What is a monster? Tracking the evolution and reception of monstrosity in literature from the nineteenth century to modern day

│ By Tania Chakraborti, Gale Ambassador at Durham University │

The idea of what is monstrous has perhaps metamorphosed somewhat since the nineteenth century. Nowadays audiences root for the vampire (Netflix’s The Originals) sympathise with the werewolf (Twilight) or even cheer on the Devil (Netflix’s Lucifer). But in the time of Shelley, Verne and Stoker, monstrosity was far more complex (and far less American high school-orientated!)

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The Mystery of the Jacobite Poet

A poem by James Murray, the Jacobite Earl of Dunbar, early 1721. Source location: RA. SP Box 3/9/2

│ By Edward Corp, retired Professor of British History at the Université de Toulouse │

There is a poem in the Stuart Papers written by James Murray, the Jacobite Earl of Dunbar.1 Although it is undated it must have been written in January or February 1721 when Dunbar was obliged to leave the Stuart court in Rome because he was so unpopular. The poem reads:

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British Royal Babies Through the Ages

| By Rebekka Väisänen, Gale Ambassador at the University of Helsinki |

All media outlets are now brimming with news about the newest addition to the British Royal Family, HRH Prince Harry and Meghan’s baby boy. In light of this, I decided to search Gale Primary Sources to see how royal births have been documented and celebrated throughout the ages. Below I explore the media hype around five royal ancestors, ranging from poetry to the decoding of names. 

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The Political and Cultural Impacts of the May Fourth Movement

| By Rebecca Chiew and Emery Pan, Editors in the Gale Asia Publishing Team |

May 4, 1919 was a day to remember for Chiang Monlin (蒋梦麟), a senior member of the Peking University administration. Three thousand students from Peking University and more than a dozen other universities in Beijing demonstrated in Tiananmen Square against the upcoming signing of the Treaty of Versailles. Chiang went on to write The China Mission Year Book (1919) and in the chapter dedicated to “The Student Movement,” he offered a gripping account of the incident at Tiananmen, detailing the fury and violence perpetrated by the students on the perceived traitors of China, and the countermeasures taken by the Chinese government on the riotous protestors. Chiang also analysed the causes of the May Fourth Movement, described the philosophy that underpinned the students’ mindset, and the societal changes that this philosophy brought about. Chiang later became the president of Peking University and the Minister of Education (1928–1930).

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“We tread enchanted ground” Celebrating Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon through the years

By Karen Harker, Gale Ambassador at the University of Birmingham
Karen is a Gale Student Ambassador and PhD student at the University of Birmingham’s Shakespeare Institute. Her work focuses on digitally reconstructing and reconsidering the role of incidental music used in nineteenth-century Shakespeare productions, a project which is rooted in archival research and utilises many of Gale’s digital resources. Other research interests include operatic adaptations of Shakespeare, digital humanities, tableaux vivant, and Shakespeare performances during times of war. Karen also enjoys hiking, yoga, singing, and spending time with her cat, Monkey.

Around the 23rd of April every year, Stratford-upon-Avon becomes a different place. Flooded with tens of thousands of tourists from across the world, this small Warwickshire town pauses to pay homage to the most recognisable name, and for some, the greatest writer in all of English drama: William Shakespeare. The tradition of celebrating the life and work of Shakespeare has arguably placed Stratford-upon-Avon on the map. Even on a typical day, it is not uncommon to see throngs of school children touring Shakespeare’s Birthplace on Henley Street; patrons heading to see a show at one of the Royal Shakespeare Company theatres; or groups of visitors making their way to Holy Trinity Church to get a look at Shakespeare’s grave. For folks (such as myself) who call Stratford home, seeing Shakespeare remembered in this way, witnessing the twenty-first century style pilgrimage taken by millions of people each year, is a part of our daily life.

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Sports Day: A Day for Everyone

By Matt Chivers, Gale Ambassador at the University of Liverpool
I’m in my third year studying History at the University of Liverpool. I am obsessed with golf and regrettably even more obsessed about football. But at school, History took my interest; throughout Sixth Form and University I have loved studying the Cold War and, for my dissertation, the nuclear arms race. I am keen to pursue a career in sports writing and journalism – I couldn’t think of anything better than being paid to watch and write about the biggest sporting events in the world! I like film and tend to binge-watch a series or two.

I attended Dover Grammar School for Boys, and although not every student enjoyed PE, Sports Day was always a day that everyone seemed to enjoy. There were no lessons, or deadlines; everyone was buzzing, standing around the playing fields, participating or watching the various track and field events. Delving into Gale’s primary source archives, I found not only the photograph above, showing my predecessors in the now-vintage sports gear of the 1930s, but a results sheet from the Dover Grammar School Sports Day of 1948. It is interesting that back then the four houses of the school were named Maxton, Buckland, Country and Town after four different areas of Dover. The current school houses also use this theme, and are named Channel, Castle, Port and Priory.

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In Praise of Folly: A catalogue of April Fool’s hoaxes with Gale Primary Sources

Spaghetti growing on trees documentary

By Calvin Liu, Gale Ambassador at the University of Oxford
I am a second-year English student at University College, Oxford – and one of the Gale Ambassadors for Oxford University. I am a huge lover of everything Romantic and Modernist – from Wordsworth to Woolf. When I am not in the depths of an essay crisis, I spend my time collecting fountain pens and looking at old books. Born and raised in Hong Kong, I am still getting to grips with the English weather and am partial to punting picnics on a rare sunny day.

‘April is the cruellest month’, so went the ominous opening line of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. Perhaps. But the first day of April, at the very least, has been witness to some of history’s biggest public hoaxes – many of which are hilarious and cruel in equal measures. From the Victorian “Grand Exhibition of Donkeys” in 1864 to the 1957 BBC documentary on spaghetti-bearing trees, these moments of meticulously organised journalistic foibles harken back to a now bygone age before the rise of wide-spread corporate PR-stunts and instantaneous internet trolling. The abundance of April-fool’s-related material in the Gale archives sheds light on the long history of a yearly occasion that stretches as far back as the time of Chaucer, who slyly alludes to the day as the ‘thirty-second of March’ in The Nun’s Priest’s Tale (a story of a farmer tricked into a singing contest against a fox) as early as the 1300s.

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Liverpool: A city overshadowed by the Beatles?

By Megan Bowler, Gale Ambassador at the University of Liverpool
I am a full-time History student studying at the University of Liverpool, a Gale Student Ambassador and a life-long Netflix devotee. With particular research interests in nuclear culture and the movement of people, groups and civil organisations, I find Gale’s Primary Source archives immensely valuable to my studies. In my spare time, my main hobbies include spending time with my friends and avoiding the question, “What do you want to do after you graduate?”

Take four, young, charismatic musicians, add four Sgt. Pepper costumes and a city so devoting that their stardom lives on for years to come, and what you should be left with, with any luck, are the Beatles. George, John, Paul and Ringo – iconic names on the British and global music scene throughout the sixties, and still to a considerable extent today. Selling over 178 million units in the US alone, the group were quick to become one of the most celebrated bands in all of music history… and this status certainly still rings true when taking a walk around Liverpool’s Cavern Quarter today.

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A Global Security Crisis: A Future Under Threat

"Conflict, Complacency and Confusion on Global Security." Financial Times, 10 Oct. 2003, p. 19. Financial Times Historical Archive, http://tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/8r5DJ9

By Grace Mitchell-Kilpatrick, Gale Ambassador at the University of Exeter I am a fourth-year student at the University of Exeter. I studied BSc Politics and International Relations with proficiency in data analysis at undergraduate level. As a Masters student studying Conflict, Development and Security, my interests lie in conflict zones but I am also an … Read moreA Global Security Crisis: A Future Under Threat

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