Education and Arts

Higher Degrees by Research

Higher degree by research candidates are an integral part of the National School of Arts' vibrant intellectual environment.

We provide students with structured and individualised research training under the supervision of expert academics in a lively and intellectually rigorous environment. We have established inter-disciplinary research clusters, hold regular research seminars and provide our students with a range of exciting professional development opportunities in research and teaching.

A number of our students are currently pursuing highly original research. Many of our HDR candidates are supported by Australian Postgraduate Awards and generous top-ups.

Find out more about higher degrees by research in the Faculty of Education and Arts.

Examples of current School of Arts HDR candidate research

By Sarah van Ryan

Underpinned by extensive archival research and the application of a transnational lens, this research aims to produce scholarship which traverses the historical studies landscape, speaking not only to the history and historiography of the African American press, but also contributes to existing discussions on race, war, U.S. foreign relations, the African American experience, and black internationalism.

World War II gave rise, in the words of historian John W. Dower, to “a revolution in racial consciousness throughout the world.” More than uniting the Allied powers in the cause of democracy, the racist ideologies of both the Nazis and the Japanese inspired the critique of ‘master race’ theories worldwide, and exposed the hypocrisy in the policies and pursuits of the Allied nations.

A critical and previously overlooked role in this ‘revolution in racial consciousness’ was played by the African-American press. Widely considered one of two critical institutions within the black community, the other being the black church, the African-American press was a ‘fighting press,’ for which the pen was mightier than the sword. During the course of World War II, the African-American press boldly and defiantly printed stories exposing and critiquing not only its own nation’s record on race, but also the records of the Allied nations, on whose behalf black American soldiers were increasingly being called upon to fight.

In this defining moment of the twentieth century, African Americans, through their press, renewed their commitment to view their own struggle for freedom and equality in the context of international oppression, inspiring the evolution of the press’ renowned ‘Double Victory’ campaign into a ‘Triple Victory’ campaign. Alongside American victory in the war and African-American victory over internal oppressors, the African-American press campaigned for the equality of all races, in all places, most pressingly in Allied nations such as Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, where black American troops saw wartime service.

Drawing extensively from the features and editorial comments of ten historically significant black newspapers from World War II, many of whom deployed war correspondents abroad throughout the war, this research sheds new light on African American press activism during World War II.

By Octavia Bryant

Situated within the fields of democratic theory and political science, this research addresses the failure of left-wing populism to adequately establish itself post the Global Financial Crisis in 2007/8 (GFC) and their subsequent failure to impact policy outcomes compared to their right-wing counterparts.

Populism is now an inescapable aspect of contemporary politics. While populist political parties have enjoyed varying levels of success and renown for many years, the last decade since the GFC has seen many populist parties and movements cement themselves has politically viable alternatives to mainstream parties. These populist parties, from the Front National (FN) in France to Syriza in Greece, offer everyday citizens frustrated by the political establishment ignoring their needs a seemingly fresh take on politics. They oversimplify issues, propagate dichotomies of ‘us’ versus ‘them’, and deride politics itself. These parties have begun to shape policy outcomes. The populist phenomenon is increasingly becoming both an influential and permanent part of our democracies.

Populist parties have enjoyed varying levels of success and some have been influential than others. The post-GFC environment – characterised by insecurity, unemployment and austerity, and an increasingly capitalist-sceptical citizenry –appeared to provide the perfect climate for the Left to either reassert its lost socialist identity or to carve out a new one. But the populist Left failed in this, and have underperformed compared to their right-wing contemporaries. Not only did right-wing populist parties not lose ground to their left-wing equivalents, many actually gained support despite championing the continuation of the economic status quo.

My research aims to offer both a theoretical and empirical analysis of why this is so. This will be done both in a qualitative manner through an evaluation of secondary sources such as previous academic theory research, and quantitatively through a supply-side analysis of the populist parties themselves, done through party case studies, election results and polls, and through primary sources such as party speeches. An analysis of demand-side factors will also be undertaken, through an examination of key contributing factors within the political and cultural environment that gave rise to populist parties post-GFC. Through an analysis of agonistic democratic theory, this research will assist in understanding the impact that these parties have had (and will have) on our political climate more broadly.

This examination will therefore ultimately contribute to other research in the field in furthering the understanding of two things: (1) What the long-term cultural and political consequences are of one side of the political spectrum enjoying more policy influence than the other for extended periods; (2) The extent to which the increasing visibility of parties that accentuate and celebrate a more conflictual, divisive style of politics impact our democratic system and how we perceive democracy itself.