Faculty of Education and Arts

Keynote presentations

The following distinguished speakers will deliver keynote addresses at the AHA 2016: From Boom to Bust conference in Ballarat: 

Robert Anderson, 'The changing nature of museums: booming, busting, or what?' 

Since public museums emerged in the late seventeenth century, there has never been a clear consensus as to what their function (or functions) should be. The classification of the material and natural world was often seen as basic to them, but where would things develop from there? Were they essentially three-dimensional archives for scholars or were they to play a role in public education (and, later, tourism)? Depending where it was felt they lay on this spectrum, attitudes to ease of access of material, collecting policies, and the nature of presentation varied significantly.  Those who were behind the funding of museums had a major say in what philosophy they would adopt. From the middle of the nineteenth century, governments guided (or led) the policies of publically funded national museums, but there was a significant private, or independent, sector where wealthy individuals and other benefactors claimed the right to determine what kind of museum culture would be adopted.

Today there is a feeling within many museums that they are not masters of their own destiny. Their staff may know a lot about the stuff they look after, but external forces can frequently be heavy-handed, pushing museums around in one direction or another. Key decisions such as membership of boards, whether admission is free or not, and the emerging culture of the institution are, in the final analysis, not in the hands of the museums themselves. The paper will dwell on the origin of the issues which arise today, consider the roller-coaster changes which have been wrought on museums and discuss what factors can be used to judge their success (or otherwise).

Robert Anderson spent a career of 32 years working in national museums in the UK, half of this time in curatorial roles and half as a director, first of the National Museums of Scotland in Edinburgh, and for the final ten years at the British Museum. He was in charge of uniting the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland and the Royal Scottish Museum in the mid-1980s and he was at the British Museum when the Great Court was conceived and constructed following the departure of the British Library in the late 1990s. He has served on the boards of a number of museums and scholarly societies, and is currently publishing much of what he had no time to complete when other responsibilities took priority. On leaving Bloomsbury he spent a year at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, USA, and then he became a fellow of Clare Hall, a graduate college in the University of Cambridge. He now lives in the ancient Hanseatic town of King's Lynn in Norfolk.    


Joseph Bristow, 'Homosexual blackmail in the 1890s'  
Professor Bristow will be keynote speaker for the Australasian Victorian Studies Association (AVSA) affiliate conference. 

On Saturday, 11 August 1894, twenty men were arrested at a party that John Watson Preston hosted at his rooms at 46 Fitzroy Square, London. Two of the partygoers, Arthur Marling and John Severs, were dressed in women's clothing. All of the men were charged that evening at Tottenham Court Road Police Station. The following morning they appeared at the Great Marlborough Street Magistrates' Court. This widely reported event drew readers' attention to the fact that Marling attended court in fantastic female attire of black and gold. Journalists noted that many items of women's clothing had been found in Watson's home. After being remanded in custody for a week, Marling and Severs were bound in sureties of £5 to keep the peace for three months; five were ordered to find sureties of 40s. each for a month's good behavior; and the rest were discharged.

The party would not have had much significance were it not for the fact that Marling—together with two other men, Charles Parker and Alfred Taylor, who came to the party—played a central role in two later episodes that drew public attention to the extent of homosexual blackmail in the metropolis. At the Old Bailey in April 1895, the thirty-three-year-old Taylor—the former heir to a large cocoa manufacturing fortune—was charged alongside Wilde for conspiring to commit, as well as committing, acts of gross indecency. The revelations about Taylor's cross-dressing practices, which involved a mock-marriage ceremony with Charles Spurrier Mason, caused a sensation. Meanwhile, the twenty-year-old Parker served as a witness for the Crown prosecution's case against Oscar Wilde. Although Parker claimed to have received sums of money for sexual favors, there was no evidence that he extorted funds from Wilde. At the same time, Wilde's defense discovered that Parker was nonetheless deeply immersed in London's homosexual blackmailing subculture, in ways that had paid the young man considerable rewards. As it turned out, no legal action was taken against either Parker or any of the other male sex workers who confessed to committing the sexual crimes of which Wilde was accused. Nor did the Crown charge them for operating in teams with older men who physically threatened and extorted money from unsuspecting clients who were willing to pay for sex. In December 1896, however, a violent assault, which was followed by attempted blackmail, misfired. A married bricklayer, who belonged to this network of extortionists, robbed the gay writer Cotsford Dick of his belongings, including an Astrakhan-lined coat, a scarf-pin, and a pocketbook. Although a team of seasoned blackmailers attempted to intimidate Dick, he turned to the police for protection. Eventually, in 1898 Marling was charged as the individual who had pawned Dicks's stolen goods. He went to jail for five years. Two other accomplices—William Allen and Robert Cliburn—who evaded testifying during the Wilde trials were also sentenced. This presentation will explore each of these related events in considerable detail, drawing attention in particular to Allen's astounding disclosures in Reynolds's Newspaper about the brutal methods that extortionists used on homosexual men in the 1890s.

Professor Joseph Bristow BA (London) MLitt (Stirling) PhD (Southampton) is Distinguished Professor of English at UCLA (Los Angeles). From 2015 to 2017 he is working on an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Collaborative Research Fellowship with Rebecca N. Mitchell (University of Birmingham) and Yvonne Ivory (University of South Carolina) on a project entitled "Completing the Works of Oscar Wilde".  He co-edits the Journal of Victorian Culture (JVC) and is Series Editor for Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture. Professor Bristow is currently working on a reconstruction of the two criminal trials that resulted in Oscar Wilde's imprisonment. In 2016-2007, he will be on sabbatical leave, supported by an ACLS collaborative research award, in order to complete his contribution to the Oxford University Press edition of Wilde's unfinished and miscellaneous writings. His keynote address to the Australasian Victorian Studies Association Victorian Margins conference on "Homosexual Blackmail in the 1890s" draws the new study of Oscar Wilde's two criminal trials, with insights into the music-halls, the cross-dressing subculture in the metropolis, and the thriving world of queer extortion in 1890s London. http://www.english.ucla.edu/all-faculty/178-bristow-joseph.


Adam Wilkinson, 'The death of the moral prerogative – why bother with urban conservation'

In viewing heritage as a western construct, the guiding spirits in the Anglophone world remain the John Ruskin of his youth and William Morris. From The Stones of Venice and the Manifesto of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings we are left with a moral prerogative of preserving our heritage for the benefit of future generations and with a lack of proportionality in relation to the values of different aspects of an historic building. This has fed a line of thought that demands all new interventions in our cities are "of their time", and that working with the existing fabric is deemed "pastiche." It has meant that we, as a profession, have only by chance ensured that our historic places have remained relevant to the people that live, visit and work in them, instead focusing on an approach that one the one hand treats heritage as a series of museological items, and on the other hand ignores the original intention of those originally responsible for building a place. As a result, the battle for the moral prerogative has been lost through our own failure to keep our eyes open to how normal, everyday people value their heritage. This paper seeks to explore how the conservation world has lost the initiative since the 1980s, and look at the bright spots that have come forward through UNESCO's historic urban landscape initiative, using the author's area of work – Edinburgh, Scotland – as the vehicle for that story, and as a call to action for community based, conservation led revitalisation of our cities. 

Adam Wilkinson MA MSc FSA FRSA is Director of Edinburgh World Heritage having joined the organisation in 2008. He started his career in UNESCO's Division of Cultural Heritage as a lowly intern, via a brief flirtations with farming, carpentry and a Masters in Historic Conservation at Oxford Brookes. Adam served seven years as Secretary of SAVE Britan's Heritage, campaigning for threatened buildings and areas across the UK, with the occasional foray in to Europe. Edinburgh's beauty tempted him into what were described in the Architect's Journal as "the bloody, conservationist trenches" where he has spent 8 years building partnerships across the city and working with his team and others to use heritage in a rather more positive manner. Outside of the office, Adam can either be found restoring his mess of a late eighteenth century house and garden in a deprived former coal mining village, or yomping over the hills with his young family and ill-behaved hounds. 


Angela Woollacott'The making of a reformer: Don Dunstan before the Dunstan decade'

Don Dunstan (1926-1999), Premier of South Australia 1967-68 and 1970-79, was one of the most influential political figures of 20th century Australia. Dunstan blazed a trail of nationally-significant reform, ending the gerrymandering in SA that had guaranteed decades of conservative rule, and introducing his vision of social democracy in one state. Passionate about social equality and civil rights and liberties, Dunstan legislated against racial discrimination and for Aboriginal land rights, oversaw the decriminalisation of homosexuality, worked to improve the status of women, and urged Australians to see themselves as part of the Asia-Pacific region and not an outpost of Britain.

Analysing Dunstan in his context helps us to evaluate the 1960s and 1970s as a watershed era in Australia, and to identify local and national factors within broader global developments. Assessing the impact of Dunstan's South Australia shows how Australian federalism was changing, how state-Commonwealth relations could impede or facilitate reform, and how one small state could, for a time, lead a nation.

For the historian/biographer, challenges go beyond seeing the interaction between an individual and the times. Which moments or episodes in the biographical subject's life were the proving ground of the reformer? Where lay the inspiration or motivation? Drawn from my biography-in-progress of Dunstan, this paper will consider his moral, intellectual and political development prior to achieving ministerial office in 1965. In the hope of illuminating the making of a reformer, I will highlight episodes from the colonial Fiji of his birth; his education and political journey in 1940s Adelaide; and his work as ALP Member for Norwood in the 1950s and early 1960s on issues from Aboriginal rights to decolonization globally.  By connecting these disparate episodes, larger questions emerge about the historical roots of the 1960s-70s wave of reform in Australia. 

Angela Woollacott is the Manning Clark Professor of History at the Australian National University, and an elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and the Australian Academy of the Humanities. Her research and teaching span fields in Australian and British Empire history, settler colonialism, gender, biography and transnational history. Her most recent book Settler Society in the Australian Colonies: Self-Government and Imperial Culture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015) was shortlisted for the 2015 Queensland Literary Awards – University of Southern Queensland History Prize. Woollacott's term as President of the Australian Historical Association concludes at the association's Annual General Meeting in Ballarat on 7 July 2016. Her research on Don Dunstan is supported by an Australian Research Council Discovery grant.