Around the World: A virtual tour

June 18th, 2012

Jules Verne’s character Phileas Fogg resolved to travel Around the World in 80 Days  but for those of you who are enjoying a summer “stay-cation” instead, you can travel the world in eight-teen (not 80) databases.  It’s like a passport to fun, without those terrible pictures! 

Before you start your journey, if you’d like to know more about the History of the U.S. of A. and what life was like from “back then” til now you can visit America: History & Life.   It contains literature and indexing covering the history and culture of the United States and Canada, from prehistory to the present.  

From here it’s a quick trip over to Caribbean Literature, a searchable collection of poetry and fiction produced in the region during the 19th and 20th centuries. The texts are presented in the original English, French, Spanish, Dutch, and various Creole languages.   While we’re cruising in the Caribbean let’s make a stop to study Feminism in Cuba.  This collection, compiled from Cuban sources, spans the period from Cuban independence to the end of the Batista regime (1898-1958).

¡Vámonos a América Latina para leer sobre mujeres escritoras! Let’s go to Latin American to read about women writers!  The Latin American Women Writers database is an extensive searchable collection of prose, poetry, and drama composed by women writing in Mexico, Central America, and South America. Also included are essays by Latin American feminists and revolutionaries, who address both the universal concerns of women in every age and the distinctive issues of their struggles in the region.

Isn’t traveling the world romantic?  Irish Women Poets of the Romantic Period includes more than 80 volumes of poetry by approximately 50 Irish women writing between 1768 and 1842.  Scottish Women Poets of the Romantic Period holds 60 volumes of Romantic poetry composed by Scottish women as well as extensive contemporary critical reviews and numerous scholarly essays.

Seeing the world would certainly be something to write home about.  British and Irish Women’s Letters and Diaries is a collection of those women’s personal writings spanning over 400 years (1500-1950). All age groups and life stages are represented from a wide range of geographical regions in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.  You can even read letters from prison including the correspondence of Mary, Queen of Scots!

Need something to read on the plane? Try the Picture Post Historical Archive; it contains every issue of the pioneering photojournalism newspaper. High-principled yet entertaining, and featuring a whole stable of extraordinarily talented photographers, Picture Post (1938-1957) was read by an estimated 80% of the British population at its peak.  See also, The Times Digital Archive covering 1785 to1985.  Don’t be mistaken, you’re not back in the U.S. yet, this is a London newspaper!

While we’re near Spain, let’s revisit the Spanish language in Informe -Revistas en Español.  Informe is a full-text database covering 1996 to present with some of the most popular Spanish-language magazines and pamphlets – not just translations. Includes a Spanish thesaurus and interface created exclusively for native Spanish speakers, but most content can be translated in to English.  Para ti que no hablan español. 

Africa is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Spain and the African Writers Series contains key texts of modern African literature including over 250 volumes of fiction, poetry, drama, and non-fiction prose.  AWF has a unique importance in the history of postcolonial writing and includes works by Nelson Mandela, Bessie Head, and Steve Biko, to name a few.

Have you been East of Africa? Want to know what to know before you go? Read up in The Middle East and Islamic Studies eBook Collection from Brill, a leading international academic publisher in the Humanities and Social Sciences.  This particular collection has 146 titles covering food, culture, religion, history, and more.  It’s like a travelogue in your living room! 

The Hong Kong Journals Online (HKJO) database is open access, meaning anyone can go there, anytime, without a passport – or University log-in.  This database provides access to selected academic and professional journals, both in English and Chinese, published in Hong Kong. The titles included cover a wide range of disciplines including law, medicine and education from 1872 to today. 

We’ll conclude our travels with South and Southeast Asian Literature , a searchable collection of fiction and poetry written in English by authors from South and Southeast Asia and their Diasporas. Focusing on works composed during the late-colonial and postcolonial eras, the collection will also feature author interviews and manuscript materials that will shed additional light on the rich literary heritage and emerging traditions of this region. 

You can visit some of our broader scope databases to see more of the big picture.  Try World History In Video for a wide-ranging collection of critically acclaimed documentaries that explore human history from the earliest civilizations to the late twentieth century; Garland Encyclopedia of World Music Online for a comprehensive online resource devoted to music research of all the world’s peoples;  Image Quest to see just what “the other” looks like, and Biography in Context to read up on the always great and sometimes late, notable people of the world by searching under nationality and/or birthplace.  We’ve traveled to a number of countries and areas of the world, but there’s so much more to be discovered.  There are many more country, area, and culture specific databases available in our A-Z list to see.  

Have you taken a literary trip using these resources or ones of your own?  Tell us about it on our facebook page.  Happy travels!