UTS site search
Banner image for Australian Centre for Public History "About the centre" section

Postgraduate students

ACPH has an active postgraduate research program. Below is a list of our current postgraduate students and their areas of research.

Janet Peters

Supervisor: Anna Clark
Study area: History; legacy making

Who knew a eugenics experiment was conducted in Australia in the 1940s? It was conducted at a children’s home in Bowral, NSW when 43 boys and 43 girls were ‘appropriated’ by a wealthy man, with the intention of constructing a ‘master race’. The history of the home itself is well documented, but is often presented to disguise the eugenic intent.

My project questions how this was achieved when the eugenic intent was in plain sight, along with the capacity of the legacy makers (and heirs to the project and the family fortune) to present only one unchallenged narrative.

Kylie Andrews

Supervisor: Paula Hamilton
Study area: History, media history, gender and labour, biography, media studies

My thesis brings to light previously uncharted achievements of women working in Australian public broadcasting in the postwar era.  I use biography to reconstruct the careers of a group of female public affairs producers, contextualising their success as infiltrators of a gendered workplace and revealing the extent to which sexual divisions of labour permeated the ABC.   My research historicises the industrial strategies certain women activated in order to succeed, the transformative departures, transnational exchanges and incursive advances during times of media transition; their histories counteracting assumptions that between-the-waves feminists were largely absent in Australian broadcasting in the postwar era.   With a previous career in film and television production, my current focus is on the intersection of gender and industrial aspects of cultural production.


Chrisanthi Giotis

Supervisor: Devleena Ghosh
Study area: Journalism; post-colonialism; international development; social geography

My PhD project, Not Just a Victim of War, examines the historical, cultural and physical structures impacting the way foreign correspondents report from refugee camps in sub-Saharan Africa. Using Mugunga Camp in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a case study, this practice-led project applies new theories to the production of foreign correspondence to try to change the stories told about refugee camps and refugees. Co-supervised with the UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures.

Mukesh Kumar

Supervisor: Devleena Ghosh
Study Area: Religion; nationalism in India; oral history and ethnography

My doctoral dissertation, Hindu Practitioner Islam Believer, focuses upon cases of ritual and religious synthesis in Mewat region of North India. By looking at shared shrines, I want to investigate issues of crossing religious boundaries and every day meanings of sharing a religious space for Hindus and Muslims. It further endeavours to understand religion as a site of intercommunal interaction to critically examine conceptions of cosmopolitanism, multiculturalism and religious diversity.

Catherine Freyne

Supervisor: Anna Clark
Study area: History of sexuality; history of the family; family memoir

I am studying the historical intersection of private lives and public discourses about homosexuality and the family, in a non-traditional PhD project which draws on my own family’s experience. The working title is The family as closet: Gay married men in Australia, 1950–2000.

James Worner

Supervisor: Anna Clark
Study area: Masculinities; history of Australia in the First World War; German internment; German sexology; historiography

Through my PhD project with the ACPH, Masculinity on Trial, I am looking for new ways of telling old stories about being a bloke in Australia. By revisiting key moments of Australia’s public history, like the forced internment of German-Australians during WWI, I want to question prevailing national myths of masculinity.

Sharon Rundle

Supervisor: Devleena Ghosh
Study area: South Asian--Australian literature; fiction; publishing fiction in Australia.

My DCA Exegesis examines the local cultural production of novels in Australia from 1990, in order to separate facts from fiction. It presents new data from 2004 until 2014, and investigates the development of cultural production of novels by South Asian-Australian authors published in Australia from 1990.

Sue Hodges

Supervisor: Anna Clark
Study area: Heritage interpretation

My PhD project looks at the economic, social and cultural value of heritage interpretation, with the aims of repositioning heritage as a sector that creates value across all areas of society.

Tracey Sernack-Chee Quee

Supervisor: Peter McNeil
Study area: History of the Australian textile industry and fashion design; design management

I worked as Design and Production Manager in a family owned rag trade business from 1981 to 1991. From 1992–1998, I taught Fashion at East Sydney TAFE. I have held several teaching, business development and management roles in TAFE NSW since that time.

My thesis explores the position of Claudio Alcorso and Silk and Textile Printers' Modernage collection of 1946–47 in the history of modernist Australian art and design, despite its commercial ‘failure'. I argue that without the Modernage experience, Alcorso would not have developed Sheridan, which is now a successful global brand.

Jonathan Kaplan

Supervisor: Peter McNeil
Study area: Masculinities; men's dress and fashion; Jewish identity and history; fin de siècle Vienna

My PhD project, Looking and Behaving: Sartorial politics, Jewish men, and cosmopolitanism in Vienna, 1890–1938, concerns the interlinked sartorial, social and aesthetic role of the Jewish man in the social milieu of Modernism. My research examines how men’s fashions in Vienna of the late 19th and early 20th centuries facilitated the assimilatory aspirations of urban, middle-class Jews, and was manifested in visual representations of Jewishness.

Virginia Wright

Supervisor: Peter McNeil
Study area: Design history; furniture manufacturing history; history of furniture trade and consumption in Canada and Australia

My PhD project is titled The Quintessential Global Product, Bentwood Furniture in Canada and Australia, 1860–1945. It identifies two major Canadian chair manufacturers and traces the international distribution of their products so as to form a larger and more detailed view of the history of bentwood furniture and of Canadian manufacturing and trade, based on a thorough study of Australia as a major market. The thesis challenges the assumption of exclusive Austrian and American ownership of the massive global trade in chairs and in doing so, tests the perception of English dominance in British Empire trade.

Catriona Fisk

Supervisor: Peter McNeil
Study area: Fashion and dress history; material culture; women’s history; history of reproduction and the family; museums.

I have an educational background in history, archaeology and museum studies. I am also a sometime freelance curator and researcher in museum collection.

My PhD is now looking at how women dressed for pregnancy in the late 18th and 19th centuries. I’m using the garments that survive in museums, along with archival and visual sources, to piece together a history of the dressed, visibly pregnant body.

Michael Atherton

Supervisor: Gabrielle Carey
Study area: History of the piano in Australia since 1788

My project, A Coveted Possession, examines how and why the piano became Australia’s most popular musical instrument. I demonstrate how this 'machine', developed in the industrial revolution, influenced and changed the lives of those interacting with it, evolving in response to local conditions and needs, also becoming an icon of local manufacturing and national pride.

Lauren Vassallo

Supervisor: Peter McNeil
Study area: Costume design; film studies; theory of appropriation and adaptation; fairy tales and literary accounts; history of dress and the body

My PhD explores the creation and adaption of the fairy tale heroine across a number of media platforms: text, animation and film. The design-led study will be informed by Children’s and Household Tales by the Brothers Grimm (1812–1857), Disney animation and other film (1937–2016) and the recent resurgence of the fairy tale genre in ‘live action’ film adaptations (1998–2016). The study will examine the visual representation—and the dressing of the bodies—of protagonists and antagonists in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.

Patricia Hanlon

Supervisor: Peter McNeil
Study area: Dress; fashion; Australian history; fashion studies; social history; women’s history; convict dress; settler dress

I have worked in the fashion, clothing and costume industries in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide for many years where I’ve been a designer, artist and educator. I have a long-term interest in the clothing worn during the tenure of the first Governor, Arthur Phillip, when convicts were in the majority. The study argues that a focus on the activities and concerns of men have obscured the activities of women, including their work with clothing and other parts of the appearance industries. Sources include 18th century primary documents such as letters, diaries and advertisements as well as images from print culture, fine art and expeditionary/sojourn art.

Philippa Gemmell-Smith

Supervisor: Robert Crawford
Study area: Relationships with land in the invasion/settlement of the Oberon district

My thesis interprets relationships with land as a conversation of consciousnesses across the nineteenth century, starting with explorers' encounters with Aborigines in and around the district. It understands consciousness as dynamic and multiple for all people, and at times paradoxical. It conceives these relationships with land as integral aspects of our experience of the district today.

Manju Menon

Supervisor: Devleena Ghosh
Study area: Public participation; energy development; north-east India

My PhD project seeks to theorise the politicisation of large dam development in north-east India between the period 2000 to 2015. It aims to understand why the Indian government failed to implement its neoliberal developmentalist vision of large scale hydropower production in India's north-eastern border region.

Sumaya Afrin Eku

Supervisor: Devleena Ghosh
Study area: Medieval Bengal; women in Bengal; literature; oral history; Ramayana; religion in modern Bangladesh; society and culture in modern Bangladesh

I am a Masters by Research student. My thesis, Forgotten Phenomenon, Lost Songs, is trying to find evidence of the acceptance of Medieval poet Chandrabati and her literatures in modern Bangladesh.