Susan Broomhall leads the Gender and Women's History Research Centre in the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences. She is the author of numerous monographs and edited collections. Her current research includes a study of narratives of Korean women from the time of the Japanese invasions in the late sixteenth century; women’s activities and the role of gender ideologies in shaping experiences in the Dutch East India Company; understanding turbulent social and physical systems in historical activity, especially in health and environmental events; women’s activities and the role of gender ideologies in early modern natural resource management regarding forests and waterways in particular; and women’s participation in agricultural innovations since the early modern period.
Anh Nguyen Austen is a cultural historian and Research Fellow at the Centre for Refugees, Migration, and Humanitarian Studies in the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences. Her research with refugees and asylum seekers considers the role of race and gender in the arts, creative expression, and entrepreneurship in the food, hospitality, and well-being industry. How does a nationalised resettlement context inform the dynamics of a presumptive traditional or racially informed gender roles and modes of expression? How are race and gender expectations historicised, negotiated, and inform the process of belonging and the conception of a good life in Australia and other national contexts? Anh is currently exploring these questions with several industry partners including Melbourne Museum, Free to Feed, Thrive Refugee Enterprise, and Mentoring Men in Australia.
Sarah A Bendall is a Research Fellow at the Gender and Women’s History Research Centre in the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences. She is a material culture historian whose work specialises in the gendered and embodied experiences of dress, as well as the roles of gender in the production, trade and consumption of global commodities and fashionable consumer goods. She is the author of several journal articles on gender and early modern dress, on early modern women’s garment production and on experimental history approaches. Her first monograph entitled Shaping Femininity was published by Bloomsbury in 2021. Her current research offers critical reassessment of the global whaling trade between 1500-1800 by focusing on the fashionable goods that it produced and how gendered assumptions mediated the demand for and perceived value of these consumer goods, as well as historical scholarship on this trade. She is also developing projects on women and the garment-making trades in seventeenth-century England and experimental history and embodiment.
Lorinda Cramer is a Research Fellow in the Gender and Women’s History Research Centre in the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences. She is a social and cultural historian whose work explores the gendered dimensions of dress and textiles. With a professional background as a museum curator and collection manager, her research frequently incorporates material culture and a close reading of ‘things’. Lorinda is currently working on the ARC Discovery Project, “A History of Early Modern Natural Resource Management,” led by Susan Broomhall, exploring women’s involvement in colonial agricultural production – particularly the Australian wool industry. As the Redmond Barry Fellow for the State Library of Victoria’s 2022 Fellowship Program, she is pursuing the use of Australian wool by manufacturers Foy & Gibson and Fletcher Jones, alert to patterns of gendered consumption. Between 2019 and 2022, Lorinda was Postdoctoral Researcher on the Australian Research Council Discovery Project ‘Men’s Dress in Twentieth-Century Australia: Masculinity, Fashion, Social Change’. Her first book, Needlework and Women’s Identity in Colonial Australia, was published by Bloomsbury in 2020. It explored how Australian women used their needles as tool for stitching together identity.
Sally Fisher is a Research Associate in the Gender and Women’s History Research Centre in the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, working within the ARC Discovery Project, “A History of Early Modern Natural Resource Management,” led by Susan Broomhall. She is a gender and cultural historian of the late-medieval and early modern period, whose publications span Shakespeare’s portrayals of queenship and motherhood, poetic depictions of elite households, female letter-writing and ambition, medieval chronicle accounts of exile and imprisonment, and representations of women and space in manorial court rolls. Her research in this project explores women’s activities surrounding environmental management and agricultural practices in the early modern period, with a focus on the role of gender in uses of forests and waterways. Her work examines comparisons in environmental management between England and France, and her particular interest lies in the intersections between the language of legal records and other historical and literary sources, such as chronicles, plays, poems and letters.
Dr Jessica Lake is a Senior Research Fellow at the Gender and Women’s History Research Centre in the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences. She is an interdisciplinary scholar working at the intersection of legal, cultural and social history within common law countries during the modern period, with a particular focus upon gender relations. She is particularly interested in the ways in which doctrines regulating culture and expression, such as media law and intellectual property law, shaped women’s lives and in turn were employed by them to achieve social and economic change. Her first book, The Face that Launched a Thousand Lawsuits: The American Women Who Forged a Right to Privacy, was published by Yale University Press in 2016. It argued that women first forged a 'right to privacy' in the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by bringing cases to prevent and prohibit the unauthorised publication of their images. Her book was shortlisted for the W.K Hancock Prize by the Australian Historical Association. Jessica has also published widely in academic journals, edited books and newspapers, and presented at conferences in Australia, Europe and the United States. In 2016-2017, she held the Karl Loewenstein Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at Amherst College, Massachusetts. In 2022, Jessica received a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) from the Australian Research Council for her project on the history of sexual slander law.
Dr Jae-Eun Noh is a Researcher in the Gender and Women’s History Research Centre in the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences. She is currently working as a Chief Investigator on the research project, ‘The Role of Faith in ‘Comfort Women’ Activism in Australia’, funded by the Academy of Korean Studies (2023). She also works within the ACU Stakeholder Engaged Scholarship Unit project, “Catholic Responses to Family Violence”, led by Susan Broomhall and Mary Noseda (School of Theology), and partners Caritas Australia, Catholic Social Services Australia, and Catholic Health Australia. Jae-Eun has published over 25 articles and book chapters exploring international development policies and practices from human rights and gender perspectives.
Lisa O’Connell is Associate Professor of English in the Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences and a specialist in British Literature of the eighteenth century. Her research interests include the history and theory of the novel, women’s fiction, enlightenment, secularisation and early global literatures. Lisa has published on a wide range of topics and genres including marriage, nationalism, libertinism, popular anthropology, travel writing, romance, courtesan memoirs, sermons and settler fiction. Her recent monograph The Origins of the English Marriage Plot: Literature, Politics and Religion in the Eighteenth Century (Cambridge 2019) offers a new account of why and how marriage became central to the realist novel. Another recent essay reveals the neglected links between Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and the fiction of Therese Huber, the little-known German author of the first novel set in the Australian penal colony. Lisa’s current projects include The Worlding of British Literature, 1700-1820, a book-length study of the globalising of the literary heritage which offers a new understanding of the period’s significance to what we now call ‘world literature’, and The Novel Form and Women After Marriage, a project in its earliest stages exploring how aging and widowed women helped develop the novel form in the eighteenth century and beyond.
Jessica O’Leary is a Research Fellow at the Gender and Women’s History Research Centre in the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences. She is a cultural and social historian specialising in gender studies with an interest
in politics, diplomacy and cultural transfer, c. 1450-1700. Her essay on power-sharing between elite couples in northern Italian courts won the Royal Studies Journal prize for best essay by a Postgraduate or Early Career researcher. Her first monograph entitled Elite Women as Diplomatic Agents in Early Modern Italy and Hungary: The Aragonese Dynastic Network, 1470-1510 is under contract with ARC Humanities Press. She has also published book chapters on the history of emotions and letter-writing and has forthcoming book chapters on cultural encounter, trade, and diplomacy in the early modern period. Currently, she is preparing a manuscript on the role of masculinities in the diplomacy and identity of elite young men during the Italian Wars. She is also developing various lines of research concerning the role of gender in cross-cultural encounters between the Catholic southern Mediterranean and sixteenth and seventeenth-century Brazil and Japan, in addition to the history of women in Colonial Brazil.
Elizabeth Reid is a Research Associate in the Gender and Women’s History Research Centre in the Institute for Humanities and Social Science, working with the ARC Discovery Project, “A History of Early Modern Natural Resource Management,” led by Susan Broomhall. She is an early modern historian, interested in powerful men’s use of gendered allegory to legitimise or perpetuate cultural, hierarchical and oppressive practices. She recently conducted research into the role of gender during the Ceremonial Entries of the Italian Wars (1494-1559). She found that the behaviour and materials produced by local and foreign participants utilised gender dynamics to negotiate political relationships and to reflect on the physical danger entries posed. Her research has led to two articles and a book chapter. Her research in this project will examine the use of gendered allegory to shape cultural attitudes towards, and use of, natural resources and, in turn, the human labour associated with precuring those resources.
Dr Natalie Tomas
Natalie Tomas is a Research Fellow at the Gender and Women's History Research Centre in the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences. She is a social and cultural historian of the early modern period interested in the exercise of power by women in the public sphere in early modern societies and how female leadership has been perceived at the time and throughout history. She is also interested in the gendering of space in early modern societies and how successful women are in negotiating the boundaries of gendered space. Her current research is focussed on the Spanish-born duchess of Florence and Siena, Eleonora di Toledo and her role in state formation. She is on the Academic Board of the Medici Archive Project. She has previously published in Renaissance Studies and has published two monographs and several book chapters in her field of interest. She has also published a bibliography on Eleonora di Toledo for Oxford University Press.
Linda Zampol D’Ortia is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Global Fellow at the Gender and Women's History Research Centre in the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, and at the department of Asian and North African Studies of Ca’ Foscari University of Venice (Italy). Linda’s current project, “Emotions as Practice in the early modern Jesuit missions in the Asia-Pacific” (EMOPractices), approaches the XVI-XVIII-century Asian enterprises of the Society of Jesus through the lens of emotions. By analysing manuscript letters from six early modern Jesuit missions, it aims to reveal the previously disregarded role of Jesuit emotional practices and their impact on the creation of stereotypes of peoples of the Asia-Pacific region. Her project includes a focus on the construction of Jesuit masculinities and the gendered regulations of the mission's emotional communities, and if and how they differed from both European Catholic and Asian ones; and an analysis of the presence and role of women in the Japanese mission.
Zara Saunders is a PhD candidate at the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, supervised by Dr Jessica Lake and Professor Susan Broomhall. Zara's research project examines Australian print media representations of sexual assault in the twenty-first century. This research, grounded methodologically in cultural history theory and historical newspaper analysis, seeks to understand how The Age print newspaper framed incidents and discussed issues relating to sexual assault in Australia between 2011 and 2021. It considers the role of The Age in shaping its readership’s understanding of issues of sexual assault, consent, and child sexual abuse.
Jason Smeaton is a PhD candidate at the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, supervised by Professor Joy Damousi and Dr Mary Tomsic. His PhD research project in women’s history investigates the experience of Australian women who served in the Army nursing auxiliary during World War Two with a particular focus on the events, relationships and tensions that shaped the work of these servicewomen. His thesis is titled Nurse or not? Voluntary Aids and the Australian Army Medical Women’s Service during World War Two: tension, disruption, and the value of work.
Harriet Steele is a PhD Student connected to the Gender and Women’s History Research Centre. Her thesis examines the place of Australian lesbian magazines in community production and maintenance from the 1970s to the 1990s. This research is located within histories of identities and sexualities, informed by the discourses of the extensive lesbian periodical archives. She considers how the magazines have functioned as archives for their communities, preserving the debates around significant issues. Harriet’s thesis examines how these discussions have operated over time and across periodicals and their interaction with feminism and gay rights frameworks. Harriet also works within the ACU Stakeholder Engaged Scholarship Unit project, “Catholic Responses to Family Violence,” led by Susan Broomhall and Mary Noseda (School of Theology) and partners Caritas Australia, Catholic Social Services Australia, and Catholic Health Australia.
Alda Balthrop-Lewis is a Research Fellow in Religion & Theology at the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry. Her research treats religion, ethics, and ecology, focusing on the way in which gendered assumptions sometimes blind interpreters to the political significance of ascetic practices. Her first book, Thoreau’s Religion (Cambridge, 2021), joins a growing strand of queer and feminist interpretations of Henry David Thoreau to argue that the environmental ethic implied by Thoreau’s writing is more relational than individualist. She is working on two new projects, one about the political and economic significance of Christian monasticism, especially in the writings of Thomas Merton, and another about food ethics and feminism.
Michael D. Barbezat is a research fellow in Medieval and Early modern Studies at the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry. His research on medieval intellectual and religious history frequently examines the ideologies and assumptions that justified and encouraged persecution during the Middle Ages. His work has examined the convergencies of discourses regarding sexuality, heresy, demonology, and theology in the writings of medieval churchmen. He is currently researching a new project on medieval attempts to speak with the dead. In his study of historical desires to speak with people in the past, he is inspired by the methodologies provided by certain strands of modern queer theory regarding trans-historical desire and spectrality or hauntology.
Megan Cassidy-Welch is the Director of the Medieval and Early Modern Studies Program in the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry. Her research focusses on the cultural and social history of the European and Mediterranean Middle Ages, and she has published widely on medieval memory, space and violence, all of which intersect with medieval gender practices and assumptions. Her current book project on crusading violence (Amsterdam UP, 2022) questions the prominence of just war theory as an explanation for violence in crusading warfare, arguing instead for a contextualised, cultural approach to the narratives, songs, visual and material culture of conflict that shaped ideas and practices of violence. Gender informs her future project on the concept of mercy, which uses a multidisciplinary approach to show how and why the idea of ‘mercy' retains contemporary resonance and social potential.
Kylie Crabbe is a Senior Research Fellow in Biblical and Early Christian Studies. Her research frequently engages in questions of gender and women’s history in explorations of Jewish and early Christian sources. Her current work on impairment and disability in early Christian literature uses intersectional analysis to consider the depiction and afterlives of key early Christian figures who are portrayed with impairments. For example, the biblical character, Elizabeth, and the post-biblical daughter of the apostle Peter, later called Petronilla, provide case studies for the intersection of impairment and women’s experience, and understandings of masculinity are embedded in the inclusion or omission of impairments for personalities like the apostle Paul. In support of this work, she holds a current Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) from the Australian Research Council (2022-2024) for her project ‘Inside Others: Early Christian Protagonists and Their Impairments’ (DE220101054). Kylie is also working on a project about intimate partner violence in the apocryphal acts literature, which interacts with contemporary concerns, and on a project about night-time activity in the late ancient Mediterranean. Having supervised doctoral work in feminist biblical interpretation, she would welcome conversations with students who would like to work on projects in these areas or spanning multiple areas of interest within the GWHRC.
Lexi Eikelboom is a research fellow in Religion & Theology at the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry. Her research on the use of artistic and aesthetic categories in articulations of Christian theology includes an examination of the gendered nature of those categories. Her current research project interrogates the construction and functions of the category "form" in Christian theology. She argues that the traditional Aristotelian metaphysic operative in the background of theological work on form (particularly in Thomas Aquinas and Hans Urs von Balthasar) codes form as a masculine principle that acts on matter - a feminine principle - resulting in a third: substance. Rather than a neutral construction, this understanding has problematic political implications. The project asks how the category might be re-imagined using resources from Christian theology and art and literary criticism so that it might become a helpful tool through which to oppose the hegemony of particular (gendered) forms that govern societies.
Alison Fitchett-Climenhaga is a Research Fellow in Religion & Theology at the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry. She specialises in the history and contemporary practice of Christianity in eastern Africa, especially among Catholic communities in Uganda and Rwanda. Her current book project explores how the ritual life and organisational cultures of two Catholic lay associations devoted to the Holy Spirit shape different styles of Catholic practice among participants. Since women predominate in these lay associations, charismatic Catholicism affords insight into Ugandan Catholic women’s devotional lives and social activism. More broadly, her work explores the relationship of religion and conflict and gendered patterns of religious practice and leadership in eastern Africa. Her research also engages women’s history in the region, including an early-stage project using the history of Rwandan Catholic women religious to explore women’s changing roles in Rwandan society since the early twentieth century.
Sarah Gador-Whyte is a research fellow in Biblical and Early Christian Studies in the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry. As a literary and cultural historian of late antiquity, Sarah has worked on emotions history, liturgical literature and the interplay of rhetoric and theology in liturgical hymns, and interreligious conflict and dialogue. She studies women’s roles in early Christian liturgy and examines perceptions of women and their activities in late antiquity more broadly. She is currently involved in a project on late ancient night-time activities, emotions, gender and imagination.
Shannon is an Associate Research Fellow with the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry, where she serves as a postdoctoral researcher for Professor Peter Howard’s Australian Research Council Discovery project on “The Sistine Chapel and the Visual Art of Preaching.” Her research focuses on devotional artwork and pilgrimage sites in late medieval and Renaissance Italy, and examines the intersections between the body, liturgy, and material culture. Two of her current projects study the social and political functions of miraculous images of the Virgin Mary in late fifteenth-century Italy. Her most recent work turns to Marian confraternities for young women in nineteenth-century Australia and explores the role that gendered religious practices played in Catholic education during the period. The project centers on the ways in which Marian imagery, processions, and private devotions shaped the girls’ social and religious identities. It also considers the confraternities’ widespread success in regional Victoria and the appeal they held for the local communities.
Darius von Güttner Sporzyński is a Research Associate at the Gender and Women’s History Research Centre in the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, working within the ARC Discovery Project, “A History of Early Modern Natural Resource Management”, led by Susan Broomhall. Darius is a historian of Central Europe with a particular interest in cultural aspects of transmission of ideas and identity. He is the General Editor of Brepols’ series, “East Central Europe”. His publications cover diverse aspects of history from the Middle Ages to early modern and the modern eras. Darius’ book, Poland, Holy War and the Piast Dynasty (Brepols, 2014), examined the transmission of the idea of Christian holy war to and from the European periphery and challenged established historiographical position that the Poles did not participate in sacred warfare because of their “aversion to the use of violence in the matters of faith”. In numerous publications on the aspects of crusades and crusading Darius analysed medieval Polish chronicles and the impact of chronicle writing on constructing Polish history. More recently Darius’ interests expanded to include gendered responses to, and identify performances by, elite women, including a key Early Modern figure, Bona Sforza d’Aragona (1494-1557), Queen consort of Poland and her land management reforms in Lithuania. He is currently editing two collections of essays for Brepols Publishers: “Jagiellon Europe – Central Europe”, examining the early modern dynastic networks of power and gender politics, and “The Jagiellon Queens Consort: Queenship, Role and Impact”, examining cultural, familial, religious, and political aspects of women’s exercise of power.
Dawn LaValle Norman is a Research Fellow in Biblical and Early Christian Studies at the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry. Her research focuses on the literature of the 1-4th century CE, which proved to be an important period of change for women’s position in society and participation in the intellectual life. Her current project looks at the role that women play in philosophical dialogues from Plato to Augustine, tracking how male writers use their voices to speak about the emotions. She is also interested in what can be recovered about the lives of women in the ancient world and recently edited a volume on Hypatia of Alexandria, our most famous ancient female philosopher.
David Newheiser is a Research Fellow in Religion & Theology at the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry. He is a specialist in Christian thought and contemporary theory, with a particular focus on the work of Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault. He has written on Christian debates over gender and sexuality, and he has an ongoing interest in the history of marriage as a gendered institution. His first book, Hope in a Secular Age (Cambridge, 2019), places negative theology into conversation with feminist debates concerning the limits of critique. His current book project explores the relation between gender, colonialism, and Enlightenment rationality.
Rachel Teubner is a Research Fellow within the Medieval and Early Modern Studies programme of IRCI. Her current research explores the relationship between literary genre and Reformed thought in the letters and lyric writings of three particularly vibrant laywomen in early modern Europe: Vittoria Colonna, Marguerite of Navarre and Mary Sidney. This project, tentatively titled Evangelizing Genre, explores how women’s literary and theological production was supported and transformed through the growth of the lyric genre; through patterns of communication, such as correspondence, library-sharing and sonnet exchange; and through practices of friendship and hospitality, e.g., host-and-guest relationships fostered in salons, convents and households. She is presently completing a monograph on the conception of humility in Dante’s Commedia that analyzes the poem and its composition as a literary practice of self-examination.