Professor Tim Parkin (L) interviews Megan Rowland, Heritage Policy Officer at Heritage Victoria for Community Conversations on YouTube

SHAPS Digest (September 2020)

A monthly roundup of media commentary, publications and projects, and other news from across the School community.

Sarah Bendall (History) presented a talk on her research, ‘Body-makers and Farthingales in Early Modern London’, for the History Brown Bag Seminar Series.


Heather Berry (recent Grimwade graduate) took part in a Q&A livestream session on the conservation of the Barangaroo Boat (Australia’s earliest known European-built boat, discovered in Sydney in 2018), as part of #AskaCurator day.

Joy Damousi (History) gave testimony in her capacity as President of the Australian Academy of the Humanities at the Senate Hearing on the Education proposal on 15 September, powerfully making the case for the value of the humanities, as in this extract from her statement:

“Research is about creating knowledge and a scholar is seeking it. The construction of knowledge and the seeking of knowledge can be two different things. They can be the same thing as well. I guess the question is often that valuable research is not often identified as humanities research because the perception is that it doesn’t always directly transform the world. But we are here, and we argue very strongly that it does. So a bill like this is insidious because it undermines the skill set but also the teaching and the educative value of the humanities in creating knowledge and in seeking knowledge.” (Hansard Report, p. 63)

Louise Hitchcock (Classics &Archaeology) took part in another hugely popular podcast episode for The Study of Antiquity and the Middle Ages on the ‘The Kingdom of Alashiya and the Bronze Age Collapse’.

Julia Hurst (History) published an op-ed on ‘Why Australia Fails to Protect Its Heritage‘, calling for Europe to put pressure on Australia to better preserve historic sites from exploitation by mining giants, and for Australia to learn lessons from the disastrous case of the destruction of the Juukan Gorge Caves and to finally ‘make an effort to build legislation that truly reflects and preserves the significance of Aboriginal peoples’ history and heritage.’

Tom Keep (PhD candidate, Classics & Archaeology) presented at the CAAA (Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology Australasia) Digital Archaeology Conference on the Mernda VR Project. Funded by a Student Engagement Grant from the University of Melbourne, the project plans to develop an immersive virtual reality reconstruction of an archaeological site along the banks of the Plenty River in Mernda. The site was the focus of a 2015 excavation conducted by Heritage Victoria, which was widely publicised as an engagement opportunity for the locals of the area to better learn the heritage of the region, which has seen dramatic development and population increase over the last 30 years. In the hopes of taking up the torch of engaging the people of Mernda with their local heritage, the Mernda VR Projects seeks to use 3D modelling software and photogrammetry to reconstruct the site in virtual reality for display in local libraries, historical societies, and schools. The project would involve reconstructing a researched hypothetical model of the site in two phases of its history: the Indigenous management and occupation of the area prior to European colonisation; and the small cottage used for management of the mill, both constructed in 1855. Emphasis will be on the relationship to the land, and the different agricultural strategies employed by its varied occupants.

Andrew May (History) offered a historian’s perspective on the empty cityscape of locked down Melbourne on Channel 9 news.

Andy May also discussed the history of Melbourne street names on ABC Radio Melbourne.

Ainslee Meredith (PhD candidate, Grimwade Centre) participated in the Slow Canoe Lockdown 2020 Audio Project In which 27 authors were invited to write short pieces capturing the out-of-timeness of the first months of the pandemic. Ainslee contributed a piece entitled ‘On not seeing the meteor shower on the morning of 6 May, 2020’.

Tim Parkin (Classics & Archaeology) interviewed BA (Honours) graduate and Heritage Victoria Policy Officer Megan Rowland about their shared love for classics and about where Megan’s university studies have taken her, as part of the Arts Faculty’s ‘Community Conversations’ series.

Carla Pascoe Leahy (History) delivered a presentation to the Melbourne Feminist History Group, on ‘The Last Generation: Environmental Activism and the History and Future of the Family’.

Carla also published an article for Arena, ‘Eudaimonia: Meditations on Pandemic Life’, reflecting on how life is being transformed by the pandemic.

Emily Simons (PhD candidate, Classics & Archaeology) presented at the CAAA Digital Archaeology conference on ‘GIS: Griffins In Space’. Her presentation focused on Aegean Late Bronze Age griffins as a case study for exploring different ways of interpreting the meaning of objects, including via the application of geographic information systems techniques.


Our recent graduate Dominique Tasevski (BA Hons, History, 2019) published an article on Shinzo Abe’s history politics.

Jimmy Yan (PhD candidate, History) interviewed Terry Irving for the Australian Policy and History Network about Irving’s new book, The Fatal Lure of Politics: The Life and Thought of Vere Gordon Childe (Monash University Publishing, 2020).

Scholarly Publications

Georgina Arnott (History) and Charlotte Greenhalgh (University of Waikato) published an article, ‘The Survey and the State: Governments and Early Social Research in New Zealand and Australia, 1930s–40s‘, in Australian Historical Studies.

This article tells the story of two pioneering social surveys designed to extend international developments in quantitative social research into the Antipodes: the 1937–1938 survey of living standards in rural New Zealand and the University of Melbourne’s 1941–1943 urban survey of 7,609 households. Archival material associated with these surveys illuminates the influence of governments on the topics, methods and publication of survey results and the tensions their involvement caused for academic researchers. Caught between the strategic interests of funders and the higher ideals of social science, social researchers struggled to deliver significant findings about local populations.

A new volume edited by Heather Dalton (History) is now available for pre-order: Keeping Family in an Age of Long Distance Trade, Imperial Expansion and Exile, 1550–1850 (Amsterdam University Press) brings together eleven original essays by an international group of scholars, each investigating how family, or the idea of family, was maintained or reinvented when husbands, wives, children, apprentices, servants or slaves separated, or faced separation, from their household. The result is a fresh and geographically wide-ranging discussion about the nature of family and its intersection with travel over a three hundred year period during which roles and relationships, within and between households, were increasingly affected by trade, settlement, and empire building. The imperial project may have influenced different regions in different ways at different times yet, as this collection reveals, families, especially those transcending national ties and traditional boundaries were central to its progress. Together, these essays bring new understandings of the foundations of our interconnected world and of the people who contributed to it.

The book features a chapter by current History PhD candidate Nat Cutter, titled “‘Grieved in My Soul that I Suffered You to Depart from Me’: Community and Isolation in the English Houses at Tunis and Tripoli, 1679–1686”. Using hundreds of little-known letters from the English consulate in Tunis, the chapter examines the environmental pressures that shaped English communal life in the early modern Maghreb, and offers an intimate look into the struggles and benefits of early modern life abroad. Living together in single ‘English houses’ in the midst of Muslim-dominated cities, merchants, consuls and servants created surrogate families within their households. These ‘families’ provided companionship, guidance and financial success. Far from home, traders established dynamic local and international business networks, formed deep personal and business relationships with their housemates, and protected themselves and the more vulnerable members of their communities from perceived moral, religious and physical harm.

Louise Hitchcock (Classics & Archaeology) co-authored an article, ‘The Maritime and Riverine Networks of the Eurotas River Valley in Lakonia,’ in Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies, 8 (3–4) (2020).

Lakonia is remembered in Homeric epic as the locale where Queen Helen was abducted to Troy, becoming the face that launched 1,000 ships. In Bronze Age reality (c3000–1200 BCE), Lakonia was one of the earliest areas on the Greek mainland to be influenced by Minoan civilisation, achieve social complexity, and progress toward Mycenaean statehood. We examine how these cultural developments were supported by Lakonia’s riverine topography. The perennial Eurotas River connected intervisible Bronze Age sites in the Spartan Plain with coastal port cities, thereby facilitating flows of ideas, people, and trade, particularly with Minoan Crete via the island of Kythera. In this article, the authors argue that Minoan interest in Lakonian raw materials resulted in the acquisition of finished prestige goods and specialised knowledge by Lakonian elites and contributed to emerging Lakonian social complexity. They conclude that Lakonia’s riverine landscape was an important factor in its early development toward Mycenaean statehood.

Tamara Lewit (Honorary Fellow in Classics & Archaeology) published the article, ‘”erris, vineis, olivetis …”: Wine and Oil Production After the Villas‘, in the European Journal of Postclassical Archaeologies.

The production of wine and oil during post-villa occupation at a site deserves special attention as an indicator of continued exploitation of land, even if within a changed economic framework; continuity of diet and technical traditions; and a stable resident population. Scales of production can also give insights into secular and ecclesiastical demand for these products. This paper examines three case studies in Spain, France, and Italy.

Tamara Lewit also published a review of Emlyn K Dodd’s Roman and Late Antique Wine Production in the Eastern Mediterranean Antiquity (Archaeopress, Oxford), in the European Journal of Postclassical Archaeologies, 10, pp.473–475.

The proceedings of the Timor-Leste Studies Association’s 2019 conference in Dili, co-edited by Hannah Loney (History) were published online.

The latest issue of Iris features the text of Tim Parkin’s 2018 W.H. Allen Memorial Lecture, ‘The Emperor Enters the Bedroom: Reproduction and Roman Law‘. The issue also features the work of former History undergraduate students Dana Riley, and Alexander Gregory-Allen, as well as former Senior Professor and Honorary Principal Fellow, John R.C. Martyn.

Henry Reese (PhD in History, 2019) published an article, ‘Protecting the National Soundscape: The Gramophone Industry and the Nation in the 1920s,’ in Australian Historical Studies. This article won the 2019 Ken Inglis Postgraduate Prize.

This article offers a cultural reading of the 1927 Tariff Board inquiry into gramophone record imports. The inquiry was a staging ground for visions of musical uplift in a wholesome and vulnerable nation. The manufacturers animated racialised and gendered rhetoric in service of their proposal to protect the local gramophone industry. The business elites that dominated the Board readily assumed a role as cultural arbiters, drawing on aesthetic predilections to shape trade policy. Two themes emerge: the racialised threat of jazz music, and anxieties regarding mass consumption. This episode highlights the contested nature of modernity in interwar Australia.

Gonzalo Villanueva (PhD in History, 2015) published the book chapter (co-authored with Eliza Waters), ‘Exporting Meat, Exporting Progress? The Australian Meat Export Industry and Discourses of Development and Modernisation’, in Jason Hannan (ed.), Meatsplaining: The Animal Agriculture Industry and the Rhetoric of Denial (Sydney University Press 2020).

Fay Woodhouse (Principal Fellow in History) published Romsey: An Historical Guide.

Romsey: An Historical Guide is an exploration of the built form and the rich historic fabric of the Romsey business district. The book identifies fifty-five buildings and landmarks in Romsey and documents the history of the families behind its many businesses. It is striking that the layout of the town’s business district remains very much as it was when first established. Romsey: An Historical Guide has been thoroughly researched and is beautifully designed and produced. It includes a wide range of nineteenth and early twentieth-century photographs of the original buildings as well as current photographs of the same site. Gazetted in 1861, the township of Romsey will celebrate 160 years in 2021. This book will become the go-to book for tourists to the area and will inform residents of the history behind some of its most iconic buildings.


Two journals associated with SHAPS were also published this month: the latest issue of Sophia and the inaugural edition of Meraki Magazine – a new initiative by our undergraduate Philosophy students, and featuring critical essays, fiction and poetry.


The DeathTech Research Team launched the survey, ‘Death Care during Covid-19‘, as part of a research project entitled Remote, Restricted and Redesigned: Memorialisation Practices and the COVID-19 Pandemic’. The project, run by a team of social scientists at the University of Melbourne, studies the effects of COVID-19 on the death care sector in Australia and worldwide. It addresses the question of how to manage individual and communal expectations for funerary rites that uphold human decency and tradition, while continuing to protect death care workers under the conditions of a global pandemic and its aftermath.


Saiful Bakhri (Master of Cultural Materials Conservation, 2018) won the Arts Faculty’s Rising Star Award for Young Alumni.

Samia Khatun (SOAS, University of London; previously Mckenzie Fellow in SHAPS) won the Scholarly Non-Fiction Book of the Year award at the 2020 Educational Publishing Awards Australia, for her book, Australianama: The South Asian Odyssey in Australia (UQ Press 2019).

Several of our staff and graduates feature on the shortlist for the 2020 Victorian Community History Awards:

Ruby Ekkel (BA Hons, History, 2019), ‘Women’s Sphere Remodelled: A Spatial History of the Victorian Women’s Christian Temperance Union 1887–1914’, Victorian Historical Journal;

James Lesh (PhD in History, 2018), ‘Cremorne Gardens, Gold-rush Melbourne, and the Victorian-era Pleasure Garden, 1853–63’, Victorian Historical Journal

Sean Scalmer (History), Democratic Adventurer: Graham Berry and the Making of Australian Politics;

Sue Silberberg (PhD in History, 2015), A Networked Community: Jewish Melbourne in the Nineteenth Century;

Fay Woodhouse (Fellow), Gita: Melbourne’s First Yoga School – 65 Years of History; and

Sophie Couchman (History/MHW), (editor) Journeys into Chinese Australian Family History.

The full shortlist includes a grand total of five former students of Andrew May (History) – testimony to Andy’s role as an inspiring supervisor and mentor, nurturing so many excellent projects in local community history.

SHAPS staff, fellows, students, alumni: if you have news items for the monthly SHAPS digest, please email the details to

Feature image: Professor Tim Parkin (L) interviews Megan Rowland, Heritage Policy Officer at Heritage Victoria for the Arts Faculty’s Community Conversations on YouTube