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This subject examines controversial episodes in the Australian past that commanded public attention, gave rise to heated argument and exposed national divisions. Controversies such as the Myall Creek Massacre, the Eureka rising, the campaign for female suffrage, the conscription referenda in World War One, the Wave Hill walk-off, the Dismissal of 1975 and Pauline Hanson's maiden parliamentary speech threw up competing interests and generated alternative notions of entitlement. The outcomes had lasting consequences. By studying a number of controversies over 200 years of white occupation of Australia, the subject also reveals changing preoccupations of race, class, gender, nationality, as well as changing forms of popular participation and public accountability. By considering how the controversies arose and how they were handled the subject provides insight into public life, the creation of consensus and the legitimacy of national institutions. The controversies gave rise to shared memories and competing traditions. They have shaped Australian history and continue to generate alternative interpretations. The subject thus introduces students to some of the key moments in the country's history.
Intended learning outcomes
Students who complete this subject should be able to:
- have developed an appreciation of changing expectations and public engagement;
- have developed a capacity to analyse competing interpretations of historical events; and
- possess an enhanced understanding of popular memory and historical argument.
Last updated: 17 February 2020