Monthly Archives: November 2016

Elbows off the table

By Alice Clarke
3rd year student of English Literature with Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia,
Summer Intern, Cengage MarComms, Andover, 2016.

“Elbows off the table” is a phrase familiar to most ears, an order we were told as a child and to which the only response was obedience and, for me, an internal eye-roll of frustration.

For this is an etiquette that transcends generations, centuries and traditions, and yet is something that no one appears to explain why it exists. The only answer I could ever muster from my parents and grandparents is the ever-evasive “it’s rude to have your elbows on the table”, and that was meant to be enough to pacify us.

But why is it rude? Elbows aren’t unhygienic, unsafe or indeed disrespectful in any other setting than touching the wood of the dinner table.

And yet, to this day, I still sit with my elbows off the table – seemingly engrained into my very subconscious, this rule still governs the comfort of my eating despite the fact I moved away from home to university over two years ago.

To gain some sort of understanding of what this rule originally meant, a quick search of Gale Primary Sources allowed me to trace the notion of “elbows off the table” through history across multiple primary sources, allowing me to form my own theory of this particular western etiquette. Continue reading

Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the man who led China from Empire to Republic

Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙aka. 孫中山 or 孫文; 1866–1925) was a Chinese revolutionary and leader of a series of armed uprisings that led to the downfall of China’s last imperial dynasty (the Qing) in 1911 and the founding of the Republic of China in 1912.   November 12 this year marked his 150th birthday.

Searching for his name (“Sun Yat-sen” or “Sun Wen”) in Gale’s China from Empire to Republic: Missionary, Sinology and Literary Periodicals – a unique collection of 17 English-language periodicals published in and about China – offers the researcher a significant quantity of material about this individual. Over two-thirds of the 300-plus search results are from The China Critic and Tienhsia Monthly – periodicals run by Chinese intellectuals. His activities and ideas also attracted the attention of Westerner- or missionary-established periodicals such as The Chinese Recorder, West China Missionary News, and The China Yearbook.

"Dr. Sun Yat Sen." Chinese Recorder Mar. 1925: 214. China from Empire to Republic.

“Dr. Sun Yat Sen.” Chinese Recorder Mar. 1925: 214. China from Empire to Republic.

Continue reading

Contention in the British Press: The Rise of Fascism

This is the second of two posts exploring how lively debate and strong clashes of opinion have coloured the British press at certain historical moments. My first post looked at the differing opinions printed prior to, and during, WWI. Firstly, this showed that opinion was split on the likelihood of war in Europe, and then, once Europe had indeed plunged into a long and bitter war, news commentators clashed on the leadership of the British army – a debate which spiralled on in the succeeding decades. (Click here to read the first post.) I’ll now be turning to the broad landscape of opinions and commentary which permeated the British press in response to the rise of fascism. Interestingly, as well as some of the most well-known arguments, this post brings to the fore views which have now been side-lined, discredited or simply eclipsed by modern interpretations. Continue reading