‘The product under consideration is Shist.’ So began New Zealand historian Keith Sinclair’s discussion of short histories in 1968. His irreverent diminutive is still occasionally heard among professional historians of a certain age. It is less often recalled that Sinclair was defending the worth of the short history ...... (read more)
During the lead-up to the last United States presidential election, I found myself waiting for a train at the Princeton railway station with nothing to read. I picked up a copy of the student newspaper. Much of it was standard Bush bashing, intermingled with unrealistic expectations of what Obama might achieve. But one sentence in an editorial caught my eye: ‘It i ...
Lyndon Megarrity reviews 'Australian Historical Studies, Volume 41, Issue 2' by Richard Broome and Dianne Kirkby
Australian Historical Studies (AHS), which can be traced back to the 1940s, has developed into one of Australia’s leading social science journals. The standard of scholarship is consistently high, and the honour of having one’s article accepted in such an established and selective publication is keenly sought ...... (read more)
Terry Lane reviews 'Liberty: A History of Civil Liberties in Australia' by James Waghorne and Stuart Macintyre
In 1988 the Hawke government put a constitutional amendment to a referendum. On the recommendation of the government’s Constitution Commission, we were invited to vote to enshrine guarantees of trial by jury, property rights, and freedom of religion. The proposition was rejected by all states. There is nothing surprising in that. We almost always do vote against c ...
Clare Corbould reviews 'History at the Crossroads: Australians and the Past' by Paul Ashton and Paula Hamilton
'The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there,’ said historian David Lowenthal in 1985, adopting L.P. Hartley’s famous opening line from The Go-Between. Most historians agree, proceeding from the premise that the past is remote and in need of discovery, and that there is no automatic link between people in the present and those in the past. It is a supposition in complete contradistinction to non-professionals’ ideas about the past, according to historians Paul Ashton and Paula Hamilton, directors of the Australian Centre for Public History at the University of Technology, Sydney. For most Australians, history takes place where they ‘feel at home’. That is, it is a domesticated pursuit, consumed in familiar surrounds, and more often than not related most intimately to family and genealogy.... (read more)
The title of this book might, to an innocent observer, suggest a triumphalist history, an impression that could be reinforced by the preface, which argues that the setting up of a squatters’ camp on the banks of the Yarra in 1835 ‘had a significance far beyond the baptism of a great city’, and concludes with the ...... (read more)
In 1970, at the age of twenty-seven, Alan Frost joined the English Department of La Trobe University. His first love had been the study of poetry, for which he earned an MA at the University of Queensland. That led to a PhD at the University of Rochester, where he wrote on ...... (read more)