PhDing in a Pandemic: The Impact of COVID-19 on Research and Teaching

Observations concerning the Plague

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

As an archival scholar trying to write a PhD thesis in a pandemic, COVID-19 has had a huge impact on my working life. The closure of archives, museums, and libraries during the lockdowns prevented me and many others from accessing essential primary resources needed for doctoral research. And without physical access to exciting objects, manuscripts, and printed items to help bring texts alive, inspiring undergraduate students whilst teaching them over Microsoft Teams became equally difficult. With COVID cases once again climbing, we are far from being free of the pandemic. But how can we try to minimise the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on higher education and research? And what will the long-term impacts of the pandemic be?

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Rediscovering China and the World in the Nineteenth Century, Part II

China and the Modern World
Learn more about China and the Modern World: Imperial China and the West Part II, 1865–1905 in this blog post – or register below for a live webinar!

|By Liping Yang, Publishing Manager, Digital Archive and eReference, Gale Asia|

Gale has recently released China and the Modern World: Imperial China and the West Part II, 1865–1905. Consisting of volumes 873–1768 in the highly acclaimed FO 17 series of British foreign office files plus seven volumes of Law Officers’ reports relating to China from FO 83, Part II covers the latter half of the nineteenth century (see my first blog post about this module – Rediscovering China and the World in the Nineteenth Century for the main topics covered in Part I). The complete Imperial China and the West provides a vast and significant primary source archive for researching every aspect of Chinese-Western relations from 1815 to 1905.

Here, with the help of Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) technology, researchers will be able to conduct full-text searches across more than one million pages of manuscripts relating to the internal politics of China and Britain, their relationship, and the relationships among Britain and other Western powers—keen to benefit from the growing trading ports of the Far East—and China’s neighbours in East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Imperial China covers a wide range of topics including diplomacy and war, trade, piracy, riots and rebellions, treaty ports, Chinese emigration, and railway building. In this blog post I’ll walk you through some of the fascinating topics and themes covered in the approximately 600,000 pages of manuscripts included in Part II.

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Gale Primary Sources Learning Centers – Built by Experts

Workshop with laptops and icons from Gale Learning Centers

|By Becca Bowden, Associate Acquisitions Editor, Gale Primary Sources|

Launching in a selection of Gale’s archives in autumn 2021, Gale Primary Sources Learning Centers will bring a new level of support for students and instructors looking to get the most out of using primary sources, both in their research and in the classroom. Shaped by feedback from Gale Primary Sources users, the Learning Centers are intuitive, all-in-one instructional resources that are designed to orient users with the content in our archives, spark inspiration for research and act as a best practice guide when it comes to skills like searching, citing and using primary sources. Tailored to each unique archive, they will include key topics, sample searches, case studies and contextual materials.

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Coming Soon: Learning Centers for Gale Primary Sources

Student studying on laptop and notebook

| By Megan Sullivan, Product Manager, Gale Primary Sources |

I’m delighted to announce the upcoming launch of Learning Centers for Gale Primary Sources, available in select archive products this autumn 2021. The culmination of a year of research and development, the Learning Centers will provide comprehensive teaching and learning support for faculty and students.

Built with the student researcher in mind, the goal of the Learning Centers is to orient new users with the content and topics available in a digital archive; spark inspiration for new research topics; and provide guidance and best practices for searching, browsing, citing, and reusing primary sources. The Learning Centers will also prove invaluable for faculty and librarians, providing an all-in-one instructional tool that helps students get acclimated with a primary source database.

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Simla, McMahon, and the Origins of Sino-Indian Border Disputes

McMahon Line

|By Liping Yang, Publishing Manager, Digital Archive and eReference, Gale Asia|

From May 2020 to February 2021, Chinese and Indian border troops engaged in melee, face-offs, and skirmishes along the Sino-Indian border near the disputed Pangong Lake in Ladakh and the Tibet Autonomous Region, as well as near the border between Sikkim and the Tibet Autonomous Region. This series of disputes has resulted in numerous casualties, attracting worldwide attention in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Such border disputes are nothing new. Three years prior to this in June 2017, the troops of the two countries had a border standoff in Doklam, a strategic location near a trijunction border area involving China, India, and Bhutan. Actually, China and India even went to war between October–November 1962 over their disputed Himalayan border.

Many of these border disputes and clashes can be attributed to the controversial McMahon Line. What is this line? And how did it come about? We can find some illuminating historical records on this in China and the Modern World: Diplomacy and Political Secrets, 1868-1950, a collection of rare historical materials selected from the India Office Records now held at the British Library.

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The Author Gender Limiter Tool Brings Exciting Potential to the Study of Women’s Authorship and Digital Humanities

Images from Women's Studies Archive: Rare Titles from the American Antiquarian Society

│By Rachel Holt, Women’s Studies Archive Acquisitions Editor│

The study of women’s writing is an important cornerstone of any Literature or History course (and many other subjects besides) and Gale seeks to support this important scholarship by working to spotlight female authors. We are doing this in two ways, the first is with the launch of the third part of our multi award-winning Women’s Studies Archive series, Rare Titles from the American Antiquarian Society, 1820-1922, which provides access to over 5,700 monographs by more than 2,000 individual female authors. The second is by introducing a unique new search functionality to the Women’s Studies Archive series, the Author Gender Limiter. The addition of this new product feature opens a world of possibilities for undergraduate study and scholarship in the fields of women’s history, gender studies and beyond.

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Using the Gale Digital Scholar Lab in the Classroom

Word Cloud combined with images from ECCO

│By Chris Houghton, Head of Digital Scholarship, Gale International│

Gale recently worked with Newcastle University to incorporate Gale Digital Scholar Lab into an English Literature module for second-year undergraduate students. In this blog post you can learn why Newcastle decided to introduce the Gale Digital Scholar Lab at this stage, how it was received by students, and the positive impact it had on learning outcomes via deepening students’ engagement with Gale Primary Sources.

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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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Teaching with Eighteenth Century Collections Online

Primary Source image combined with female using laptop and writing on paper.

│By Julia de Mowbray, Publisher at Gale│

Now Eighteenth Century Collection Online (ECCO) is approaching its eighteenth birthday, and has been significantly upgraded, with a focus on enhancing ECCO’s user-friendliness as a teaching and student-learning resource, it seems an apt time to see what evidence there is for its use in teaching and student learning. Plus, with more of the students’ learning experiences moving online, to platforms such as Zoom for lectures, seminars and tutorials, and to online e-resources for primary and secondary source materials, what can be learned from past use of ECCO as a teaching tool, and how can this be applied in a remote learning environment?

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Stories from the Jacobite Court in Exile: Sir David Nairne and his daughter, Lady Ramsay

Jacques Rigaud, Vue du Vieux Chateau de St Germain en Laye, engraving, 1725, and letter from Marie Ramsay to James Edgar

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

A couple of years ago I published a biography of Sir David Nairne.1 He worked in the political secretariat of the Stuart court in exile for thirty years (1689-1728), and the Stuart Papers contain a great many letters written by him or to him during that period. I read and used those letters, and also consulted a private diary that he kept during the first half of that period. Unfortunately the diary comes to an end in 1708, and there was one thing that I was never able to discover. It might seem unimportant in itself, but it is significant in the context of a biography.

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