academic policy

How Many Ancient Military Historians Are There at Canadian Universities?

A painting of a two-humped camel with bit and bridle next to a saddled horse
Like camels in the Brenner pass in the fourteenth century, military historians are more common in pictures and stories than real life in Canada today. Wall painting from about the 1330s in the Burgkapelle Aufenstein near Matrei am Brenner. Photo by author, July 2014.

Although military history fills the television screens, YouTube channels, and bookstore history aisles in Canada just as in other countries, its presence at universities is very modest indeed. Until October 2015 I did not know of anyone who studies any aspect of warfare before the nineteenth century who teaches history at a Canadian university to fund his research. At least a hundred faculty are paid to teach history before the nineteenth century at a Canadian university [1], but very few chose to publish on the military aspects. This week I thought I would list the determined scholars who insist on working on this topic at an advanced level at Canadian universities.

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Link Dump

A plywood wheel like a waterwheel with angled bookshelves in place of the buckets
An overwhelming flow of information is not a new problem: a bookwheel inspired by ones from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries at the Hauptbibliothek Neubau, Universität Innsbruck. Made 2008? Photo by author, October 2015.

German for Classical Studies at the University of Cologne, free course June/July 2016, application deadline 30 November 2015 (link: warning, Facebook!)

The academics in Ghana went on strike again over nonpayment of their book allowance in August 2015 (link). As often with news from Africa, this has not received much attention in Europe and North America, even though its hard for any academics at universities in Ghana to work if they can’t buy books and journals.

Meanwhile, historian Alice Dreger has resigned from her post in Illinois after a dispute about whether a glossy magazine with her university’s logo was research (protected by academic freedom) or publicity (overseen by the university administration) revealed a deeper difference about what sort of institution she was working for (her public statement on the subject and her resignation letter). This issue has received a great deal of attention on the Anglophone internet.

The Carmarthenshire Archives in Wales are being devoured by mould, and a Freedom of Information request by J.D. Davies has revealed some disturbing facts about how the local authorities are responding to this crisis.

Some people with more money than sense decided to see what happens when you throw a human-weight or hobbit-weight mass of organic material into a pool of lava. There are videos.
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Three Links

A recent editorial reminded me of the problems of estimating army sizes. Many ancient armies were not divided into neat units of uniform size, they did not have a central quartermaster’s service or staff which tracked numbers, and as Thucydides reminds us everyone lied about the strength of their own forces. Reporters who want to estimate the size of a demonstration face similar problems and rhetorical pressures (chose a high number to shock, or a low one to dismiss? Trust the police or the protestors? Base it on whether the crowd seemed larger or smaller than one whose size you ‘know’?) Like ancient historians, modern reporters don’t always give a source for their numbers, but when people ask them they tend to be frank:
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