Grace Barrand cleaning the frame of The Five Senses (1670s), 2019. AGNSW, 8659. Photograph: Art Gallery of New South Wales

SHAPS Digest (October 2020)

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

Grimwade Centre alumna Grace Barrand recently completed a major conservation treatment on a magnificent frame from the Art Gallery of NSW Old Masters collection. In an article on the Art Gallery of NSW blog, Grace describes the challenges and rewards of the process.

Margaret Cameron (Head of School) was featured on Dean’s Forum. In conversation with Russell Goulbourne, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, she discussed how philosophy can provide helpful perspectives on the crises of 2020.

Heather Dalton (Fellow in History) published a piece on ‘The Spanish Connection: Bristol’s 16th Century Slave Traders‘ on the Bristol Museum website. While it has been claimed that Bristol hero John Cabot was involved in the African slave trade, Heather Dalton explains that it was actually Cabot’s son Sebastian who, along with his contemporaries, introduced the port to the idea of enslaving Africans.

Lieve Donnellan (Classics & Archaeology) spoke to the Greek Community of Melbourne as part of their Greek History and Culture Seminars. Her lecture (which you can watch below) was titled, ‘From the Phasis to the Pillars of Heracles … like frogs around a pond: Ancient Greek overseas “colonisation” and the identity debate’.

The volume Cold War Spy Stories from Eastern Europe, co-edited by Alison Lewis (SOLL) and including a contribution by Julie Fedor (History) was reviewed for the CIA Center for the Study of Intelligence’s ‘Intelligence Officer’s Bookshelf‘ as “a good example of what professional historians can contribute to the literature of intelligence”.

The research of Fiona Fidler (HPS/BioSciences) (with Rink Hoekstra) on the ethics of editing journal peer-review reports was discussed in an article on (published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science).

Hannah Gould (SSPS) from the DeathTech Project was interviewed on Studio 10 and ABC Radio National Life Matters on the changing practices around death, burial and mourning, including as a result of the pandemic.

Louise Hitchcock (Classics & Archaeology) published an article commenting on the debate over the casting of Gal Gadot to play the role of Cleopatra.

Louise also took part in a discussion on Critical Theory and civil rights, sponsored by the University of Connecticut’s Students for Liberty.

Stephen Jakubowicz (MA candidate in History) published a blog post on ANZASA Online on his work on American wool tariffs and the Australian colonies at the 1876 Philadelphia Exhibition.

Una McIlvenna (History) was interviewed by ABC Radio Sydney on the value and benefits of studying History. Una also spoke on ABC Radio Sydney about Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII (from about 11:45 on the clip accessible via the link).

Carla Pascoe Leahy (History) published an article in Arena on how the pandemic is affecting children.

Carla also delivered a paper at the 2020 Australian and New Zealand Environmental History Network conference, ‘Parenting through Crisis: The Impacts of Fire and Pandemic upon Australian Family Life’.

Henry Reese (PhD in History 2019) (@HPReese) contributed to the Future Cities project, Cities and Memory: Remixing the World, in a piece called ‘Footy Culture‘, bringing “the macho sounds of the beach rugby of Swansea into conversation with a more inclusive soundscape – that of the annual Pride Week match in the women’s league of Australian rules football (AFLW)”.

Marama Whyte (Honorary Associate in History) published an article in Overland, ‘The Uncounted Death Toll of Coronavirus in Aged Care‘.

History graduate Will Ziebell put the re-opening of Fitzroy pub the Rainbow (founded 1869) in its historical context, for the Crafty Pint.

Awards & Scholarships

History PhD candidate Divya Rama Gopalakrishnan was awarded the 2020 Miranda Jane Hughes Scholarship.

Divya’s research investigates the ideas and discourses around bodily excess and venereal disease in the Madras Presidency of colonial South India.

The Miranda Jane Hughes scholarship supports graduate research students in conducting essential fieldwork and research trips internationally and within Australia. The scholarship was donated by Professor Julie McLeod and Dr Cherry Collins in honour of the late Miranda Jane Hughes. The scholarship will support Divya’s archival research, including the costs of digitisation of documents.

Several SHAPS historians were successful in the 2020 Victorian Community History awards:

History alumna Ruby Ekkel won the History Article Award for her article, based on her Honours thesis, ‘Woman’s Sphere Remodelled: A Spatial History of the Victorian Women’s Christian Temperance Union 1887–1914‘, Victorian Historical Journal. Ruby writes:

I’m thrilled and surprised to win the award and am glad to see that my research into and writing about women’s creative agency in Victoria at the turn of the nineteenth century, has resonated with others.

To me the research is a contribution both to the history of social, political and religious communities in our state, and to the sometimes neglected history of Australian women and the innovative ways they created metaphorical and, in the case of my research, literal space for themselves in a society which often sought to exclude or restrict them.


The research stemmed from an interest since high school in the suffragette movement in the UK. In my honours year I decided to explore the Australian suffrage movement, which led me unexpectedly to one of the leading women’s organisations of the period: the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. I was fascinated by the ways this outwardly conservative group, whose main concern was banning alcohol, managed to manipulate the idea of the ‘woman’s sphere’ to argue for a greater role for many women in Victorian society and politics.

The following commendations were also awarded:

Sean Scalmer‘s Democratic Adventurer: Graham Berry and the Making of Australian Politics received a History Publication commendation.

Sue Silberberg‘s A Networked Community: Jewish Melbourne in the Nineteenth Century received a Community Diversity Award commendation.

Fay Woodhouse‘s Gita: Melbourne’s First Yoga School received a Local History Small Publication commendation.


Ravando (PhD candidate in History), published a book, Perang Melawan Influenza—Pandemi Flu Spanyol di Indonesia Masa Kolonial, 1918–1919 (The War against Influenza: The Spanish Influenza Pandemic in Colonial Indonesia, 1918–1919) (Kompas 2020)

Long before the outbreak of the COVID-19, the world was struck by various types of epidemics and pandemics. The Spanish Flu of 1918–1919 became perhaps the deadliest pandemic in modern history, killing 50 to 100 million people within just a few months. Colonial Indonesia was not spared from the attack. Several scholars have estimated that around 1.5 to 4.37 million people in colonial Indonesia were killed by the pandemic, making the death rate in colonial Indonesia the highest in Asia.

History has revealed that the high mortality and morbidity was prompted by several factors, namely the failure of the colonial government to carry out early mitigation and prevention and poor coordination between the central and the local authorities. Furthermore, the proliferation of various hoaxes in the society combined with a bunch of irresponsible people who took advantage of the chaotic situation made the circumstances became more problematic. This book attempts to cover and address all those issues.

Ironically, although more than a century has passed after the pandemic, we find today a similarly chaotic handling of COVID-19 in Indonesia, showing that the government has yet to draw lessons from this history in order to design policy and ordinance related to epidemic and pandemic prevention.

Peter Yule (Honorary Fellow, History) published two books:

The Long Shadow: Australia’s Vietnam Veterans since the War (NewSouth Books 2020)

The medical and psychological legacies of the Vietnam War are major and continuing issues for veterans, their families and the community, yet the facts about the impact of Agent Orange, post-traumatic stress disorder and other long-term health aspects are little understood. The Long Shadow sets the record straight about the health of Vietnam veterans and reveals a more detailed and complex picture.

Profiling the stories of the veterans themselves, this comprehensive and authoritative book is a pioneering work of history on the aftermath of war. It takes a broad approach to the medical legacies, exploring the post-war experiences of Vietnam veterans, the evolution and development of the repatriation system in the post-Vietnam decades and the evolving medical understanding of veterans’ health issues.

Pathfinder, ‘Kriegie’ and Gumboot Governor: The Adventurous Life of Sir James Rowland AC, KBE, DFC, AFC (Big Sky Publishing 2020)

A descendant of early pioneers of New South Wales, James Rowland combined a thirst for adventure with a strong sense of duty. Aged just 22, he became a Lancaster pilot in the elite Pathfinder force, flying 34 missions over occupied Europe and being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. In January 1945, he was the only survivor of a collision with a Canadian aircraft over Germany. After narrowly escaping being shot as a spy, he spent the rest of the war as a POW.

Returning to the RAAF in 1947, Rowland was a test pilot during the early years of the supersonic era, and played a leading role in the Mirage procurement. His leadership qualities and technical expertise saw him become head of RAAF engineering in 1972, and, in a controversial appointment, Chief of the Air Staff in 1975, the first and still the only engineer to head the RAAF.

In 1981, Rowland was appointed Governor of New South Wales, a position he held with distinction for eight years. A brilliant pilot and aeronautical engineer, who combined a strong commitment to duty with a great sense of fun, Rowland has a well-earned place among the great leaders of the RAAF Short biog.

A new special issue of the Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies on the theme of the Entangled Sea features:

Louise A. Hitchcock (with Anne. P. Chapin and James H. Reynolds), ‘The Maritime and Riverine Networks of the Eurotas River Valley in Lakonia’

Abby Robinson (with Giorgi Khaburzania), ‘Highland Fortress Complexes and Riverine Borders in Samtskhe-Javakheti, Southwest Georgia’

Caroline Tully, ‘Cockles, Mussels, Fishing Nets, and Finery: The Relationship between Cult, Textiles, and the Sea Depicted on a Minoan-Style Gold Ring from Pylos’

In addition, it contains illustrations by PhD student Maddi Harris-Schober and an acknowledgement to Laura Pisanu for advice.

The papers in the volume were presented in a session Louise Hitchcock organised at the World Archaeology Congress in Kyoto, as well as a double session co-chaired by Louise Hitchcock and Ina Berg of the University of Manchester at the Australian Archaeology Association Meeting in Melbourne and at the Entangled Sea Conference held in Melbourne. These last two events and the publication preparation were funded by the Melbourne-Manchester Research Fund. Health issues prevented Louise from taking an active role in the editing of the volume, and Ina stepped in and patiently did double duty to bring the papers to publication.

History PhD candidate Jessie Matheson published an article in Lilith: A Feminist History Journal, ‘”Laugh and Grow Fat”: Resistance, Complicity, Fat Bodies and Community amongst Rural Women in Interwar Western Australia, 1934–1939‘.

In 1934 rural Western Australian women began writing letters into the women’s pages of the Western Mail. These letter writers quickly formed a community – the self-proclaimed ‘Virgilians’ of ‘Virgilians’ Friendly Corner’. The letters of ‘The Corner’ suggest new avenues for the ways in which public women only spaces can be understood, particularly in contexts that are coded as conservative. In its study of the fat women who made up a significant portion of the Virgilian community, this article finds that the social and cultural conditions of ‘Virgilians’ Friendly Corner’ allowed these women to create a space to share their experiences of their non-conforming bodies. These stories often resisted, but would also sometimes reinforce, dominant cultural narratives about their bodies. This demonstrates the ways in which these kinds of women-only public spaces do not fit comfortably into traditional radical/conservative binaries, suggesting that they should be redefined by this ambivalence.

Val Noone (Honorary Fellow in History) and Elizabeth Malcolm (Professorial Fellow) published an article, “Forgetting and Remembering the Irish Famine Orphans: A Critical Survey,” Australasian Journal of Irish Studies (2020) 139-68.

This article is the first scholarly overview of a major development in Irish Studies. Why were the Irish Famine orphans forgotten for so long in Australia, even by their own descendants, when copious records and reports about them were preserved in numerous libraries and archives? Equally, why in recent decades have they suddenly been remembered again—not merely restored to family memory and historical discourse, but hailed as founding mothers? This article investigates the change in public awareness: it surveys colonial and twentieth-century critics of the Famine orphan scheme before highlighting the influence of Trevor McClaughlin’s 1991 book; it then reviews the responses of family historians, the role of memorials and monuments, as well as representations of the orphans in literature, song, folklore and electronic media; some concluding reflections are offered on forgetting and remembering in the face of trauma.

Volkhard Wehner (Honorary Associate, History) published an article, Socialistischer Verein Vorwärts: Melbourne’s Nineteenth century German Socialist Association.

In 1886 a small group of German immigrants – mostly refugees from Bismarck’s antisocialist terror – founded a club in Melbourne they named Socialistischer Verein Vorwärts. It was one of Australia’s earliest socialist associations. Despite an acute lack of primary documentation, this article attempts to examine the background and activities of the club’s members to determine to what extent, and with what success, they and their club participated in Victoria’s political life at a time when numerous socialist, communist, anarchist and reformist workers’ clubs were emerging, all of them contributing to the formation of the political Left. It also attempts to determine whether the activities of the club had any long-term effect on the political scene in Victoria. The conclusion indicates that despite their experiences in Germany’s militant political environment, Vorwärts members appeared to adopt a fairly passive attitude that lacked a clear focus and failed to advocate class warfare along the lines of the German socialist movement. A brief comparison is made with a German club in Argentina bearing the same name that adopted more deliberate and consistent socialist objectives.

Neville D. Yeomans, Jillian R. Sewell, Philip Pigou, and Stuart Macintyre published an article, “Demographics and Performance of Candidates in the Examinations of the Australian Medical Council, 1978–2019“, The Medical Journal of Australia, 4 October 2020.

Australia has depended on overseas-trained medical practitioners throughout its history, but the processes for licensing them have at times been contested and controversial. Since 1978, for those international medical graduates (IMGs) who desired general (rather than specialist) registration, the Australian States devolved the initial assessment of knowledge and clinical judgment to the Australian Medical Council (and its precursor). This paper analyses deidentified data about the performances of the more than 20,000 IMGs who sat the written and clinical examinations during the forty-two year period. There has been a striking increase in numbers of candidates, peaking about 2010, and a recent fall in pass-rates in the clinical exam. The largest number of candidates was from South Asia, though IMGs from Great Britain and some other countries have been exempted from AMC examinations at different times during the total period. Some candidates showed great persistence, attempting the exams multiple times. Women slightly outperformed men in both exams, and this was more marked in the clinical examination during the last decade. There was a negative correlation between exam success and time since the candidate’s original medical degree.

The third issue of the undergraduate History journal Chariot was launched.

The issue features:

  • an editorial by Lindsay Wong and Tori Waqanaceva-Simpson;
  • Charlotte Allan on US popular sheet music during the Great War;
  • Lauren Song on Mussolini’s misuse of history;
  • Lindsay Wong on the role of young people in China’s Cultural Revolution;
  • Olivia Jastrzebski on the Burberry trenchcoat and masculinity during WWI;
  • Jacob Antoine on the War on Terror;
  • Tori Waqanaceva-Simpson on the bombing of Darwin;
  • Henry Sundram on the Australian Freedom Rides and the Wave-Hill Walk-Off;
  • Daisy Norfolk on Black Lives Matter;
  • and fiction by James Robertson, ‘David Bowie’s Berlin’.

A huge amount of work went into producing this excellent collection of historical writing and we take our hats off to everyone involved!


Andrea Cleland (PhD in History 2018) will be working on the project Oral Histories of Phillip Island, for which the Phillip Island & District Historical Society has received a grant from the Local History Grants program. The project aims to interview about Ten Phillip Islanders on the themes of tourism, farming, business, lifestyle and immigration on the island over the last 60 years. Andrea will conduct interviews with selected subjects and prepare transcripts, which will be edited in conjunction with Society members involved in the project. With the subjects’ permission, the transcripts will then go onto the Society’s website for everyone to read and enjoy.

Graduate Iain McIntyre (PhD in History, 2018) has researched and co-produced the Beats, Ballads and Ballrooms: Darebin Live Music Venues 1955–2020 audio-tour. Enjoyed either as a walking tour guided by the Echoes app or listened to via the website at home it brings listeners to 15 key locations and reveals the songs and stories behind the city’s venues, past and present. Johnny Chester, Wilbur Wilde, Tony Pantano, Ian McFarlane (Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop) and others discuss the glory days of pub rock, pop and cabaret from the 1950s to the 1980s. Mick Thomas, Sofia Chapman (Vardos), Achilles Yiangoulli (The Habibis), Paige Black, Rose Turtle Ertler, Tony Lovett (Stray Blacks) and others discuss the history of Rebetika and Eastern European music in Darebin as well as country, indie, punk, folk and pop venues and scenes. The early history of buildings, and the music associated with them, is chronicled by experts from Darebin Libraries and the Cinema Record. The project was commissioned and funded by Darebin Arts for HYPERLOCAL – a new series of immersive art works that invites audiences to see Darebin differently.

Henry Reese (PhD in History 2019) is part of the team for the ARC Discovery project, Progressive Education and Race: A Transnational History of Indigenous Education, 1920s–1950s, based at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education. The project aims to provide a new history of progressive education in Australia in the early to mid-twentieth century. It investigate the relationships between progressive education, Indigenous education and colonial governance – complex relationships that have been neglected in previous studies of the topic. Using transnational and comparative methods, the project will examine how international progressive ideas informed local educational initiatives. It also aims to explore the role of Indigenous advocacy for educational reform and to build a genealogy of educability and colonial childhood. The project brings together a team of leading scholars on the history of education, the history of transnational and internationalist movements, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education. The chief investigators are Professor Julie McLeod, Professor Fiona Paisley, Associate Professor Sana Nakata and Professor Tony Ballantyne.

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

Feature image: Grace Barrand cleaning the frame of The Five Senses (1670s), 2019. AGNSW, 8659. Photograph: Art Gallery of New South Wales