio Fraguas, Forges, who died on 22 February 2018, might echo those of Sterne, whose own death took place 250 years ago on 18 March 1768.

    OUP Philosophy Landmark moments for women in philosophy [timeline] By Catherine Pugh This March, the OUP Philosophy team are celebrating Women in Philosophy. Throughout time, women have had to fight for their place in history, academia, and the philosophy discipline. To honour their contributions, we will be highlighting women and their achievements in the field of philosophy all throughout Women’s History Month.

    Lützen and the birth of modern warfare By Peter H. Wilson The battle of Lützen between the imperial and Swedish armies was fought about 19km southwest of Leipzig in Saxony, Germany, on Tuesday 16 November 1632. It was neither the largest nor the bloodiest battle of the Thirty Years War (1618-48), Europe’s most destructive conflict prior to the twentieth-century world wars, but it is certainly the best remembered today. Lützen’s place in military history has even wider resonance.

    The changing face of women in medicine By Evie Watts As a current fourth year medical student in the United Kingdom, I am in a year in which the number of females supersedes the number of males. This trend certainly isn’t unique to my own medical school, with a General Medical Council (GMC) report stating that women now make up 55% of all undergraduate medical students. This current trend is a change, as in the past medicine has always been a male-dominated profession.

    Fifty years on: what has plate tectonics ever done for us? By Roy Livermore In 2004, John Prescott, then Deputy Prime Minister in Tony Blair’s New Labour government, remarked, “the tectonic plates appear to be moving”, referring to the impending downfall of Mr Blair. Since then, the tectonic plates metaphor has been applied to just about every major political transition, including events following the UK referendum on leaving the European Union and the election of Donald Trump as US President.

    Advancements by women throughout history [Timeline] By Analise Mifsud and Lauren McNamara “It is well known that women receive little or no attention in traditional history writing.” In honour of women’s history month, we will be looking at the vital role of women in history. Based on numerous journal articles and covering various periods between the 1300s and 1950s the timeline highlights key figures and movements that contributed towards the advancement of women across various regions.

    Acknowledging identity, privilege, and oppression in music therapy By Candice Bain, Catherine Boggan, and Patrick R. Grzanka As clinical music therapy professionals who are goal- and solution-oriented, how much time do we spend considering our client’s experience outside the therapy room? How might taking the time to learn about a client’s multifaceted identity affect the therapeutic relationship? Furthermore, how do our own personal identities, beliefs, and experiences affect our relationships with clients? In answering these questions, we begin to scratch the surface of making our practice more intersectional.

    An exercise in etymological bodybuilding By Anatoly Liberman To an etymologist the names of some organs and body parts pose almost insoluble problems. A quick look at some of them may be of interest to our readers. I think that in the past, I have discussed only the words brain and body (21 February 2007: brain; 14 October 2015: body). Both etymologies are hard, for the words are local: brain has a rather inconspicuous German cognate, and the same holds for body. I risked offering tentative suggestions, which were followed by useful, partly critical comments. As usual, I see no reason to repeat what I said in the past and would like to stress only one idea. Etymologists, when at a loss for a solution, often say that the inscrutable word could enter Indo-European or Germanic, or Romance from some unknown, unrecorded language (such languages are called substrates).

    Social media and plastic surgery: quality over quantity By Foad Nahai There is no shortage of stress factors in anyone’s daily life, but how does the stress of social media effect plastic surgeons who are required each day to bring their A game to every operative procedure they perform? As initially conceived, social media was intended to connect people globally. But now, it’s the cause of the third leading psychological disorder in the United States—social anxiety disorder.

    Humanism—from Italian to secular By craig kallendorf Humanism doesn’t get much good press these days. In many circles it comes accompanied by an adjective—secular—and a diatribe: A war of philosophy and of what defines morality is being fought daily in the media, judicial benches and legislative halls across the Western world. On one side stand fundamentalist Protestantism and conservative Catholicism and on the other side secular humanism.

    The hippie trail and the search for enlightenment By Brian Ireland The Hippie Trail was one of the last, great expressions of the counterculture during the mid-1950s to late 1970s. Headed to the East, the most celebrated route was from London to Kathmandu, although many stopped in India or went on to Australasia, and there were subsidiary routes to the Mediterranean, to Morocco and to the Middle East.

    Europeans and Britain’s wider world By Stephen Conway Is the wider world really the alternative to Europe that some of today’s commentators claim? Britain’s eighteenth-century experience suggests not. Then, the supposed alternatives, in the eyes of some contemporaries, were Europe and empire. But look more closely at Britain’s empire, and we can see that its development, defence, and expansion owed much to other Europeans.

    Ten virtual reality games that simulate altered states By Jonathan Weinel The recent resurgence of virtual reality (VR) has seen an exciting period of innovation in the format, as developers explore the fresh new possibilities that it brings. VR differs from the video games you might play on a standard television in that the head-mounted display engulfs the visual field, producing a more immersive sensory experience. In VR, not only can you see a virtual environment, but you can also turn your head to look around it.

    Professionalizing leadership – education By Barbara Kellerman “In the past, leadership and teaching how to lead were considered the most consequential of all human endeavors.” Barbara Kellerman looks at three crucial areas of learning leadership; leadership education; leadership training; and leadership development. In this post, she discusses the importance of leadership education and how it should be approached and improved.

    How do black holes shape the cosmos? By Dylan Nelson At the center of every galaxy is a supermassive black hole. Looking at the wider scale, is it possible that these gravity monsters influence the overall structure of our universe? Using a new computer model, astrophysicists have recently calculated the ways in which black holes influence the distribution of dark matter, how heavy elements are produced and distributed throughout the cosmos, and where cosmic magnetic fields originate.

    The OUP citizenship quiz By Kate Roche Far from fading into obscurity as the world moves towards a more interconnected and globalized future, the concept of citizenship is enjoying something of a renaissance. It is an almost constant feature in world news, as nations move to secure their positions by either welcoming or denying new citizens to cross their borders, and the contentious issue of citizenship for sale gains evermore traction.

    Sexuality and the Holocaust By Anna Hájková When, at one point in 2008, Nancy Wingfield approached me with the idea that I should write a paper about prostitution in Theresienstadt, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. That was probably for the best, because before long, I was confronted with hostile, personal attacks from survivors, which demonstrated quite clearly how sensitive the topic was.

    What is the future of the European Union? By Catherine E. De Vries The European Union (EU) is facing turbulent times. Over half a century of integration has created a profound interconnectedness between the political, economic, and social fates of member states. At the same time, however, the fortunes of member states have started to diverge dramatically. The Eurozone crisis for example unmasked deep structural imbalances across the Union.

    OUP Philosophy Women in philosophy: A reading list By Catherine Pugh This March, in recognition of Women’s History Month, the OUP Philosophy team will be celebrating Women in Philosophy. The philosophy discipline has long been perceived as male-dominated, so we want to recognize some of the incredible female philosophers from both the past and the present.

    Ascending to the god’s-eye view of reality By W. M. Stuckey Frank Wilczek famously wrote: “A recurring theme in natural philosophy is the tension between the God’s-eye view of reality comprehended as a whole and the ant’s-eye view of human consciousness, which senses a succession of events in time. Since the days of Isaac Newton, the ant’s-eye view has dominated fundamental physics. We divide our description of the world into dynamical laws that, paradoxically, exist outside of time according to some, and initial conditions on which those laws act.

    All the president’s tweets By Stephen Spector It seems long ago now, but in his victory speech in 2016, Donald Trump promised to unite us as a nation. He finally has, at least around one issue: nearly seven of every ten Americans wish he would stop tweeting from his personal account, including a majority of Republicans. Melania said that she rebukes her husband all the time for his tweets, but she accepts that in the end “he will do what he wants to do.”

    The illegal orchid trade and its implications for conservation By Amy Hinsley When most people think of illegal wildlife trade, the first images that spring to mind are likely to be African elephants killed for their ivory, rhino horns being smuggled for medicine, or huge seizures of pangolins. But there is another huge global wildlife trade that is often overlooked, despite it involving thousands of species that are often traded illegally and unsustainably.

    Women in China, past and present By Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom and Maura Elizabeth Cunningham As we celebrate the lives and accomplishments of women around the world as part of Women’s History Month, we offer a brief look at changing gender roles in different periods of China’s past, and at a group of contemporary activists pushing for greater equality between men and women in the current era. In two excerpts on women from their forthcoming book, China in the 21 Century: What Everyone Needs to Know, Maura Elizabeth Cunningham and Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom place events that have taken place since Xi Jinping took power into a long-term historical perspective.

    Designers in silico By Antti Oulasvirta, Per Ola Kristensson, and Xiaojun Bi A puzzling observation: the progress epitomized by Moore’s law of integrated circuits never resulted in an equivalent evolution of user interfaces. Over the years, interaction with computers has evolved disappointingly little. The mouse was invented in the 1960s, the same decade as hypertext. Push buttons and the QWERTY layout existed in the 19th century and the display-plus-keyboard setup was used in the Apollo program.

    World Kidney Day 2018: include, value, empower By Kiashini Sriharan This year on the 8th March, World Kidney Day coincided with International Women’s Day. With chronic kidney disease affecting 195 million women worldwide, the chosen theme ‘Kidneys & Women’s Health: Include, Value, Empower’ only feels apt. Despite playing a vital role in the body maintaining homeostasis, kidney health is often overlooked by many of us, and if neglected could lead to serious health implications for both men and women.

    What is biblical archaeology? [Extract] By Eric H. Cline “These were some of the original questions in biblical archaeology that intrigued the earliest pioneers of the field. They still resonate today but are far from being answered.” In the following excerpt from Biblical Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction, Eric H. Cline explains the interests of biblical archaeologists, and explores the types of questions that those in the field set out to answer.

    Using the arts for change on International Women’s Day By Kathy Battista With every generation comes difficult and contested times that shape history. In the United States, where we are experiencing one of the most divided society in decades, the sentiment feels omnipresent and pervasive. For women and those of nonconforming gender, the issues at stake are even more expansive than the gun laws, environmental concerns, or tax reforms that are on the minds of our citizens.

    Women in economics: female achievement in a male-dominated field By Esther Morrison Women in economics are underrepresented. A lack of diversity runs the risk of constraining or distorting the field’s intellectual development. To mark International Women’s Day, we have listed below the achievements of five influential female economists. The list does not fully represent the little diversity that does exist in economic research, but we hope that it will open up important discussions that need to be had.

    Animal of the Month: 13 facts about frogs The Anura order, named from the Greek an, ‘without’ and oura, ‘tail’, contains 2,600 different species and can be found in almost every continent on Earth. These are frogs, and they comprise 85% of the extant amphibian population on earth. They hop around our gardens, lay swathes of frothy eggs in our ponds, and come in a wide variety of exciting colours, but apart from that, how much do you really know about them?

    Neanderthal cave art By Paul G. Bahn On 23 February this year, the American journal Science published an article by an international group of scientists and prehistorians. It presented a series of dates obtained from layers of calcite that had formed on top of drawings in three Ice-Age-decorated caves in Spain: La Pasiega in the north, Maltravieso in the centre, and Ardales in the south. The results—c. 64-66,000 years ago—are so early that it makes it certain that Neanderthals must have made these markings on cave walls.

    Seven women you may not know from music history By Alyssa Russell The historical record of women making music extends back as far as the earliest histories and artifacts of musical performance. For example, artwork from Ancient Greece and Rome suggest that women’s choruses were featured in rituals and festivals. And throughout Chinese imperial history the courts, civil and military officials and wealthy households employed women to sing, dance, and play musical instruments.

    The origin of so long By Anatoly Liberman So long, a formula at parting (“good-bye”) is still in use, unlike mad hatter and sleeveless errand, the subjects of my recent posts, and people sometimes wonder where it came from. I have little of substance to say about the formula’s origin, but, before I say it, I would like to make the point I have made so many times before.

    Which famous woman from STM are you? By Charlotte Zaidi Throughout our history, women have made varied and important contributions to the fields of science, technology, and medicine. Their pioneering work, often fought against overwhelming social prejudice, still affects our lives to this day. Women’s History Month is the ideal time to celebrate the achievements of female scientists and medics from past to present—and perhaps discover some new inspiration.

    9 facts about women and the economy By Eden Joseph Women’s economic empowerment is a key issue, as it is noted that “when more women work, economies grow.” To celebrate International Women’s Day, we have some key facts that demonstrate that changes still need to be made to help women became an active part of economics; whether it is through studying economics itself or the number of women who work in the field, to employment.

    Exploring religious diversity in higher education By Bradley Nystrom and Jeffrey Brodd In his recent post, “Declining Exposure to Religious Diversity” (24 January), Jeremy Bauer-Wolf notes some striking results of a survey conducted by the Interfaith Youth Core of more than 7,000 students at 122 American colleges and universities. The survey measures the extent of their interfaith experiences on campus, and tracks developments in their attitudes toward religious diversity.

    Why the past is disputed and academic historians (don’t) matter By Björn Weiler In all these instances, academic historians have either been sidelined, or have become the victims of politically motivated onslaughts. Still, the disputes per se are not a late modern phenomenon. Similar debates occur in any society that records its past. They form part of historical culture. Having a past and knowing it was considered to be a mark of civilisation. But where did this need for a past come from?

    What’s in her name? By Patricia Fara It must top the list of famous misquotes: Shakespeare’s Juliet did not say “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” But she did ask “What’s in a name?” thus pinpointing a problem that still vexes women today. When I turned 40, I rebranded myself from Pat to Patricia, a shift that was personally gratifying yet had no serious effects. But some women have had to contemplate more serious consequences.

    Creating a natural health system By William Bird Public health has seen multiple revolutions over history: from the recognition of the connection between water, sanitation, and health, to breakthroughs in medicine and genetics. We are currently in the midst of a new revolution in public health where humans are recognised as social beings connected to their community and their environment.

    Who danced it best?: Bob Fosse’s “Hot Honey Rag” By Kevin Winkler The revival of Chicago, the 1975 Bob Fosse musical, has been playing on Broadway and around the world for more than two decades, and is now the longest running American musical in Broadway history. That’s quite a turnaround from its original production. In 1975, Chicago had the bad luck to open the same season as A Chorus Line, and its cynical depiction of 1920s Windy City murder and corruption didn’t connect with audiences like the earnest, striving dancers who put their lives on the line for a chance at Broadway gold.

    The political process case to overturn Quill v. South Dakota By Edward A. Zelinsky By deciding to review Wayfair v. South Dakota, the US Supreme Court has thrust itself into the long and contentious debate about the proper tax treatment of internet sales. As I argue, the Court should use this opportunity to overturn Quill v. North Dakota.

    In 2018, the CJEU will determine the future of the Internet By Dan Svantesson In its amicus brief submitted in relation to the US Microsoft Warrant case, the European Commission emphasised that: “In the European Union’s view, any domestic law that creates cross-border obligations should be applied and interpreted in a manner that is mindful of the restrictions of international law and considerations of international comity.” (Amicus brief, p. 5)

    Romance and reality: clinical science in liver transplant for alcoholism By Thomas P. Beresford Many view organ transplantation as one of the miracles of modern medicine: preserving a person’s life by providing a new liver, heart, lung, kidney, or other organ where the original vital organ has failed. One sees the transplant surgeon as the proverbial knight in shining armor riding a white horse and impaling the demons of death and disease on the end of his sharp-pointed lance.

    Greenwashing the garrison state By Peter Harris Across the globe, the garrison state has “gone green” as national militaries have become partly involved in stewardship of the natural environment. On the face of it, this is a puzzling development. After all, protecting plants and animals from the depredations of humankind is not a job that most people expect from women and men in uniform.

    How to spot ambiguity By Edwin L. Battistella Not long ago, a colleague was setting up a meeting and suggested bringing along spouses to socialize after the business was done. Not getting a positive reply, she emailed: “I’m getting a lack of enthusiasm for boring spouses with our meeting.” A minute later, a second, clarifying email arrived indicating that she “meant boring as a verb not an adjective.” She had spotted the ambiguity in the first message.

    Introducing March Mammal Madness By Nicole Taylor March is a notable month for basketball enthusiasts across the United States, as college teams face off and are narrowed down to one final champion. But for those of us who aren’t as inclined to get in on the sporting excitement, there is an alternative: March Mammal Madness (MMM). MMM was started in 2013 by Dr. Katie Hinde, Associate Professor at Arizona State University.

    Engaging African music in music theory By Kofi Agawu The most recent publication by leading theorists Michael Tenzer and Pieter van den Toorn brings to the fore issues relating to the analysis of African music. Well known for work on Balinese music and for championing the new movement towards analysis of world music, Tenzer here indulges a long-standing interest in African music by exploring deep parallels between two compositions: a beautifully elusive flute-and-voice piece recorded in 1966 by Simha Arom and Genevieve Taurelle and given the title Hindehu; and Nhemamusasa, a standard item from the Shona mbira repertoire recorded by Paul Berliner in 1977.

    Celebrating women in STM [timeline] By Amy Cluett and Melanie Pheby 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.

    Voice classification: system or art? By Adriana Festeu The process of ‘creating order’ through categorisation has always constituted an essential part of our social progress because of its measurable functionality. Vocal categorisation has been no exception, but given that all singing voices are unique – the musical equivalent of fingerprints – any attempt at fitting them neatly into categories ought to generate a clear justification for how this might benefit the art as well as the performer.

    Women artists in conversation: Narcissister By Kathy Battista Narcissister is a Brooklyn based artist whose work includes performance, dance and activism as essential elements. She continues the tradition of second wave feminist artists, such as Adrian Piper, Lorraine O’Grady, Carolee Schneemann, etc., who challenged the status quo in their examination of gender roles, sexuality and equal rights. Narcissister wears a trademark vintage mask in most works, obscuring her identity and provoking the viewer to think of the artist as an “everywoman” rather than about an individual experience.

    Why so much fuss about the history of emotions? By Joanna Innes The history of emotions has emerged as one of the fastest growing areas of historical study in recent years, no doubt helped by the fact that almost all historical topics have emotional aspects. Joanna Innes discusses newly established centres, publications, and the establishment of intellectual bridges between various subjects in furthering the promotion of this field of study.


    February 2018 (75))

    Defiant rulers and (real) superheroes: Black History Month By Henry Louis Gates The first incarnation of Black History Month began in 1926, when Carter G. Woodson, historian and author, established an observance during the second week of February coinciding with the birthdays of social reformer Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln. The month-long celebration was then proposed at Kent State University, Ohio, in February 1969, beginning the following year.

    Etymology gleanings: February 2018 By Anatoly Liberman Everybody’s path to etymology: From time to time I receive questions about etymology as a profession. Not long ago, someone from a faraway country even expressed the wish to get a degree in etymology. I can refer to my post of April 2, 2014. This month, a correspondent asked me to say something about why I became an etymologist. The history of my career cannot be interesting to too many of our readers, so I’ll be brief and rather tell a story.

    Playerless playtesting: AI and user experience evaluation By Samantha Stahlke and Pejman Mirza-Babaei Over the past few decades, the digital games industry has taken the entertainment market by storm, transforming a niche into a multi-billion-dollar market and captivating the hearts of millions along the way. Today, the once-deserted space is overcome with cascades of new games clamouring for recognition.

    Dr. Victor Sidel: a leader for health, peace, and social justice By Barry S. Levy Victor (Vic) Sidel, M.D., who died in late January, was a national and international champion for health, peace, and social justice. Among his numerous activities, he co-edited with me six books on war, terrorism, and social injustice that were published by Oxford University Press. Vic left an extensive legacy in the residents and students whom he trained, in the organizations that he strengthened, in the scholarly books and papers that he edited and wrote, and in the policies and programs that he promoted for a healthier, more peaceful, and more equitable world.

    In celebration of twentieth century African American literature By Steven Filippi Since the first poems published by former slaves Phyllis Wheatley and Jupiter Hammon around the time of the American Revolution, African American literature has played a vital role in the history and culture of the United States. The slave narratives of figures such as Frederick Douglass and Harriet Wilson became a driving force for abolitionism before the Civil War, and the tumultuous end of Reconstruction brought about the exploration of new genres and themes during the height of the Jim Crow era.

    Prohibition: A strange idea By W. J. Rorabaugh American politics is frequently absurd, often zany, and sometimes downright crazy. Among the most outrageous past ideas was the legal Prohibition of alcohol, which was put into the US Constitution as the Eighteenth Amendment in 1920. Prohibition lasted until 1933, when the Twenty-First Amendment brought repeal and tight government regulation of alcohol.

    T.E. Lawrence and the forgotten men who shaped the Arab Revolt By Philip Walker T.E. Lawrence, known as “Lawrence of Arabia,” has provoked controversy for a hundred years. His legend was promoted in the 1920s by the American Lowell Thomas’s travelogue; renewed in 1935 through his book Seven Pillars of Wisdom; and revived in 1962 by the epic film Lawrence of Arabia. The hype should not blind us to the fact that Lawrence’s contribution to the Arab Revolt of 1916-18 against the Turks was indispensable.

    Barristers, solicitors, and the Four Inns of Court of England By Richard Samuel After many years of attempting to explain the need for two kinds of lawyer in the United Kingdom to exasperated and confused European colleagues – and even US ones – I have lighted on the following language. Solicitors are a primary market of legal services. They are profit-sharing organisations in which senior lawyers manage teams of junior lawyers to do almost everything their clients want.

    The fungus that’s worth $900 billion a year By Nicholas P. Money From the dawn of history, human civilizations have prospered through partnership with the simple single-cell fungus we call yeast. It transforms sugars into alcohol, puffs up bread dough with bubbles of carbon dioxide, and is used to produce an assortment of fermented foods. It has become the workhorse of modern biotechnology as the source of life-saving medicines and industrial chemicals.

    Zhongguo and Tianxia: the central state and the Chinese world By Salvatore Babones China is playing an ever-increasing role on the world stage of international relations, and it is starting to bring its own vocabulary to the part. The terminology that comprises the core lexicon of international relations theory originates from Greek and Latin, and it was developed to describe and interpret the configurations of power that have been common in Western history. Chinese scholars are now actively mining the Chinese historical experience to develop new terms to apply both to their own past and to an ever-changing present.

    Excessive gambling and gaming recognised as addictive disorders By John B. Saunders There is no doubt that excessive gambling can cause a huge mental, personal, and financial toll for the gambler and the members of their family. The nature of excessive gambling and whether it constitutes a disorder has been the subject of much research, debate, and controversy in recent years.

    Alain Locke, Charles S. Johnson, and the establishment of Black literature [excerpt] By Jeffrey C. Stewart In March of 1924, Charles S. Johnson, sociologist and editor of Opportunity: A Journal of Negro Life, approached Alain Locke with a proposal: a dinner was being organized with the intention to secure interracial support for Black literature. Locke, would attend the dinner as “master of ceremonies,” with the responsibility of finding a common language between Black writers and potential White allies.

    The counter-revolution in Europe By Jan Zielonka Several months after the fall of the Berlin Wall Ralf Dahrendorf wrote a book fashioned on Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France called Reflections on the Revolution in Europe. The intention was to explain the extraordinary events taking place in Europe around 1989.Today we are witnessing an equally turbulent period in Europe, however heading in the opposite direction.

    Making babies: 21st century reproduction By Monika Piotrowska Today, it is our understanding of the start of life, not its end, that’s being challenged. What does it take to reproduce? Once again, technological advancements are challenging one of our most familiar biological concepts. It used to be that there were only two ways for something to reproduce: either through the sort of sexual reproduction typical of most animals or through the asexual reproduction characteristic of things like bacteria.

    In memoriam: Jimmie C. Holland, MD By William Breitbart Jimmie C. Holland, MD, internationally recognized as the founder of the field of Psycho-oncology, died suddenly on 24 December 2017 at the age of 89. Dr. Holland, who was affectionately known by her first name, “Jimmie,” had a profound global influence on the fields of Psycho-oncology, Psychosomatic Medicine, and Oncology.

    Facts about Shakespeare’s sonnets and poems By Jonathan F. S. Post Of all Shakespeare’s great plays his most frequently published work in his lifetime his erotic poem, Venus and Adonis. Shakespeare’s Sonnets and Poems may often feel less familiar than his plays, but they have also seeped into our cultural history. Within them, they reveal much about the Bard himself and include a number of surprises. Here are a few lesser known facts about Shakespeare’s sonnets and poems.

    Animal of the Month: Interactive guide to polar bear anatomy From white fur to large paws, we all know what the largest bear species in the world looks like, but how much do you actually know about the anatomy of polar bears? So far this month, we have explored how climate change affects our Animal of the Month. Now, we would like to take some time to appreciate the anatomy of the polar bear, particularly the ways in which the bear has adapted to its environment and lifestyle.

    An’t please the pigs By Anatoly Liberman My database on please the pigs is poor, but, since a question about it has been asked by an old and faithful correspondent, I’ll say about it what I can. Perhaps our readers will be able to contribute something to the sought-for etymology. When a word turns out to be of undisclosed or hopelessly obscure origin, we take the result more or less in stride, but it comes to many as a surprise to hear that the circumstances surrounding the emergence of an idiom are beyond reconstruction.

    The ‘most wonderful plants in the world’ are also some of the most useful ones By Aaron Ellison In the popular imagination, carnivorous plants are staples of horror films, high-school theater productions, and science-fiction stories. Many a child has pleaded with her parents to buy yet another Venus’ fly-trap to replace the one she has just killed by over-stuffing it with raw hamburger rather than the plant’s natural diet of flies, ants, and other small insects.

    200 years of Parkinson’s disease By Gavin Gordon The 200th anniversary of James Parkinson’s seminal Essay on the Shaking Palsy gives cause for commemoration and reflection. Parkinson’s astute observation and careful description of only six patients led to one of the earliest and most complete clinical descriptions of Parkinson’s disease. With the concept of a syndrome still not fully realised, Parkinson was among the first writers to unify a set of seemingly unrelated symptoms into one diagnosis.

    The Reformation and Lutheran baroque By Bridget Heal The Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century has long been associated with a reprioritization of the senses, with a shift from visual to verbal piety and from religious images to words. In many parts of northern Europe, the rich visual culture of the late-medieval church—sculptures, altarpieces, paintings, stained glass, and ecclesiastical treasures—fell victim to the purifying zeal of iconoclasts.

    Should public health leaders get on the genomics train? By Colleen M. McBride Tier 1 genomic applications, backed by strong evidence of their clinical utility, support population screening to identify those at heightened risk for inherited cancers and cardiovascular disease. While accounting for less than 10% of the population, these individuals and families account for disproportionate morbidity and mortality and can benefit from targeted prevention efforts.

    Putting George Enescu back on the musical map By Benedict Taylor Even by the standards of musical genius, George Enescu (1881–1955) was quite an extraordinary figure. A musician of a precocity that rivals Mozart or Mendelssohn, Enescu was equally proficient as a composer, performer, and teacher. Remembered nowadays primarily as a violinist, he numbers securely among the foremost instrumentalists of the twentieth century and a very capable cellist besides.

    On our craving for generality By Stuart Glennan Ludwig Wittgenstein, in his Blue Book, chastised philosophers for what he called “our craving for generality.” Philosophers (including the earlier Wittgenstein of the Tractatus) certainly have exhibited this craving, and despite his admonishment, we continue to do so.

    A new generation wrestles with the gender structure By Barbara J. Risman What’s happening with kids today? A few years ago, liberals were confidently– and conservatives dejectedly– predicting that Millennials were blurring traditional distinctions between the sexes both in the workplace and at home, operating on “the distinctive and historically unprecedented belief that there are no inherently male or female roles in society. So what are the Millennials’ gender politics?

    George Washington and eighteenth century masculinity By Maurizio Valsania We want George Washington—the President of all Presidents, the Man of all Men—to be a certain way. We want him to be an unalloyed male outdoing, singlehandedly, all the other competitors. We want him strong and rude, rough and rugged, athletic and hypersexualized, a chiseled torso, a Teddy Roosevelt, a Tarzan, and a John Wayne: “a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.”

    Will common law dispute resolution bring banks to Paris after Brexit? By Richard Samuel The European continent operates a legal system derived from the Napoleonic Code, first enacted in 1804. Napoleon was, I venture to point out, and without meaning to be too critical, a revolutionary dictator. He gathered four eminent jurists together and, as dictators are wont to do, ordered that they produce an all-encompassing system of law for his judges to administer to the nation. .

    Taking stock of the Catalan independence bid By Karlo Basta “It is clear that Catalonia’s political landscape has been transformed. “With the high drama of October now in the rear view mirror, the push for Catalonia’s independence has largely receded from international headlines. Yet, it leaves in its wake a number of open questions. In this brief piece, I consider three that are particularly illuminating of broader patterns of politics in multinational states.

    10 tips for getting your journal article published By Mark J. McDonnell and Steward T. A. Pickett Writing a paper that gets accepted for publication in a high-quality journal is not easy. If it was, we’d all be doing it! Academic journals publish articles that are well-written, and based on solid scholarship with a robust methodology. They must present well-supported stories and make significant contributions to the knowledge base of the journal’s specific discipline.

    Ten things you may not know about women and liberty By Jacqueline Broad and Karen Detlefsen Imagine that you’re a married woman living in a bleak dystopian world in which you’re barred from higher education, you’re forbidden from owning your own property, you have no freedom of movement outside your own home, and your husband might sexually assault you at any time, with impunity.

    The economic relationship between Mexico and the United States By Roderic Ai Camp Mexico and the United States share a highly integrated economic relationship. There seems to be an assumption among many Americans, including officials in the current administration, that the relationship is somehow one-sided, that is, that Mexico is the sole beneficiary of commerce between the two countries. Yet, economic benefits to both countries are extensive.

    Has “feminism” beaten “complicity” or are feminists complicit too? By Sara de Jong According to Merriam-Webster Dictionaries,“Feminism” is Word of the Year 2017,” as announced by a headline in The Guardian. “Complicit” was a strong runner-up in Merriam-Webster’s Competition though, and came in first place on the list. Both “feminism” and “complicit” have been around for some time, so it is not as if 2017 gave birth […]

    How well do you know George Berkeley? [quiz] By Catherine Pugh This February, the OUP Philosophy team honours George Berkeley (1685-1753) as their Philosopher of the Month. Berkeley was born in Ireland but travelled Europe, lived in America, and eventually settled in London. He is best known for his work in metaphysics on idealism and immaterialism. How much do you know about the life and work of George Berkeley?

    The neurology of the Winter Olympics By Jeffrey S. Kutcher The human brain is a wonder and a marvel. At the same time, it is enigma and frustration. Given all it has accomplished, it continues to perplex. This is why I became a neurologist. For me, combining the apex of all organic structures with the vast unknown of cerebral neuroscience produces a daily wonder that is worth dedicating a life’s work to. To that end, I find myself somewhere over the North Pole hurling towards PyongChang, South Korea.

    A Q&A with composer David Bednall — part 2 By David Bednall We like to get an insight into the musical lives of Oxford composers by asking them questions about their artistic likes and dislikes, influences, and challenges.. In part 1 we spoke to composer David Bednall in August 2017 about what motivates him, and how he approaches a new commission. Here he tells us why he wanted to be a composer, the challenges he faces, and his musical guilty pleasures.

    Freemasonry and the public sphere in the UK By Andreas Önnerfors Freemasonry once again hit the headlines of UK media on New Year’s Eve 2017, revealing the contentious nature of the place of secrecy in public life. Just having concluded the celebration of its tercentenary anniversary year, the United Grand Lodge of England found itself at the center of controversy. How far can membership in a masonic lodge be regarded as incompatible with the exercise of a public office?

    Outreach ideas by