Review: The Art of Time Travel by Tom Griffiths

Book Cover

The Art of Time Travel by Tom Griffiths (Black Inc, 2016).

The Art of Time Travel: Historians and their craft is a very readable exploration of the writing of history in Australia since World War II. Written by highly respected historian, Tom Griffiths, The Art of Time Travel examines the work of fourteen influential historical writers who have developed the way we understand history in Australia.

Each chapter focuses on a different writer and their most influential work. Griffiths starts with Eleanor Dark’s, The Timeless Land written by the novelist, in 1941. This work of historical fiction is about the Aboriginal man, Bennelong and his first encounter with white settlers in Sydney. The history of first encounters, and particularly the story of Bennelong is a thread that runs through the book.

Griffiths’ has a professional connection with each writer featured. Most of the writers Griffiths highlights are historians, but historians are not the only people who write histories. Included in his list are a novelist, a farmer, a poet and an archaeologist. Tom Griffiths does not merely recount the contribution of these writers, he also weaves in delightful anecdotes about his personal relationship with them and their writing. We read about the experiences of Griffiths as a student of Greg Dening at the University of Melbourne and his later experiences participating in Dening’s guest workshops at the Australian National University. We see some glimpses of Griffiths’ childhood in the Melbourne suburb of Balwyn while reading his chapter about the historian of the suburbs – Graeme Davison. Griffiths’ anecdotes throughout the book are carefully chosen and always relevant to Griffiths’ discussion of his chosen writer. Continue reading

Open Buildings This Weekend in Melbourne

Open House Melbourne is on this weekend and I nearly missed out. Fortunately I am in Melbourne at the moment and I sat down at lunchtime today (Saturday) to read my emails. I opened the ‘Weekend Reads’ email from Readings bookshop which opened with information about the program for Open House Melbourne which is for sale at Readings bookshops. After a hasty look at the list of open buildings, I rushed to the train to at least visit something.

As I was on the train I realised that I was trying to squash way too much into the less than three hours available to me. So I missed visiting the Melbourne City Baths (the building that looks like a layered cake with cream in between and built in 1860) and the Albanian mosque (built in 1969). In fact I only saw one building on my original list in the end.

Street facade of the building

Victorian Artists’ Society in East Melbourne.

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@perkinsy’s Top 10 Conference Tweeting Tips

Diagram showing Twitter handles and lines linking tweeps together

Part of the network diagram of #OzHA2017 conference tweets between 24/6/2017 and 22/7/2017, ie before, during and after the conference. Twitter conversations on the hashtag are shown by lines linking nodes. Click on the picture above to explore the complete diagram (the live diagram may differ to the one above as the Tags Explorer is still collecting tweets)

Twitter is a great medium to use during a conference. Participants can share news from the conference to people who are unable to attend. It is another way of publicising great work by the presenters and showing the world that your professional community is contributing valuable work to society. At its best Twitter conference streams can put you in touch with the latest and greatest research and researchers even though you are not attending the conference. It is not the same as being there, but it is a good second-best.

Twitter can enrich your experience of attending a conference. It is a real buzz being part of a crowd tweeting an event. You are making a small, but positive contribution for the benefit of a community. I am never lonely at conferences because a conference is a chance for me to meet people who I have connected with previously on Twitter and I can meet new friends through the conference Twitter stream. Continue reading

Papers and Great History Websites Shared at #OzHA2017

Sunset over water

Conference participants took lots of photos of the beautiful Newcastle sunsets they saw. This photo was taken by Natalie Fong.

Some great online history resources were shared by historians tweeting the recent Australian Historical Association conference (#OzHA2017). I have trawled through a lot of links to bring to you some of the useful and interesting history resources that caught my eye.

Conference Papers

Several presenters have very generously shared their conference papers online:

Blogging the Conference

Tweeting a conference is great, but blogging a conference adds depth that is hard to convey in a series of 140 character tweets. I have not found any blog posts about the conference written during the event, but some have been written after the conference:

I will add to this list if any other posts are written in the next few weeks.

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Topics that Interest Historians in Australia

Coloured words of varying sizes

This word cloud shows frequency of words used in the abstracts of papers delivered at concurrent sessions at the 2017 Australian Historical Association conference. Generated using Voyant.

The annual gathering of historians in Australia is big. This year there were nearly 300 papers delivered in concurrent sessions. Yesterday I blogged about the keynotes and plenary panels. Today I will have a look at the masses of papers delivered by over three hundred historians. Before you recoil in horror at the prospect of a very lengthy post, I assure you that I will be giving a very broad overview with a closer look at a few topics. Continue reading