Category Archives: Historiography

Shaping a historiography: beginning a ‘history war’

The only way to discover who people actually are is through their expressions, through their symbolic systems…ethnography takes an historian to the systematic and public expression of who people are – their rituals, their myths, their symbolic environments.[1] In The … Continue reading

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Shaping a historiography: gendering the Australian legend

Humphrey McQueen’s A New Britannia rejected Ward’s ‘mateship’ myth and the labour movement’s contribution to nation building. Succumbing to the ‘siren entreaties of bourgeois culture’ Labor betrayed the working-class in parliament; the unions timidly resorted to state-sponsored compulsory arbitration instead … Continue reading

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Shaping a historiography: Challenging mythologies

Melleuish observes that the radical nationalists Vance and Nettie Palmer influenced Hancock’s Australia, helping him to frame ‘a picture of the failure of suburban Australia to generate a vital, living culture.’[1] Where Hancock crafted a tough and realistic assessment of … Continue reading

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Shaping a historiography: Crawford and Hancock

The most sophisticated expressions of the liberal interpretation of Australian history in the inter-war years were provided by R.M. ‘Max’ Crawford (1906-1991) and Keith Hancock (1898-1988). A former student of Wood’s in Sydney and Oxford’s Balliol College, Crawford took over … Continue reading

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Shaping a historiography: Ernest Scott and the Short History

A number of the historians may well have recoiled at any suggestion that their histories included elements of politicised myth-making. Influenced by von Ranke’s empiricism and intolerant of theory, Ernest Scott saw himself elaborating the facts into service to clarify … Continue reading

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Shaping a historiography: a mythic beginning

In 1916, Ernest Scott, newly appointed professor of history at the University of Melbourne, concluded his highly influential A Short History of Australia with a discussion of Australia’s novelists and poets. In the final paragraph of the book, he observed … Continue reading

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The need for an archive

Bonwick’s main interest lay in the preservation of records for posterity and he followed this interest assiduously even though he was not successful in having a public records office created in any of the Australian Colonies. Between 1872 and 1891 … Continue reading

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James Bonwick and Australian archives

James Bonwick was pivotal in the development of the idea of a public record office or archives in NSW.[1] Ironically it was in England from the early 1880s than Bonwick made his mark on the archives of Australia in general … Continue reading

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