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The manufacture of Australian history

Pascoe, Rob (1978) The manufacture of Australian history. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This is a critical evaluation of the leading twentieth-century historians of European settlement in Australia. It is argued that these fifty or so historians may usefully be classified into a number of schools and tendencies by employing two criteria of historiographical style: their 'mode of social theorising’ (based on the theoretical work of Stephen Pepper), and the ideological implication of their scholarship. The application of these criteria suggest that eight distinct groups of historians may be distinguished. In chronological order these have been as follows: the 'liberal patriots', the Old Left, Manning Clark (his work has yet to inspire direct emulation), the 'empiricist' and 'syncretic' conservatives, the sociological historians, the New Left, and the feminists.

Significant representatives of these groups of historians are examined in turn, attempting throughout to state their general presuppositions about the nature of the Australian past, and the ideological implications these give rise to, as clearly and accurately as possible. These descriptions form the basis of the evaluation of each historian and school in turn: concentrating on the degree to which each historiographical style provides a coherent account of the past generates the major argument of the study. Each group of historians is shown to be relatively weaker or stronger in terms of the different aims ordinarily expected of the historian.

The concluding chapter weaves these separate criticisms together in order to postulate a basis for a general model of how twentieth-century professional history has been manufactured.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Inquiry
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Supervisor(s): UNSPECIFIED
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