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.

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

Liberating, Stultifying or Provocative: Mary Quant’s Miniskirt

Mary Quant

│By Eloise Sinclair, Gale Ambassador at the University of Durham│

Mary Quant’s miniskirt of 1966 not only transformed the look of London’s youth but, according to Jonathan Aitken in a 1967 article in The Sunday Telegraph, inspired the “swinging revolution, the sexual revolution, the restaurant and night-club revolution”. The newspaper archives in Gale Primary Sources are particularly valuable for assessing the effect of Quant’s designs on the fashion industry and British culture, revealing the range of contemporary responses and reactions to this iconic item of clothing.

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Introducing ‘Women’s Studies Archive: Voice and Vision’

"The Latest Paris Fashions." Myra's Journal, 1 Apr. 1889. Women's Studies Archive

│By Rachel Holt, Gale Primary Sources Acquisitions Editor

​ Rachel Holt is an Acquisitions Editor at Gale, working on the Gale Primary Sources portfolio. Managing the Women’s Studies Archive series, Rachel works closely with source libraries and other archival institutions around the world and tracks academic trends in Women’s and Gender Studies to ascertain which primary sources are required. In this blog post she answers the following questions about the new module, Voice and Vision:


  • What is in this new archive?

  • Why did Gale digitise these particular collections?

  • Why have we called the new instalment Voice and Vision?

  • Read moreIntroducing ‘Women’s Studies Archive: Voice and Vision’

    Fashion and the Eighteenth-Century Public Sphere: from Tatler to Twitter

    By Daniel Mercieca, Gale Ambassador at Durham University
    Daniel Mercieca is an English Literature finalist and President of both the English Literature Society and Bede Film Society at Durham University. His main research interests are imagined spaces in film and screen adaptation, with further interests in memory and motion in twentieth-century and Romantic poetry. Dan enjoys the independence of thought, interdisciplinary and experimental aspects of studying English and aims to achieve an MA in Film and/or Literature. Dan enjoys lyricism and landscapes in the works of Thomas Hardy, Virginia Woolf, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charlotte Smith and Sylvia Plath. His favourite directors include Alfred Hitchcock, Darren Aranofsky, Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan for their suspense, soundtracks and cinematography. If he is not reading books or watching films then he is probably writing, running or trying something new.

    ‘Since t’is the intent and business of the stage,
    To copy out the follies of the age
    To hold to every man a glass,
    And show him of what species he’s an ass’.[1]
    – John Vanbrugh

    The sharp, epigrammatic wit of John Vanbrugh’s preface to The Provoked Wife (1697), reflects the theatricality of eighteenth-century audiences and exposes the wider hypocrisy of the ‘Public Sphere’[2]. After the Restoration of Charles II, the New Printing Act (1662) led to a watershed of publishing and print culture in Britain[3]; a society in which political sentiments and private identities bled into each other. The torrent of periodicals, pamphlets and magazines circulated gossip and popular opinion, cultivating a highly self-conscious and extravagant nation.

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    From coupons to cocktail dresses: tracking changes to women’s wartime fashion using the Picture Post

    Clothes for a coupon summer

    The New Year often brings a sense of “out with the old, in with the new”. For the fashion-conscious, it’s a good excuse to revamp ones wardrobe and go shopping. These days it’s easy to buy new clothes every season, but it was very different during the Second World War. Then, clothing was rationed and had to be reused as much as possible. Once the war was over, the “out with the old” attitude finally prevailed over rationing, culminating in Christian Dior’s ground-breaking ‘New Look’. I used Picture Post and other newspaper archives in Gale Artemis: Primary Sources to track changing attitudes to fashion in the newspapers and magazines of the time.

    Read moreFrom coupons to cocktail dresses: tracking changes to women’s wartime fashion using the Picture Post