Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations

Dr Michelle Arrow

Associate Professor

Michelle ArrowBA (Hons) University of Sydney
PhD University of Sydney

Office: W6A 416
Phone: +61 2 9850 8840
Fax: +61 2 9850 6064
Twitter: MichelleArrow1


I completed my PhD at the University of Sydney in 1999, and my thesis, a social and cultural history of some of Australia 's leading women playwrights, was revised and published as Upstaged: Australian Women Playwrights in the Limelight at Last in 2002. Upstaged was shortlisted for five national prizes in 2003. In 2001, I held the NSW History Fellowship for my research project on the history of the ABC radio serials Blue Hills. In 2004, I was a presenter on the ABC TV series Rewind. I was awarded an ALTC Citation for an Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning in 2010. From 2008-2012, I served as one of the five members of the advisory panel for the Prime Minister's Prize for Australian History. My most recent book, Friday on Our Minds: Popular Culture in Australia Since 1945, was shortlisted for the NSW Premier's Australian History prize in 2010. In 2014, I was the winner (with Catherine Freyne and Timothy Nicastri) of the NSW Premiers' Multimedia History Prize for my radio documentary Public Intimacies: The 1974 Royal Commission on Human Relationships.



Current Research Projects

The Royal Commission on Human Relationships and the history of the 1970s in Australia


This research project aims to explore the history of intimate and family life in a time of immense social change through an examination of the Royal Commission on Human Relationships, an initiative of the Whitlam government. It will culminate in a book-length study of the 1970s in Australia.


My research interests include the history of popular culture in Australia, feminist history, and representations of history in the media, especially television. I am also interested in Australian theatre history and histories of cultural production. I have published in all of these areas and I'm happy to supervise projects in these fields.

Research Funding and fellowships


  • 2017 - 2020 DP DP170100502 Gender and Sexual Politics: Changing Citizenship in Australia since 1969 $285 000.00
  • 2016 National Library of Australia Fellowship ($20.000)
  • 2012 Frederick Watson Fellowship, National Archives of Australia ($15.000)
  • 2011 Frederick Watson Fellowship, National Archives of Australia ($15.000)
  • 2011 Macquarie University Teaching Delivery Grant ($21.878)
  • 2011 Research Infrastructure Block Grant, Macquarie University, for Media Archives Project ($78.037) with Prof Bridget Griffen-Foley, Dr Kate Gleeson and Prof Murray Goot
  • 2010 MQNS (returning from parental leave scheme grant) ($13.550)
  • 2007 MUSIG (Strategic Infrastructure scheme) (awarded to Dr Arrow, A/Prof Griffen-Foley and A/Prof Hughes Warrington) ($20.561)
  • 2005 MUNS (New Staff grant) ($19.495)

Selected Publications


modernhistory_staff_marrow_book_1Friday on Our Minds: Popular Culture in Australia Since 1945
(Sydney: UNSW Press, 2009)

Book Description

Shortlisted for the NSW Premier's Australian History Prize in 2010. This history of popular culture in Australia since 1945 takes account of the massive social and cultural changes that have occurred in that period by examining popular culture through three main lenses: consumerism and the development of a mass consumer society; the impact of technological change; and the ways that popular culture contributes to, and articulates, individual and collective identities. Friday on our Mindsprovides an integrated account of changes in a range of popular culture forms, meanings, production and consumption.


modernhistory_staff_marrow_book_2Upstaged: Australian Women Dramatists in the Limelight at Last, (Sydney: Pluto Press & Currency Press, 2002).

Book Description

This book, which traced the stories of Australian women playwrights writing for stage radio, and television between 1928 and 1968, was shortlisted for the following prizes in 2003: Gleebooks prize for literary and cultural criticism, NSW Premier's Literary Awards; State Records NSW - John and Patricia Ward History Prize, NSW Premier's History Awards; Westfield/Waverley Library Award for Literature; Walter McRae Russell Award for the best work of literary scholarship, Association for the Study of Australian Literature; Centre for Cultural Studies, Canberra, special mention for 'Outstanding Contribution to Australian Culture'.

Edited Book

Small Screens: Essays on Contemporary Australian Television, co-edited with Jeannine Baker and Clare Monagle, Monash University Publishing, 2016.

The Chamberlain Case: Nation, Law, Memory, co-edited with Deborah Staines and Katherine Biber, Australian Scholarly Publishing, Melbourne, 2009.modernhistory_staff_marrow_book_3

The Lindy Chamberlain trial dominated the media landscape in the 1980s as a major miscarriage of justice unfolded. The Chamberlain Case delivers a comprehensive account of the case's intricacies, including the forensic evidence, prejudicial media coverage, scapegoating and religious vilification. Lindy Chamberlain relates her experiences of the trial, and there are contributions by eyewitnesses, members of the Chamberlain defence, academic experts and distinguished authors, as well as extracts from each of the eight judicial findings.


Media productions

Public Intimacies: The Royal Commission on Human Relationships

This radio feature was produced by Michelle Arrow, with supervising producer Catherine Freyne. It was broadcast on ABC RN's Hindsight program on Sunday 28 April 2013, and can be downloaded as a podcast via this link:

special editions of journals
  • 'Histories of Australian Media Reception', special issue of Media International Australia, No 131, May 2009.Co-edited with Marnie Hughes-Warrington and Bridget Griffen-Foley.
  • 'The Seventies' special issue of Australian Feminist Studies, 22 (53), July 2007. Co-edited with Mary Spongberg
  • 'New Urgencies in Australian Studies', special issue of Australian Humanities Review, 2006. Co-editor with Dr Nicole Moore, online at:
  • 'The Seventies' special issue of Australian Feminist Studies, 22 (53), July 2007. Co-edited with Mary Spongberg.
Journal Articles
  • (with Leigh Boucher) '"Studying Modern History gives me the chance to say what I think": learning and teaching history in the age of student-centred learning', History Australia, 13:4, 2016.
  • 'Everyone needs a holiday from work, why not mothers?' Motherhood, feminism and citizenship in the Australian Royal Commission on Human Relationships, 1974-1977', Journal of Women's History, 2015, DOI: 10.1080/09612025.2015.1083225.
  • Invisible histories? History Features on Australian Radio', Australian Historical Studies, 46 (3), 2015, DOI:10.1080/1031461X.2015.1069364.
  • 'I Just feel that it's important to know exactly what he went through': In Their Footsteps and the Role of Emotions in Australian Television History', Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 33 (4), 2013.
  • 'The Making History initiative and Australian popular history', Rethinking History 15 (2) 2011.
  • 'Broadcasting the Past: Australian Television Histories', History Australia, 8 (1) 2011.
  • '"Mum Likes Bandstand too": Creating the teenage audience on Australian television', Media International Australia, special issue 'Television Comedy and Light Entertainment', eds Felicity Collins, Sue Turnbull and Susan Bye, 134, February 2010.
  • 'Everywhere and nowhere? Women's history in cultural history and cultural studies journals', Hecate 33 (2), November 2007.
  • The most sickening piece of snobbery I have ever heard': Race, Radio listening, and the 'Aboriginal Question' in Blue Hills' , Australian Historical Studies, 130, October 2007.
  • 'It has become my personal anthem': I Am Woman, Popular Culture and Seventies Feminism', Australian Feminist Studies, 22 (53), July 2007. Special issue 'The Seventies' co-edited by Michelle Arrow and Mary Spongberg.
  • "That history should not have ever been how it was": Reality Television and Australian History, Film and History, 37 (1), 2007. Special issue "Reality Television as Film and History" edited by Ken Dvorak and Julie Taddeo.
  • 'I want to be a television historian when I grow up!' On Being a Rewind Historian', Public History Review, 12, 2006, online at:
  • '"Everything stopped for Blue Hills": Radio, Memory and Australian Women's Domestic Lives, 1944-2001', Australian Feminist Studies, 20 (48), 2005.
  • 'Television Program Yes, History No: Doing Australian History on Rewind', History Australia, July 2005.
  • Written Out Of History? The Disappearance of Australia's Women Playwrights", Overland, No.155, 1999.
  • "'Good Entertainment and Good Family Life': Listener Readings and Responses to Gwen Meredith's The Lawsons and Blue Hills", Journal of Australian Studies, October 1998.
Book Chapters


  • I Am Woman, Redux: Feminism on Television in 2015', in Michelle Arrow, Jeannine Baker and Clare Monagle, (eds), Small Screens: Essays on Contemporary Australian Television, Monash University Publishing, 2016.
  • 'Public Intimacies: Revisiting the Royal Commission on Human Relationships, 1947-77', in Robert Reynolds, Lisa Featherstone and Rebecca Jennings (eds) Acts of Love and Lust: Sexuality in Australia from 1945-2010, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014.
  • 'The Making History Initiative and Australian Popular History', in Jerome de Groot (ed), Public and Popular History, Routledge, London and New York, forthcoming 2012. (reprint of Rethinking History special issue, Public and Popular History, edited by Jerome de Groot, 15 (2), 2011).
  • 'Witnessing Innocence: Fred Schepisi's Evil Angels', in James Bennett and Rebecca Beirne (eds), Making Film and Television Histories, IB Tauris, 2012, pp. 184-188.
  • 'New Theatre', in Terry Irving and Rohwan Cahill, Radical Sydney: Places, Portraits and Unruly Episodes, UNSW Press, Sydney 2010.
  • 'I can only go on the evidence of my own eyes': witnessing traumatic histories of the Chamberlain case on film and television' in Deborah Staines, Michelle Arrow and Katherine Biber (eds) The Chamberlain Case Reader, Australian Scholarly Publishing, Melbourne, 2009.
  • 'What about giving us a real version of Australian History?' Identity, Ethics and Historical understanding in Reality Television', in Reality Television as Film and History , eds Ken Dvorak and Julie Taddeo (University of Kentucky Press, 2009).
  • 'It's here, at last!' The Introduction of Television in Australia', in David Andrew Roberts and Martin Crotty (eds.) Crucial Moments in Australian History , (University of New South Wales Press, Sydney, 2008).
  • 'Colour Must Breed out in time': Listening to whiteness in Blue Hills' in Historicising Whiteness, refereed conference proceedings, Jane Carey, Katherine Ellinghaus and Leigh Boucher (eds) (Melbourne: RMIT Publishing, 2007).
  • 'Abolitionism' and 'Civil Rights' in Companion to Women's Historical Writing, Mary Spongberg, Barbara Caine, Ann Curthoys (eds), (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005)
  • "Career Playwrights": Working Women Dramatists and Australian Culture, 1928 - 1968', Australian Literature and the Public Sphere , refereed proceedings of 1998 Association for the Study of Australian Literature Conference, Alison Bartlett, Robert Dixon and Christopher Lee (eds), 1999.
Other Publications
  • 'Peter Allen', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, 2016.
  • 'Damned Whores and God's Police is still relevant 40 years on - more's the pity', The Conversation, September 21, 2015,
  • 'Gough Whitlam and the Royal Commission on Human Relationships', published by ABC Radio National's Hindsight, 23 October 2014,
  • 'Axing Hindsight and Rear Vision would be historically shortsighted', The Conversation, October 1, 2014,
  • 'Girls, Patriots and Pacifists: Recent Screen histories of WWI', Teaching History, 49 (1), 2015.
  • (with Deborah Staines and Katherine Biber) 'Azaria Chamberlain inquest: forget the dingo jokes and recognise Lindy's trauma', 12 June 2012
  • 'The High Priestess of Women's Lib: Germaine Greer and the Australian Women' Liberation Movement', Teaching History, 45 (2), June 2011, pp. 11-13. Co-written with Jodi Arrow.
  • 'Gillard government could remake Australian history by adopting a neglected idea', The Conversation,, 29 March 2011.
  • 'The Day the world shrank', New Matilda, 23 July, 2009
  • Various stories as presenter for Rewind: Lawrence Hargrave, Vingear Hill, Sister Kenny, Eugene Goosens, The Ross Sea Party, Helena Rubenstein, Krishnamurti, Mary Mackillop, Captain Starlight.
  • 'Talking Heads in Black and White: History on Television', talk to Film Australia 'Making History' workshop, August 2005,
  • 'Making History' workshop, August 2005, online at



'What are the turning points in Australian history?', ABC RN 'Big Ideas', 12 October 2015,


'Looking back at relationships and public policy', ABC RN Life Matters, 23 April 2013,


'Historians at Work', panel discussion at the National Library of Australia (with Clare Wright and Frank Bongiorno), 10 September 2012

Historical Consultancy



  • Co-curator, Creative Visions: Retracing 50 years of artistic response to the University Campus, Macquarie University Art Gallery, 10 September - 24 October 2014.



  • Panel member, ABC News 24 Anzac Day special, broadcast April 25, 2015.
  • Consultant and interviewee for Raising the Curtain: A Celebration of Australian Theatre, 3 part documentary series, Essential Media, 2012.
  • Various stories as presenter for Rewind: Lawrence Hargrave, Vinegar Hill, Sister Kenny, Eugene Goosens, The Ross Sea Party, Helena Rubenstein, Krishnamurti, Mary Mackillop, Captain Starlight. 





  • Head of Modern History 2014-15
  • Director, Undergraduate Programs, Modern History
  • Member, Australian History Museum Management Committee, Faculty of Arts
  • Member, Academic Senate, 2011-12
  • Co-convenor with Professor Angela Woollacott, 'How the Personal Became Political: Reassessing Australia's Revolutions in Gender and Sexuality in the 1970s', ANU Gender Institute Symposium, 6-7 March, 2017.
  • Convenor, 'Public and Popular Histories of Anzac', History Week symposium, State Library of NSW, 8 September 2015.
  • 'Making Feminist Histories of the Seventies: An Australian Feminist Studies Symposium', Macquarie University, 26 October 2007,
  • Co-convenor, (with Nicole Moore) 'New Urgencies in Australian Studies', symposium at The Mint, 20 September, 2004.
  • Co-convenor, (with Katherine Biber and Deborah Staines) 'Nation, Law, Memory: A Chamberlain Case Symposium', Macquarie University, 14 August 2005.

For more information about research, teaching and other scholarly activities go to Michelle Arrow's Research Hub profile at