Category: History

  1. Peter Yule on Vietnam Veterans and the Victorian Bar

    A video recording of Peter Yule's presentation to the SHAPS Fellows & Associates seminar (June 2021).

  2. Editing the Adams Family Papers: An Interview with Sara Martin

    After completing her PhD in History at the University of Melbourne, Sara Martin went on to pursue a career in Public History and is currently Editor in Chief of the Adams Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston. In a conversation with History PhD candidate Jonathan Tehusijarana, Sara shared her reflections on the importance […]

  3. Beyond ‘Statue Shaming’: Grappling with Australia’s Legacies of Slavery

    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised this article contains distressing images and names and/or images of people who have passed away. As countries around the globe struggle to come to terms with the legacies of their imperial and colonial pasts, much debate about truth-telling focuses on how we remember individuals. The statues and […]

  4. Stalin in the Summer of 1941: A Drama in Three Acts

    A video recording of a special lecture by Professor Mark Edele to mark the 80th anniversary of Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941.

  5. Reflections on the Last Two Decades of Indigenous Histories

    A video-recording of the 2021 Kathleen Fitzpatrick Lecture, delivered by Professor Lynette Russell.

  6. Exploring the History of Piracy

    In 2019 Dr Sarah Craze completed a PhD on the history of the 2008–2012 Somali piracy epidemic. Her study of this topic also explored historical connections to piracy in the Caribbean and the East Indies centuries earlier. In this interview with Dr Henry Reese, she discusses her work on this fascinating category of historical actors. […]

  7. The Life Stories of Gippsland Lakes Fishers

    An oral history project involving SHAPS Fellow Nikki Henningham is preserving the memories of the people who fished the Gippsland Lakes before commercial fishing was shutdown. This article, authored by Nikki and republished from Pursuit, explores the project. With little fanfare or attention, commercial fishing in the Gippsland Lakes in eastern Victoria ceased on 1 […]

  8. Gita Yoga: Interview with Dr Fay Woodhouse

    In October 2020, SHAPS Fellow Fay Woodhouse released her new book, Gita: Melbourne’s First Yoga School – 65 Years of History, exploring the different phases of Melbourne’s first full-time permanent yoga school, founded in 1954. Nicole Davis chatted to Fay about the book, the history of Gita Yoga, and its place in Melbourne’s and Australia’s […]

  9. The Truth Behind A Pirate Legend

    Benito de Soto was a ruthless and violent pirate, but his story has been rewritten (and reimagined) over 200 years to create his modern rebel reputation. Dr Sarah Craze and Associate Professor Richard Pennell from SHAPS explore his story in this article, republished from Pursuit. You may have already heard of the pirate Benito de Soto […]

  10. Charlotte-Rose Millar on Urban Ghosts in Early Modern London

    A video recording of Charlotte-Rose Millar's presentation to the Early Modern Circle seminar (March 2021).

  11. Fifty Years of French Revolution: A Celebration of Peter McPhee

    In October 2020, Professor Peter McPhee delivered his final lecture for the undergraduate History subject The French Revolution, rounding off an astonishing fifty years of teaching this subject. To mark this occasion, SHAPS hosted an online celebration in honour of Peter’s outstanding career as an extraordinarily gifted, inspiring and dedicated teacher. Below you can watch […]

  12. Is This the End of the ‘American Century’?

    Is the United States’ time in the sun as the world’s superpower coming to an end? While American exceptionalism reigns supreme, the Capitol Hill riots revealed a truth. Hansen Lecturer in Global History Dr Sarah Walsh explores the history of how American foreign policy has been imagined and mythologised in this article, republished from Pursuit. […]

  13. Charles Coppel on Elias Godfrey Coppel CMG QC LLD on the Supreme Court of Victoria

    A video recording of Charles Coppel's presentation to the SHAPS Fellows & Associates seminar (February 2021).

  14. Welcome Dr Richard Lee, New Lecturer in Chinese History

    In February 2021 Dr Richard Lee commenced his appointment as Lecturer in Chinese History in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies. He will be teaching Modern China in Global History (Semester One) and Cold War Cultures in Asia (Semester Two), as well as supervising Honours students. In this interview, Dr Lee responds to a […]

  15. Introducing New Lecturer in Gender History, Dr Annabelle Baldwin

    Newly appointed Lecturer in Gender History, Dr Annabelle Baldwin, is a specialist in twentieth-century European and global history, with a particular interest in Holocaust studies, focusing on Jewish women’s and girls’ experience of sexual violence during the Holocaust. Annabelle will be teaching two brand-new undergraduate subjects: the first-year subject Gender Rights and Leadership in History […]

  16. Meet the 2021 Hansen PhD Scholar, Georgia Comte

    Since 2016, an annual Hansen PhD scholarship in History has been awarded to support an outstanding researcher with a commitment to promoting History to the wider community. This year’s Hansen PhD scholar is Georgia Comte, who will be investigating gender and sexuality in late eighteenth- to early nineteenth-century French art. Georgia embarks on this project […]

  17. Darius von Güttner on Bona Sforza and Polish Foreign Policy (1518–1548)

    A video recording of Darius von Güttner's presentation to the SHAPS Fellows & Associates Seminar (January 2021).

  18. A Shipwreck and a Song: Isabel Hollingdale on Family History, Creativity and the Women of World War Two

    In the third-year History capstone subject, students are encouraged to experiment with presenting historical research in creative formats. One student in the 2020 cohort, Isabel Hollingdale, an accomplished musician and singer-songwriter, wrote and recorded a song. In the latest of the Forum podcast series, Henry Reese spoke with Isabel about her work, which brings together […]

  19. History Capstone 2020 Showcase

    Making History is the capstone subject for our History majors — for many of our students this is their last academic unit of History. The subject gives students an opportunity to focus on History in the world as well as History in the academy. We always end the semester with a Closing Conference as an […]

  20. Encounters, Agency, and Race in Oceania

    A video-recording of the 2020 Greg Dening Memorial Lecture, delivered by Professor Bronwen Douglas.

  21. Stuart Macintyre in Conversation with History Honours Students

    As part of the Honours subject The Writing of Australian History (HIST90023), students have the unique opportunity to meet with distinguished historian Professor Emeritus Stuart Macintyre and to engage him in conversation about his work and about Australian historiography more broadly. We share below a videorecording and transcript of one of these sessions, from April […]

  22. David Palmer on Korean Forced Laborers in Wartime Japan

    During World War II, Imperial Japan relied on hundreds of thousands of Koreans for its economy. Authorities transported almost 800,000 Koreans from their homeland by force from 1939 to 1945 in the largest migration of non-Japanese into Japan in the country’s history. SHAPS Associate in History Dr David Palmer presented his research on this topic to the SHAPS Fellows & Associates seminar in October 2020.

  23. Scientist and Killer: A Split Life

    How does an urbane chemist become a Nazi, then go back to being a respected researcher? And what does it say about the extent of the humanity in all of us? Dr Oleg Beyda explores the story of Hans Beutelspacher in this article, originally published in Pursuit. In his diaries and letters, the World War […]

  24. The Queen who Defied the Holy Roman Emperor

    An Italian-born princess and sole heir to the Sforza dukedom, the life of Bona Sforza helps us understand how elite Renaissance women acquired, maintained and negotiated power. In this article, republished from Pursuit, SHAPS Fellow Darius von Güttner-Sporzynski explores the life of Queen Bona and her legacy. Among the women of the European Renaissance, Bona Sforza […]

  25. Looking Back at the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic in Colonial Indonesia

    Colonial Indonesia was hit especially hard by the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918–1919, with the highest death rate in Asia after India. History PhD candidate Ravando recently published a book (in Bahasa Indonesia) on this subject, drawing upon archives of the Dutch colonial Civil Medical Service and the contemporary Chinese-Indonesian press. In this blogpost, Ravando […]

  26. Documenting the History of Worco Crafts Co-operative

    After completing her PhD in History in 2019, Molly Mckew was commissioned to write the history of the Preston-based Worco crafts co-operative, to mark the fortieth anniversary of its founding. The project offered Molly the opportunity to build on her knowledge of the history of Melbourne inner-urban lifestyle experiments of the 1960s–1970s, and to apply […]

  27. World AIDS Day: Interview with History Graduate Timothy Krulic

    Timothy Krulic is an Honours graduate from the University of Melbourne, having undertaken a combined degree in History and English and Theatre Studies. Since 2015, he has worked at Living Positive Victoria, where he is currently a Health Promotion Officer. Forum’s Nicole Davis interviewed him recently about his current work and how his studies influenced […]

  28. ‘Narratives & Power’: Melbourne Historical Journal Volume 47 Launch

    Melbourne Historical Journal (MHJ), our very own postgraduate History journal, launched its much-anticipated Volume 47 on 5 November 2020. Themed Narratives and Power, the 2019/2020 edition features a range of research articles, reviews, lectures, and interviews. Each asks different questions of ‘narratives and power’, exploring themes of justice, representation, heritage, memory and honour. This piece […]

  29. Historians Working for Justice at the Waitangi Tribunal

    Five History graduates from the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies have ended up working for New Zealand’s Waitangi Tribunal Unit at the Ministry of Justice. The Waitangi Tribunal is one of the key institutions engaged in protecting Māori rights under the 1840 Waitangi Treaty. At a time when the ‘job-readiness’ of Arts graduates has […]

  30. ‘Donkey Work’ and the History of Labour

    Kathryn Smithies, Associate in History, recently published the book Introducing the Medieval Ass, on the cultural and socio-economic history of the donkey (previously known as the ass) in the Middle Ages and beyond. She also blogs about all things donkey at In this piece, she explores the history of the phrase “working like a donkey”, […]

  31. Rebuilding Life after Mass Violence: Lessons from the Chilean Truth Commission

    History PhD candidate Amy Hodgson was recently awarded a prestigious Yale Fox International Fellowship. This graduate exchange scheme supports students who are committed to harnessing scholarly knowledge to respond to urgent global challenges. The Fellowship will support Amy’s research into the history of Chile’s post-dictatorship truth commissions. For her project, Amy has carried out a […]

  32. The Uncounted Death Toll of Coronavirus in Aged Care

    Associate in History Marama Whyte reflects on the acute crisis in the aged care sector that has been revealed so tragically by the pandemic.

  33. Meet the New History Society Office-Holders

    The History Society is a student-led club for people who are studying or interested in history.  Headed by a committee of passionate history buffs, our aims include promoting the study of history, providing a social network for fellow history buffs on campus and beyond, and running history-themed events such as trivia nights, film screenings, and […]

  34. Introducing Dr Julia Hurst, Lecturer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History

    We are delighted to announce the appointment of Dr Julia Hurst as Lecturer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History. Dr Hurst’s appointment will open up new opportunities for our students to take subjects in Indigenous history. To welcome Dr Hurst and to introduce her research to the School community, we invited Dr Henry Reese […]

  35. The 1970s and the Making of Modern Australia

    The 2020 Ernest Scott Lecture was delivered by Professor Michelle Arrow (Macquarie University). In a rich and thought-provoking lecture, Professor Arrow explored the 1970s as the era when the ‘personal became political’. You can watch a recording of the lecture below; listen to an audio-recording via ABC Radio National; or read a transcript, published on […]

  36. The Sands of Time: Histories of the Medieval and Early Modern Hourglass

    Sandglasses were part of the variegated ecology of time measurement in the premodern world. This was a world attentive to time, where knowledge of the temporal rhythms of the environment reached from the movements of the stars to the fall of granules of lead. Among human-made instruments for time measurement, the sandglass was one of […]

  37. Other Awful Years in History

    Around the world, people can’t wait for 2020 to end. COVID-19 has killed close to a million people globally over the course of the pandemic. On top of the coronavirus, there’s been significant floods in Uganda, Kenya, Pakistan and the UK, Australia has experienced devastating bush fires, storms have battered the Americas, and locusts have […]

  38. Pirates or Partners?

    Famed as the home of the dreaded Barbary pirates, the ‘scourge of Christendom’, for many early modern Europeans and Britons, the Maghreb was a distant and terrifying place. Some, however, saw the corsairing states as legitimate military rivals, potential trading partners or allies, and even attractive places for migration and personal advancement. Recently, History PhD […]

  39. Exploring the History of Whales and Whaling

    A number of our graduates go on to pursue careers in the GLAM sector – that is, Galleries, Libraries, Archives & Museums. Charlotte Colding Smith completed a PhD in History in 2010, and has gone on to work at a number of institutions and museums internationally. She is a Senior Expert Fellow at the German […]

  40. Body-makers and Farthingale-makers in Seventeenth-century London

    By 1700 tailors no longer dominated England’s garment marketplace, as stay-makers, mantua-makers and seamstresses began to produce key items of female dress previously made by tailors. The demise of the tailoring monopoly was a complex process that involved many factors. On 3 September, our McKenzie Fellow, Sarah Bendall, presented the weekly Brown Bag talk, which […]

  41. The Bishop with 150 Wives

    Francis Xavier Gsell is famous for his work among the Tiwi people, from whom he purchased the marriage rights to young women as part of a broad evangelisation strategy. A mythic figure in popular histories of the Northern Territory, Gsell is often remembered as the apocryphal ‘Bishop with 150 Wives’. But Gsell’s complex legacy has […]

  42. “Ffor Whalebones to it”: The Baleen Trade and Fashion in Sixteenth-century Europe

    During the sixteenth century the bodies of Europe’s elites began to change in size and form as men and women adopted wide starched ruffs and collars, ballooning sleeves, stiffened or bombast upper garments and puffy lower garments. Such a structured silhouette set the tone for centuries of fashion and was the result of changing artistic […]

  43. The Inaugural SHAPS Optimus Awards

    In 2019 SHAPS Head of School Professor Margaret Cameron launched a new set of annual awards. Through the Optimus Awards, SHAPS will recognise and celebrate members of our community who exemplify one or more of the values articulated in the Faculty of Arts Strategy Map 2019–2025. All members of the School community, including undergraduate and […]

  44. Meet the 2020 Hansen PhD Scholar Cat Gay

    The Hansen Trust, established to advance the study of History at University of Melbourne, includes an annual PhD scholarship to the doctoral program in History in SHAPS. The 2020 recipient, Cat Gay, is working to uncover the life stories and experiences of girls in nineteenth-century Victoria through the study of the material culture that they […]

  45. Is This the Earliest Depiction of a Dodo in Art?

    The Jagiellonian arrases – tapestries that decorate the walls of Wawel Castle in Poland – may be one of the earliest known artistic representation of the long-extinct dodo. SHAPS Principal Research Fellow Dr Darius von Güttner tells us more in this fascinating article republished from Pursuit. This month marks 500 years since the birth of […]

  46. Sport, Community and Everyday Life: World War One and COVID-19 Compared

    For many Australians, the economic pain brought by the COVID-19 crisis has been compounded by the disruption caused to sporting activities. For football-loving Melburnians, the very rhythm of the week was rendered unrecognisable after the temporary suspension of the 2020 AFL season in March. The closing down of sports at the local community level has […]

  47. What Today’s News Has in Common with Early Execution Ballads

    Violence, corruption and murder dominate our modern headlines, but little has changed since execution ballads were sung in sixteenth-century Europe. In this article, republished from Pursuit, Lisa Needham talks to Dr Una McIlvenna from SHAPS about the similarities between headlines of today and the early modern period. Since the start of 2020, it’s felt like […]

  48. Confronting the History of Race and Empathy in the Classroom: A Conversation with Dr Sarah Walsh

    In June 2020, Dr Sarah Walsh joined the History Program as our new Hansen Lecturer in Global History. In this new podcast, in conversation with History PhD candidate Amy Hodgson, Dr Walsh discusses her research, and her approach to teaching. The interview traverses a wide range of topics, including the challenges posed by online teaching, especially when it comes to handling difficult and confronting histories of oppression and violence. What approaches can be used to foster empathy and kindness in the classroom? What methods can researchers working on these topics use in order to take care of their own mental health and wellbeing? And what are some useful starting points for people who want to educate themselves about issues around race and racism?

  49. Episode 5 in the SHAPS Podcast Series: Professor Peter McPhee

    Societies have always used statues and other monuments as ways of recognising power and eminence. In Australia, as in many other places, there is currently public debate over whether some statues should be removed, who should make the decision, and what should be the fate of the statues themselves. Should they be displayed with explanatory plaques, taken away to be preserved in museums or simply removed? Such debates are common in history. In this episode, Professor Peter McPhee surveys the wide range of objects destroyed during the French Revolution – from buildings and statues to books and paintings – but also the remarkable responses of revolutionary governments. It concludes with some reflections about the place of monumental statues and heritage sites in Australia.

  50. Race, Change and Time in the USA

    Americans are reaching back into history to try to understand why progress on racial equality has been so heartbreakingly slow. In this article, republished from Pursuit, Professor David Goodman explores the question. Many commentators have compared or rejected comparison between the current public protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in the USA and the uprisings […]

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