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That’s doctor of heavy metal, sir

Even though the heavy metal music industry is a money-making machine and the fastest growing music genre in the world, it hasn’t been seen as a topic of serious academic inquiry in Australia.

Until now.

Last week the University of Newcastle announced it would offer a PhD scholarship in “Heavy Metal Geographies”.

Worth just over $27,000, the scholarship would allow either one international student or two domestic students the opportunity to research “the social geography of heavy metal culture”. The scholarship can also be used to study Homelessness and Mutual Aid, Vegan Geographies, or Unschooling and The Possibilities of Childhood.

The scholarship will be overseen by Simon Springer, Professor of Human Geography at University of Newcastle's School of Environmental and Life Sciences. He is also the Director of the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies at the University.

“Heavy metal is a global phenomenon, representing a major cultural trend for the past four decades. Numerous subgenres exist within the general framework of heavy metal, each representing unique subcultures,” the course description reads, which appears on the Anarchist Geography website.

“Many of these subgenres, such as black metal, death metal, thrash metal, and the new wave of British heavy metal evolved in specific geographical settings, often referred to as ‘scenes’. While unique scenes have evolved across the globe, the bulk of heavy metal’s bands have originated within countries in the northern latitudes.

“Australia is uniquely positioned within this global evolution, owing to its historical connection to the United Kingdom and shared cultural affinities with its colonial originator. While remote from the geographical heart of heavy metal culture, Australia has developed its own unique and passionate approach, producing a number of high-profile bands.”

Themes relating to Australian heavy metal’s relationship with colonialism, gender-negotiation and whiteness are listed as some of the possible areas of inquiry.

Campus Review spoke to Professor Springer about the uniqueness of the research degree in Australia and why it’s an area worthy of more academic consideration.

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