My research interests include histories of youth, gender, welfare, education and disability. I have a keen interest in digital history and all things web.
My dissertation is titled "Help Us/Help Them: How Australian parents understood the problem of mental retardation, and what they did about it, 1945-1970."
We often here how today’s students love technology. So do I. I also like to play a bit and try and see how we can best use it to enhance our higher education teaching.
This past semester I’ve been teaching Australian Social History (HSTY2614), a survey course which spans from 1918 through to today. As lead tutor for the course, I tried to engage the students through a range of online initiatives. This included a set of online resources available through the custom bit.ly address bit.ly/hsty2614; email updates providing responses to in-tutorial activities such as setting class rules and a stop/start/continue peer -review exercise; a webCT site offering lecture recordings; and (something new) a twitter hashtag for the course.
Twitter is what I discuss here. Read more…
Conference Abstract: ‘Habilitating the retarded”: Why sheltered workshops for ‘mentally retarded’ Australians became ‘terminal’, 1945-1970
Abstract for my upcoming paper at Connections, Australian Historical Association national conference in Adelaide, 2-6 July 2012.
The New Disability History, which seeks to trace the changing meanings attached to impairments over time, has alerted us to the contingent and protean nature of disabilities, and exposed the fuzzy boundaries between embodied impairments and culturally constructed disablements. The borderlands of disabilities are often diffuse, and different groups of individuals have moved within or through them over time.
In the decades immediately following the Second World, the group of classifications we now call ‘intellectual disabilities’ was in a state of flux. Australian parents with ‘mentally retarded’ youngsters had emerged as a new political force, organising themselves into large, influential voluntary bodies, and driving particularly rapid shifts in both popular and scientific understandings of who constituted the ‘mentally retarded’ group, and the needs, abilities and potentialities of its constituents. Read more…
Resources for Sydney University Summer School lecture to HSTY2614, “Australian Social History”: The Rise of the Nuclear Family
Yesterday I went to Driving the Future of History and Philosophy, and saw Dr. Larissa Aldridge’s amazing keynote address, “Achilles and the Black Dog: Coping with Feelings of Inadequacy during the PhD Process.” People familiar with psychology will have guessed that Larissa’s title references the “black dog” metaphor for depression, and Harold Bloomfield’s Achilles Syndrome, a (pseudo?) psychological book published in 1985 which popularised the concept of pseudocompetence, more commonly referred to as “Impostor Syndrome.”
In her address, Larissa shared the battles with self-doubt and depression that she fought during her PhD journey. It was a touching, and also brave, talk, because I believe that most, if not all, graduate students, and academics, frequently exhibit depression-like symptoms and self-doubt. But we are encouraged (socialised, perhaps?) not to discuss it. Instead, we have rooms full of graduate students sitting at their desks, tapping away, all worried that the person next to them is achieving more than they are. We have conferences full of historians who have a book a year overdue, a half-finished peer-reviewed article they hate, a course outline barely started but due to be finished tomorrow, and a huge grant application to complete, trying their best to project an air of calmness and self control. Read more…