Finding Meaning in K-Means: Clustering Analysis in Gale Digital Scholar Lab

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

Of the six tools in Gale Digital Scholar Lab, clustering is often considered the most challenging methodology to interpret effectively. This blog post will explore the nature of this analysis tool and offer some tips for running an analysis.

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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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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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Screens to Pages: Discussion of Film in Newspaper Archives Over the Decades

│By Ava Nichols, Senior Gale Ambassador at the University of Aberdeen│

The film industry has taken great steps and developed in numerous ways since its creation in the nineteenth century. Using Gale Primary Sources collections, I decided to explore how the discussion of film in newspapers – be that promoting or reviewing individual films, or analysis of the film industry more generally – has evolved throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. I decided to focus on The Times Digital Archive because selecting one publication as a controlled variable meant I was better able to examine the developing discussions of film and how it changed over time.

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Using Gale Historical Newspapers to Explore the Representation of Coastal Wreckers

The Wreckers, 1791 by George Morland

|By Ellen Boucher, Gale Ambassador at the University of Bristol|

One of my History modules this year, Outlaws, focused on the robbers, bandits and smugglers on the outskirts of society. For my final presentation for the module, I chose to study maritime wreckers using Gale’s Historical Newspapers, to explore how Daphne du Maurier’s novel Jamaica Inn, published in 1936, fitted into a changing narrative surrounding wreckers. ‘Wreckers’ was the name for those who would strip grounded or wrecked ships of valuable contents. Originally, they have been portrayed as dangerous criminals, in marked difference to other pirates and thieves we studied during this module, whose history has often been romanticised. Instead, wreckers, who were typically opportunists who saw themselves as having a right to the bounty from ships, were portrayed as dangerous and murderous criminals who would purposefully lure ships to wreck. This is the type of wrecker Daphne du Maurier presents in her antagonist, Joss Merlyn, a cruel and violent criminal.

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Examining the Emergence of Gothic Literature in the Early Nineteenth Century

Gothic castle shrouded in mist

│By Holly Kybett Smith, Gale Ambassador at the University of Portsmouth│

The late eighteenth century was a turbulent time for those in power. Across Europe, monarchies were clinging to their authority by threads: the American Revolution saw British imperial rule challenged, and in France, Louis XVI was unseated from his throne, putting an end to the Ancien Régime. Simultaneously, as the French people rebelled against their absolute monarch at home, the Haitian Revolution saw self-liberated slaves free themselves from French colonial rule. Everything, everywhere, was in flux. With all of this in mind, it’s no surprise that the spirit of the era formed the crucible for the birth of the Gothic literary genre.

When discussing the Gothic in academic circles, we tend to ascribe the origins of the genre to one particular work: The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, published in 1764. This is because Walpole himself described his tale as “Gothic” – the first noted use of this term to describe a piece of literature, as opposed to an architectural style. But one novel does not make a genre, and as the eighteenth century marched into the nineteenth, Gothic literature grew to encompass new components, stretching itself into the shape we recognise today. For more information on the Gothic as it evolved into contemporary horror, take a look at this blog post by my fellow Gale Ambassador, India Marriott.

In this blog post, meanwhile, I’m going to examine the emergence of early Gothic literature as it began to appear at the start of the nineteenth century – and explore how we can study this using Gale Primary Sources.

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Technology: Ally or Enemy in the Use and Preservation of Historical Data?

Viewing a library shelf through an iPad

│By Sasha Mandakovic, Gale Ambassador at Erasmus University Rotterdam|

The rapid pace of technological innovation is constantly pushing the boundaries of the digital realm, resulting in an exponential increase in its capabilities and reach. There is no doubt that technology has had both positive and negative effects on the preservation of historical data which can often be difficult to understand. I’m here to elaborate on its impacts!

The first words that come to my mind when I think about technology are probably: life-changing, accessible, and easy. When “historical data” is mentioned, the terms I think of are: records, heritage, and preservation. But how are technology and historical data linked, and what impact do they have on each other? And is it bad or good?

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Knowing Your Learning Style Can Supercharge Your Studies

Writing on glass drawing board

│By Grace Pashley, Gale Ambassador at the University of Birmingham│

Learning styles are something every teacher introduced to us at one point or another – a buzz word in revision sessions, and an excuse to take a quiz during lesson time! But what are learning styles and how can we benefit from knowing our own? There are three different types of learning styles: visual, auditory and kinaesthetic (or tactile, movement-orientated) learning. Knowing which group you fit within, and tailoring your studies to best cater for your strengths and weaknesses, can massively impact your overall educational experience.

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Student Career Advice: After University, What’s Next?

Woman working at laptop surrounded by books

│By Chloe Hooper , Gale Ambassador at the University of Glasgow│

Within every new cohort of students hurtling towards graduation, there will be many pondering the dreaded question: after university, what’s next? Chances are, if you’re reading this, you don’t have an answer to that question yet yourself. Career advice has long been a feature of the modern university experience, outlining the ways your degree can help you build a career. But Gale Primary Sources can help, too! Using The Times Digital Archive, undergraduates and postgraduates have access to decades of career advice geared towards finding the right job for each student. While the articles I examine below date from late the 1990s to the 2000s, many of the challenges facing graduates have stayed the same and much of the advice on overcoming them has stood the test of time.

One of the problems facing most students is that they don’t know how to discover what jobs are out there, particularly within the areas in which they’re interested or experienced. As a student, I had been using archives and archival services for years, but it never occurred to me that I could make a career out of it – or that it’s not just researchers driving digitisation projects, there are many other roles involved too, all of which are potential career pathways. It was actually reading through archives like The Times Digital Archive that helped me see this as a viable career option, and I am now studying Information Management and Preservation.

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King Tut and Digital Humanities: A Pedagogical Case Study

Notes from our DH correspondent

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

The Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures (MELC) at the University of Washington has a history of supporting work in Digital Humanities (DH) dating back to the 1980s. More recently, the department has offered regular introductory classes in DH, which I have taught since 2015. These are usually topical in nature, i.e., the data we work with in class is related to a particular Middle Eastern theme, often related to travel or archaeology in Egypt, which is my area of research interest. This Spring Quarter 2022, my undergraduates and graduates participated in a class called ‘Digital Media – King Tut and Digital Humanities’ to learn about the theory and processes of building DH projects based on data related to the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922, one hundred years ago.

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