Volume Two Number One


Jillian Donohoo, “Le Courrier Australien and France Libre.”

Second Year Undergraduate, University of Sydney

Following the German invasion of Paris in June 1941, and General de Gaulle’s declaration of resistance, Sydney-based French language newspaper Le Courrier Australien pledged support to the Free French Movement. From August 1941 to April 1942, the newspaper was transformed from an insular newspaper unheard of outside the Sydney French community to an organisation reaching the broader English-speaking Australian population; holding special events and fundraisers for France Libre; and situating its work within the international and national context. This paper will explore the significant contributions of the remarkable newspaper that became a community rallying point.

Jessica O’Leary “Flee the loathsome shadow: Marsilio Ficino (1433-99) and the Medici in Florence.”

Second Year Undergraduate, Monash University

This article examines the changing political landscape of Medicean Florence, from Cosimo de’ Medici (1389-1464) to his grandson Lorenzo the Magnificent (1449-1492), through the letters of the celebrated neo-Platonist philosopher Marsilio Ficino (1433-99). Ficino’s philosophical, theological and astronomical works have been extensively studied, but little work has been done on how his epistolary relationship with the Medici reflected the rise and fall of the philosopher’s fortunes. Lorenzo did not follow Cosimo’s virtuous example in politics and strayed from Cosimo’s path to a powerful Florence. Ficino counselled both Cosimo and Lorenzo through his letters and his praise of the ‘wise and prudent’ Cosimo and his frustration with the ‘impure and ignorant’ prince Lorenzo reflects the precarious status of the Florentine intellectual. Ficino did not totally support Laurentian rule and as a result, he was stripped of his status in the inner sanctum of Florentine politics and was forced to seek alternative means to sustain his philosophical work. This article will argue that examining Ficino’s letters to the Medici reveals wider political changes in Renaissance Florence and the need for clients to balance personal satisfaction with a need to survive.

Nadja Siegel, “Forged through ‘Blood and Iron’: How and Why the army was so Important in the Creation of a German Nation from the 1860s to 1918.”

Second Year Undergraduate, University of New England

It is impossible to understand the German nation-building processes in the nineteenth century without recognising the importance of the military. It can be argued that the military became an important national symbol and transcended into German national culture and consciousness. This is partly due to the military being a tangible institution of the State but also a cultural force that became a national symbol and was an integral part of the ‘invented traditions’ in the new nation following unification in 1871.

Ryan Coates, “The Conservatism of Richard Hofstadter.”

Third Year Undergraduate, Durham University

Richard Hofstadter (1916-1970) was the outstanding American historian of the twentieth century. The almost universally accepted orthodox interpretation of Hofstadter’s thought positions him as one of the leading liberal intellectuals of postwar America. Subsequently, his relationship to conservatism has been underexamined and generally considered to have been one of unrelenting hostility. This interpretation is based upon a misreading of Hofstadter’s essays on ‘pseudo-conservatism’ and the ‘paranoid style.’ Subsequently, this essay sets out to re-examine Hofstadter’s relationship to conservatism through acknowledging his distinction between moderate and pseudo-conservatism, and reassessing his most political works. This will allow the discovery of what Howe and Finn have described as Hofstadter’s ‘latent conservatism.’

Matthew Theodorakis, “Reconstructing the Falklands War.”

Third Year Undergraduate, Monash University

For Britain, constructions of the Falklands War have been dominated by government and media sources. This essay seeks to develop a competing narrative by drawing on accounts offered by people directly involved in the conflict.

Luke Bancroft, “Vague Boundaries: Ideas of Public and Private in Petrarch’s Seniles.”

Honours, Monash University

In terms of epistolography, Petrarch deserves the acclaim he has won as an innovative literary mind.  He was very much the instigator of a revolutionary epistle tradition.  Paying particular attention to his final collection of letters, the Rerum senilium libri, this article explores the extent to which we can demarcate between the public and private Petrarch in his correspondence.  It argues that we must exercise caution when approaching these concepts in Petrarch, since his understanding of them was vastly different to our own.  It is possible, however, to draw some distinctions by examining the public image Petrarch strove to achieve, and by exploring the notion of male friendship as contained in the letters.  In doing this, we are able to identify those elements of Petrarch’s character that might be described as private, but only insofar as they relate to his broader public image.

James Brien, “The Role of Causation in History.”

Honours, University of New England

E.J. Tapp boldly claimed that without a concept of causation ‘there could be no history’. To many extents, he is correct – causation plays an essential role in the process of historical explanation. It connects historical facts to provide greater understanding about the past. Causation is thus a fundamental aspect of the historical writing process. As such, there have been numerous debates over the exact role and implications of its application. This essay assesses the major debates surround the application of causation to historical research and writing, such as the role causation has played in the construction of histories, its role in historical explanation, defining a cause, subjectivity and selection, determinism and free will.

Declan Mulders-Jones, “Debating the Legitimacy of Violence: Duelling in Antebellum America.”

Honours, University of Sydney

The antebellum period of American history was characterised by the prevalence of duelling. The custom was hardly uncontested; it was the subject of fierce debate in the public sphere for decades. Periodically, this debate emerged to dominate public discourse in the wake of particularly noteworthy duels, usually due to the fame of participants or a fatal outcome. This debate represents an unparalleled avenue into reconstructing the conflicting sources of legitimacy for violence put forward by various social groups, occurring in a period where state-formation processes were in their infancy and the sanction of the state had not yet become the primary means of differentiating between legitimate and illegitimate acts of violence.

Bethany Phillips-Peddlesden, “‘Nature’s Cruel Mistake:’ Representations of Transsexual Experience in Twentieth-Century Autobiographies.”

Honours, University of Melbourne

Gender is understood as one of the formative aspects of the construction of subjectivity. This article will discuss how early transsexuals interpreted and represented their sexed and gendered bodies in relation to their sense of identity and negotiation of normative understandings of performative gender within Western society. It explores how three transsexual people constructed their biographical experiences and the understanding of transsexuality in wider social understandings of gender and sexuality during the twentieth century.

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