1 x 2-hour lecture weekly
1 x 50-minute tutorial weekly
Course context
Associated majors: History; American Studies; Australian Studies
Assignment(s), Test(s), Tutorial participation.
Topic description
This topic considers Donald Horne's assessment of post-WWII Australia: 'A lucky country, run by second rate people who share its luck'. Horne's 1964 text The Lucky Country is a springboard for, rather than a focus of, an investigation into Australia's social and political preoccupations since 1939. This topic will begin with an examination of shifting emphases in Australia's relationships with Britain and the United States during World War Two, and end with the 'war on terror' and refugee and immigration policies during the Howard years. Through an examination of primary and secondary sources, this topic will also explore the various interpretations and manifestations of the White Australia policy, the Cold War, Australia's place in international Human Rights movements and the ways in which local movements such as feminism, republicanism and the movement for Indigenous rights were shaped by participants' knowledge of political movements in other parts of the world.
Educational aims
This topic aims to

  • Introduce students to key events and the emergence of political ideas and movements in this period in Australia
  • Set some of these events and ideas in international context, including the political movements of Indigenous Australians and immigrants to Australia and their supporters in the context of an emerging international human rights agenda in this period
  • Examine their implications for the lives of ordinary Australians
  • Explore these issues through primary and secondary sources, thereby developing students' abilities to distinguish between the two and interpret them accordingly and in their relevant contexts
  • Develop students' written and oral communication skills, and their research skills
  • Foster an atmosphere of mutual respect and cooperation that encourages students to both learn through collaboration and to become independent and critical thinkers

    Expected learning outcomes
    Students successfully completing this topic should be able to demonstrate through written and oral communication:

    • Familiarity with political events and preoccupations that have shaped Australia since 1939, including an emerging international human rights agenda and its relevance to the political campaigns of Indigenous Australians and immigrants to Australia
    • Familiarity with several key debates about the place of Australia in the world, past and present
    • An ability to critically assess representations of the past in primary and secondary sources, with particular attention to the ways in which ideas about gender, race, class, nation and regionalism play a part in shaping individual and collective political identities
    • An ability to identify and interpret primary sources in their historical contexts

    Students should also be able to demonstrate their ability to engage in the learning process both as colloborators in a classroom environment that fosters ethical behaviour, and as independent researchers.