Challenging the Stereotype: The Greenham Common protests

By Megan Bowler, Gale Ambassador at the University of Liverpool
I am a full-time History student studying at the University of Liverpool, a Gale Student Ambassador and a life-long Netflix devotee. With particular research interests in nuclear culture and the movement of people, groups and civil organisations, I find Gale’s primary source archives immensely valuable to my studies. In my spare time, my main hobbies include spending time with my friends and avoiding the question, “What do you want to do after you graduate?”

“Greenham Common is changing more women’s lives faster than any movement in the United Kingdom since the Suffragettes.”

TheresaThormhill, Ours, 31 March 1983

In an ardent and empowered, non-violent and non-alignment protest, more than 70,000 women demonstrated for nearly twenty years between 1981-2000 against the implementation of 96 American Cruise Missiles on the RAF Greenham Common base, Berkshire. Throughout the entirety of the women’s campaign, a conflict between feminist and anti-nuclear sentiment prevailed within highly derogatory and grossly gendered national and international news reports. As a result, the rhetorical nature of the protest came to be mispresented as an entirely feminist, rather than a predominately nuclear, issue.

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Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld – A Great Arctic Explorer of the Nineteenth Century

By Pauli Kettunen, Gale Ambassador at the University of Helsinki
I am a second-year student in a programme ambitiously titled ‘Society and Change’ – there is not enough space to describe it here, if you had started wondering! At the University, my main interests are in Political History, in addition to all the other things concerning the History of Civil Society. In my free time I like cooking, reading, exercising, complaining about politics, and gaming. My latest addiction is reading science fiction by Alastair Reynolds.

One hundred and forty years ago, the world was speculating about the survival of a significant arctic exploration party. One can read, for example this article in The Western Daily Press, one of the periodicals included in Gale’s British Library Newspapers. With Professor Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld leading the expedition, the steamer Vega had departed on August 27th, 1878 for the Northeast Passage, the shipping route to the Pacific Ocean along the Arctic Ocean coasts of Norway and Russia. As radio technology had not yet been developed, there were no means for the press to get in touch with Nordenskiöld and his crew. In the reporter’s words, “More than seven and a-half months have…now elapsed and nothing more has been heard of him.” Nevertheless, the newspaper firmly believed that the expedition would be safe, possibly having stopped to spend the winter at “the sheltered bay of Kulynchinska.” Without faster means to confirm this, organisations that had invested in Nordenskiöld’s expedition, or were otherwise interested in the Northeast Passage, were planning to send out search parties to look for the Vega.

Read moreAdolf Erik Nordenskiöld – A Great Arctic Explorer of the Nineteenth Century

Sir Bertram Ramsey – Britain’s Unsung War Hero

By Matt Chivers, Gale Ambassador at the University of Liverpool
I am in my third year studying History at the University of Liverpool. I am obsessed with golf and regrettably even more obsessed about football. But at school, History took my interest; throughout sixth form and university I have loved studying the Cold War and, for my dissertation, the nuclear arms race. I am keen to pursue a career in sports writing and journalism – I couldn’t think of anything better than being paid to watch and write about the biggest sporting events in the world! I like film and tend to binge-watch a series or two.

If you hear the phrase ‘War Hero’ names such as Winston Churchill and Dwight Eisenhower would naturally come to mind, as they were the key leaders in the Second World War that were instrumental in coordinating the Allied victory. I feel there is another leader who deserves recognition for his vital work during these significant years; Sir Bertram Ramsay.

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A Male Contraceptive Pill – could this bring greater gender equality?

By Lily Cratchley, Gale Ambassador at the University of Birmingham
I am a second-year student 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 an Ambassador for Gale.

International Women’s Day was celebrated on Friday 8th March this year, and, as always, it provided an opportunity for us to reflect on the ongoing female fight for universal suffrage, freedom and equality. Several defining moments stand out in women’s history, having shaped our ability to lead the lives we do today, including: gaining the right to vote in 1918, the passing of the Equal Pay Act in 1970 and, of course, the legalisation of the oral contraceptive pill in 1961, enabling women to finally have a say over their reproductive rights.

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Exploring news coverage and media discussion of sexual violence

By Grace Mitchell-Kilpatrick, Gale Ambassador at the University of Exeter
I am a fourth-year student at the University of Exeter. I studied BSc Politics and International Relations with proficiency in data analysis at undergraduate level. As a Masters student studying Conflict, Development and Security, my interests lie in conflict zones but I am also an advocate of sustainability and feminism. Besides studying, when I’m not snowed under with work, I like to run and binge watch Netflix.

What constitutes ‘feminism’ and to class oneself as a feminist is highly contentious and politicised. It is, however, a concept which does not fall solely in the private or public sphere, and for that reason it is necessary to consider what the cause defends. I thought it would be interesting to use Gale Primary Sources to aid an investigation into the issue of rape and sexual violence, an issue which feminist sentiment advocates to eliminate.

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Double, double, toil and trouble Witchcraft methodology in nineteenth-century Britain and the U.S.

By André Buller, Gale Ambassador at the University of Portsmouth
I’m a third year English Literature and History student at the University of Portsmouth and Super Rep for the History subject area. If I must be forced to decide on a period, I adore Tudor history especially and have an incredibly soft spot for Romantic poetry, which is why I’ve taken on the monumental task of writing my thesis project on William Blake. After graduation this year I hope to work in the fields of narrative writing and journalism whilst continuing my academic endeavours. On the off chance that I’m not incapacitated by studies I enjoy devouring any and all literature, as well as playing the concert ukulele – much to the chagrin of my housemates.

Ideas of sorcery, witchcraft and incantations have persisted in intriguing me throughout my years of study. The ways in which the supernatural arose and manifested alongside historical events has always fascinated me, and consequently I’ve found myself studying subjects that considered the mystical in both the literary and historical units of my degree. The topics I’ve studied in these classes have ranged as widely as manifestations of the supernatural have in the past. One week I’d study the seventeenth century, witch-hunts of Salem and the pursuits of Matthew Hopkins, but by the next week be focusing on the rise of Occultism.

Read moreDouble, double, toil and trouble Witchcraft methodology in nineteenth-century Britain and the U.S.

‘Political Extremism and Radicalism in the Twentieth Century’ – a new archive packed with EXTREMELY useful sources which can RADICALLY change your thinking!

By Lily Cratchley, Gale Ambassador at the University of Birmingham
I am a second-year student at the University of Birmingham currently completing a 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.

Are you a budding politician or historian, intrigued with all things politically radical and extreme? Or perhaps you’re just faced with the need to write a lengthy dissertation, and are worried by your seemingly limited quantity of primary sources? Either way, Gale’s new archive, Political Extremism and Radicalism in the Twentieth Century, may be of extreme (pardon the pun!) interest to you.

Read more‘Political Extremism and Radicalism in the Twentieth Century’ – a new archive packed with EXTREMELY useful sources which can RADICALLY change your thinking!

Soviet agricultural experiments, hibernation, the bomb, and other curious facts behind Science Fiction stories

By Anna Sikora, Gale Ambassador at NUI Galway
Anna Sikora is a tutor, part-time teacher, and final year PhD student in the Discipline of English, National University of Galway, Ireland. She is examining the works of John Wyndham, author of over 60 short stories and 12 novels, including the famous The Day of The Triffids (1951) and The Midwich Cuckoos (1957). Anna is interested to see when and why science fiction authors began to show an awareness of environmental issues, and how this was demonstrated in their work. She is adopting some of the concepts of environmental criticism (ecocriticism) to ask how environmental concerns are articulated in fiction, and whether literature can, and should, influence our daily environmental choices or the ways in which we interact with the environment.

The Science Fiction American-Canadian author Judith Merril (1923–1997) wrote her short story “That Only a Mother” (1948) about widespread infantile mutations after reading an article dispelling the rumours of infanticide in Japan after the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombings. Later, in an interview, Merril recalls how this short newspaper piece caused her mind to race, and her initial reaction was “Oh my God. […] There are mutations by the millions and people are killing the babies” (What If? A Film about Judith Merril). Merril’s reaction is fascinating as it shows how authors transform everyday reality into literary fiction, and not necessarily just science fiction. The double lesson we immediately draw (or at least should draw!) here as students, critics, tutors and lecturers of literature is this: yes, literary stories are often inspired by real events or people; and no, literary text are not historical documents.

Read moreSoviet agricultural experiments, hibernation, the bomb, and other curious facts behind Science Fiction stories

Fashion and the Eighteenth-Century Public Sphere: from Tatler to Twitter

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 imagined spaces in film and screen adaptation, with further interests in memory and motion in twentieth-century and Romantic poetry. Dan enjoys the independence of thought, interdisciplinary and experimental aspects of studying English and aims to achieve an MA in Film and/or Literature. Dan enjoys lyricism and landscapes in the works of Thomas Hardy, Virginia Woolf, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charlotte Smith and Sylvia Plath. His favourite directors include Alfred Hitchcock, Darren Aranofsky, 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 t’is the intent and business of the stage,
To copy out the follies of the age
To hold to every man a glass,
And show him of what species he’s an ass’.[1]
– John Vanbrugh

The sharp, epigrammatic wit of John Vanbrugh’s preface to The Provoked Wife (1697), reflects the theatricality of eighteenth-century audiences and exposes the wider hypocrisy of the ‘Public Sphere’[2]. After the Restoration of Charles II, the New Printing Act (1662) led to a watershed of publishing and print culture in Britain[3]; a society in which political sentiments and private identities bled into each other. The torrent of periodicals, pamphlets and magazines circulated gossip and popular opinion, cultivating a highly self-conscious and extravagant nation.

Read moreFashion and the Eighteenth-Century Public Sphere: from Tatler to Twitter

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