Author Spotlight: Thomas Lockley

In an effort to learn more about our contributors to Medieval World: Culture & Conflict, we will feature individual authors and artists in the "Author Spotlight" every couple of weeks!

Our first author is Thomas Lockley from Nihon University College of Law, Tokyo, Japan. We hope you enjoy learning more about his background and research interests.

What have you contributed to Medieval World?

An article on Yasuke, Oda Nobunaga's African retainer (MWCC.1) and one about female warriors, Tomoe Gozen and Hojo Masako, from Japan's 12th century, forthcoming.

Tell us a bit about your background as an historian (education or otherwise). What edge do you think it gives you as an author and as an historian?

My actual academic specialty is language educational methodology, specifically Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL). I found that my students responded unbelievably well to historical content, and started working on historical research to provide that. More than a decade later, I find that history has taken over, and although I still both guide language teachers through professional development and initial teacher education, my undergraduate classes are almost entirely history. The fact that I come from another specialty, social science, and trained in a different way from a traditional historian seems to work well.

Do you have a favourite event or figure or object from Middle Ages? 

The victory of Tokugawa Ieyasu at the Battle of Sekigahara (1600.) This huge conflagration essentially ended war in Japan for more than two centuries and allowed the development of society, culture, and the economy, in relative peace. It put Japan on the way to being the modern nation it is today. Tokugawa Japan was no heaven, but neither was it hell, and it shows just how important peace is for human development.

What sparks your initial interest in writing an article? 

I was asked to do so, and willingly accepted. I do think it is important for readers around the world to know more about Japanese and East Asian history. I am often shocked about the relative lack of knowledge of such a significant country and region, or the fact that stereotyped knowledge is repeated again and again with little critical engagement.

Tell us a bit about your research and writing process. 

I prefer to write in my office, but can do so (very inefficiently) at home too. I normally write articles on the back of research I have done for books, and that research is done in the traditional way, from original sources, and extensive reading to increase my own knowledge where needed. I also love to do fieldwork, but opportunities have sadly been scarce in the past few years.

What book(s) are you currently reading?

Underground Asia. Global Revolutionaries and the Assault on Empire. Tim Harper.

What book(s) on medieval history and culture would you recommend to our readers? 

The list is too long, but a good and easily accessible starting point to Japanese history is anything by Stephen Turnbull, and my own co-authored book, African Samurai,  the true story of a Yasuke, a legendary black warrior in feudal Japan (Hanover Square Press, 2019.) was also written with a general introduction to the wonderful world of 16th century Japan in mind.


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