Re-imagining Assignments in the DH Classroom: StoryMaps

│By Sarah L. Ketchley, Senior Digital Humanities Specialist│

It’s back-to-school season, and the next two ‘Notes from Our DH Correspondent’ blog posts will focus on non-traditional assignments in the DH classroom. Often, Humanities classes culminate in a final paper or essay which is a worthwhile exercise in sifting through relevant information to answer a question or propose a thesis. A syllabus that incorporates Digital Humanities methodologies, however, often blends subject content with technical and analytic proficiencies, meaning an essay may not be the best medium to showcase student learning in this scenario. Below we consider tools for digital storytelling which blend text, image, and analysis results to create engaging and interactive assignment outputs.

Read more

Understanding Recent Enhancements to Sentiment Analysis in Gale Digital Scholar Lab

│By Sarah L. Ketchley, Senior Digital Humanities Specialist│

Sentiment Analysis can be described as an exploratory form of analysis that reveals trends or patterns in positive, negative or neutral sentiment of a collected set of documents (a ‘Content Set’). This type of analysis can identify avenues for further research or investigation at both a macro (Content Set) and micro (document) level.1 Sentiment Analysis is one of the six analysis tools available in Gale Digital Scholar Lab where it was recently updated to include an expanded sentiment lexicon which offers opportunities to further refine analysis results. This blog post will discuss these enhancements and offer suggested pathways to work with Sentiment Analysis both in the classroom and for research.

Read more

ECCO’ing through the Ages: Exploring Reception with Gale’s Eighteenth Century Collections Online

Reception Reader showing reuses of Shaftesbury’s A Letter Concerning Enthusiasm; overlaps with Astell’s An Enquiry After Wit highlighted by a red box.

│By David Rosson, Doctoral Researcher at the University of Helsinki│

A big-picture goal for the Computational History research group at the University of Helsinki is to develop methods for studying how ideas spread during the Age of Enlightenment. This was a time period marked by notable thinkers and burgeoning ideas about reason, science, human nature, the state, and society as a system operating on certain principles. These ideas have profoundly shaped the modern world we live in today and in many ways still bear influence on current affairs.

An indispensable resource for studying historical discourse in this period is Gale’s Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO), which covers a considerable portion of books published in Britain between 1700 and 1800. Our research group has been working with the datasets and building research infrastructure on top of Gale’s primary sources for more than a decade. One of the latest examples of our researcher-oriented tools is a web interface, Reception Reader, that helps with the tasks of exploring text reuse patterns in ECCO documents.1

Read more

Top 10 Tips for Researching with British Literary Manuscripts Online

British Literary Manuscripts Online interface

│By Ben Wilkinson-Turnbull, Senior Gale Ambassador at the University of Oxford│ Researching literary manuscripts is difficult. In the years following their production, primary sources have often been spread across different institutional libraries around the world. This makes accessing them complicated and expensive, particularly for early career researchers and those conscious of the impact that travelling … Read more

Developments in the Fashion Industry Post-WWII

Montage of images from blog post of fashion in The Telegraph

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

Do you find writing for academic purposes challenging? I did too. However, I have recently discovered and started implementing a new and exciting trick to improve my writing skills, which also ignites greater interest in my writing. I write short essays about topics which I come across and find interesting. For instance, when I was going through lecture notes about writing a research proposal a couple of months ago, I stumbled upon an article exploring the evolution of global fashion trends between 1945-1965, and I thought to myself, “this is quite interesting, I would like to know more about this topic!” Then all I needed was a research database that offers accredited, valuable and interesting sources. Luckily for me, I did not have to look too far because, as a Gale Ambassador, Gale Primary Sources is one of my very first go-to and most favourable research databases. Thus, the following blog post uses Gale Primary Sources to explore some of the fashion trends that made fashion headlines 1945-1965.

Read more

Groups and Notebooks: Using Gale Digital Scholar Lab’s latest features in the DH classroom

Notes from our DH Correspondent

│By Sarah Ketchley, Senior Digital Humanities Specialist│

The field of digital scholarship tends to be collaborative, since any given project may involve disciplinary experts, developers, librarians, archivists, and students. Management of workflow and data can be challenging unless there is careful planning from the outset about record-keeping, group working practices, the sharing of information and goals for project sustainability and longer-term archiving. These practical considerations are the same for research projects and for those built in the classroom.

The ability to create Groups was recently added as a feature to the Gale Digital Scholar Lab platform, along with a flexible ‘Notebook’ tool for documenting decisions and outcomes. This blog post will consider how Group spaces can be used to facilitate classroom project-building by students in an undergraduate classroom, using a recent course I taught in the Information School at the University of Washington as a case study. The practicalities of using the Groups/Notebook features were discussed in my previous blog post, including details about how a teacher might go about adding students to new groups within the Lab, then managing classroom workflow via record-keeping in the team’s Notebook.

Read more

Decolonising the Literary Curriculum: A Close Examination of Derek Walcott’s Omeros

Skyline of Cape Town, South Africa

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

Decolonisation refers to the process of attempting to undo the social, political, economic and cultural effects of imperialism on former colonies. Having just completed my undergraduate degree in English and Classical Literature at King’s College London, I have come to appreciate language and the written arts as potent mediums to contemplate, respond to and even resist the weight of colonial history.

My dissertation on Derek Walcott’s 1990 postmodern epic Omeros most thoroughly illustrated to me the nuances and creative potential of colonial victims to negotiate their present and historical standing in response to imperial agents. My exploration of this theme in Walcott’s work was particularly interesting as he ostensibly views colonisation as continuous, from nineteenth-century British and French empires to modern American capitalism, as the same force underlies both processes for the benefit of the typically white aristocracy, eclipsing native identity and homogenising Caribbean culture to artificiality.

Read more

Writing Sensitive Personal Histories

Sensitive documents

│By Jade Burnett, Gale Ambassador at the University of Sheffield│

Throughout this academic year I have been working on an MA dissertation on the marriages of members of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). In working on this dissertation, I have tried to piece together the personal lives of people who existed largely in the political sphere. While this work is hugely interesting and deeply fulfilling academically, it can also be very tricky, with the writing of personal histories bringing up a range of difficulties surrounding how academics can seek to sensitively piece together the intimate lives of individuals. I hope that this blog post can offer readers some tips and tricks on how to approach writing these histories. 

Read more

Using Gale Historical Newspapers to Explore the Representation of Coastal Wreckers

The Wreckers, 1791 by George Morland

|By Ellen Boucher, Gale Ambassador at the University of Bristol|

One of my History modules this year, Outlaws, focused on the robbers, bandits and smugglers on the outskirts of society. For my final presentation for the module, I chose to study maritime wreckers using Gale’s Historical Newspapers, to explore how Daphne du Maurier’s novel Jamaica Inn, published in 1936, fitted into a changing narrative surrounding wreckers. ‘Wreckers’ was the name for those who would strip grounded or wrecked ships of valuable contents. Originally, they have been portrayed as dangerous criminals, in marked difference to other pirates and thieves we studied during this module, whose history has often been romanticised. Instead, wreckers, who were typically opportunists who saw themselves as having a right to the bounty from ships, were portrayed as dangerous and murderous criminals who would purposefully lure ships to wreck. This is the type of wrecker Daphne du Maurier presents in her antagonist, Joss Merlyn, a cruel and violent criminal.

Read more

Digging into Datasets in Gale Digital Scholar Lab

│By Sarah L. Ketchley, Senior Digital Humanities Specialist, Gale│

This dataset post is a follow-up to Working with Datasets, a Primer which discussed text datasets of primary sources and explored how to access and work with them in Gale Digital Scholar Lab. Here, we’ll look at the topics of the first eight datasets in the Lab in more detail, the types of documents included in each set, and consider how a user may work with them for analysis. Our next blog post will showcase classroom-based use of the Lab’s datasets as an introductory pathway into the field of digital humanities.

Read more