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Must-Read Histories

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In Must-Read Histories — an event marking the launch of the History Speaks website — contributors ‘go live’ to discuss the question: what are the indispensable works of Australian history? Hosted by Dr Clare Wright.

Books, monographs, plays, novels, even films and poetry are all up for discussion as the nation’s leading historians outline and debate their choices for the must-read texts on Australian history.

Stuart Macintyre, Professor of History at the University of Melbourne, chooses Brian Fitzpatrick’s The Australian Commonwealth (1956).

Marcia Langton, Professor of Australian Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne, nominates Watkin Tench’s A Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson, in New South Wales, Including an Accurate Description of the Situation of the Colony; and of its Natural Productions; Taken on the Spot (1793).

And Tim Soutphommasane, Research Fellow at Monash University’s National Centre for Australian Studies, turns his eye to Russel Ward’s The Australian Legend (1958).

Finally, with the panel open to questions from the floor, Macintyre and Soutphommasane are asked to clarify their position on the potential misogyny of their chosen texts. Langton adds that texts should be read in context and many have written to correct the prejudiced aspects of earlier works.

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