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Douglas Eacersall




Location: Australia/China
Joined: 02 Aug 2009

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PostPosted: Wed 14 Oct, 2009 8:37 am    Post subject: Arms and armour is not a serious academic subject???         Reply with quote

Hi there,

I am an Australian currently in China trying to put together a research proposal for PhD work on Chinese military history. I am actually more interested in arms and armour study but it seems that this is not an area of serious academic study. I was wondering if anybody knew why most universities seem to ignore this area of history.

Do you know of any academics studying weaponry as an academic subject at a university in Australia (or anywhere)?

Thank you any help you can provide would be extremely appreciated.

Regards,

Douglas Eacersall....
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Oct, 2009 9:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

EVERYTHING is an academic subject. That's why folks complain that graduate study is producing more and more about less and less. However, as far as I can tell the study of arms and armour is more typically a specialty within the fields of art history or archaeology. I forget where Toby Capwell earned his doctorate or in what discipline, but I do recall that his dissertation was focused specifically on English armour. So, it can be done. It's all about finding the right program and mentor. Of course, few people have had more influence on our study than Ewart Oakeshott, and he was not an academic in the formal sense of the term.
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Adam D. Kent-Isaac




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Oct, 2009 9:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's not impossible, but it's difficult. It's kind of a narrow field, I think. Furthermore, it seems to me that at the highest level, the study of armour requires international travel, and, optimally, being connected to a vast network of museum curators and even owners of private collections. There are two parts to the study of armour: the historical side, which is to say the reading of primary and secondary sources that assist in understanding it, and the side that involves having access, to some degree or another, to the collections of armour around the world. In this way it's not that different from the general topic of art history, but it is a much narrower focus.

I would say, to echo Mr. Flynt's words, that it is probably best approached as a specialty within the fields of history and/or art history, or perhaps archaeology.

As I have found personally, it also really helps to know a little bit of German, and to a lesser degree French.

One of the greatest contributors to the study and collection of armour though - Bashford Dean, curator of the Metropolitan's collection - started out in the field of biology and got into armour relatively late in the game. In his case, it helped that he was already established as an academic authority on something.

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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Oct, 2009 11:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Moffet, a member of this community is doing/has done a Phd to do with crossbows.

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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Oct, 2009 12:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you think arms and armor is a difficult subject to pursue academically, wait till you get a load of historical combat (as an academic subject). Happy
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Oct, 2009 2:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You have no chance in Australia. The best opportunities are probably in the UK.
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Josh Maxwell




Location: Michigan
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Oct, 2009 3:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I believe Kansas State University has a program in hoplology. I'm not sure how close this is to your related field, but it is as close of a program I can think of.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoplology
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Tim Harris
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Location: Melbourne, Australia
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Oct, 2009 3:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I know of someone who did a thesis on the excellent (and now largely unseen) arms collection held by Melbourne Museum. Lucky sod.

I don't recall what the course was. Museum studies, possibly. Something like that is the best bet in this country.
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Sam Gordon Campbell




Location: Australia.
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Oct, 2009 9:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
You have no chance in Australia. The best opportunities are probably in the UK.


I second this.
Alas, it is (from what I've heard much to the woe of the Classics and pre-Colonial History teachers) deemed "irrelevant" to the Australian curiculum. Ergo, 300 years of white settlement history or 60,000 of Aboriginal history. Worried
I'm currently at UTAS and am doing Medieval history related subjects in the hopes of becoming an experimental-arcaeologist who re-enacts, who studies in hoplology, who moonlights as an edu-tainment kind of gig. Failing that, my current back up degree is an English Teacher. Big Grin

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Douglas Eacersall




Location: Australia/China
Joined: 02 Aug 2009

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PostPosted: Wed 14 Oct, 2009 11:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Edelson wrote:
If you think arms and armor is a difficult subject to pursue academically, wait till you get a load of historical combat (as an academic subject). Happy


Yes, this was my original plan - historical combat. I thought the area of history would cover this, which it does, however finding an established academic to supervise this is very difficult and employment opportunities practically nil.

It is a pity and something I can't comprehend. Weapons and weapon systems have had profound effects on culture and social structures. I guess not everyone is as interested in this kind of thing as 'we' are. Still, there are people studying some extremely bizarre and narrow fields at universities. Isn't it time that hoplology (for want of a better word) was taken more seriously. Most history academics I have contacted do not even know what hoplology is.
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Douglas Eacersall




Location: Australia/China
Joined: 02 Aug 2009

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PostPosted: Wed 14 Oct, 2009 11:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tim Harris wrote:
I know of someone who did a thesis on the excellent (and now largely unseen) arms collection held by Melbourne Museum. Lucky sod.

I don't recall what the course was. Museum studies, possibly. Something like that is the best bet in this country.


Do you know the title of the thesis?
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