United Farm Workers and Chicano Literature: Primary Sources as a Tool for Language and Cultural Studies

│By Ray Linn, Gale Ambassador at Maynooth University│

I started studying Spanish nearly 8 years ago now, but it never interested me so much as last year, in the final year of my undergrad degree, when I enrolled in a Chicano/a Literature module. I hadn’t studied literature much previously, but in that class, I learned how essential it is to living. It allows us to connect with people whose experiences are different from our own, and to see the world through lenses that were previously unknown. But reading requires context. Using primary sources allows me to contextualize what I read when it comes from cultures and histories I’m unfamiliar with, allowing my view to expand and my understanding to grow.

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Studying Colonialism in Complementary Archives: Nineteenth Century Collections Online and Decolonization

│By Louis Venter, Gale Ambassador at the University of the Free State│

If you ask any seasoned historian what makes historical research unique, they will emphasise the crucial role of primary sources, which define and distinguish history from other forms of academic writing. In an ever-digitising world, historians can now access digital scans of genuine archival material from anywhere, eliminating the need to travel to distant archives, and making research more efficient.

Bringing together primary sources from multiple archives can enhance one’s research, and Gale Primary Sources offers two key complementary digital archives that can be used in tandem to study colonialism – Nineteenth Century Collections Online: Europe and Africa, Colonialism and Culture and Decolonization: Politics and Independence in Former Colonial and Commonwealth Territories.

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Honouring Madam C.J. Walker: Using Gale Primary Sources to Represent Black Women’s Resistance to Racist American Beauty Standards

│By Tabetha Wood, Gale Ambassador at Durham University│

As I approach the final term of my history degree, I feel particularly passionate about the empowerment of minority groups through a representation of their past experiences. I saw my dissertation as an opportunity to fuel this passion and by investigating the ‘whiteness’ of American beauty standards between 1945-60, I represented the adversity African American women encountered in this realm, an obstacle that women of colour continue to face today.

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Going off Script: How Gale Primary Sources Can Be Used in Theatre Studies

│By Olivia McDermott, Gale Ambassador at the University of Liverpool│

For a subject such as drama, primary sources are continuously overlooked. Much academic study preceding degree level tends to focus on the practical realm of theatre. Though it is an important aspect, this sometimes leads to contextual ideas being ignored.

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Unpacking Queer Theory: An Investigation into the Methodology and the Importance of Gale Primary Sources

Doan, Laura, and Martha Vicinus. "Queer Theory and Critical History, Together at Last." The Women's Review of Books, vol. 31, no. 2, March-April 2014

│By Madeleine Pedley, Gale Ambassador at Liverpool John Moores University│

Unpacking Queer Theory

Within this blog, I will be using Gale Primary Sources’ Archives of Sexuality and Gender to find case studies and investigate Queer Theory. The importance of using Gale Primary Sources within explorations into methodology is that they enable students to build upon initial research and produce supported interpretations through their extensive archives. This blog aims to investigate the Queer Theory methodology and provide examples of application through selected sources. Furthermore, it highlights the importance of such examples and how History of Art and Museum Studies students can use Gale Primary Sources.  

The Queer Theory methodology is used to explore works of art or text from a new perspective, with the outcome providing a different narrative to interpret the piece and redefine it within an LGBTQ+ setting.1 It is not there to make an artwork suddenly homosexual but to allow for alternative and contemporary discussions to take place. 

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Redefining What Philosophy Means: Why Primary Sources Are Now More Important Than Ever

│By Jessica Crawley, Gale Ambassador at Lancaster University│

One of the most interesting and – to some – most perplexing aspects of philosophical writings is that newer does not equal better. For example, some of the greatest advancements in metaphysics were made by Aristotle, who was writing in Ancient Greece well over two-thousand years ago. Not only this, but our gendered and Western-mandated criteria of what ‘deserves’ the title of ‘philosophical writing’ is (finally) beginning to evolve.

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Concepts of ‘the Nation’ in Britain and Beyond

│By Jess Briony Hodgson, Gale Ambassador at the University of Sheffield│

Britain has always had a complex identity historically speaking – from Alfred the Great and the nature of medieval kingdoms, through to the fallout from Brexit, the way in which Britons conceptualise their nation and nationality has always been changing – and this makes primary source work all the more interesting.

When using primary sources such as those found in Gale’s digital archives, one main challenge is removing our own understandings of ‘the nation’ from the equation, so we can properly analyse the information and make accurate interpretations and comparisons. One space in which we can see a microcosm of all these changes is print media, particularly newspapers, which will have (for the most part) aimed to capture readers’ opinions and concerns, highlighting the changes in concepts such as the nation.

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The Big Leap: Top Tips for History Coursework moving from A-Levels to University

│By Lydia Clarke, Gale Ambassador at the University of Leeds│

Moving to a completely new place is incredibly challenging. After A-Levels, I know the last thing you want to think about is university assignments, but I promise they are not that scary. Whilst there is sadly not a magical wand to whisk away university stress, this blog post will hopefully help you manage your coursework without burning out. Gale Primary Sources digital archives were massively helpful for me to find relevant primary source material and get to grips with practising my critical thinking skills. I will demonstrate how in my first year at university I used a book I found in Eighteenth Century Collections Online to apply and evaluate my analysis of the debate about gender studies in history for my coursework.

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The Sinking of the Titanic and its Cultural and Economic Impact

│By Yasmin Metto, Gale Ambassador at the University of Queen Mary│

The Titanic is one of the most famous and prolific ships in the world, inspiring adventures to the depths of where it sunk as well as creating a legacy that has lasted generations. Unfortunately, this can shroud the aftermath of the sinking of the Titanic, which was almost as devastating as the event itself. The sinking of the Titanic marked a multitude of impacts, especially culturally and economically. By using Gale Primary Sources to explore the cultural and economic effects of the Titanic sinking, it becomes evident that all of society was affected by the event.

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Exploring the Inspiration for Romanticism: Was it a Counter-Enlightenment? 

│By Isabelle Partridge, Gale Ambassador at the University of Exeter│

Emotion, nature and individualism are some of the key themes of Romanticism. This cultural movement became popular in Western Europe during the late eighteenth century and was expressed primarily through art and literature. However, the major intellectual movement which preceded Romanticism was the Enlightenment, during which philosophers emphasised rationalism in the pursuit of knowledge. Thus, Romanticism has often been posed as an opposite reaction to the Enlightenment.

Through using Gale Primary Sources, I have gained access to a number of notable works from the Romantic period, from paintings to poems, as well as the opportunity to explore how these works have been perceived since their initial creation. Primary sources highlight how Romanticism was a dynamic and varied movement. Romanticism responded not only to the Enlightenment, but the many political and social developments, such as revolution and industrialization, which had created a backdrop for the turn of the nineteenth century. 

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