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The Australian National University

ANU Historians Shortlisted for the 2016 NSW Premier’s History Awards







Associate Professor Frank Bongiorno and Professor Ann McGrath were shortlisted for the 2016 NSW Premier's History awards.

Books by two historians from The Australian National University (ANU) have been shortlisted in the 2016 NSW Premier’s History Awards.

Associate Professor Frank Bongiorno’s The Eighties: The Decade that Transformed Australia (Black Inc. Books) is contesting the Australian history category, while Professor Ann McGrath’s Illicit Love: Interracial sex and marriage in the United States and Australia  (University of Nebraska Press) is vying for the general history prize.

Professor McGrath, Director of the ANU Australian Centre for Indigenous History, had this week started a Visiting Fellowship at Cambridge when she found out.

“I woke up with delayed jet lag and checked my emails at 4am and discovered the great news,” she says.

“I’m really honoured and excited and pleased to be in excellent company.”

Associate Professor Bongiorno says the ANU School of History provides a supportive environment in which to work and write, as writing a book can be a rather lonely and lengthy exercise.

“On the same day that our Head of School announced to staff the news about Ann and I, he was also able to report that two of our students – Geraldine Fela and Emily Gallagher – had been highly commended for their essays in the international Undergraduate Awards,” Frank says.

“That was another reminder of the stimulating intellectual environment we are privileged to enjoy here at the ANU. Staff, students and visitors all contribute to it.”

Head of School, Professor Nicholas Brown, says the School is honoured to have two nominations for such important awards, and also recognition of the contribution academics seek to make to scholarship that can also energise and inspire public discussion.

“Frank and Ann exemplify our commitment to the research-led engagement with both teaching and wider debate: it is a privilege to have them both as colleagues.”

Professor McGrath says she is pleased by readers’ responses to her book, and that they cared about the characters and concepts to which she brought attention.

“I aimed to write about intimacy and love in a way that would not lose the power of rich narratives to enable readers to experience history’s highs and lows,” she says.

“My research uncovered the secrets of colonialism and how love across the boundaries could transcend larger political ambitions. Loving mixed families ensured that Indigenous authority and knowledge continued through the generations.”

Associate Professor Bongiorno says when he’s writing a book, he never knows if it will work out, if he’s satisfied, or if readers will enjoy it.

“So it’s obviously a welcome kind of acknowledgment if the books stands out as among those considered by a panel of expert judges.

“I’d also like to think that these occasions do help to motivate future historians – to give them a sense that what we do is not only important but actually valued by our society, and that people in universities can write books for a public audience.”

Dean of the College of Arts and Social Sciences, Professor Paul Pickering, says it is not surprising that again ANU historians feature among the nominees for prestigious awards.

“After all ANU has a world-renowned department, among the best, if not the best, in the country and equal to the best in the world.

“In fact, it would be more surprising if there were no nominees from among our staff.

“Congratulations to Ann and Frank for demonstrating how to combine absolute scholarly excellence with work that is accessible to a wider public.”

There were a total 172 entries across the awards’ five categories. The winners will be announced on 2 September.

Learn more about studying History at ANU Open Day on the 27th of August.

Article Courtesy of the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences website.

Updated: 20 July 2017/ Responsible Officer:  Head of School / Page Contact:  Web Publisher