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Alexander O




Location: Southern Germany
Joined: 14 May 2020

Posts: 6

PostPosted: Sun 07 Feb, 2021 1:33 pm    Post subject: Bachelor thesis - HEMA?         Reply with quote

Hey everyone!

I'm currently thinking about what I might write my Bachelor-thesis on. I'm a student from Germany with the subjects English and Sport science. My idea a while ago was to write my thesis in sport science on whitewashing in football by Qatar or Saudi Arabia, looking at the world cup 2022 as well. Thats not a bad topic or anything, but I'd be much more psyched to write my thesis on something HEMA-related, which is why I've created this topic.

My Professor in English is pretty open minded and has a background in English and history. We already talked about the possibility of me writing on something HEMA-related and he has no problem with it. Since that conversation I've been thinking about what the topic could be....after all I'm not a history student, so it can't just be a description or overview on HEMA or something like that.

My initial thought was to translate a medieval German manuscript into modern English and put it into social, cultural and historical perspective. Are there any manuscripts left that haven't been translated into modern English?

Maybe one of you has another idea on what a possible topic for such a thesis could be, I'd be very interested!

Alex
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Johannes Zenker





Joined: 15 Sep 2014

Posts: 128

PostPosted: Sun 07 Feb, 2021 6:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Topics related to social issues are very much run-of-the-mill in German universities, so going for something more unique like a HEMA-related topic would definitely allow you to stand out more.

That said you have to be sure your work can fit within the scope of a BA-thesis and appropriate to your subject. It's usually not so much a matter of not getting enough pages, but rather of not getting too many. I remember that I had a real writing spree and eventually realized that my formatting was off and I had to delete like 8 pages or so to get back to an acceptable character count.

Also: make sure that your topic is really relevant to the subject you're writing your thesis in. I wrote mine on the translation of character names in the video game World of Warcraft (Eng->Ger) and had a bit of an issue defining whether it was a paper in the field of linguistics or literature, as it sat squarely in between. That ambiguity dragged me down in the end.

I don't know your precise study subject, but I think doing a thesis on a translation from medieval German to modern English does not generally fall into the scope of either English literature nor English linguistics. Since it deals with a German historical and cultural context it also doesn't quite naturally fit English Cultural Studies either.

Now if you did your thesis on the works of a British fencing master in relation to social, linguistic and historical aspects (mainly focusing on one, probably), that would seem like a more natural fit.
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David Kite




Location: Clinton, IN USA
Joined: 20 Feb 2004

Posts: 99

PostPosted: Mon 08 Feb, 2021 4:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You could analyze the middle English longsword fragments and translate them into modern English. You could also put them in their proper martial and linguistic contexts with an analysis of the importance of commonplace books in England, and maybe how they contrast with German hausbucher.

David Kite
ARMA in IN
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Paul Hansen




Location: The Netherlands
Joined: 17 Mar 2005
Likes: 5 pages

Posts: 828

PostPosted: Fri 12 Feb, 2021 3:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not sure what sport science exactly means but what interests me in particular is footwork patterns in the various martial arts.

The concept of tempo in fencing is another very interesting topic.

You could make an analysis of either in various martial arts traditions, either limiting to HEMA or including modern martial arts (Olympic fencing but also e.g. kickboxing) or international martial arts. The Indonesian pencak silat for instance has quite comprehensive ideas on footwork but not (as far as I know at least) on tempo.
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 3,544

PostPosted: Fri 12 Feb, 2021 12:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You'd have to be very particular in your choice of uni. A lot of academics think that anyone who studies HEMA or military history in general is a knuckledragging mouthbreather and don't look favourably on papers about those subjects. It sounds like you may have caught a break with your Professor in English.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
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Alexander O




Location: Southern Germany
Joined: 14 May 2020

Posts: 6

PostPosted: Sat 13 Feb, 2021 9:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you all for the input!

@Johannes
First off, very interesting and unique that you chose for your thesis. Sehr interessant. I think you're right that looking at an English fencing master and his work (and putting that into context n all that) would be more appropriate for a Bachelor thesis in English. However I've no clue about any English fencing master (my experience is limited to the various German masters from the middle ages/ renaissance). The only English stuff I've ever encountered (through Youtube channels like Scholagladiatoria and others) is military saber, which is not anything I've ever done or am overly interested in.

@David
That sounds very interesting indeed. Can you give me any further infos regarding the English longsword fragments? I'd love to read up on them! I like your idea a lot. I had no clue there were any longsword texts/ fragments from England~ around.

@Paul
I don't tink I could work this into a Bachelor thesis to be honest. Not because it wouldn't be a valid topic, but because I've got no clue. Furthermore what interests me more in HEMA is the history and culture surrounding it.

@Dan
I can't really comment on that. My professor has himself been acitve in reenactment though, so he does not share those views at all. He did mostly US civil war reenactment, but still. He is however of a dying breed, I will admit that. A grumpy old veteran, half his students love him, the other half...not so much.

Though I admit that I've been asked several times whether I was in a Burschenschaft (one of those German fraternities who sometimes still duel...in a way). Mostly the question comes as soon as they see the swords mounted on my wall, a longsword and langes Messer, which is nothing any Burschenschaft has ever used. This is relevant to what you posted as typically in Germany Burschenschaften are really not regarded positively, so I am always annoyed that people can't differentiate, as I do not want to be associated with them. But hey, can't expect people to be educated on such a fringe hobby.

I was talking to a fellow student today, he told me that one of the Professors in sport science is really open minded as to what students write their Bachelor thesis on. As long as there is a connection to sport you're good to go. I will contact her with a proposition.
I'd still prefer to write it for the other Professor, I know and like him, he knows me too, whereas I never have met the Professor in sport science.
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Mark Millman





Joined: 10 Feb 2005

Posts: 466

PostPosted: Sat 13 Feb, 2021 12:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dear Alexander,

You may be familiar with Wiktenauer. If not, you can search there for treatises and masters from England, which may help you choose material for your thesis. I note, however, that among fencing-masters Joseph Swetnam has a particularly strong connection to English literature, as he contributed--badly, to be sure, but influentially even so--to the querelle des femmes. F.W. (Cis) van Heertum has published A critical edition of Joseph Swetnam's THE ARAIGNMENT OF LEWD, IDLE, FROWARD, AND UNCONSTANT WOMEN (1615) (Nijmegen: The Cicero Press, 1989), which includes a biography as well as an edition of the Arraignment. Swetnam's fencing treatise, The Schoole of the Noble and Worthy Science of Defence (1617), is his other extant work.

I hope this proves helpful.

Viel Erfolg!

Best,

Mark Millman
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Edward Lee




Location: New York
Joined: 05 Jul 2013

Posts: 375

PostPosted: Sat 13 Feb, 2021 1:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
You'd have to be very particular in your choice of uni. A lot of academics think that anyone who studies HEMA or military history in general is a knuckledragging mouthbreather and don't look favourably on papers about those subjects. It sounds like you may have caught a break with your Professor in English.


I tried that back in school and I was shot down because the prof though it would involve violence.
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David Kite




Location: Clinton, IN USA
Joined: 20 Feb 2004

Posts: 99

PostPosted: Mon 15 Feb, 2021 5:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Alexander,

The three medieval texts I was referring to can be found here:
https://wiktenauer.com/wiki/Man_yt_Wol_(MS_Harley_3542)
https://wiktenauer.com/wiki/Cotton_MS_Titus_A_XXV
https://wiktenauer.com/wiki/Ledall_Roll_(Additional_MS_39564)

The only "scholarly" work that I am aware of that deals with them is a piece written by Paul Wagner in a book that came out a few years ago called "Late Medieval and Early Modern Fight Books". This is a pretty good book all around, give or take a couple chapters. Wagner's chapter can be found here: https://archive.org/details/LateMedievalAndEarlyModernFightBooks/page/n423/mode/2up
The book is of course also available in print, if not at your library, then available through interlibrary loan, which is much easier to read than this digitization.


I remember that Terry Brown (who wrote a book titled "English Martial Arts" a long time ago) also did an in-depth piece on the language of one of the manuscripts. Unfortunately, I don't remember the title of it, or even if it's still available online, or even if it can be considered "good", but I enjoyed it. I should have a digital copy tucked away somewhere. I will see if I can find it.

There are other books that deal with them from the vantage point of HEMA, but I haven't read them and won't make any assumptions about their academic relevance.

English commonplace books and articles should be fairly easy for you to find materials on, though I don't know of any that I would particularly recommend. This doesn't mean they're no good, it's just that I don't know of any "classic" works, or anything "must read."

If you're interested in Joseph Swetnam, I did some work on him a few years ago, including a transcription. Though again, I don't know if this would at all count as "scholarly." http://www.thearma.org/spotlight.htm#.YCqJtWhKiUk

Van Heertum's book is also interesting and worth a read, just don't lend too much credence to her evaluation of fencing, since her understanding is based on Egerton Castle and JD Aylward.

David Kite
ARMA in IN
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Mark Millman





Joined: 10 Feb 2005

Posts: 466

PostPosted: Mon 15 Feb, 2021 11:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dear Alexander,

On Monday 15 February 2021, David Kite wrote:
Van Heertum's book is also interesting and worth a read, just don't lend too much credence to her evaluation of fencing, since her understanding is based on Egerton Castle and JD Aylward.

David is absolutely right; van Heertum is, after all, a scholar of early-modern English, not of fencing. But she's also the only person who's done any substantive original research into Swetnam's biography.

If you're not familiar with Castle and Aylward, they're (late-nineteenth- and mid-twentieth-century, respectively) English students of historical fencing who brought to its study backgrounds in modern fencing and progressivist views of history. I don't know how they compare to, say, Karl Wassmannsdorff or Gustav Hergesell in those respects, but their analyses of pre-smallsword fencing systems are now discredited.

Best,

Mark
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