‘New Year, New Me?’ Late 19th and Early 20th Century New Year’s Resolutions

By Maya Thomas, Gale Ambassador at the University of Oxford
I’m Maya Thomas, a second-year History student at Oxford University and proud owner of 56 types of loose-leaf tea. My obsession with all things pre-WW2 has leaked from my studies into my free time, which I like to spend researching everything from the intricacies of costume history to the scandalous court life of Byzantium’s Emperor Justinian. Besides nerding out over history, I spend a lot of time debating, and am currently in the fun, (yet headache-inducing) process of setting up an Oxford free discourse society to combat campus censorship.

‘This time next year, I’ll be healthier!’ ‘I’m finally going to finish writing my novel!’ ‘2019 will be my year!’ As the Christmas cheer fades, and the dull, guilty feelings of overeating, overspending and oversleeping start to set in, New Year’s resolutions such as these seem to make their appearance in every conversation we have. In those cold, quiet last days of December, our attention turns from the nostalgic traditions of Christmas to the promise of newness and change on New Year’s Eve.

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Being Creative in an Academic World

Being Creative in an Academic World

By Emily Priest, Gale Ambassador at the University of Portsmouth
Emily, otherwise known as Emily the Writer, is a Creative and Media Writing (BA Hons) student at Portsmouth University with interests in travel writing and creative marketing. She is also a freelance writer and performance poet. After her degree, she plans to take a Digital Marketing MA and pursue a career in marketing or journalism.

When I tell people that I am studying a Creative Writing degree, they always look at me with squinted eyes, furrowed brows and a twisted mouth that questions, ‘does such a thing exist?’ It is a relatively new degree, and only a few universities in the UK offer it, but surely it isn’t that strange? When I get this reaction, I think people are more confused by why it exists – and its place within the academic world.

Creative Writing seems to live on the fringe of academia. Although creative writing students read as much as any other, there is less focus on journals and articles and more on prose and poetry. Our submissions include short stories or poetry rather than long essays and our marking criteria relies on subjective opinion. It’s certainly fun but seems less serious. This poses the question – where do us writers fit within the academic world? Can we even fit in it at all?

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Unwrapping the Beauty of Bournville

Beautiful Bournville

By Lily Cratchley, Gale Ambassador at the University of Birmingham
I am a second-year student at the University of Birmingham currently completing my joint honours degree in English Literature and American and Canadian Studies. This multidisciplinary course allows me to study varying aspects of modern American literature, history and culture as well as old English writing, including poetry by Wyatt and plays by Shakespeare.  In term-time I love to keep myself busy by volunteering for a society that helps local, disadvantaged children, preparing for a year abroad in North America, visiting the attractions that England’s second city has to offer with friends, and, of course, working as a Gale Ambassador.

Located just a ten-minute walk from Birmingham’s most populous student housing area, Selly Oak, the village of Bournville – one of the first model villages in England – stands as a rare chunk of living history within the bustling city. Efforts to preserve the charm and wellbeing of the village are organised by volunteers, while the old chocolate factory has been transformed into a tourist attraction named after the man who envisioned and created the beauty of Bournville, ‘Cadbury World’.

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James Greenwood – Social Reformer or Opportunist?

by Rory Herbert
I am a third year History student and President of the History Society at the University of Portsmouth. I enjoy trying to grapple with the vastness and complexity of this subject, and the challenges it can present. On the rare occasions that I have free time, I can be found playing hockey or researching historical facts and events.

James Greenwood was an author of relative obscurity who came to fame abruptly following the publication of his serial A Night in the Workhouse in the 1860s by the Pall Mall Gazette. He soon found himself rising through the ranks of the Victorian social ladder and became one of the leading social commentators of his age. This revolutionary piece saw Greenwood experience the conditions of a workhouse firsthand in one of the first examples of investigative journalism. Yet, while his work was quickly adopted by social reformers and critics alike, it seems the author himself was somewhat less interested in the people he claimed to support and, instead, focused on appealing to a wider audience.

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The Development of the British Palate, Part 2

Written by Jess Edwards and Daniel Pullin

In case you missed it, last week we posted the first instalment of our extended exploration of the development of the modern British palate. Inspired by the events taking place around the UK for British Food Fortnight, we considered what actually constitutes ‘British Food’. The phrase can, of course, describe food produced in Britain, but it could also mean the food eaten most regularly in the UK, and entrenched in British culture – and many of the meals commonly eaten in Britain today have been introduced from foreign shores. Last week we unearthed historical copies of recipes for, and discussion about, two meals which have become staples in the British diet; curry and pasta. We also rustled up our own versions using the following historical instructions! (Follow this link to see the results of our culinary experiments!)

This week we’re continuing our investigation into the historical background of foods commonly consumed in modern Britain, and this time we’ve chosen to focus on a couple of recipes with clearer British origins. Both have still, however, undoubtedly undergone their own evolution and adaption – even if largely due to the impact of mass production!

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The Ever-Changing State of Literary Criticism

By Larry Trudeau
Larry has been an editor at Gale for over 25 years, and loves doing deep research amid the library stacks. A recent vacation included a day set aside to explore the astonishing Burton Historical Collection at the main branch of the Detroit Public Library.

I was recently reviewing an entry on Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations for an upcoming volume of Nineteenth Century Literary Criticism (NCLC), and was surprised—delighted, really—to see that we were including two reviews of the novel from 1861, the year it was published in book form.

What’s more, there was another article from 1877, in which the reviewer recalled the experience of reading the novel as it came out in weekly installments, between December 1860 and August 1961, in Dickens’s own magazine, All the Year Round. The reviewer, Edwin P. Whipple (how’s that for a good, Victorian-sounding name?), extolled Dickens’s skill at constructing his great novel essentially on the fly, with deadlines constantly looming. “When the novel is read as a whole,” Whipple marveled, “we perceive how carefully the author had prepared us for the catastrophe; but it required feminine sagacity and insight to detect the secret on which the plot turns, as the novel first appeared in weekly parts.” (Feminine sagacity and insight—another echo from another century!)

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“The Great Binge”

by Seth Cayley
Seth Cayley is the Director of Research Publishing at Gale International, a part of Cengage Learning. He and his team are responsible for commissioning and creating Gale’s award-winning digital archive products.

Can cocaine really cure sea-sickness? Something tells me that very little peer-reviewed research has been done on the subject in recent years. But that didn’t stop the Victorians. From around 1870-1915 a large number of narcotics, including heroin, were widely and legally available, and often packaged as medicines. Historians have dubbed this period before the first international drug control treaties as “The Great Binge”.

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Supporting Your Local Data Miner

Data Mining Image

By: Dr. Dallas Liddle, Associate Professor and Chair of English, Augsburg College

Marshall McLuhan is supposed to have said that “the content of a new medium is always an old medium.” He intended the observation as wry cultural criticism, but as a literary historian I am grateful every day that so many new research media are now brimming with the contents of great past media: newsstands, theatres, libraries, music halls, stereopticons, and magic lantern shows. Lately I have started to hope that the benefits of these research tools may go far beyond the convenience of having so many original texts, images, and artifacts instantly available. New methods of “data-mining” using database archives, if we do them creatively and well, may help researchers better understand how the old media forms themselves worked and developed.
The hope grows from recent experience. I started “data mining” the Gale Times Digital Archive not long ago, after struggling for nearly twenty years with questions about Victorian newspapers that traditional archival research had been unable to answer.

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Happy Birthday Charlotte Brontë!

Charlotte-Bronte1

April 21st would be Charlotte Brontë’s 200th birthday. As Jane Eyre is my favourite book and as a fan of Brontë’s in general, I jumped at the chance to do a little research on her and her work. I knew that some letters of Brontë’s had been published in The Times in the early 20th century, so I used those and Elizabeth Gaskell’s biography (both available via Gale Artemis: Primary Sources) to do a little digging. Having read Jane Eyre every year for the past 20 or so years I thought I knew everything there was to know about its history, but I was a little surprised by some of the things I found out…

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