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.

Read more

Emancipating a Continent: Studying the Americas Through The Region’s Liberators

American continent

|By Lola Hylander, Gale Ambassador at University College London|

Four years ago, when I began studying History and Politics of the Americas at University College London, I had little prior knowledge about the region of Latin America and the Caribbean. I’d studied History A-Level in the UK, but the syllabus focused mainly on European revolutions. My knowledge of Latin America and the Caribbean was limited to the perspective of Europe. For example, I had studied Napoleon III’s attempt to colonise Mexico, but from the perspective of France.

Joining the Institute of the Americas was, therefore, a big adjustment. I had to free myself from the Eurocentric framework I had developed in school. Using primary sources helped me familiarise myself with the region, and students of the region should check out Gale’s Archives of Latin American and Caribbean History, Sixteenth to Twentieth Century database to do so. I found some engaging sources in the Latin American and Iberian Biographies collection on three of the most significant liberators of Latin America and the Caribbean, and these men’s stories can teach us useful lessons about studying the Americas.

Read more

The Historical Context Behind Projections of the ‘Dangerous Drag Queen’ by the Far Right

LGBTQ protest header

Disclaimer: This blog post is written by an undergraduate student. Becca uses materials from Gale’s Political Extremism and Radicalism: Far-Right Groups in America archive which contains visual and textual material representing various historical viewpoints related to race, gender, sexuality, terrorism, and other subjects, including terminology and concepts that may be considered offensive by modern standards. … Read more

Using Archives Unbound to Explore the Agency of the Oppressed

Montage of images from this blog post

│By Phoebe Sleeman, Gale Ambassador at Durham University│ As a historian, I have become increasingly aware of the power of archives to silence and oppress. Over the last few decades historians have been seeking to work against the grain of the traditional archive to uncover the agency of the oppressed, and some feminist historians have … Read more

An Overview of the Romantic Period using The Times Literary Supplement Historical Archive

Wanderer above the Sea of Fog (1817)

|By India Marriott, Gale Ambassador at the University of Nottingham|

The Romantic period describes an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement that emerged throughout Europe at the close of the eighteenth century and moving into the nineteenth century. The Romantic period came as a response to the preceding ‘Age of Enlightenment’, moving away from rational individualism towards a more ‘romantic’ view of the world. Furthermore, many critics have pinpointed the Romantic period as a direct result of the ideals of the French Revolution that emerged at this time, allowing for further revolt against the aristocratic social and political norms of the Enlightenment era.

Romanticism places significance on imagination, emotion, freedom, and individualisation, in addition to suspicion of science and industrialisation post-Enlightenment. Furthermore, Romanticism places an importance on the power of nature and the natural world, which resulted in the creation of the concept of the Sublime, which I will explore further within this article.

Read more

How are Female Protagonists Presented in Erotic Literature?

Montage of images from this post of erotic literature

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

Erotic literature and the representation of human sexuality has been around for thousands of years, whether that be the erotic lyric poems of Sappho of Lesbos or the highly commercialised Fifty Shades of Grey. Embracing one’s sexuality and authentically representing human experience has been and continues to be a contentious topic in the modern day. The Private Case from the British Library, one of the collections in Gale’s Sex and Sexuality, Sixteenth to Twentieth Century archive, brings to light erotic printed books which were previously deemed too deviant and morally corrupt to be available to the general public in the British Museum Library. Whilst The Private Case from the British Library is now a historical collection which is no longer updated, this historical archive provides readers with an insight into the realities of sexuality, desire and contemporary attitudes around sex at the time that these books were produced.

Despite the benefits of uncovering the perceived, or potentially true, realities of intimacy in a period when sexual desire was condemned and criminalised, we must remember that much of the erotic literature is written by men for men. The representation of women in erotic literature is often limited as women are objectified by the male gaze, and not able to voice their own thoughts about their sexual encounters. Whilst objectified, women are still represented as individuals who enjoy sexual encounters, but usually only in service of men, and have little to no agency in these sexual encounters. Yet, whilst it’s important to recognise the male gaze and its impact on how women and their sexual desire is portrayed, The Private Case from the British Library is able to provide researchers with an unabashedly revealing depiction of human sexuality.

Read more

An Undergraduate’s Companion: Finding Primary Sources Using Gale’s Alternative Search Tools

Guide to ECCO with GPS

│By Georgia Winrow, Gale Ambassador at Lancaster University│

Knowing where to get started with a new undergraduate research project, coursework essay or dissertation can be a daunting task. Whether you are provided with a focus to guide your work or not, getting to grips with collecting your primary source material, reading, analysing, and working out where they fit within your work can seem overwhelming! Luckily, with the Gale Primary Sources digital archives you have a range of search tools at your disposal intended to make the process that bit easier. Through an example research project using Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO), this blog post will outline alternative search tools and resources available in Gale’s digital archives, and how they can be used most effectively when carrying out your own undergraduate research.

Read more

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?

Read more

Birds of a Feather, Work Together – Gale Digital Scholar Lab: Groups

Notes from our DH correspondent

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

December 2022 saw the release of the new ‘Groups’ feature in Gale Digital Scholar Lab. This blog post will consider the nature and benefits of teamwork in Digital Humanities (DH) and highlight Group workflows in the Lab that support effective collaborative practices.

Read more

Keeping Your Love of Literature Alive While Studying at University

Image of young woman sat on the floor of a library, reading

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

Although what inspired me to enrol in an English Literature degree course was my love of reading, throughout my undergraduate studies I found that, after spending hours a day making my way through reading lists, the last thing I wanted to do was pick up another book! Having since spoken to friends who studied the same course as me, I’ve found out that I wasn’t the only one who had felt this way – it actually seems to have been a fairly common experience. I didn’t realise that at the time, however, and thought that I was a fraud for passing the course while not acting like a stereotypical “reader”.

What took my friends and I a long time to realise is that reading a book to study it in class is a very different experience to reading a book for fun. Even after graduation, getting back to reading what you love can be a long and frustrating process which is why I decided to put this blog post together. Chances are that you’re not going to be reading a lot of action-packed mystery novels or YA romance/adventure books while at university, but after exploring Gale’s literature resources I found a few tools that students can use to stay inspired by and engaged with the written word.

Read more