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When: 6pm-9pm, Tuesday 5 September 2017
Where: The Mint, 10 Macquarie Street, Sydney
Tickets: $45 HCNSW members / $50 General admission (excl fees)
Contact: 02 9252 8715,
Drinks and canapés will follow the lecture
SPECIAL OFFER: $30 Students – contact us to claim the offer. Places are limited.


The History Council of NSW is excited to announce one of its most popular events, the Annual History Lecture – ‘The Popular is Political: struggles over national culture in 1970s Australia’ – will be delivered by Associate Professor Michelle Arrow. The lecture will take place during our flagship festival, History Week, on Tuesday 5 September 2017. Join us for all things history, networking, drinks and nibbles!


The 1970s in Australia is remembered as a decade of rapid social change. Women, Indigenous people, lesbians, gays, and migrants all made demands for national recognition. Australia’s shift away from Great Britain and the election of Gough Whitlam saw the advent of the ‘new nationalism’.

In cultural terms, this saw masculinity scrutinized and celebrated as central to a new Australian identity. While the women’s movement’s challenge to Australian norms is well-known, the cultural dimensions of this struggle are less familiar. Historian Marilyn Lake characterised the emergence of the bushman as a ‘national type’ in the 1890s not as the product of nationalist sentiment, but as the result of a contest between men and women for ‘control of the national culture’.

Associate Professor Michelle Arrow will explore how a similar contest unfolded in the popular culture of the 1970s. How did popular culture make sense of the social change of the seventies? Was the popularity of the ocker a reaction to the women’s movement? And how did popular histories on film and television contribute to this cultural contest?

Download full abstract (pdf 198kb)

Dr Michelle Arrow

Dr Michelle Arrow

Associate Professor, Macquarie University

Michelle Arrow is Associate Professor of Modern History at Macquarie University. She is the author of Friday on Our Minds: Popular Culture in Australia since 1945 (2009) and numerous other works examining the history of popular culture and the ways history is represented in the media.

In 2014, together with Catherine Freyne and Timothy Nicastri, Michelle won the NSW Premier’s Multimedia History Prize for the radio feature ‘Public Intimacies: the Royal Commission on Human Relationships, 1974-1977’.

Image: Susan Papuan photography

The Annual History Lecture is proudly presented by the History Council of NSW during its flagship festival, History Week. Supported by Create NSW, Sydney Living Museums and De Bortoli Wines.