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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Tourism and Technology within The International Herald Tribune Historical Archive

Exposition Universelle de Paris 1889

|By Lorna Ashton, Field Sales Executive – France|

The International Herald Tribune, founded in Paris in October 1887 as the European Edition of the New York Herald, was a newspaper for American expatriates in Paris, often referred to as “The Paris Herald”. It offered vast coverage of not only Parisian or French culture and events, but of Europe more broadly. Sought out by readers seeking international news throughout Europe and beyond, it became a leading international newspaper worldwide. By 2007, it was published in as many as 33 different countries.

Covering the years 1887 to 2013, The International Herald Tribune Historical Archive traces the history of the twentieth century and evolutions in society, from luxury travel and entertainment to technological developments. Thus I decided that I would use this archive to explore the development of tourism in France and beyond, and how it was linked to innovation and technological progress.

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Franco Stevens and the History of Curve Magazine

Covers of Curve Magazine

|By Jen Rainin, Co-Founder of The Curve Foundation| Franco Stevens arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, in the late-1980s, looking to immerse herself in the lesbian community she knew existed there. Certain that the Castro’s A Different Light bookstore would carry a magazine that would connect her to San Francisco’s vibrant lesbian scene, … Read more

From Archive to Master’s Thesis – Linguistic Analysis of Nineteenth-Century Theatre Reviews in The Times

A combination of The Theatre Royal, Covent Garden and a Pantomime illustration

│By Hanna Kiiskilä, MA graduate in English language from the University of Turku, Finland│

Choosing a research topic is difficult at any level of study. For me, finding the right database guided my topic and set the course for my entire Master’s thesis. At the beginning of the process of writing my master’s thesis in English Language, I had just epitexts (the surrounding information about a work that does not exist within the work itself but alongside it)1 in mind, but once I had read a few nineteenth-century theatre reviews from The Times Digital Archive, it became clear that they were a subject of study I could not pass up! In my thesis Evaluative Language in the Early Nineteenth-Century Theatre Reviews in The Times Newspaper (2020), I studied historical theatre reviews from the point of view of evaluation (their use of evaluative language) and the impact of contemporary politics. In this blog post I will detail the way I used The Times Digital Archive to collect a dataset that determined the topic of my study.

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How Gale Literature Provided Vital Support for My Dissertation

Academic Library Book shelves

│By Rhiannon Green, Gale Ambassador at the University of Durham│

The thought of researching and writing a dissertation is often a daunting prospect for any student, yet this is even more relevant for those studying in the Covid-19 era. As an English Literature student, I am heavily reliant on my university library, so when lockdown meant I was stuck at home nearly 300 miles away, I thought it would be impossible to get any work done – let alone start the research process for my dissertation. Closed libraries and remote learning have left many students clueless as to how to obtain relevant resources, yet this is where the Gale Reference Complete package comes in handy, with Gale Literature being especially useful for my own research and learning.

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Exploring Twentieth-Century Art and Social History in Erotica from L’Enfer de la Bibliothèque nationale de France

Montage of images from blog post, of images from L'Enfer collection

By Philip Virta, Senior Acquisitions Editor, Gale Primary Sources

Please be aware that this blog post contains content that may be offensive to some readers; the decision to read the post is at your own discretion.

Enfer is a French word that translates to Inferno or Hell, and according to some religions, Hell is the place of punishment for the wicked, the damned, the morally corrupt, once death has befallen them. It is thus only fitting that books considered “contrary to public morality” should end up in Enfer. Aside from its literal meaning of Hell, Enfer is the shelf mark of the restricted books collection at the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF). A shelf mark is simply a notation or classification on a book showing its place in a library. In the 1830s, a time when the BnF was opening to a wider audience, the institution began to assign the Enfer classification to books considered to be obscene works. Whether the books were locked away because they truly were reprehensible, or merely to protect them from those who would proscribe or destroy them, it is to our benefit today as they have been preserved for our study.

On the subject of study, Enfer provides us with many opportunities to explore art and social history in a wide variety of imaginative works. While some of the books simply offer flights of fancy, erotic fantasies to titillate and arouse, many of the works in Enfer offer social commentary and criticism. After exploring the fantastic imagery in texts from the seventeenth to nineteenth century, I was intrigued to continue my search and explore how imagery developed in the late nineteenth and twentieth century, when authors and artists were often at the forefront of the social and cultural movements of their time.

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Exploring Early Modern Erotica and Social History in L’Enfer de la Bibliothèque nationale de France

L'Enfer Imagery - Part 1 post montage

│By Philip Virta, Senior Acquisitions Editor, Gale Primary Sources│

Please be aware that this blog post contains content that may be offensive to some readers; the decision to read the post is at your own discretion.

Back when Playboy, “an American men’s lifestyle and entertainment magazine”, was still publishing, the usual comment from anyone observed purchasing an issue from the newsstand was, “I just get it for the articles.” In the case of my latest research foray into L’Enfer de la Bibliothèque national de France, I really was just looking for the pictures.

As so often happens in research, we travel down one path, only to encounter interesting intersections. I started out studying the evolution of beauty and body standards in erotic art through the centuries. Along the way, I became equally as interested in the books themselves. The histories of the lives of some of the authors and artists was intriguing. The motivations and movements behind the books they wrote were fascinating. The themes and agendas written into the texts were engrossing. There are a wealth of topics to explore once you slip beneath the covers of the books and plumb the depths of Enfer.

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Misanthrope or Friend of Man? Revising the Byronic Hero with Gale Primary Sources

The reception of Lord Byron at Missolonghi by Theodoros Vryzakis

By Harry Walker, Gale Ambassador at the University of Birmingham

“I stood among them, but not of them.” This famous quote is from Lord Byron’s poetry and one which formed the basis of the discussion in my final essay at university. The line is taken from his early work, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, and has come to epitomise the “Byronic hero’s” attitude towards sociability for posterity, portraying him as a misanthropic, isolated figure. My essay argued that the idea of the “Byronic hero” as a misanthrope was more complex than this quote in isolation would suggest. My essay was naturally, being a literature essay, focused on the manifestation of this idea in his poetry. However, it was useful to support my argument with contextual details about his own social life, seeing as the “Byronic hero” is semi-autobiographical. This is where I found Nineteenth Century Collections Online and Gale Literature: Dictionary of Literary Biography to be instrumental. This blog post shows how I used these great resources to support my argument.

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The Phantom of Popularity

"Tills ringing Phantom keeps audiences enthralled." Financial Times, 30 Apr. 2007, p. 20. Financial Times Historical Archive

│By Evelyn Moran, Gale Ambassador at the National University of Ireland Galway│

Most of us grow up watching musicals on TV, our childhood a medley of singing animals and cartoon princesses. Sometimes we even sing the songs in the shower. As a society we’ve created academic courses on the subject and vigorously debated the merits of live shows versus DVDs. One musical that has without a doubt entered the collective consciousness is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, itself an adaptation of the Gaston Leroux novel. Phantom has left its imprint on pop culture and on the theatre. In this blog post I use Gale Primary Sources to learn more about the musical, which movies may have influenced it, and perhaps shed some light on how it has so enchanted us.

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