Volume One Number Two


Thomas Riisfeldt, “States and social complexity: the Indus Valley (Harappan) Civilisation”

First Year Undergraduate, University of New South Wales

This essay explores ‘statehood’ and argues Indus Valley (Harappan) Civilisation was not a state like contemporary Sumer and Egypt were, despite being equally complex – hence calling for revision of the unilineal anthropological model culminating in the state.

Sara Amos, “Frankish involvement in the Gregorian mission to Kent.”

Third Year Undergraduate, Monash University

This article re-examines the primary documents relating to the sixth century Gregorian Mission to Kent in light of the modern historiographical tradition which claims Frankish hegemony existed over the Kentish Kingdom under Aethelberht’s rule. This tradition claims that the Gregorian mission to Kent must be seen as an extension of the authority of Merovingian Gaul over Kent. This article argues against this historiographical tradition as it is grounded in questionable interpretations of a small amount of primary material. It argues that the mission must be seen through the eyes of Pope Gregory the Great, the initiator of the mission, who viewed the mission within an apocolyptic framework. He wanted to save as many people as he could for the second coming and was not influenced by Merovingian politics.

Ronald Chambers, “A bang or a whimper? Big Ships, Big Guns, Big Ideas and World War One.”

Third Year Undergraduate, Macquarie University

In 1914, the Great Powers of Europe went to war using outmoded strategies based on obsolete technologies. The politicians and military strategists of the day had opted for navalism – the idea of supremacy based on naval power. Navalism in the early twentieth century meant just one thing – big ships with big guns, the Dreadnought class battleships and heavy battle cruisers built by Britain and Germany. These weapons of mass destruction did not prevail when hostilities broke out, however. During World War One, the submarine, torpedo and mine along with aircraft, wireless and tank became the major defence technologies of sovereign nations, and battleships faded into obscurity. How could the most powerful nations of the day have got it so wrong?

This essay argues that the confrontation between Germany’s desire for Weltmacht and British Realpolitik, resulted in military strategies for both sides that fractured in the heat of World War One conflict. These strategies fractured because their underpinning technologies changed more rapidly than the political and administrative apparatus could deal with, leading the Great Powers to war using outmoded strategies based on obsolete technologies.

Marcus Colla, “Iolo Morganwg and the place of authenticity within the creation of a Welsh cultural identity.”

Third Year Undergraduate, University of Tasmania

Although not in any traditional sense a ‘colonial culture’, Welsh culture in the late eighteenth century was perpetually threatened by an encroaching sense of ‘British’ identity, of both an organic and imperialistic nature. As a ‘forgotten frontier’ within this dynamic era of British history (particularly when compared with Scotland and Ireland), Wales is an especially interesting case study in assessing cultural demise. More importantly, however, it is also a uniquely interesting case study in assessing cultural revival. Central to this revival was the character of Iolo Morganwg. In his capacities as a Romantic, antiquarian, author, nationalist, populist and – critically – forger, Morganwg did ‘much to muddy the stream of Welsh historiography’. Furthermore, there is an additional element of Romanticism implicit in the texts of Morganwg and his compatriots, which obscures even further the discrepancy between historical manipulation and artistic creation. But perhaps most importantly for our present purposes, the antiquarian movement did have a substantial impact upon Welsh culture thereafter. This provides, in addition, yet another area of interpretation that generates wide-ranging considerations about the importance or relevance of authenticity to texts of historical cultural significance.

Eve Worth, “Feminine Love in the Twelfth Century – A Case Study: The Mulier in the Lost Love Letters and the Work of Female ‘Mystics.'”

Third Year Undergraduate, University of Bristol

This article compares the twelfth-century writings of the secular mulier in the Lost Love Letters with the work of religious female ‘mystics’ to draw comparisons about the way these authors chose to express love. An analysis of the use of imagery and the dominant discourses in their writings allows the author to draw conclusions about the characteristics of a feminine expression of love in this period. The conclusions of the article open up the possibility of questioning the widely held idea of ‘uniqueness’ in the work of Hildegard of Bingen.

Hannah Altern, “‘Subaltern Studies: ‘from writing with (socialist) passion to following the (postmodern) fashion’”

Honours, Macquarie University

This article explores the changing place of subaltern studies within Indian historiography and its contribution to the creation of the histories of marginalised people. The article traces the shift of subaltern studies from a Marxist tradition towards a focus on cultural studies, through close study of its leading

journal, Subaltern Studies. In the course of this transition, Subaltern Studies has also influenced historians outside of the Subcontinent, and these are briefly examined.

Darryl Burrowes, “How History Dealt with LBJ and his Vietnam War in Three Key Areas: Escalation, Management and the Tet Offensive Articles.”

Honours, Flinders University

This is a survey of some of the key Anglo-Saxon historiography of President Johnson’s escalation of American involvement in the Vietnam War. It is a study of consensus and controversy in the literature.  Discussion is limited to three areas: reasons for escalation, Johnson’s management of the war and thirdly the implications of the Tet Offensive. The historiography under discussion will range from the contemporaneous to the present and include perspectives from the Johnson administration itself.

Benjamin Sievewright, “Nationalism and Federation: Creating the Commonwealth of Australia.”

Graduate Certificate, University of Melbourne

This essay investigates the motives behind the Federation of Australia focussing especially on the form of nationalism presented by the ‘bushman’s bible’, the Bulletin, during the period. In arguing for Australian nationalism as a key motivator behind the creation of the Commonwealth, much of the argument is structured by Paul Kelly’s five pillars of Australian settlement and a number of other approaches to Federation by key historians are explored and assessed.

David Freeman,  “Head Reading the American Psycho: The Role of Phrenology in the Medical Construction of Insanity in the United States, 1830-1850.”

Graduate Diploma, University of New England

This paper examines the contributions of phrenology to the medical construction of the idea of insanity in the United States during the middle portion of the nineteenth century. At a time when psychiatry was coming into its own and brain functions began to be seen as the cause of mental illness, phrenology provided a convenient, scientifically supported (or so it was thought) justification for the behaviour of the mentally ill. In addition to this, phrenology was also a contributor to the early ‘self-help’ movement, which increased its appeal to medical authorities and the general public in Jacksonian America.

Bill Apter, “‘Old Men Forget’ or do they ‘Remember with Advantages’? The problem of primary sources and objectivity.”

Masters, Macquarie University

‘Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day.’

Shakespeare’s Henry V helped to create the myth of a Great King and has influenced histories of the Hundred Years War; the English remember Agincourt and their other victorious battles rather than the loss of the war. But Henry’s speech on memory contains a critical truth regarding primary sources that has received less attention. Whilst old men do sometimes forget, it is their tendency to remember their feats with advantages in their memoirs and diaries that is the focus of this article. Examining a number of key texts by twentieth-century Britons, this article discusses the role of memoirs and diaries in shaping the way the history of World War One and Two has been told. If primary sources are not objective and contain distortions, omissions and errors, can the truth be uncovered in secondary sources that make use of them?

3 thoughts on “Volume One Number Two

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s