#MemberMonday: Erica Munkwitz

Erica and Sam
Erica Munkwitz

American University (Washington, DC)
PhD, British History, American University (2014)
MA, European History, American University (2008)
BA, History, Sweet Briar College (2002)
BA, English/Creative Writing, Sweet Briar College (2002)

What got you in to history? horse history?
   I have ridden and trained in nearly all disciplines (hunter-jumper, equitation, cross-country, dressage, Western pleasure, Western reining and games, endurance, and yes, side-saddle), but I didn’t link my sporting interests with my academic research until my second year of grad school. I had initially applied to American University to study German-Russian relations after the Second World War, but the disastrous state of the necessary microfilm sources at the National Archives dictated that I quickly find another topic. In a very lucky break, we had just finished reading Linda Colley’s Britons in our European colloquium. She asserted that fox-hunting had been “confined almost exclusively to men,” concluding “in short, the invention of fox-hunting can be seen, as it was seen at the time, as another expression of the new, patriotic patrician machismo…” That line changed the course of my research and my life. Given this martial and masculine representation, what opportunities did women have to join in such sports during the long nineteenth century? How did they justify their involvement to partake in equestrianism before they took up other – arguably, more “feminine” and less demanding – sports like tennis and golf? How were traditional ideals of femininity and domesticity revolutionized by doing so, both in Britain and throughout the British Empire? What were the repercussions of their increased participation on women’s rights and personal emancipation before the First World War? These are the questions I worked to answer in my dissertation entitled “‘Straight Ahead and Over Everything’: Women and Equestrian Sports in Britain, 1772-1956.”

Who is your favorite historical horse?
   All the horses I’ve ridden, and all the ones I haven’t! I also love Whistlejacket, Joey and Topthorn from War Horse, and in film – Cisco (Dances with Wolves) and Denny (The Man from Snowy River).

What are you working on now?
   My book proposal is under consideration now and I hope to have exciting news soon. The book project, entitled “Riding to Freedom: Women, Horse Sports, and Liberation in Britain, 1772-1928,” is devoted to understanding how British women’s involvement in sidesaddle riding, fox-hunting, and polo during the nineteenth century transcended gender and class boundaries and enabled women to attain social equality well before they achieved political equality via the vote in 1918. By riding astride rather than sidesaddle by the late nineteenth century, I argue that female equestrians in Britain and the Empire revolutionized ideals of femininity well before bicyclists, suffragettes, and war workers, and also well before women in other European countries such as France and Germany. Stay tuned!

Anything else you’d like to add?
   See more about my academic journey in this article: “Horse-Sense and Sensibility,” in  The International Journal of the History of Sport’s special issue on “Aspiration and Reflection: Sport Historians on Sport History.” 

Erica and Perseus
Perseus, Household Cavalry Drum Horse

   I will be presenting “Patrons of Pegasus: Women as Equestrian Entrepreneurs, 1880-1930,” at the Equine Cultures in Transition conference at Leeds Beckett University, June 19–21 2018.

   I will also be presenting “‘Four Things Greater Than All Things Are:’ Women, Horses and Power in History” at the EHC inaugural conference in December 2018.

Contact me on Twitter @EricaMunkwitz

 

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#MemberMonday: Chelsea Shields-Más

chelsea
Chelsea Shields-Más

SUNY College at Old Westbury
PhD, History, University of York, UK (2014)
MA, Medieval Studies, University of York, UK (2010)
BA, Medieval Studies, Mount Holyoke College (2008)

What got you in to history? horse history?
   My love for history and horses has been intertwined for as long as I can remember. I’ve loved horses since about age 2… there seems to be no rhyme or reason for this passion (i.e. no one else in my family rides), and family members joke that “horses are in my blood.” At a young age I developed a love for the medieval period facilitated by reading early Irish, English and Norse myths and legends, learning about knights and medieval warfare and my dad bringing me on trips to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Cloisters in NYC.

Who is your favorite historical horse?
   Alexander the Great’s Bucephalus [Kat Boniface’s answer, too!]

What are you working on now?
   I’m currently working on finishing up a monograph on the reeve in late Anglo-Saxon England (under contract with Boydell & Brewer). In my study of the reeve as an estate manager, I have come across interesting sources on the horse and horse management in late Anglo-Saxon England, which is a project I am also currently researching.

Anything else you’d like to add?
   I’ve ridden since age 7 and have done dressage exclusively since about age 15. My love of and interest in dressage was in part sparked by reading Xenophon and learning about Classical and Medieval training of war horses.

Chelsea Shields-Más will be presenting “If Wishes were Horses: Building a Picture of Late Anglo-Saxon Equine Management and Care” at our inaugural conference.

#MemberMonday: Holly Kruse

roscoe

Holly Kruse

Ph.D., Communication
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Post-graduate Certificate, Equine Business
University of Louisville

B.A., Political Science & History
University of Iowa

 

What got you into history, and into equine history?

   I’ve always liked history, and as an undergraduate political science major at the University of Iowa, I needed to have an outside area to supplement my major. I chose history, and I ended up taking so many history classes that I ended up adding a history major to my political science major. That’s when I first read work by the Annales historians: Montaillou by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie made a big impression on me.

   I went to the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign for my doctorate in media studies, and even before that, I was researching and writing about social histories of communication technologies. I published a journal article on the “domestication” of the phonograph in the U.S. in the early twentieth century, and more recently I’ve published research on the pneumatic tube as a nineteenth century (and beyond) communication technology. History is a central element in my research.Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 10.04.29 AM

   My interest in equine history comes from my lifelong horse-racing fandom and love of horses. Several years ago I decided to take a break from my academic teaching career to earn my post-graduate certificate in the Equine Industry Program at the University of Louisville. It was a time when the prototype for TVG had been launched and when legal online betting on horse racing was getting started, so a lot was happening with newmedia and horse racing. I began not only researching current developments, but also histories of technologies related to horse racing like tote machines and remote wagering. Those histories were central to my book on horse racing technologies, Off-Track and Online: The Networked Spaces of Horse Racing (The MIT Press, 2016).

Who is your favorite historical horse?

affirmed   My favorite historical horse is 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed. Although as a young kid in the 1970s I already watched and loved horse racing, Affirmed was the horse who made me passionate about it. It probably helped that my sister was an Alydar fan. I finally got to meet Affirmed in the summer of 2000, several months before he died.

 What are you working on right now?

   I just finished writing a chapter on horse racing, media, and social class to a forthcoming Routledge collection on media and social class. Right now I’m working on a book on gender and technology for Polity Press. It’s meant to be a book that can be used in any upper-level undergraduate gender and technology class. I’m writing the book because I can never find a good basic book – one free of a lot of higher level cultural theory – to use in my gender and technology class. I plan to slip in plenty of equine-related technologies, including sidesaddle. I’ve presented my research on girls, hobbyhorse competitions, and social media, and I plan to include that in the book as well.

#MemberMonday: Lonneke Delpeut

lonneke

Lonneke Delpeut

Leiden University

MA student in Classics

BA in Egyptology

 

 

 

What got you in to history? In to equine history?

   I have always been interested in history, especially the history of ancient Egypt. As soon as I knew that Egyptology existed, I knew that was what I wanted to study. I have 

methorsealso always been a horse girl, so when I found out that there were so many beautiful depictions, two-dimensional as well as three-dimensional, I found the perfect opportunity to combine both my passions: horses and ancient Egypt. I fell in love with this particular object:

Who is your favorite historical horse?

    I do not have a favourite horse in history (although the horse found in the forecourt of the tomb of Senenmut would definitely be in my top-5) but this whip handle is definitely one of my favourite objects.

 

What are you working on right now?
   My current research involves the study of two-dimensional depictions of the horse in ancient Egypt in private tombs during the Eighteenth dynasty. I compare the image of the horse as a source of information to the image of the horse as a piece of art. Images tell us all kinds of things, like what the horse was used for in Egyptian society, what role the horse played inside the image (e.g. as a status symbol) and about what the Egyptians knew about the horse. On the other hand, the image studied as a piece of art tells us where the artist got his inspiration from, whether or not they saw the horse as a special element considered to other four-legged animals, and, most interestingly, to what extent the image can be considered as a naturalistic display. 

#MemberMonday: Katherine Mooney

mooneyKatherine Mooney

History PhD, Yale University
History MPhil, Yale University
History MA, Yale University
American Studies BA, Amherst College, Summa cum laude

Author of the NASSH award-winning Race Horse Men
Read the EHC review of Race Horse Men here

What got you in to history? In to equine history?
     I can’t even remember when I figured out that I wanted to do something that involved history. And I’ve been a horse person for even longer than that– it’s my mother’s fault, since she and her sisters put me on a horse basically before I could walk. I was in my first year of a PhD program in history and looking for something to read that was NOT related to my academic life, and I picked up Ed Hotaling’s book on black jockeys. The first thing I noticed was that the guys in his sources talked about horses the same way people I’d grown up with had, and I realized that equine history was a thing I could do. It was probably the best day of my professional life.

Who is your favorite historical horse?
     Too many to have a real favorite. But I really would have liked to see Lexington and Lecomte in their races in the 1850s.

What are you working on right now?
     I’m working on a shorter study about the projection of the qualities of human females on mares and how that’s affected how they’ve been perceived by both racing professionals and fans. So there’s everything in there–from theory about how women relate to horses to critical readings of Facebook and Zenyatta.com. Any suggestions welcome!

Read Katherine Mooney’s review of Mr. Darley’s Arabian here.

#MemberMonday: Hylke Hettema

Hylke

Hylke Hettema
pictured with al Ma3allim Shay (the wise mister tea) a
n Egyptian Baladi horse I have adopted and who is my once in a lifetime horse and my hairstylist from time to time

BA in Arabic Language and Middle East studies, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands

MA in Arabic Linguistics, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Dissertation on Arabian horses in the Qur’an and ahadith.

What got you in to history? In to equine history?
     As a child I visited many castles as part of family vacations. I thought they were the most magnificent places on earth and always tried to imagine what it would have been like to live in the times those enormous structures were built. Curious as I am I have always had a passion to search for all the answers to the endless questions I have about times long passed. Obviously my other great passion are horses, “Oriental” horses in particular. I breed, ride, watch and study them. When I decided to start breeding Straight Egyptian Arabians questions started surfacing about the history of the breed and I discovered a lot of things that just don’t seem to make sense. Appalled by the majority of the breed specific literature, websites and ‘experts’ selling the average Arabian horse enthusiast a lot of fairytales and nonsense I decided I wanted to dig deeper but do this the right way: academic research. (My love for castles is still going strong and whenever I travel the first things I seek out are castles and of course horses).

Who is your favorite historical horse?
     I wasn’t sure if I would be able to answer this question, since many of the horses in literature concerning “Arabian” history are unnamed and I like them all not just one, but I can tell you about one of the stories that caused me to start digging deeper. The horse in question does have a name: Abjer (protruding belly). He is the horse of the Pre-Islamic warrior Antar(ah) ibn Shaddad, the main character in one of the most popular stories (poems) throughout Arab history, which is still taught in schools throughout the Middle East today.

   Antars   Antars story has been compared to Arthurian literature in terms of chivalry and courage. He was born a slave and fell in love with his cousin Abla, and to obtain freedom so that he would be allowed to marry her he had to “fight with the warriors and defend his tribe”.  Early on his quest to freedom he obtains the horse Abjer. A stallion ‘darker than ebony’ that he traded for all the spoils of war they had previously taken.  Many versions state that Abjer was “of a race that the Arabs much appreciated”, which made me realise that it is a bit naive to assume Arabs only rode Arabian horses (a good argument for starting serious research). Nevertheless I like what Abjer stands for in the story, a loyal and true friend to his rider, exactly what I have experienced horses to be.

What are you working on right now?
     I am currently working on my PhD as an external researcher for Leiden University, the Netherlands. The main theme of my dissertation is the role the Arabian horse has played in the creation of Arab identity in general. My supervisor dr. P. Webb has shown how Arab identity was created and evolved in the 8-10th centuries, after the birth of Islam. We do not have much evidence of the existence of the Arabian as a breed from before that exact same timeframe and it would seem that the ideas of ‘Arabness’ for both human and horse are interconnected and perhaps triggers for the creation of one another. There are quite a few 8-10th century Arabic manuscripts on horses that I will be analyzing in search of the role the horse may have played in the invention and spread of Arab identity.

    Apart from the PhD and papers for various congresses I also write for both academic and non academic readers about “oriental” horses on my blog rememberingadeserthorse.org

#MemberMonday: Laerke Recht

ridehesten copy


Laerke Recht 

PhD in Classics, Trinity College Dublin


BA in Philosophy and Greek & Roman Civilization, University College Dublin 

 

What got you in to history? In to equine history?

      I’m in that particular branch of history called archaeology. Part of what I work on is actually pre-history, meaning there are only limited evidence from literary sources. I started in Classics, but the courses I found the most exciting were always the archaeological ones, and slowly I was drawn more and more into that perspective. There is something very tangible about archaeology that appeals to all the senses, and for me at least, it has a way of being more reliable. This is in the sense that it is less susceptible to ancient hidden propaganda or personal agendas – anybody can write or say that they did so and so, but archaeological remains are harder to ‘fake’ (of course, there is a whole other set of challenges instead!). Then there is the undeniable thrill of discovery, of slowly peeling away layers of soil deposited by people living over 3000 years ago. I’m not talking about Indiana Jones moments of finding golden cups, but a small change in colour or texture, or that gradual reveal of one stone, then another, and a third, and soon you have a wall (this has become a bit of a joke in archaeology, there’s even a recent book titled after it). It may sound banal, but it’s the sense that something happened here a long time ago, and if we are careful to get as many clues as possible, we can work out what. Maybe a small family had a meal, maybe there was a battle that signified the end of an era. From small everyday acts to large-scale events, I think that quest for knowledge and connection with a deeper past and identity is there no matter what. 

     Equine history (or archaeology) is an almost inevitable combination of my research and my personal interests. I’ve lived with horses my whole life (ridden, trained, broken in, competed). I think I was in my first competition when I was five or six years old, and although I’ve had breaks for studies, it’s never been far away. The fascinating thing about any kind of training with a horse is that it always requires two, and you have to find a way to work together. My research has involved animals in one way or another from the start, but for a long time I’ve wanted to do something dedicated to a specific animal. I chose equids partly because of my personal experiences, and partly because it is an animal that is treated differently in the archaeological record.

Who is your favorite historical horse?

I have two.

     The first is Bucephalus. He was the horse of Alexander the Great, and according to the ancient historian Arrian, Alexander loved and admired him. He is the bold war horse that Alexander uses in his campaigns across western Asia. A city was named after Bucephalus. Arrian writes that “in former days he had shared with Alexander many a danger and many a weary march. No one ever rode him but his master, for he would never permit anyone else to mount him. He was a big horse, high-spirited – a noble creature.”

     The second is Hickstead (if I may call him historical). What a horse! This is totally influenced by my own preference for showjumping. The passion and love of jumping that is evident when watching him is just fantastic. Although the combination of Eric Lamaze and Hickstead could probably not have been better, it is such a joy to watch Hickstead take four different riders on a clear round for the Rolex Top Four Final. All excellent riders, but this was Hickstead taking them for a ride. I also love the fact that Hickstead as a personality and as an athlete was honoured by a minute of silence by all participants after his death in the Verona arena in 2011. This says a lot about human-equid relations in athletic contexts.

What are you working on right now?

     My current project is about human-equid relations in the ancient Near East. It is an EU-funded project (under the 2020 Horizon programme) which lets me do research on this topic in a holistic manner. I’m combining faunal, iconographic and epigraphic material.

     I have just finished looking at one of those incredibly controversial parts of equine history: that is, when horses were first domesticated. There are all sorts of challenges when attempting to identify equid species in the faunal record, and even more so when finding markers of domestication – as I’m sure many of the members here will know much about. What is of interest to me is how humans and equids related to each other, and hunting ‘wild’ animals for meat is a very different kind of relationship than one where they are ridden, or even kept and bred for meat/milk.

     I’ve just moved on to looking at the use of various kinds of chariots in the ancient Near East. Equids were ridden, but chariots were much more common. Since I am more familiar with riding, I’m now learning more about how the different parts of chariots and other wheeled vehicles affect how it can be used or what it is most suited for. It’s important because, to put it crudely, it comes down to a difference between war and peace. Were horses (and other equids) used mainly for peaceful activities (agriculture, processions) or for aggressive activities (battle, hunting)?

     My particular take on this topic is to look for the agency of equids – to recognize their behaviour (an attentive turning of the ear, an impatient stamping with a leg) and their shaping of human lives as well as the other way around.