By Gregory Green, Curator of the John M. Echols Collection on Southeast Asia, Cornell University Library
The Gale Archives Unbound collection titled Western Books on Southeast Asia brings together nearly three hundred years of writings by travellers from Europe to Southeast Asia. These publications range from official reports of government sponsored expeditions to personal journals of people travelling through the region on business or pleasure. With that variety, one can expect to find a wide range of observations in the collection. Much of the information is quite accurate, while a large amount is based on misunderstandings of what people were seeing, or in other ways, simply incorrect. Whether accurate or not, the collection provides a clear view of how Southeast Asia was seen during this period of time by Western eyes.
The Earl George Macartney Collection launches this month in Archives Unbound. It is a new digitisation of a fascinating resource – letters, books, sketches and journals relating to the important Macartney mission from George III to the Chinese Emperor Qianlong in 1792–1794. The Charles Wason Collection at Cornell is the largest collection of material on this event held in one place, covering a period from 1784 to 1916. This valuable piece of Anglo-Chinese history is now available in Gale’s Archives Unbound programme, where it sits alongside collections such as Papers of the British Consulates and Legation in China (1722–1951), the Chinese Recorder and the Protestant Missionary Community in China, 1867–1941. Below Dr Liren Zheng, curator of the collection at Cornell University Library, explains the importance of both the eighteenth-century mission and the accumulation of this material into one holding.
By Paula Maher Martín, Gale Ambassador at NUI Galway Paula Maher Martín is a third-year student of English and Classics at the National University of Ireland, Galway. Interested in language as a means of simultaneously reflecting and transcending human experience, she plans to do postgraduate research in English, with a focus on the metaphysical construction of reality in Modernist literature. She enjoys reading Nancy Mitford, Leo Tolstoy, Evelyn Waugh or Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, the wind, the music of the world, wandering immersed in philosophical abstractions, writing poetry in lectures and falling in love with characters in paintings. Paula is blogging for Gale in both English and Spanish.
The Germania, an apparently harmless description of the territories, customs and tribes of the Germani by 1st century Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus, was acclaimed by Nazi Germans as a banner: a portrait of the primitive Aryan; ‘virtuous, fearless and heavily militarized’, qualities the Nazis felt had reverberated through the centuries and supported the racial identity of the modern German.
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 Film Aesthetics and Screen Adaptation, with further interests in twentieth-century poetry and Romantic poetry. Dan enjoys the independence of thought, interdisciplinary and experimental aspects of studying English and aims to achieve a Master’s in Film and/or Literature. Dan enjoys lyricism and landscapes in the works of Thomas Hardy, Virginia Woolf, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charlotte Smith and Toni Morrison. His favourite directors include Alfred Hitchcock, Darren Aronofsky, 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 the March 2018 Facebook and Cambridge Analytica controversies, censorship and data protection have come under an intense spotlight in today’s digitised society. While we become increasingly sceptical of surveillance, and cautious of what we post online, it is important to appreciate those who have struggled to be fully seen and heard. The efforts of writers and filmmakers to overcome issues of (in)visibility have consistently featured in my study of literature at university; Elizabeth Gaskell’s serialisation in Charles Dickens’ Household Wordsmagazine, 1850-51 (she was restricted from publishing independently because of her gender), the Brontë sisters’ use of male pseudonyms, and the 1918 posthumous publication of Gerard Manly Hopkins’s poetry due to his Jesuitical vow of obedience, are all examples of nineteenth-century censorship.
By Megan Murphy, Gale Ambassador at the University of Liverpool I’m a third year History student at the University of Liverpool, a Gale Student Ambassador, and a self-proclaimed Jane Austen fanatic. As a modern historian, my main research interests revolve around the development of Victorian cities – particularly the crime and deviance that took place within them. Outside of my studies, in the rare time I spend without my head in a nineteenth-century newspaper, I specialise in binge-watching Louis Theroux documentaries.
The hit BBC drama series Peaky Blinders – which is set in Birmingham and follows the lives of the Shelby brothers and their criminal gang the ‘Peaky Blinders’ – has captivated the minds and imagination (and – thanks to lead star Cillian Murphy – the hearts) of the British public. Given the recent fascination with Birmingham’s criminal underworld that the series has generated, I thought it would be interesting to use Gale Primary Sources to investigate the ‘real’ Peaky Blinders of late nineteenth-century Birmingham.