Delivering Impact – Launching Gale Research Showcase and Gale Digital Scholar Lab: Projects

│By Becca Gillott and Chris Houghton, Gale Digital Scholar Lab team│

From newspaper columns to academic reports, “The Humanities in Crisis” is a common refrain. It is a widely held fear that, in societies increasingly focused on the risks and benefits of technology in the fourth industrial revolution, studying what it means to be human is seen as increasingly irrelevant.

Irrespective of these fears, the evidence indicates that the teaching of humanities is increasingly under strain in higher education. Where we are in the UK, every summer sees the closure of yet another set of humanities departments. Higher Education assessment criteria like the UK’s Research Excellence Framework and Teaching Excellence Framework have a growing focus on measuring not just the quality, but the impact of disciplines.

This focus on impact has led to interesting developments in higher education institutions as humanities departments find new ways of working and collaborating within and without the institution.

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Women’s History Month in Gale Digital Scholar Lab: Named Entity Recognition, Python Notebooks, and an Intrepid Female Diarist

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

Every March is Women’s History Month! In keeping with the themes of digital scholarship explored in the ‘Notes from our DH Correspondent’ series, and to celebrate a lesser-known historical female figure, in this month’s post I’ll discuss how I am exploring some of my text research data using a new enhancement to Gale Digital Scholar Lab’s embedded analysis pathways.

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Digging into Parts-of-Speech Tagging in Gale Digital Scholar Lab

Notes from our DH Correspondent

│By Sarah L. Ketchley, Senior Digital Humanities Specialist│ Introduction Continuing our exploration of the digital tools accessible through Gale Digital Scholar Lab’s intuitive interface, the Parts-of-Speech (PoS) tool enables the researcher to gain granular insights into the different parts of speech used in each document in a content set. This post will highlight the main … Read more

Uncovering the Betrayal of J. Robert Oppenheimer with Gale Primary Sources

│By Nicolas Turner, Gale Ambassador at Leiden University│

The release this year of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer biopic has focused attention on the ‘Red Scare’ of the early 1950s in the United States, a period of history filled with all the ingredients of a thriller: double agents, secret recordings, and dramatic revelations. As Nolan’s film reminds us, however, there was also a very real human cost to the persecutions, with – in the words of the historian Ellen Schrecker – an impact on “the lives of thousands of people”.1

I have always been fascinated by this McCarthyite moment, in which the tide of history seemed to suddenly go out, leaving people stranded with beliefs that had previously been acceptable but were now framed as treasonous or worse. I was therefore thrilled to discover in Gale’s Political Extremism and Radicalism archive a treasure trove of documents that offered direct access to the experiences of those living through that dramatic moment – including, most tantalisingly of all, J. Robert Oppenheimer himself.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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