New PhD Students in the Department of History

Just a brief note to introduce you to two new-ish postgrad students who joined us a little later in the year than our initial cohort. Matthew and Anne have been participating in the first year seminar with Chris Hilliard and I am sure everyone will join me in welcoming them to the department.
Matthew Sullivan: PhD, part time. Supervisors: Shane White and Thomas Adams. I’m undertaking an examination of the conflict between the Black Liberation Army (BLA) and the New York Police Department (NYPD) during the 1970s. The project will explore the origin, progress and recollection of the conflict in its political and cultural context.
Anne Thoeming: PhD, full-time. Supervisors: Julia Horne and Sophie Loy-Wilson. My thesis is a biographical study of Dr Herbert Moran – Australian medical intellectual, footballer, cancer specialist, prolific author and Mussolini supporter.
For a list of the other students who joined us in late 2016 or early 2017, please see
Mike M.

My Trip to the Paris archives: Introductions

IMG_3676.JPG Hi there! My name is Darren and I’ve just started my PhD in history at the University of Sydney.
That’s me on the right and if I’m looking a little daunted, it’s for two main reasons. First, I’m still very much a selfie amateur. Second, I’m soon to embark on my first research journey into the archives in July.
In the months leading up to my research trip and on the trip itself, I’ll be posting about my experiences on the History Matters blog: my planning, hopes, trials, and tribulations. Hopefully, I’ll provide an insight into a postgraduate’s first trip to the archives. I’ll also try to share some good tips and useful resources. I’ve already received great advice from my supervisors and scholars elsewhere (including where to get the best coffee near the Paris archives … very important detail for many of us postgrads!). Perhaps I’ll even be able to interview an archivist or scholar along the way! I do promise good photos tho (hoping to have access to some splendid Persian manuscripts).
Before I tell you where I am going, let me tell you about my thesis. I’ll be brief. In the 1530s, the first formal relations were established between France (king Francis I) and the Ottomans (sultan Suleyman), with the result of France’s first embassy in Istanbul. I’m looking at the way the concept of ‘the Turk’ and Islam figured in the French imagination from 1530 to 1630, and how that diplomatic presence took shape. My current supervisors are Associate Professor Nicholas Eckstein and Dr Hélène Sirantoine.
My project means visiting the archives in Paris to access a range of primary sources. These include correspondence from the French diplomats and missions in Istanbul (and the broader Ottoman world), manuscripts brought back from the Orient, and printed news pamphlets about the Ottomans that were circulating in France at the time.
Many of these sources sit in collections at the Bibliothéque nationale de France. The BnF has an incredible online platform called Gallica, which hosts over four million digitised documents from across the centuries (as at 24 October 2016). Some of my sources have been digitised and are available on Gallica, but many haven’t been and so I need to consult them on-site.
So, what’s my itinerary?
As it turns out, I’m presenting my first international paper at the Society for the Medieval Mediterranean annual conference in July. It’s held in Ghent this year, so I’ll be spending some time in Belgium first. In Brussels, I hope to drop into the Pirenne Archives (Université libre de Bruxelles) for some research I’m doing on medieval historian Henri Pirenne (see my 2015 post about Pirenne). I’ll then head to Bruges to visit the archives of the Adorno family, a medieval Brugeois family that travelled in the Islamic world and even built a chapel in Bruges modelled on the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. You can check them (and the chapel) out here.
After Belgium, I head to Paris. The BnF is a big institution with several sites. I’ll be spending most of my time at the Richelieu and Arsenal sites, as well as the Department of Manuscripts. There has been a huge renovation work underway at Richelieu which is both exciting (it’s a beautiful library) and concerning (renovations could throw up some challenges for my research). More on that renovation later because it’s such an impressive library.
Anyway, that’s it from me for the moment. Very soon I’ll post about budgeting and planning, as well as introduce you to the Richelieu library.

New Postgraduate Seminar Series: ‘History on Thursday’

The postgraduate reps and community have now launched a new postgraduate seminar series called History on Thursday. These seminars are designed to give postgraduate students a chance to practice presenting their work and engage in giving and receiving feedback. The next seminar will be on Monday 6 April, see below for details. They are also looking for expressions of interests for presenters for the May sessions. If you are interested please send an email with an abstract of your proposed talk.
Thurs. 6 April, 1-2pm, The Refectory (downstairs in the Quad, directions/map here)
Presenter: Darren Smith – The early Middle Ages between the World Wars: Pirenne’s Mahomet et Charlemagne and the vision for a new Europe.
Please bring your lunch and join us in the Refectory to hear this week’s presenter. This is also a chance for you to hone your question-asking skills and get to know other post-grads in our mingling time after the talk.

New Research Students in the Department of History

The Department of History at the University of Sydney is pleased to introduce our new PG students who have joined us in the latter part of last year or in the past few weeks.
Below you’ll find a list of new students, their topics, and their email addresses in case you wanted to reach out to them.
I’m delighted we have such a strong cohort of new students who I am sure will enrich the department with their work in the coming months and years.
There will likely be one or two more students joining us in the coming months. We’ll keep you posted.
Many thanks,
Mike M.
Madeleine Dowd (joined us in October): Master of Arts (Research). Supervisors: James Curran and Mark McKenna. I’m undertaking an examination of Paul Keating and Radical Nationalism – so this is looking at a radical display of the Australian self. At this relatively early stage, this involves an understanding of radical nationalist Australian history, and where it came from in Keating’s context. I’ll also focus on how this manifested in terms of policy and an overarching worldview. Contact email:
Amy Jelacic: PhD, full-time. Supervisors: Andrew Fitzmaurice and Chris Hilliard. I’m studying the intellectual history of free trade and liberalism in the British Empire, concentrating on the mid-19th century. I’m particularly interested in investigating the history of economic ideas outside of canonical texts of political economy.
Emma Wallhead: PhD, PT. Supervisor: Chris Hilliard. Working title of topic: If ‘I am woman’, what is man? Western masculinities 1963-1989.” The period from the early 1960s has been popularly associated with a number of transnational movements that challenged a wide range of social and cultural norms including beliefs about the proper roles of men and women. It was also during this era that masculinity was identified by scholars as a category of historical analysis. Despite the significance of this period to the concept of masculinity, there are relatively few works examining dominant norms of masculinity during the period from a historical perspective. The project will research dominant expectations of masculinity, together with the lived experience of masculinity, through the perspective of the women who cared for, lived with, worked with, loved, hated, and sought or avoided men during the three decades.
Jacob Mark: Master of Arts (Research), full time; Supervisor: Chris Hilliard. My thesis looks to explore the reception of Australian and New Zealand democracy in Britain in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century,
Orla McGovern: Master of Arts (Research). Supervisors: Nicholas Eckstein John Gagne. I’m looking at material cultures of beauty during the Italian Renaissance and their relationship between socially ascribed ideals of beauty and womanhood.
Luke Tucker: PhD, full-time. Supervisors: Julie Smith and Nick Eckstein. I am researching the educational practices and philosophy of the devotio moderna, a 14th and 15th century lay piety movement located mainly in the Netherlands.
Samuel Murdoch Webster: PhD, FT. Supervisors: James Curran and Mark McKenna. My thesis will seek to map the changes in Australian security doctrines during the post-British and post-Vietnam period, where the ‘great powers’ featured in Australian geo-strategic imagination, and how these squared with Australian economic interests up to the year 2001.
Ryan Cropp: PhD, full-time, supervisor: Mark McKenna. I am working on a biographical study of the Australian journalist, social critic and public intellectual Donald Horne.
Darren Smith: PhD, full-time. Supervisors: John Gagné (Nick Eckstein acting), Hélène Sirantoine. In the 1530s, François I of France established formal relations with Ottoman sultan Süleiman as well as a permanent embassy in Constantinople/Istanbul. My project looks at France’s evolving engagement with the Islamic/Ottoman East throughout the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, and how concepts of ‘the Turk’ and Islam figured in the French imagination (print media, political discourse, material culture, even theatre). I’m interested in the period ‘book-ended’ by the late crusades, on the one hand, and the Bibliothèque Orientale project of Barthélemy d’Herbelot, on the other.

New PhD Completions – Congratulations

During the break, we learned that Claire Sellwood, Bruce Baskerville, Addie Leah Lui-Chivizhe, and most recently, Lizzie Ingleson, have all successfully completed their PhDs. This is fantastic news, and makes for a great start to the new year – and inspiration for the incoming cohort as well as those seeing some light at the end of the tunnel in the new year.
Individual citations for the theses can be found below, as well as links to the theses or abstracts via Sydney e-repository. But on behalf of the Department of History, I want to extend a warm congratulations on a huge achievement. This is a mighty accomplishment for each of these four excellent students – or now, ex-students. The product of many years of toil and often difficult work. The glowing examiners’ reports also reflect this achievement. Though not technically official until graduation, I think I can safely offer congratulations to Dr. Sellwood, Dr. Baskerville, Dr. Lui-Chivizhe, and Dr. Ingleson!
Bruce Baskerville’s thesis was entitled “The Chrysalid Crown: an un-national history of the Crown in Australia.” He was supervised by James Curran. This thesis sets out to examine some of the ways in which the crown in Australia has been imagined and contested since the early nineteenth century. Looking at five case studies of cultural interaction relating to the exercise of crowned power the thesis explores the evolving civic personality, communal identities and popular representations’ of the crown in Australia’s cultural and social life, and how these have changed over time. As examiners noted, “this is an original and thoughtful doctoral thesis on a critical, but often misunderstood subject in Australian history.” It is “full of insights and compelling arguments about the place of the British crown in Australian history.” “Riveting.” An “excellent” and an important historiographical intervention in the historiography of the monarchy in Australia, and “represents a substantial and original contribution.” One examiner noted that they were looking forward to it being published, “so that a wider audience can gain from its creative and well-researched findings.” Another said “the candidate is to be commended for his dextrous research, well-written prose and challenging arguments. Further information about Bruce’s thesis can be found here:
Claire Sellwood’s thesis was supervised by Frances Clarke and entitled, “A series of Piteous Tales: Divorce Law and Divorce Culture in Early Twentieth-Century New South Wales.” It examines the social and legal understandings of divorce in late nineteenth and early twentieth century New South Wales, through a study of the law courts, and media representations of trials. As the examiners noted, the thesis “draws on a strong range of primary sources, including legal documents from the law courts and a significant study of a range of popular media papers and journals.” The “candidate has an exhaustive catalogue of secondary readings, and makes excellent use of these, both in terms of the direct topic and as useful context.” “This is a welcome and important study,” one that brings “significant new knowledge to existing feminist scholarship and a new understanding of the law as it was employed and worked for or against women.” Another wrote: “This thesis is highly impressive in its interdisciplinary research design, the wide-ranging scope of its analysis and the selected source materials which are ingeniously conjoined, its argument is original and contributory and it is impeccably documented and presented. Sellwood is an assured and promising scholar and an unmediated writer.” She has provided an “entirely novel framework through which to consider women’s agency, sexual regulation and liberalisation, legal reform and gender and class relations in public and private space it is fascinating and productive reading.” Details of Claire’s thesis can be found here:
Addie Leah Lui-Chivizhe’s thesis, supervised by Jude Philp and Iain McCalman, was entitled “Le op: An Islander’s history of Torres Strait turtle-shell masks.” The thesis provides a “rich and highly original” history of Torres Strait turtle-shell masks, which encompasses biological and ecological considerations, the practical and symbolic importance of turtles for Islanders, and the artistic skill and imagination of mask-makers and performers. Turtle-shell masks are shown to be central to Islanders’ engagement with each other and the natural world. The examiners noted it was “powerfully evocative” and an “insightful and nuanced narrative based on solid scholarly research” in which she “skilfully combines archival and object based research with fieldwork in the Torres Strait, oral histories, site visits and archaeological findings.” “The writing style delights as it informs,” and “the thesis is a substantial original contribution to the history of the Torres Strait Islands.” When it is published as a book, one examiner noted, it will bring “much joy” to those wishing to find out more about this oft-neglected part of the world.
Lizzie Ingleson’s thesis was also supervised by Frances Clarke and entitled, “The End of Isolation: Rapprochement, Globalisation, and Sino-American Trade, 1972-1978.” It looks at the diplomatic rapprochement that followed President Richard M. Nixon’s famous trip to China in 1972, which culminated with formal diplomatic normalization in 1978. In focusing on trade relationships between the two countries, the thesis sheds fresh light on diplomatic events, and tells a new story about the political origins of the interdependent economic relationship between the US and China, which began to take shape after 1980, and today very much anchors global capitalism. Examiners noted that it was “an impressive doctoral thesis, distinguished for its depth of research and interpretive reach and potential significance,” particularly given the “immense stakes” of the argument. Another commented that the thesis was “an extremely original approach to a topic that has only received limited attention to date by historians.” Ingleson contributes to a “growing literature on the role of non-state actors in diplomatic relations,” and her research is “extensive and fruitful” “In addition to being thoughtfully argued and well researched, this thesis is also quite well written.” “The author has a lively voice and a great eye for interesting anecdotes
that speak to larger trends or issues.” Information about Lizzie’s thesis can be found here:

Upcoming Events in the History Department

Postgraduate welcome drinks
Mon. 13 March, 4:30pm, REGS battlements
Kick off the new year and meet our incoming students at these drinks for postgraduate students and history staff. Drinks and nibbles will be provided.

Postgraduate Professional Development Seminar

Wed. 22 March, 3-5pm, SOPHI common room
Bringing together a panel of historians including Professor Shane White, Professor Andrew Fitzmaurice and Dr. Sarah Walsh, this seminar will engage with the translation of archival material into an historical argument. Topics will range from the rituals of writing to the decision making process behind selecting which documents should be included and which should be omitted. The first hour of the seminar will be dedicated to panel presentations and the second to question and answer discussion. Afternoon tea will be provided.
Please RSVP (for catering purposes) to: Sarah Dunstan (

Women in Academia Seminar

Thu. 23 March, 4:30-6pm, New Law Annexe – Room SR340
Join Professor Sheila Fitzpatrick and Dr. Chin Jou at the inaugural session of Women in Academia, a forum designed to discuss the challenges and issues specific to women pursuing a higher degree. Hear from these historians about their research and career, and their expertise on topics including publishing and grant funding, and the differences between working in Australia and overseas. You will have the opportunity to ask questions in the second half of the session. Drinks and nibbles will be provided.
Please RSVP (for catering purposes) to: Hollie Pich ( or Marama Whyte (
Miranda Johnson The Land is our History book launch
Tues. 28 March, 5pm-6.30pm, REGS Western Tower Balcony, Quadrangle
Come along to help celebrate the launch of Miranda Johnson first book The Land is our History, recently published by Oxford Press. All are warmly invited to attend, please see our previous email for the further details.
Please RSVP to: James Dunk (

History Now Seminar Series

Dear History Colleagues,
Melissa Bellanta (ACU), Anna Clark (UTS) and Hannah Forsyth convene the History Now Seminar Series on the second Thursday of the month, 5.30-7pm at UTS. Previously this was focused on Australian history. What we enjoyed most about these sessions was the opportunity to discuss history with colleagues from across greater Sydney. We have decided to experiment in 2017 by extending the scope beyond Australia.
We have lined up a program, for which we have sought to recruit speakers from as many of our institutions as we can (we have thus far covered Sydney, UTS, UNSW, UoW, Newcastle, WSU, ACU) and to think about History Now – as it affects those who do history, connecting with one another on topics that are relevant to our changing and volatile political, economic and environmental conditions. Our topics are Political History Now, History of Class Now, History of Sexuality Now, Indigenous History Now, Public History Now, History beyond humans, Feminist History Now, History of Genocide Now and Environmental History Now. The program is attached.
I am hoping that you will think this is a good idea and invite your history colleagues, postgraduates and honours students to come and participate. I am also hoping that this year’s speakers, who are included here, will also want to come to sessions other than their own.
In addition, today’s job is to alert you to our first seminar (which does not conform to the normal pattern) at 5.30pm on Thursday 2nd February, 2017, Room 03.470–which is just up one flight of stairs from the entrance hall of Building 10 on Jones St at UTS.
After the shocks of Brexit and Trump, we wanted to kick off the year by thinking about Political History Now. What do contemporary events mean, in the big historical picture – and what do they mean for us, as historians and scholars? Associate Professor Michael Ondaatje from ACU will present on this topic. Michael is the author of, among other things, Black Conservative Intellectuals in Modern America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010) and he has been a high-profile commentator on the recent US election, in the Australian media. We will invite Michael to offer us a more details abstract closer to the date. For now, I hope you will add this to your diary, in anticipation of further details.
I expect we will continue our tradition of heading to the pub for dinner afterwards and collecting donations for wine and cheese, at the seminar. If you would like to come to dinner on 2nd Feb, please let me know –
Best wishes,
Hannah Forsyth
History Now Seminar Series 2017

Sydney Historical Research Network (Previously Australian Studies Research Network)
Second Thursday of the month, 5.30-7pm, UTS (Room TBC)
2 February: Political History Now (after Trump)
Michael Ondaatje, (ACU)
9 March: History of Class Now
Terry Irving (UoW), Elizabeth Humphrys (UTS), Hannah Forsyth (ACU)
13 April: History of Sexuality Now
Alison Moore, (WSU)
11 May: Indigenous History Now
Mike McDonnell, Miranda Johnson (Sydney), Leah Lui-Chivizhe, (UNSW)
8 June: Public History Now
Anna Clark, Robert Crawford, Anna Funder, Kiera Lindsay (UTS)
10 August: History Beyond Humans, Now
Warwick Anderson (Sydney), Eben Kirksey (UNSW)
14 September: History of Empire Now
Invited TBC
12 October: Histories of Genocide Now
Dirk Moses (Sydney), Lyndall Ryan (Newcastle)
9 November: Environmental History Now
Grace Karskens (UNSW), Iain McCalman (Sydney Environment Institute)

PG History Seminars

Dear History PG students and supervisors,
Once again, this coming semester the department of History is pleased to run a number of fortnightly advanced postgraduate seminars for your benefit. Chin Jou and Julie Smith have also kindly offered to open up their Honours Seminars to any postgraduate students wishing to audit them. We recommend and strongly encourage all PG students to attend at least one of the other seminars on offer. You might want to consult with your supervisor about the best choice for you. In addition to these seminars, students are also welcome and encouraged to attend the American Cultures Workshop at the USSC. Details for this is listed below.
NOTE: First year students should attend Chris Hilliard¹s weekly seminar, and not the other seminars (you will have already been contacted about this).
We are also opening up the “Finishing the Thesis” workshop to interested students. Places are limited though, so please do contact me if you are interested.
Once you have chosen a seminar, please contact the coordinator, who will shortly send further details, including the room in which to meet and the full schedule of meetings (if not already listed below). Please take careful note of the start dates listed below and get in touch with the relevant coordinator ahead of time ­ especially the seminars that start next week.
Any questions about all of this, please let me know.
Mike McDonnell
PG Coordinator
Reading Evidence in a ‘Post-Truth” Age
Associate Professor Julia Horne
Wednesdays, 3-5 pm
Start Date: March 15
Christopher Hitchens wrote of George Orwell’s determination to seek “elusive but verifiable truth”. But how do historians approach truth, and how do they verify the elusive? This postgraduate seminar explores the use of evidence in history, the idea of historical truth, and the theoretical, ethical and methodological hurdles along the way. Key readings include those by Timothy Garton Ash, Northrop Frye and Joan Scott along with others on critical evaluation, the socially constructed archive and the history of the footnote.
Seminars will be held 3-5pm fortnightly on Wednesdays from 15 March.e
Modern International History
Dr. Jamie Martin
Tuesdays, 2-4 pm
Start Date: March 14
This seminar offers a grounding in new approaches to the study of international history. It has two major aims: first, to introduce students to international history as a historiographical field, one that has focused largely on Europe and its relationship with the wider world since the early nineteenth century; and second, to consider international history as an approach to historical scholarship that has applications in many different geographical and thematic sub-fields. It will look, in particular, at new works in international history — both European and non-European — and at methodological debates about writing the history of international institutions, empire, and global capitalism. It also will look at the relationship between international history as it’s now practiced and the methods of diplomatic and military history that once dominated the writing of European history.
Historical and Anthropological Approaches to Food and Eating
Dr. Chin Jou
Mondays, 2-4, Bosch 192
Start Date: March 6
Food has been central to lived experience. It has shaped history through events and phenomena such as famines, uprisings, imperialism in search of commodities and markets, and population surges though more efficient methods of agricultural production. It has informed the development of structures of labour along lines of race, gender, and class; it has, of course, also been an essential part of daily life. In this seminar, we will consider examples of how historians and anthropologists have written about food and eating in order to illuminate broader historical developments, social relations, and identity. Readings will cover a variety of chronological and geographic contexts, although a disproportionate share of readings will focus on the United States since the early-twentieth century.
NB: If any PG students are interested in auditing the seminar, please advise them to email me ASAP, because there are required readings for the first week (i.e. this coming Monday). Although one of those readings can be accessed online, there is a reading that I would need to email them.
Reading Travel Writing
Dr. Julie Smith
According to Mary Carruthers [The Witness and the Other World], “The travel book is a kind of witness”. However, witnessing and ways of seeing are culturally and historically inflected. For centuries, travellers (whether explorers, pilgrims, ambassadors, merchants, missionaries, tourists) have related their experiences for a variety of audiences, and have claimed authority as eyewitnesses, “I have seen”. Thus travel writing cannot be satisfactorily understood unless it is historicised against contemporary understandings of visuality, of ways of seeing. If travel writers from other places and times were seeing for others, how should this inform our reading of their works? The seminar readings and discussions will take into account matters such as author-audience relations, geographical knowledge, gender, faith, cross-cultural contacts. Individual projects will offer opportunities for students to study travel writings and eye-witnessing from their particular research field and period.
American Cultures Workshop
Dr Alix Beeston, Research Fellow, United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney
Dr Lucas Thompson, Research Fellow, United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney
Contact Email:
Wednesdays, 5:30-7:00 pm
Start Date: March 15
Becoming a Historian: First-Year Introductory Postgraduate Seminar
Professor Chris Hilliard
Mondays, 2-4pm
SOPHI Common Room
Start Date: Monday, March 6
Finishing the Thesis
Associate Professor Michael McDonnell
Wednesdays, 3-5pm
Start Date: Wednesday, March 22
Please note: this seminar is open to PhD and MPhil students who are within a year of submission. Places are limited so please contact Mike if you¹d like to join.

Postgraduate Drinks

Dear Historians,
Welcome to the 2017 academic year! We would like to invite you all to our welcome drinks for postgraduate students and history staff on Monday 13 March. We hope this event will provide everyone with the opportunity to meet our incoming students and to kick off the new year.
Warwick Anderson has kindly allowed us to host the drinks at REGS on the battlements again this year. Drinks and nibbles will be provided. If you are planning on coming along please let us know via email to help us confirm numbers for catering.
Time/date: Monday March 13 at 4.30pm
Location: REGS battlements (directions attached)
Looking forward to seeing you all then,
Emma Kluge, Hollie Pich and Marama Whyte
Postgraduate Representatives 2017
Department of History

University of Sydney Postgraduate History Conference Wrap-up

On the 23 and 24 November 2016 the Department of History successfully hosted the annual University of Sydney Postgraduate History conference. The theme for the conference this year was ‘Historical Identities’.
The keynote was delivered by Dr Sarah Walsh from the centre for Race and Ethnicity in the Global South (REGS) at the University of Sydney. Her paper ‘Latinizing Whiteness: Race, Nation, and Visual Culture in Latin America’, focused on constructions of whiteness in relation to national identity in nineteenth and twentieth-century South America, with particular focus given to Chile. Through Walsh’s exploration of how racial identity is both constructed and utilised her paper offered a stimulating beginning to the conference.
The conference was well attended with over fifty papers delivered over the two days. Presenters came from local universities, interstate and even as far as New Zealand. Sessions contemplated the concept of ‘identity’ and how it might be used to historically investigate in a variety of time periods and geographic locations, from the ancient world to the twentieth century, to Europe, the Americas and Asia-Pacific.
Special thanks to the team of volunteer postgraduate students, headed by our 2016 postgraduate representatives, Sarah Bendall and Georgia Lawrence-Doyle, who organised the conference, and to the department of history for generously funding the conference.
We look forward to hosting another successful conference next year.
To see the organising committee and past conference programmes, please visit our website: