Jill Roe Prize 2018
Alexandra Roginski, ‘Talking Heads on a Murray River Mission’
This essay considers interactions between travelling phrenologists and Indigenous people at Maloga Mission and Cummeragunja reserve in the late nineteenth century. Characterised by accomplished and sophisticated writing, and demonstrating a command of both the sources and the historiography, the essay is extremely impressive in its understanding and articulation of its argument and intervention in existing scholarship. In a subtle and interesting analysis of phrenological lectures as participatory popular science performances that re-evaluates the role of Indigenous actors in scientific modernity and knowledge formation, the essay achieves a synthesis that takes Aboriginal history and the history of science in new directions.
Judges: Ethan Blue (University of Western Australia), Anna Johnston (University of Queensland) and Kathleen Neal (Monash University)
Jill Roe Prize 2017
James Findlay, ‘Cinematic Landscapes, Dark Tourism and the Ghosts of Port Arthur’
This well-researched essay complements other studies on convict tourism in Tasmania. After noting that by the early twentieth century convicts were increasingly invisible in Australia’s popular memory, the essay argues that, especially after WWI, travelogue films expressed a fascination with the landscape of Port Arthur, thus situating Port Arthur’s convict past within a visitor experience of a specific Tasmanian landscape. Without evidence for the reception of the films, Findlay makes good use of relevant film history and theory to suggest persuasively that these films shaped visitors’ actual experience of Port Arthur as both a picturesque ruin and a site of convict labour.
Judges: David Carment (Charles Darwin University), Jane Lydon (University of Western Australia) and Timothy Rowse (Western Sydney University)
Jill Roe Prize 2016
James H. Dunk, ‘The Liability of Colonial Madness: Jonathan Burke Hugo in Port Dalrymple, Sydney and Calcutta, 1812’
The essay takes an instance of mad aristocratic behaviour in eastern Australia in the time of Macquarie and makes it a case study of the dilemmas of a colony that was just beginning to fashion civil law and charitable administration. The essay puts Macquarie’s administration and its successors in an Imperial context, referring to practices in India and in the United Kingdom that were illuminated by the case study’s misfortunes. Skilfully written, the essay allows the reader to savour authority’s uncertainty about how to deal with conduct that was not criminal but embarrassingly unfathomable. The mutual bewilderment of the governors and their exemplary ‘lunatick’ is registered with sympathy and delicate irony – conveying, in an unusually intimate way, a transitional moment in the colony’s authority.
Judges: Christina Twomey (Monash University), Tim Rowse (Western Sydney University), Robert Foster (University of Adelaide)
Jill Roe Prize 2015
No prize awarded.
Judges: Tim Rowse (Western Sydney University), Sheila Fitzpatrick (University of Sydney), Lynette Russell (Monash University)
Jill Roe Prize 2014
Chris Holdridge, ‘The Pageantry of the Anti-Convict Cause: Colonial Loyalism and Settler Celebrations in Tasmania and Cape Colony’ – published in History Australia 12, no 1 (April 2015).
This paper was the unanimous winner in what was a very strong field for the inaugural Jill Roe Prize. This prize is awarded annually for the best unpublished article-length work of historical research in any area of historical enquiry, produced by a postgraduate student enroled in a History degree at an Australian university. The judges were impressed by the transnational and comparative analysis of the celebrations surrounding the successful anti-convict agitation in the Cape Colony and Tasmania in 1850 and 1853 respectively. In this beautifully written and researched paper including a number of illustrations, the author focuses on the reports of the ‘pageantry’ and public celebration surrounding these two movements. Through an identification of a number of key commonalities between the two colonies, such as the role of such celebrations in forging colonial patriotisms and civic education, the author establishes the value of international/intercolonial comparison in creating new understandings of past historical events. The paper also contains an excellent and sophisticated discussion in relation to earlier literature. Considering that these two colonies have been separated both geographically and historiographically, the author has done a remarkable job in drawing together a range of relevant sources to present an engaging and fascinating argument.
Judges: Melanie Oppenheimer (Flinders University), Sean Scalmar (University of Melbourne), Nathan Wise (University of New England)