Semester Two 2020

Archaeology usyd

A message from 
The Department of History The University of Sydney

Professor Mark McKenna From the Chair of Department

Dear Students, 

As we ready ourselves for the second semester of 2020, we are reminded how vital the study of history is to so many events that dominate our lives today. Whether it is the global pandemic, the Black Lives Matter marches, or the heightening of tensions between and within nations in a time of crisis, the History Department is deeply committed to providing context for these events, and helping us to think critically about the past, and present.

Come join us in our classes in second semester. Work closely in small groups with academics across the Department in our History Workshop, or sample one of our survey units covering wide-ranging topics like Modern American History, Brexit in Historical Perspective, China and its Frontiers, Fascism and Antifascism, and even the History of Sydney’s dark side.

For advanced students, you can delve more deeply into the History of the High Renaissance, Modern China, or take one of our capstone units on History and Historians, which looks at major historiographical problems, or History Beyond the Classroom – in which you get to work with a local or community organisation to create a public history project together.

We have something for everyone, and we are looking forward to having you back in our classes. 

Department of History

Undergraduate guide Semester 2 2020

We are delighted to confirm our offerings for Semester 2. The full details can be found in the Department’s Undergraduate Student Guide, and here are links below to each of the units. 

HSTY1001 History Workshop
HSTY1003 Birth of the Present:The World since 1750
HSTY2626 Fascism and Antifascism
HSTY2631 Sin City? A History of Sydney
HSTY2642 Beyond the Great Wall: China’s Frontiers
HSTY2712 American History from Lincoln to Trump
HSTY2717 Brexit in Historical Perspective 
HSTY3700 The East is Red: China 1949-1997
HSTY3714 High Renaissance
HSTY3902 History Beyond the Classroom
HSTY3903 History and Historians 
History Honours

More information


For enquiries about changing your enrolment please contact sophi.enquiries@sydney.edu.au

For all enquiries concerning the contents of units, please get in touch with the lecturers themselves, whose contact details are on the Department of History websiteYou can enrol through Sydney Student

The public website listing which units are available can be found here FASS Semester 2 webpage. We’re looking forward to seeing you in Semester 2!

Best wishes,

Professor Mark McKenna
Chair of the Department of History


Curious about FASS students’ Semester 1 experience?

Click here to read Scepticism to surprise: Teaching excellence continues during COVID-19

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Congratulations to Sophie Chao

A message from the Chair of the Department, Professor Mark McKenna

Our post-doctoral research associate, Sophie Chao, was recently awarded the John Legge prize for the best thesis in Asian Studies from the Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA). Sophie’s thesis also received the 2019 PhD thesis award of the Australian Anthropological Society.

I’ve included the ASAA citation below. On behalf of the History Department, I’d like to offer Sophie our warm congratulations for such a wonderful achievement.

All best wishes, Mark  

John Legge Prize for Best Thesis in Asian Studies (2019)

Winner: Sophie Chao, In the Shadow of the Palms: Plant-Human Relations Among the Marind-Anim, West Papua.  (Department of Anthropology, Macquarie University)
 
In this remarkable thesis, Sophie Chao provides a ground-breaking exploration and analysis of dynamic plant-human-capital relationships in West Papua. The study centres on the devastation wrought by state-sponsored agro-industrial capitalism in the form of oil palm plantations, as experienced and perceived by the Marind-Anim people of Merauke District. Beautifully written, theoretically sophisticated, and deeply empathetic, the study shows how a lethal process of botanical colonization has disrupted existing multispecies networks and reconfigured people’s ways of being in the world. The effects on places, persons, time, and indeed dreams are persuasively explained as interlinked processes of deterritorialization and detemporalization. Rooted in cultural anthropological methods and informed by post-humanist theory, the analytical approach incorporates insights from environmental humanities, science and technology studies, plant science, ethnobotany, political economy and more. The thesis is extremely ambitious in its conceptual and theoretical aims, and required a high degree of political and ethical sensitivity in the associated fieldwork. It has emphatically delivered on all fronts. It seems destined to inform and provoke productive debate over sustainable environmental, economic and social systems, in Indonesia and elsewhere.

Farewell to Miranda Johnson

Dear Colleagues and friends of History,

Because we may not all get an opportunity to see Miranda before she formally takes up her new post at the University of Otago, I wanted to say a few words before she leaves. It goes without saying that her departure will be a huge loss to the Department, SOPHI and the University.

Miranda started with Warwick Anderson in REGS in August 2012 as one of the first PDRAs in the Laureate program. As Warwick often has said, she proved to be not only a wonderfully engaging and productive colleague and collaborator, she intellectually transformed the program, especially though her ideas about Indigenous racial modernities. It was during this period that she wrote The Land is Our History (2016) and organised a very successful international  conference resulting in the co-edited collection Pacific Futures: Past and Present (2018). She worked hard to build programs in Pacific and Indigenous histories in the Department and across the University, a valiant effort she redoubled on taking up a teaching position in the Department in July 2015, where she immediately excelled.    

In 2017, Miranda’s teaching was acknowledged with a FASS ‘Excellence in Teaching’ Award, particularly for her hands-on engagement with students and guests in her unit entitled The Pitcairn Project (where you can read about some of the students’ work).

In the same year, The Land is Our History, was shortlisted for the General History Prize in the NSW Premier’s History Awards. The judges described Miranda’s work in glowing terms:

‘The Land Is Our History’ is a superb example of the power of comparative, transnational historical research. It explores indigenous rights movements, from the late 1960s onwards, across three Commonwealth settler states — Canada, Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. Miranda Johnson draws on a rich array of source material, including legal cases, petitions, interviews and media reports, to create an engaging and path-breaking book.

In 2018, The Land is Our History was awarded the W.K. Hancock Prize of the Australian Historical Association, and it is worth quoting the citation in full:

Miranda Johnson has produced an ambitious, original and imaginative history exploring land, indigeneity, legal rights and activism across three settler-colonial nations. Thinking transnationally, Johnson explores legal and public discourses to draw together a raft of distinctive events and personalities into a vast and coherent canvas. She weaves nation-based histories of indigenous-settler conflict over land into wider networks and power structures, making sense of seemingly disparate developments in indigenous activism. Archival documents and oral accounts highlight the strength and moral authority of indigenous leaders who worked to gain acknowledgement of traditional ownership of land, and to interrupt and influence public debates around national identity. Johnson writes with precision, flow and economy. The work has a compelling argument, convincingly showing the complex and sophisticated ways indigenous activisms functioned to change settler attitudes towards land and indigenous belonging. An exemplary history, The Land Is Our History brings important new insights to a significant topic in both the past and the present.

Miranda talked about her work with student Ryan Cropp.

More recently, Miranda showcased some of her new work on legal history and Native identities in an essay in the internationally renowned journal, American Historical Review, entitled “The Case of the Million Dollar Duck: A Hunter, His Treaty, and the Bending of the Settler Contract.”

I’ll always remember co-teaching ‘Frontier Violence in Modern Memory’ with Miranda in 2017. There’s probably no better way to get to know your colleagues! Working closely with Miranda allowed me to see first-hand what a brilliant teacher and scholar she is. I heard nothing but praise and appreciation from students for her teaching and I picked up quite a few tips watching her lectures from the front row.

Miranda’s commitment to her students, the Department and the broader University community is on graphic display in her recent reflection on online teaching, published online in Meanjin.

It’s a plea for ‘the poetics of in-person classroom teaching, not as a value-added extra for an elite cohort, but as the essence of what we do’. It’s also a reminder of what her students and colleague will miss when she goes. 

We need to establish respectful and generative classroom dynamics quickly with and among our students, many of whom do not know each other. These dynamics must be subtly but firmly maintained. How do you draw out the shy ones? Put them in small-groups, often awkward in many of the classrooms we are working in, but achievable if the chairs or tables can be moved around. How do you moderate the domineering over-talker in class? Sit beside them. Make eye contact with everyone during the session, although not too much. Help them be seen. Notice the one who pushes his chair back, angling his body back from the desk, his gaze directed anywhere but here. Bring him back. Watch for the over-anxious, fastidiously taking notes in order to avoid answering questions.

I’m sure that I speak for everyone when I wish Miranda and her family well for their future lives and careers in Aotearoa NZ.

All best wishes,

Mark McKenna, Chair, Department of History

Miranda Johnson

History of University Life Seminar



History of University Life

2020 Sydney Research Webinar Series in Higher Education
Wednesday 5 August 2020 | 4:00-5:00pm

What do we learn from a history of international students at Australian universities?  

To examine this question and others about the social and political economy of international students in Australia since the 1960s, join our second 2020 History of University Life online seminar with panellists Julia Horne, University Historian at the University of Sydney, and Gaby Ramia, Associate Professor in Public Policy at the University of Sydney.   We will also hear from international students about their experience in Covid-19 times.  

Chaired by Matthew A. M. Thomas, Senior Lecturer in Comparative Education and Sociology at the University of Sydney and co-convenor of History of University Life.  

Julia Horne is Associate Professor in the Department of History who works on the history of higher education in Australia from 1850 to the present-day. Her books include Sydney the Making of a Public University (Miegunyah Press, 2012, co-authored with Geoffrey Sherington) and Preserving the Past: The University of Sydney and the Unified National System of Higher Education 1987-96, (Melbourne University Publishing, 2017, co-authored with Stephen Garton). In 1999-2002 she created a substantial archive of in-depth surveys and interviews with international students about their Australian experiences in the 1950s and 1960s (for UNSW Archives).

Gaby Ramia is Associate Professor in Public Policy in the Department of Government and International Relations and Theme Co-Leader, Smart and Working, in the NSW Institute of Public Policy, at The University of Sydney. His books include Governing Social Protection in the Long Term, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020) and Regulating International Students’ Wellbeing (Policy Press, 2013, co-authored with Simon Marginson and Erlenawati Sawir). Gaby is currently one of three Chief Investigators on an Australian Research Council funded study on international student housing precarity.
 
Matthew A.M. Thomas is a senior lecturer in comparative education and sociology of education at the University of Sydney. He has worked as a public school teacher in the United States and as an educational researcher, educator, and consultant in Australia, Mali, Nigeria, Indonesia, Tanzania, and Zambia. His research examines educational policies, pedagogical practices, teachers’ lives, and the changing roles of teacher and higher education institutions. Most recently, Matthew is the co-editor of Examining Teach For All (Routledge, 2020) and the Handbook of Theory in Comparative and International Education (Bloomsbury, 2021).

Future seminar dates for your diary in this special series 23 September @4-5pm 14 October @4-5pm 4 November @4-5pm 2 December @4-5pm 

These online seminars are brought to you by History of University Life Sydney Research Seminar in Higher Education. History of University Life began in 2008 as a joint forum between the University of Sydney and St Paul’s college to discuss the history and role of universities in Australian life.  

Many thanks for the support of St Paul’s College since 2008. And thanks, too, for the wonderful assistance for the 2020 online series provided by the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, University of Sydney.  

For more information about the series please email the History of University Life convenors Click here to email.
Registration The Zoom webinar link will be sent as an email and calendar invite on the Monday prior to the event. If you registered for the entire series when you registered for the last seminar, you won’t need to register again. You will receive an invitation to this webinar automatically.

New registration? please click here to RSVP Missed the first seminar? If you missed the first seminar, or would like to watch it again, the webinar in this special series is now available online on the SOPHI talks site.

HUL on Social Media Please use the hashtag #UniKeeper for your social media posts. You can follow the History of University Life on Twitter @HULseminar.

Other social media
Follow SOPHI on Twitter
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Follow St Paul’s College on Twitter See the Department of History blog

Image by Max Dupain reproduced courtesy of the University Art Collection, University of Sydney.

University Education is a Pathway to Employment

History of University Life II Sydney Research Seminar in Higher Education

You can now listen to and watch a recording of the full session above, here.

On Wednesday 24 June 2020, History of University Life* held its first live online seminar with an audience of 90 people. Professors Ariadne Vromen (ANU) and Susan Goodwin (University of Sydney) joined a panel with University Historian Julia Horne to discuss the importance of public investment in our public universities.

Just days before, the Commonwealth Minister of Education Dan Tehan announced far-reaching changes to HECS fees and university funding for teaching. The announcement prompted the panel to focus even more sharply on what exactly needs to be reformed and why.

Ariadne Vromen argued that we owe young people citizenship, employment and economic security. Ariadne explained that “the individual and social costs of young people’s exclusion from employment and education are profound and long-lasting”. We need as a nation, Ariadne said, to acknowledge that responsibility to create jobs lies with governments, industry and businesses. The government’s idea of “job ready” graduates subverts that greater responsibility.

Susan Goodwin unveiled UniKeeper, the social democratic plan to support public higher education. This plan has 3 planks: more affordable public higher education places; universal income support payments for higher education students and a proper plan to fund the public sector higher education teaching and research workforce.

Only 1 out of 3 university students receive any form of student income support and 82% of university students depend on paid employment to support them while they study.

This last figure is not surprising since Australia’s mass higher education is now one of the largest systems in the world (on the basis of population parity). Susan explained how “in Australia, young people’s citizenship is denied and eroded by enforced financial dependency on families.”

The questions flowed thick and fast. What do young people think? Should student income support be means-tested? How is higher education a public good? Who should lead the discussion on how to reshape higher education? Is ‘job ready’ a useful term in the discussion of higher education? These and more questions will be explored in the rest of this series. See SOPHI Events for further details.

* History of University Life II Sydney Research Seminar in Higher Education. History of University Life began in 2008 as a joint forum between the University of Sydney and St Paul’s college to discuss the history and role of universities in Australian life.

University Education as a Pathway to Employment was held as an online seminar on Wednesday 24 June 2020. Follow the link above for further details about this event including information on the panellists and to sign up for future webinars in this series.

History Student Prizes

Every year, the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry (SOPHI) holds a ceremony to recognise the brilliant endeavours of our students – both undergraduate and postgraduate.

This year we had to adapt to the virtual circumstances of the pandemic, so we celebrated both our Prize and Scholarship winners by holding the Award Ceremony as a Zoom webinar.  

The fabulous SOPHI team, working with Tiffany Brittan from FASS, worked incredibly hard to come up with what we believe was a positive, engaging and fun event for our students, their families, and our donors. It was also a pioneering effort for the Faculty, as it was one of the first fully online Prizes night.

Over 135 people joined together to celebrate the extraordinary achievements of our students across the School, including many of our wonderful History students.

The History Prize Winners are listed below, followed by a note about what each prize recognises. You can also watch the speech of the History Department Chair, Professor Mark McKenna here, in which he congratulates the prize winners, and notes the special importance of History and the Humanities in times of crises.

The full program, including the award winners from each of the Departments of Archaeology, Classics and Ancient History, Philosophy, Gender and Cultural Studies, and the Scholarships awarded in International and Global Studies, can be found here. The full details of the History prizes listed below, are on pp. 17-19.

Many congratulations to all our Prize and Scholarship Winners.

HISTORY

Prizes

AE (Tony) Cahill History Prize

Robert Stone

Aisling Society of Sydney Prize for an essay on Irish or Irish-Australian History

Siobhan Ryan

Australasian Pioneers’ Club Scholarship

Elizabeth Heffernan

Charles Brunsdon Fletcher Prize for Pacific History

Robert Mason

Charles Trimby Burfitt Prize for the Study of Australian History Prior to 1900

Nicole Leong

George Arnold Wood Memorial Prize for History I

Clio Davidson-Lynch

George Arnold Wood Memorial Prize for History II

Samuel Goldberg

GS Caird Scholarship in History II

Imogen Harper

Siobhan Ryan

Helen Newbon Bennett Memorial Prize for Senior History

Briony Moore

History Department Prizes – For an outstanding essay on a subject relating to social justice and/or social inclusion

Sarah Blencowe

Samantha Whaitiri-Faitua

History Department Prizes – For outstanding work in HSTY3901

Samuel Lewis

History Department Prizes – For outstanding work in HSTY3902

Amanda Armstrong

History Department Prizes – For outstanding work in HSTY3903

Siobhan Ryan

Isabel M King Memorial Prize for History III

Georgia Horsley

J H M Nolan Memorial Prize for Proficiency in History

Pola Cohen

Philippe Erdos Prize in History

Elisabeth Barber

Scholarships

Undergraduate Equity Scholarships in History

Aisha Allazze

Micaila Bellanto

Darcy Campbell

Lydia Fagan

Theresa Moran

Laura Sole

Trent Taylor

God Save the Queen?

Sculpture in wood representing Queen Victoria.
AFRICA. Nigeria / Lagos [?]. Cultural Group: Yoruba Aku [?] Saro [?] Local Name: Unknown. Materials: Wood Plant / ?.
Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford. Acc. No. 1965.10.1.
For more details, see Pitt Rivers Museum

The recent decision by the High Court on the ‘palace letters’ – correspondence between Governor-General John Kerr and Queen Elizabeth II and her staff at the time of the dismissal by the Governor-General of Gough Whitlam as Australian Prime Minister in 1975 – has again focussed interest on relations between Australians and the monarchy.  Though a referendum on a republic was defeated in 1999, largely because of disagreement about the mode of election of a non-royal Australian Head of State, the issue of the republic remains a live topic in political debate.  Meanwhile, the British royal family remains constantly in the news, from reports about Harry and Meghan’s flight to the United States to accusations of sexual misconduct by Prince Andrew.

A major collaborative project in the Department of History, led by Professor Robert Aldrich and Dr Cindy McCreery, has shed new light on the history of monarchy in the modern world, and in particular, on crucial links between monarchies and colonies and on the role of monarchies in the process of decolonisation.  Aldrich and McCreery have edited three volumes of papers on colonialism and monarchy, the most recent of which was published in June 2020, Monarchies and Decolonisation in Asia.  It followed Crowns and Colonies: European monarchies and overseas empires (2016) and Royals on Tour: Politics, pageantry and colonialism (2018), all three books published in Manchester University Press’ prestigious ‘Studies in Imperialism’ series.

With a total of 45 chapters and 919 pages, these three volumes include contributions by Aldrich and McCreery, as well as by the Department’s Professor Mark McKenna and Dr Jim Masselos (a now retired member and current Honorary Reader), as well as a cohort of scholars who have studied history at the University of Sydney – Jean Gelman Taylor, Matt Fitzpatrick, Susie Protschky, Emmanuelle Guenot and Bruce Baskerville.  Contributions to the volumes have come from specialists at several Australian universities and also from institutions in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, the United States, Canada, India, Myanmar, Singapore, Hong Kong and Indonesia.

In addition, Aldrich and McCreery have edited a special issue of the Royal Studies Journal on visits to the Dominions of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa by British royals in the twentieth century.  They have also engaged in individual work on modern monarchy, including Aldrich’s Banished Potentates: Dethroning and exiling indigenous monarchs under British and French colonial rule, 1815-1955 (2018).  McCreery is currently completing a major study of the world tour of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s son, in the 1860s and 1870s.  They have organised three conferences at the University of Sydney on monarchy and colonialism, with SOPHI financial support. Along with Dr Falko Schnike, Aldrich and McCreery organised an international conference on ‘Global Royal Families’, for which SOPHI provided partial funding, that was held at the German Historical Institute in London in January 2020 and that will also lead to publications.  In first semester of this year, they taught an honours seminar on ‘modern monarchy’ in the Department of History.

For Aldrich and McCreery, monarchy is often wrongly seen only as an anachronism in the twenty-first century world, or just as a theme for series such as ‘The Crown’ and tabloid news stories.  However, several dozen countries around the world, including Australia, still have a monarch as a head of state, and in some countries, the sovereign rules as well as reigns, even wielding absolute power.  Even in ‘constitutional monarchies’, hereditary sovereigns have ‘reserve powers’ (including the power to dismiss prime ministers directly or through their vice-regal representatives), even if they are rarely exercised, and other constitutional prerogatives.  They are frequently seen as symbols of historical continuity and national unity, and as exemplars of national values.  Many have enormous wealth, grand palaces and priceless collections of art, and they are at the centre of a large group of aristocrats, courtiers, providores, military personal and servants.  They are celebrities, their private lives the subject of almost unbounded public curiosity. 

Monarchy is one of the oldest and most widespread forms of government in the world, and in recent years there has been a renewed current systematic scholarly research on the subject to which Aldrich and McCreery and their collaborators have made a major contribution.  They have provided new Australian perspectives on monarchy and, with new materials and approaches, have discovered the key role played by the crown and sovereigns – both indigenous and foreign – in the processes of colonialism and decolonisation.  Through their publications, they have investigated monarchy across the world, including in Australia and the Commonwealth, and revealed the potency of the crown as institution and symbol, and of individual royals as key actors in international affairs.  In undertaking this work, they have also positioned the Department of History at Sydney as a leading centre for studies in modern monarchy and as a link in an international network of scholars examining the cultural, social and political history of an institution that continues to retain relevance – and also to provoke debate – in current affairs.

Want to learn more? Listen in to the “Hour of Power Podcast” with Robert and Cindy: “Monarchies really aren’t as simple as we think.”

Sydney University Historians Respond to the Pandemic

Despite the demands of the rapid shift to online teaching and new child care responsibilities, academic staff in the Department of History, University of Sydney, have been applying their expertise to help us understand the Covid-19 pandemic and its implications. Historians are revealing the social, cultural and political dimensions of the disease outbreak, especially in relation to racism and inequality, as well as illuminating its impact on international relations, economies, human rights and university learning.

Sophie Loy-Wilson has eloquently connected the Australian response to Covid-19–the so-called ‘China virus’–to our country’s long history of racism, and explained how our leaders should combat viral panic, ignorance and prejudice.

Turning to the United States, Thomas Adams considers the damage neoliberalism and health care privatisation are doing to workers’ health. In collaboration with the Greater New Orleans Coalition for a Fair Hospitality Fund, Adams is critically examining how economic aid is distributed in the pandemic. Meanwhile, Pamela Maddock, a recent Ph.D. graduate, is writing on the history of militarisation of American reactions to crises such as epidemics.

Sophie Chao is productively exploring how Covid-19 makes us think about our bodies differently, and reshapes intimacy and domesticity. A further article has just come out with Thesis Eleven, along with a special issue of Oceania, on the pandemic in the Pacific, co-edited with anthropologist Ute Eickelkamp.

In a similar cultural vein, Warwick Anderson has written on how to have philosophy in a pandemic, why the iconic Australian beach was re-imagined as a special space of contamination, and what the controversies over mask wearing mean for ‘face work’ in a time of Covid-19, particularly in the United States. Isis, the leading history of science journal, commissioned him to take a ‘second look’ at Charles Rosenberg’s The Cholera Years (1962) in the light of the pandemic, and he is writing an essay review for Public Books of three forthcoming epidemic histories. Additionally, he spoke with Christopher Lydon on U.S. National Public Radio’s Open Source–along with Jim Kim, former president of the World Bank–about national responses to Covid-19.

Others in History are explaining the pandemic’s implications for governance and international relations. Glenda Sluga looks closely at how the Coronascene has licensed xenophobia and nationalism, with dire consequences for international order. She has spoken widely on global aspects of the response to the pandemic and the recovery from it. In numerous articles, James Curran urges Australia not to use the excuse of Covid-19 to erect permanent walls against the rest of the world. He explores the pandemic’s impact on our relations with China and the United States. Marco Duranti is working with data scientists to conduct ‘text mining’ in order to illuminate what reactions to the new coronavirus might mean for human rights

Within the University sector itself, Julia Horne is writing on how Covid-19 has exposed Australian universities’ reliance on international students. While Miranda Johnson reflects thoughtfully on the pedagogical meanings of the shift toward online learning. Postgraduate student Robin M. Eames and undergraduate (and University disability officer) Margot Beavon-Collin have written a statement on behalf of the University of Sydney Disabilities Collective, explaining how epidemic diseases such as Covid-19 historically have disproportionately affected those with disabilities. Frances Clarke is helping history students create and curate materials, especially oral histories, for the Fisher Library’s new Covid-19 archive. And postgraduate student Hollie Pich has analysed such archive work—Covid history in the making, or capturing the pandemic for posterity—in the Guardian.

Finally, for some upcoming analysis and discussion about different aspects of the relationship between Universities and the current crisis, please join us online for the History of University Life seminar, starting with a discussion about what would it take to have a university-led recovery in the post-Covid world. Chaired by Julia Horne, University Historian at the University of Sydney and co-convenor of History of University Life, an invitation and full program details can be found here.

Sydney historians are entering the Coronasphere through diverse routes, but with the common goal to employ the methods and insights of the humanities and social sciences to better understand and engage with our global predicament.

Warwick Anderson

June 2020

Congratulations to Jamie Dunk

Dear Colleagues,

On behalf of the History Department, I’d like to congratulate Jamie Dunk. His recent book, Bedlam at Botany Bay, has just been shortlisted for the Ernest Scott Prize.

The prize is awarded annually to “the book judged to be the most distinguished contribution to the history of Australia or New Zealand or to the history of colonisation published in the previous year”.

This is a wonderful achievement as evidenced by the judges’ comments below. Well done Jamie!

All best,

Mark McKenna

Chair, Department of History

James Dunk, Bedlam at Botany Bay, New South, 2019

It’s the history of New South Wales, but not as we know it. The names are familiar, as are the events – Macarthurs, Wentworths, Blaxland, Bligh, rebellion, inquiries, select committees – but by paying close attention to the ‘strong personalities’, ‘eccentricities’ and ‘unfortunate endings’, Dunk puts us in the mirror house, where all that was familiar now feels strange and illuminating of quite a different colony. This is more than a collective biography, a history of whitefella madness, or the bureaucratic and jurisdictional journey to self-government. Dunk’s book reminds us that there is nothing inevitable about how things turn out: this is a rare feat in history-writing.

Recent Postgraduate Completions

The following Department of History postgraduates had their PhD and MA theses passed in 2019-2020.


Adrienne Tuart, “Discrimination and Desire: Italians, Cinema and Culture in Postwar Sydney” (MA supervised by Chris Hilliard).

As Michelle Arrow of Macquarie wrote: ‘This is an original and engaging contribution to the historiography of post war Sydney, the Italian migrant experience, and Australian cultural history. Through a focus on cinema exhibition and consumption, the thesis offers a new approach to the history of migration and migrant experiences in postwar Australia, which also sheds light on the cultural and social history of cinema-going.’


Sam Gribble, “The “Radical Underworld” of the Mediterranean: William Eton, Malta, and the British Mediterranean Empire, 1770-1806″ (PhD supervised by Cindy McCreery).

As one of Sam’s examiners wrote, ‘Gribble’s dissertation certainly made me think about the Mediterranean and its role not only in the British Empire but in the history of late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Europe more generally, besides offering sharp insights into the character of empire(s), and the doing of history.’


Simon Graham, “Cold War Collaborations: An International History of East German Intelligence Sharing with Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union, 1948–89” (PhD supervised by Glenda Sluga).

Examiners praised Simon’s thesis as ‘a hugely impressive research effort in Russian, Czechoslovak and German archival sources,’ one that ‘will have a significant impact on the field of intelligence history,’ and one that offers a ‘fresh perspective [on] several issues that have long been debated in the field of Soviet and East European history, but which are rarely backed up or supported by archival evidence’ [such as what he was able to accomplish].


Rohan Howitt, “Ideological Origins of the Australian Antarctic, 1839-1933” (PhD supervised by Andrew Fitzmaurice).

As examiner A/Prof Frances Steel of the University of Wollongong wrote of Rohan’s thesis: ‘This is an astute contribution to the emergent historiography of “Australia’s Empire,” as well as the broader international literature on imperialism and state formation…This is a nuanced and well‐argued piece of historical scholarship, closely attuned to context without losing sight of the “big picture.” It makes an important contribution to the still‐emergent oceanic, imperial and global framings of Australian history and advances them in new directions.’


Emmet Gillespie, “Vanguard State: Labour, radicalism, and third-party politics in Minnesota, 1934-1944” (PhD supervised by Thomas Adams).

Examiners noted that Emmet’s “excellent” dissertation was “lucidly written,” “erudite, original and fun to read,” and praised it as a “deeply researched, skillfully argued, and important” work which will make for a “fantastic book.” All three examiners commented on Emmet’s ability to weave “four distinct case studies into a seamless state-level narrative that has even wider implications for a number of historiographical fields. One noted that it will “force us to rethink common assumptions about the interrelated histories of the left, organized labor, the Democratic Party, and the civil rights movement.” Another wrote that “the thesis makes an important intervention and will find interest from a broad range of scholars interested in labor, liberalism and social movements in the 20th century United States.” As one said, it is “demographically complex, examining the role of race, ethnicity and immigration” and “politically nuanced as well.” Finally, one concluded, “this will make a fantastic book.


Pamela Maddock, “Venereal Disease Control in the Progressive Era US Army: Managing Gendered Labor and Leisure in Imperial Context, 1870-1920” (PhD supervised by Warwick Anderson).

Pamela’s three examiners are among the world’s leading historians of medicine. One writes that her thesis is ‘deeply researched, clearly presented, and cogently argued,’ and that it makes ‘critical new insights into intensive debates about emerging policies of sexual relations.’ A second examiner writes that Pamela’s thesis is ‘one of the best examples of historical research that melds understandings of masculinity, and imperial and wartime exigencies, to sexuality and venereal disease.’ The third examiner describes Pamela’s thesis as “well-argued and with a solid archival grounding,’ declaring it ‘a substantial and commendable accomplishment.’


Katharine Blake, “Sacred–Political Imagery in Fifteenth-Century Florence” (PhD supervised by Andrew Fitzmaurice).

One examiner described Katharine’s thesis as ‘a thought-provoking, imaginative, and impressively wide-ranging dissertation… Ms. Blake ranges over an impressive number of paintings and sculptures, texts, and ideas’.  Another commented that: ‘This is a remarkable dissertation… In fact, it is close to publishable as it is.… Ms. Blake has looked more carefully and more fruitfully at the Donatello sculptures than her predecessors, excavating details that we previously saw as decorative features, but didn’t think to investigate in terms of meaning. Over and over I noted how keen her seeing was and how fruitfully it was tied to new meaning. I think Ms. Blake has given Donatello’s sculptures new life and that her work will invigorate the fields of art history and Renaissance studies in the future.’


Heather Christie, “‘The Meek Shall Inherit The Earth…’ – Vocations of Humility in the Early Franciscan Order” (PhD supervised by Julie Smith).

One examiner described Heather’s thesis as “very well-researched…show[ing] a thorough command of the relevant literature…mak[ing] a real contribution to the field of Franciscan studies by her emphasis on humility as the major interpretive principle of Franciscan history.” Another examiner praised the thesis for its “original theme,” “clear thesis and demarcation of the research question,” “correct and straightforward presentation,” and “good argumentative use of primary sources.” “I admire and congratulate [Ms Christie] for the amount of work she has poured into this enterprise,” a third examiner wrote. 


Minerva Inwald, “‘Drawing on Each Other’s Strengths to Overcome Each Other’s Weaknesses’: Professional Artists, the Masses, and Artistic Culture of the People’s Republic, 1962-1974” (PhD supervised by Helen Dunstan and Andres Rodriguez).

One examiner wrote that Minerva “successfully takes a new approach by looking at the process of artistic creation and by examining how the works of art were displayed in exhibitions in Beijing. Her thesis “contributes to a growing trend in art historical scholarship relating to China to consider the significance of the creative process as a connected social activity in generating meaning, and how artistic value might be understood differently to better align with a multidisciplinary approach to history and knowledge formation.” Examiners also praised Minerva’s thesis as “excellent,” “original,” “enjoyable [to read],” and “based on very strong research.”


Tim Briedis, “Education for Liberation Not World Domination: Student Protest in Australia, 1985-2006” (PhD supervised by Penny Russell).

Tim’s thesis contested the notion that the 1960s were the high point of student protest movements in Australia, arguing instead that students continued to mobilise from the mid-1980s against the commodification and marketisation of higher education. Examiners welcomed his ‘new and original account of student protest in the period long after protest’s stereotyped era’, notable for its ‘thematic breadth’ and ‘truly national coverage’. They were especially impressed by the rich array of sources that underpin the argument, including extensive oral history interviews and student magazines. The thesis is ‘an excellent example of “history from below,”’ wrote one examiner, offering ‘a counter-narrative to the history of the university in Australia as we know it’. It provides insight into ‘the wellsprings of political commitment’, wrote another. All three praised the thesis for its vibrant, lively style and narrative flair, with one commenting: ‘The writing is lucid but impassioned, and the protagonists are given space to speak, while the overarching argument remains taut and analytically sharp.’


Richard Cardinale, “Soviet Human Rights and American NGOs: Transnational Networks and the Kindness of Strangers” (MPhil supervised by Marco Duranti).

One examiner said Richard’s history of the Helsinki Watch ‘is one of the best [accounts] out there, with new details about the personal connections that made it happen.’ The examiner commented that, Richard ‘is to be commended for a beautifully presented, richly researched, and fascinating thesis that makes a significant contribution to historical understanding of U.S. Helsinki Watch and the development of human rights activism more broadly.’ The second examiner praised the thesis for being ‘a major contribution to the field – and in some respects, deliver[ing] on elements that even much celebrated and cited works on Helsinki have not fully addressed.’ This examiner added that Richard’s thesis ‘is very well written, interlacing its narrative and analytic dimensions with skill,’ with a ‘prose style that is already well within the range of what one would encounter in a strong monograph.’


Rose Cullen , “Restoring, Renovating and Conserving Old Houses: Homeowners and Historical Consciousness in Australia 1960-2018” (PhD supervised by Mark McKenna).

As Professor Andrew May remarks in his examiner’s report on Rose Cullen’s thesis, “the best theses always provoke as many questions as they answer, and this is one of those”. Cullen’s thesis has attracted exceptional praise from examiners. Professor May lauded Cullen’s work as “an expansive, coherent, convincing and overdue exploration of an underexplored aspect of urban material culture—the ways in which Australians have valued old houses…It is structured and written…with confidence, elegance, intellectual novelty, research acuity and attention to detail, and it certainly adds to a growing body of innovative social historical analysis on the everyday meanings of heritage in Australian cities and towns”. Dr. Ky Gentry was “particularly impressed with the volume of oral history undertaken toward this thesis, and equally the employment of social history as the dominant frame of the thesis”. Cullen has made “a valuable contribution to the literature”, he noted, building on and “challenging the existing literature in the area”. Professor Graeme Davison pointed to Cullen’s originality, pursuing her topic “thoroughly and resourcefully, approaching it from different angles, tapping a range of documentary and oral sources across the period, and making case studies from several states of the Commonwealth”. All three examiners recommended that the thesis be published, either as a book, or in a number of articles. Rose Cullen is to be congratulated for making an original and provocative contribution to historical scholarship. Her thesis has significantly deepened our understanding of the historical consciousness of Australians in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.


Andrew Mason-Jones, “The Collapse of Australian Cold War Policy: John Gorton’s Management of the American-Australian Alliance in a Time of Crisis” (MA supervised by James Curran).

One examiner praises Andrew’s thesis as ‘interesting, clearly structured, and well-written…address[ing] an under-researched aspect of Australian foreign policy—the role played by Prime Minister John Gorton in managing Australia’s ever so important partnership with the United States.’ As this examiner adds, ‘in filling the gap in the current literature on Australia’s foreign relations, [Andrew] makes a timely and valuable contribution to the scholarship in this field. He should be congratulated for doing so.’ Another examiner writes that Andrew’s thesis is ‘well written, identifies a clear research question and addresses an important gap in the historical record regarding post Menzies, pre Whitlam Australian foreign policy….[and that it offered] important insight into the somewhat neglected figure of John Gorton and his attempt to recalibrate Australian strategic posture in the wake of Nixon’s Guam Doctrine and the British decision to close its bases East of Suez.’ This examiner adds that Andrew ‘draws on an impressive array of primary and secondary literature,’ including ‘the use of archive material to show the considerable difficulties the Gorton administration faced in the wake of the fluidity and uncertainty of American strategic thinking in the aftermath of the Tet offensive of January 1968.’


Marama Whyte, “The Press for Equality: Women Journalists, Grassroots Activism, and the Feminist Fight for American Media” (PhD supervised by Michael McDonnell).

Through a series of innovatively researched case-studies, the thesis looks at the formal and informal strategies of women in the news media in the 1970s as they fought for equal treatment in the workplace. Examiners were impressed with the “deep archival and oral history research” on which it is based, along with its “strong legal and social movement analysis,” and found it an “authoritative and polished” dissertation that unearths “very telling details” about the ways in which women organised and pressed their cases. The great strength of the thesis, argued another, is its “very careful reconstruction and narrative of events and the attention to the agency of women in formulating tactics and embarking on action.” By situating this story within broader legal, labour, and feminist historiographies, and “carving a clear analytical space for her own important interventions,” “the thesis makes a valuable contribution to knowledge” and “offers a model for a new generation of scholars.”  In sum, examiners called the thesis a “major work of scholarship” and a “wonderful story, well told.” Another asserted that it was “one of the best doctoral theses I have ever read.”  


Deirdre O’Connell, “The World of Crickett Smith: Remembering a Forgotten Trumpeter and Traveler (1881-1947)” (Phd Supervised by Shane White)

Deirdre’s thesis has been described by one of her examiners as ‘“a careful and sensitive rumination on the extraordinary life of an African American, who left America to spend much of his career blowing his trumpet in France, Russia and India. One experienced American examiner noted that he had reviewed many theses but “rarely have I enjoyed the process as much as I did in this case.” He thought it “a spectacular piece of work,” one of “extraordinary range,” adding further that “I honestly cannot think of any doctoral thesis I have ever read that rests upon such an extraordinarily broad research foundation.” Another examiner described the thesis as being “of exceptional originality, rigor and significance,” a work “brilliantly illuminat[ing] Smith’s engagements with commercial, avant-garde and anti-colonial worlds.” She added that it was “beautifully written with sophisticated and effective argumentation,” and, when published, will become “essential reading it its myriad overlapping fields for decades to come.”’