From Archive to Master’s Thesis – Linguistic Analysis of Nineteenth-Century Theatre Reviews in The Times

A combination of The Theatre Royal, Covent Garden and a Pantomime illustration

│By Hanna Kiiskilä, MA graduate in English language from the University of Turku, Finland│

Choosing a research topic is difficult at any level of study. For me, finding the right database guided my topic and set the course for my entire Master’s thesis. At the beginning of the process of writing my master’s thesis in English Language, I had just epitexts (the surrounding information about a work that does not exist within the work itself but alongside it)1 in mind, but once I had read a few nineteenth-century theatre reviews from The Times Digital Archive, it became clear that they were a subject of study I could not pass up! In my thesis Evaluative Language in the Early Nineteenth-Century Theatre Reviews in The Times Newspaper (2020), I studied historical theatre reviews from the point of view of evaluation (their use of evaluative language) and the impact of contemporary politics. In this blog post I will detail the way I used The Times Digital Archive to collect a dataset that determined the topic of my study.

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Disentangling Fact from Opinion in Academic Articles

Magnifying glass over laptop keyboard

│By Rhiannon Green, Gale Ambassador at the University of Durham│

As a university student myself, I know first-hand how important it is to read critically when writing academic essays. One reason we must read critically is because academic articles are constructed from both fact and opinion, and it is necessary to differentiate between the two when using them in our own arguments. This is especially true for articles within the discipline of History which are frequently written with more than one agenda in mind; whilst they do seek to inform the reader on a particular historical topic, and include historical information to this end, it is often used in a way that presents and defends the author’s own opinion on that particular topic. Debates around women’s rights, for example, have seen academics use various arguments and angles over the years, and whilst there are undoubtedly “facts” which are relevant to the debate, historians have often used the facts to present their own angle or argument. In this blog post I will use the resources in Gale OneFile –  a component of Gale Reference Complete and home to a vast array of academic articles – to demonstrate the importance of disentangling fact and opinion in academia.

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Researching Infectious Diseases in Colonial India

|By Jagyoseni Mandal, Gale Ambassador at the University of Oxford|

I am a doctoral student in the department of the History of Medicine at the University of Oxford. My PhD topic focuses on infectious disease in colonial India. A major part of it looks at the scientific responses to, and public perception of, infectious disease during this time period, looking at the situation in both Britain and India. The Gale Primary Sources database acts as a major source corpus for my thesis. In this blog post, I will give an overview of how I use these primary sources, so that other researcher in my field – and beyond! – can understand how they may use Gale’s primary sources in their own research.

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The Mystics of Environmental History and Ethnobotonical Research

Gradina Botanica, Bucharest

By Ayanda Netshisaulu, Gale Ambassador at the University of Johannesburg|

Let me set the scene. Right at the beginning of my postgraduate career, starry eyed and interested in gender history, I was offered the opportunity to join a group of students from the University of Johannesburg and Western Sydney University for a two-week programme in the Kruger National Park in north-eastern South Africa. The programme mostly consisted of Zoology students who understood the importance of land gradients and wild animal feeding patterns. As a Humanities student I felt a bit out of place but I wasn’t particularly bothered considering I was enjoying the safari and learning about rhino’s territorial marking patterns!

It was during this trip, however, that I learned that historical narratives can be extracted from anything. We had been discussing land gradients – which to this day I don’t completely understand – when my History professor asked me: “gradients and the science aside, Ayanda what did you get from what was just said now?” What did I get? I was still trying to get my Humanities brain to catch up to the science of it all! How could I “get” anything? He then went on to explain how, for a historian, there is a story in everything. A historian would be asking themselves questions about past land use, about past peoples and about how they would have navigated this land. How did societies of the past know, for example, to burn the grass to allow for the fresh regrowth that would attract game? Whilst initially I had never felt so out of place, it was during this trip that I fell in love with the historical narratives of the environmental past.

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Indentured Indian Workers and Anti-Colonial Resistance in the British Empire

South Asian workers preparing rice in Jamaica, 1895

│By Dr Lucy Dow, Gale Content Researcher│

Please be aware that this blog post contains language that may be offensive to some readers; the decision to read the post is at your own discretion.

On May 30, 1845 the first ship carrying indentured Indian immigrants arrived on the Caribbean island of Trinidad from Kolkata (Calcutta). This day is now commemorated in Trinidad as “Indian Arrival Day”. In this article I will use Gale Primary Sources to explore the history of Indian indenture and the South Asian community in the Caribbean, and elsewhere. In doing so, I will highlight how Gale Primary Sources can be used to better understand the role of the British Empire in moving people around the globe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the inter-connectedness of anti-colonial movements across the British Empire.

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From Yellow Journalism to Internet Echo Chambers – Exploring the History of “Fake News”

Editorial cartoon by Leon Barritt, 1898. Newspaper publishers Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst dressed as the Yellow Kid (a popular cartoon character of the day), each pushing against opposite sides of a pillar of wooden blocks that spells WAR

│By Juha Hemanus, Gale Ambassador at the University of Helsinki│

We’ve all heard references to “fake news” and “alternative truths,” particularly in recent years. There have also been more in-depth analyses of the “post-truth time” and the “end of truth”. Examining the motives of those who generate “fake news” stories – and the motives of those who claim that a story is fake – is fascinating. This intriguing phenomenon also has an interesting past, with countless examples of “fake news” throughout history. Indeed, a previous ambassador at the University of Helsinki, Pauli, explained that fake news has had alternative names in history, such as “erroneous reporting”. In this blog post, I will look a little further into history to consider questions such as: Where did the fake news phenomenon come from? Under what circumstances was it born? What is it intended for and what has been accomplished by false claims about actual events?

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Sun Yat-sen and the Kwangtung–Kwangsi Conflicts in the 1920s

A historic map of southern China, plus four images of individuals whose images are found throughout this blog post

│By Emery Pan, Gale Editor in Beijing│

A land plagued with poverty and political instability, China in the early twentieth century experienced the most drastic changes that had ever taken place in the country. This blog post explores this turbulent period in the history of China using primary sources from numerous Gale archives, including the China and the Modern World series.

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How The Gale Digital Scholar Lab Made Digital Humanities Less Daunting

visualisation produced using the Topic Proportion tool

│By Jagyoseni Mandal, Gale Ambassador at the University of Oxford│

The global pandemic that hit us last year and continues to affect numerous aspects of life has made research particularly difficult. I can say this from personal experience, as I have had to study for more than a term at my home in India, where I am stuck because of COVID, rather than studying at my university in Oxford. This situation risked affecting both my mental health and my studies; I felt I was running out of both time and resources for my research. But discovering the Gale Digital Scholar Lab has been a revelation, opening up a whole new area of potential research to me, and it is accessible entirely remotely. In this post I am going to share how the Gale Digital Scholar Lab made Digital Humanities accessible to me; how the various tools in helped me in my research and led me to discover more topics around my area of interest.

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How Gale Literature Provided Vital Support for My Dissertation

Academic Library Book shelves

│By Rhiannon Green, Gale Ambassador at the University of Durham│

The thought of researching and writing a dissertation is often a daunting prospect for any student, yet this is even more relevant for those studying in the Covid-19 era. As an English Literature student, I am heavily reliant on my university library, so when lockdown meant I was stuck at home nearly 300 miles away, I thought it would be impossible to get any work done – let alone start the research process for my dissertation. Closed libraries and remote learning have left many students clueless as to how to obtain relevant resources, yet this is where the Gale Reference Complete package comes in handy, with Gale Literature being especially useful for my own research and learning.

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The Impact of the Pandemic on Students at the University of Johannesburg

│By Ayanda Netshisaulu, Gale Ambassador at the University of Johannesburg│

In March 2020, in what seemed to be little more than a blink of an eye, students at the University of Johannesburg were thrust into the world of online learning. First years, Honours, Master’s and even PhD students were left stranded in a rapidly changing world. With our trusted archives closed as a result of the South African lockdown, some students felt they were left with no option but to make do with secondary sources – but a historian without an archive is like an artist without paints. Luckily, Gale had opened an art supplies store in the University of Johannesburg!

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