Researching the Impact of the New Silk Road on Kazakhstan

Illustration of what is believed to be the Polo family crossing the desert with a camel caravan from a 1375 atlas

|By Maryam Kurumbayeva, 11th Grade, Nazarbayev Intellectual School in Pavlodar| The Silk Road was a great trade network that once connected Eurаsia and North Аfrica. The name is a reference to Chinese silk, transported via this route, which was extremely valuable and expensive. This trading road played a vital role not only in the economic … Read more

Introducing My Students to Digital Humanities Research Techniques

Woman working on laptop

│By Ben Wilkinson-Turnbull, Gale Ambassador at the University of Oxford│

Digital resources are vital to conducting academic research and teaching the next generation of scholars. As educators, teaching with technology can be daunting. In my previous blog posts PhDing in a Pandemic: The Impact of COVID-19 on Research and Teaching and Top 10 Tips for Teaching with Primary Sources, I’ve written about how you can help students get to grips with using a range of Gale Primary Sources including Eighteenth Century Collections Online, Burney Newspapers, and British Literary Manuscripts Online. But how do you help your students take the next step as digital humanists in a growing discipline? Teaching them how to use an innovative resource such as Gale Digital Scholar Lab is one way which you as an educator can help students develop their research skills and methodologies in a changing scholarly landscape.

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Exploring Receptions of Classical Literature with The Times Digital Archive and Gale Digital Scholar Lab

Acropolis Athens

| By James Carney, Gale Ambassador at King’s College London |

Classical Reception Studies refers to the interpretation, imaginings and reimaginings of the classical world since antiquity. It can illuminate the enduring pertinence of the ancient world throughout history – particularly in the cultural realm where its influence is most pronounced. Gale digital archives and, more recently, the Gale Digital Scholar Lab can markedly benefit any undertaking into this area by exposing the nature of classical reception across the ages, but also the discourses that surrounded and emerged from various interpretations of the ancient past.

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L’Enfer de la Bibliothèque nationale de France – A Student’s Perspective

|By Rob Youngs do Patrocinio, Gale Ambassador at University College London|

Gale’s rich and exciting archive collection L’Enfer de la Bibliothèque national de France, which is part of Gale’s Archives of Sexuality and Gender series, holds an impressive assortment of approximately 2400 printed works, published mostly in French. Enfer quite literally translates into English as “hell”. The name is remarkable and has certainly contributed to the collection’s historical infamy. When it was opened, the collection was classified and unavailable to the wider public due to its obscene and outlandish nature, and the perceived vulgarity of the content – but perhaps unsurprisingly this only roused interest and curiosity in the collection! Students of today will undoubtedly be equally curious to explore this historically “out of bounds” collection.

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Tracing the Legacy of William Blake with British Literary Manuscripts Online

| By James Carney, Gale Ambassador at King’s College London |

William Blake is widely considered one of Britain’s finest artists of all time. From painters of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood to writers of the Irish Literary Revival, Blake’s influence permeates the artistic tradition. Therefore, it can come as a surprise to many that Blake’s work passed largely unrecognised during his lifetime. It is only posthumously that his legacy as we know it today has developed. This can be extensively explored using Gale’s British Literary Manuscripts Online: c. 1660-1900 archive.

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Free Speech in a “Post-Truth” Era – The Value of Digital Archives

| By James Carney, Gale Ambassador at King’s College London |

As a literature student, I have studied the power of language for myriad and varying purposes in a range of historical contexts. My studies have exposed me to the fact that language is inherently political – the way in which we construct verbal expression can reflect and compound the powerful forces that command us like hierarchies, social structures, identities or even biases. An example that comes to mind is the profound racism in the name given to South America’s most notable sea – the Caribbean. Popularised by the cartographer Thomas Jeffreys, the word finds roots in the Spanish word for cannibal (carib), and is a name which conquistadors enforced on the natives of this region. The political nature of language is clear from this example – in line with the constructed ‘civilising’ mission of imperialism, language came to reflect prevailing perceptions of the Spanish conquerors in relation to their (problematically) ‘savage’ subjects.

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African Hairstyles – The “Dreaded” Colonial Legacy

Black person looking at book shelf

│By Nonkoliso Andiswa Tshiki, Gale Ambassador at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa│

My primary school had very strict rules regulating how the African students’ hair should look when we were at school. Hair extensions, for instance, were prohibited. Students were only allowed to have natural hair hairstyles which were deemed neat, such as cornrows. We were particularly prohibited from having dreadlocks; disobeying this rule resulted in expulsion. I am aware that many other school authorities in the rural areas in South Africa forced students to cut their hair so short throughout their schooling career they were effectively bald.

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Unearthing and Decolonising the Rasta Voice

Rasta Voice

| By Robert Youngs do Patrocinio, Gale Ambassador at University College London|

This post will focus on raising awareness of the Rasta struggle to practise their religion, principally using Gale’s Archives Unbound collections, an extensive database of primary sources included in Gale Reference Complete that many university students such as myself can utilise when conducting all types of research. It currently comprises 382 collections (more are added each year), and includes a compelling collection titled: Rastafari Ephemeral Publications from the Written Rastafari Archives Project. The Rastafarianism movement can be traced back to its beginnings in 1930s Jamaica and its strong connections with the coronation of the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie (1930) who remains a principal figure in the Rastafarian religion. As the political cartoon below illustrates, the Rasta faith is rooted in an ideology which believes that Africa is paramount to black individuals obtaining freedom and escaping their physical, spiritual, emotional and historical oppression and struggle against slavery. As a religious belief system, I think that it is important to become mindful of Rastafari traditions and invest time in accessing elements of this culture, due to the significance of its relationship to the black experience and post-slavery trauma.

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Finding Black Female Authors in the Women’s Studies Archive

Black Female Authors

|By Rachel Holt, Acquisitions Editor, Gale Primary Sources|

Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, Octavia E. Butler and Toni Morrison are just a handful of names of influential Black female novelists whose writing has arguably changed the modern world. Historically, however, women of colour were largely excluded from publishing due to poor literacy, lack of financial means, racism and prejudice. The odds were more often than not stacked against them.  As a result, discovering such authors can be tough, so I would like to use the opportunity of Black History Month to showcase four wonderful examples of Black female authors who can be found in Gale’s Women’s Studies Archive: Rare Titles from the American Antiquarian Society, 1820-1922.

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Know Your Authors: Dictionary of Literary Biography

Examples from Dictionary of Literary Biography, and online product interface

|By Masaki Morisawa, Senior Product Manager, Library Reference, Tokyo|

If you watched the recent Olympics, you’ll know that August in Tokyo is brutally hot and humid. This was more or less true two and a half decades ago when I was an English Literature student. Cash strapped, with nothing better to do, I would often spend my August days in the air-conditioned university library, just to avoid the intolerable heat! My favourite place was the reference area where they had rows and rows of Gale Literature volumes (I’m not making this up). There were literally hundreds of volumes stacked in those rows, from the rainbow-coloured Contemporary Authors volumes, to the brown buckram Literature Criticism volumes; but my personal favourite were the light-blue Dictionary of Literary Biography volumes. I would often pull out several of those DLB volumes and browse through the entries while I passed time in my favourite corner seat by the windows.

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