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New Housing History Network

Call for Papers

Revisiting Classics in Australian Housing History
New Housing History Network

Architect Robin Boyd’s House of Tomorrow – 1949

This project, tentatively titled Revisiting Classics in Housing History, seeks to revisit canonical texts in the historiography of Australian housing. It comes out of a research agenda under the aegis of the New Housing History Network (NHHN), established in 2023, which has identified the current moment as a transformational one in understanding the cultural and social meaning of housing in Australia. The task of uncovering forgotten histories and historical imaginaries looms as an urgent task in our present moment, widely perceived to be one of exceptional historical crisis. Revisiting Classics in Housing History recognises the rich tradition of scholarship on housing across the twentieth century – much of which has slipped out of public consciousness – and asks what these texts might offer for readers today. While certain landmark texts in Australian urban and housing history have in recent years been “revisited” – notably Robin Boyd’s The Australian Ugliness and Janet McCalman’s Struggletown – a host of other histories remain under-read, and under-appreciated.

We invite proposals by authors to revisit key texts in the historiography of Australian housing. Proposals should nominate up to three landmark texts in the history of housing and briefly outline the reasoning to conduct a reflection on the enduring significance of the book in question. Authors might like to consider some of the following questions in preparing their short statement of relevance for the identified text(s):
–      To what extent is the text a product of its time?
–      How much, and how, has the text resonated with audiences at different moments in time?
–      What strikes you as enduring in reading the text today?
–      What key themes and preoccupations motivate the text, in your reading of it?
–      To what extent would the text need to be updated to speak to audiences today?
–      Are there any aspects you are critical of?
–      Why does this text appeal to you as a scholar interested in housing history?

Successful applicants will be informed of which from among their proposed texts they will write on. There will be a workshop in April 2024 at Deakin Downtown (Melbourne and via Zoom) and sponsored by the Centre for Contemporary History at which drafts will be presented to gather feedback from the various participants. The resulting publication will likely take the form of a special edition of a journal, or indeed an edited book with a university press.

Please send applications of no more than 500 words per text to: newhousinghistorynetwork@gmail.com by 20 January 2024 (extended from 10 December 2023).

About the NHHN

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Contact: newhousinghistorynetwork@gmail.com

The New Housing History Network (NHHN) seeks to provide a forum where scholars working in or interested in the field of housing history – broadly defined and cross-disciplinary in nature – can engage in stimulating discussion, share their work, mentor ECRs, propose avenues for collaboration, and offer events and opportunities for further work in this field. The NHHN has been established as a cooperative and collaborative group, yet it is also a space where individuals may find the inspiration for their own research, or make connections that lead to group projects. Membership requires no formal commitment, yet the more engaged and involved members are the more dynamic and influential our output can be. A summary of our first workshop in April 2023 can be found here.