Titian’s 1583 painting Venus of Urbino: historically, pleasure was not the only, or even the main, expectation from sex for women.
Australian women were once largely seen as reproducers, rather than lovers: sexual pleasure was suspect. Attitudes have changed, yet our culture is still troubled by female desire.
Prime Minister Billy Hughes worked hard to quash rebellion over conscription during the first world war.
Australian Prime Ministers
A little-known incident 100 years ago reminds us that Australia at the time was riven by class, religious and political divisions.
Heaven only knows what sort of excursion Wooredy and Truganini thought they had embarked upon on when G.A. Robinson took them to Recherche Bay in 1830 to make an overland trek to the Tasmanian west coast.
Wooredy and his second wife Truganini set off into the Tasmanian wilderness with settler George Robinson in 1830, on a "conciliatory" mission to find other original Tasmanians. Their stories bear witness to a psychological and cultural transition without parallel in modern colonialism.
Anzac Day, a celebration of the Anzac soldiers, pictured, has become a contentious issue in the “history wars”.
The most popular history courses taught in Australian universities are still broad courses focused on significant historical events and periods, contrary to the recent IPA report.
The academy has changed substantially since Plato’s time.
Australian universities are teaching 'identity politics' at the expense of Western history, according to an Institute of Public Affairs report. But unis make decisions based on student demand, not politics.
George Hamilton, Meeting natives on the Campaspi plains, Victoria, June 1836.
National Library of Australia
George Hamilton published An Appeal for the Horse in 1866, a defence of animal welfare well ahead of its time. However, his compassion for Aboriginal people was conspicuously lacking.
Paul Uhlmann, Batavia 4th June 1629 (night of my sickness), 2017, oil on canvas (detail, one of three panels).
Courtesy of the artist
The shipwreck of the Batavia and subsequent murders of 115 men, women and children have inspired many retellings. A new exhibition combines art and science to find new angles on an old tale.
Australia is way behind comparable countries on the marriage equality debate, thanks largely to a failure of leadership.
Historically, Australians have been leaders rather than followers on progressing social issues. But more recently, our leaders have trailed behind public opinion.
Louis XVI giving final instructions to the Comte de La Perouse in 1785, before La Perouse embarked on his fateful expedition to the Southern Hemisphere.
State Library of NSW
The French La Pérouse expedition left Botany Bay in 1788, and then vanished, rumoured to be wrecked in the Solomon Islands. But an Indian newspaper article might reveal the fate of its survivors.
Aboriginal dancers from Pinjarra perform at the unveiling of the counter-memorial in Esplanade Park, Fremantle, April 9 1994.
Courtesy Bruce Scates
A Fremantle monument to three white explorers was revised in 1994 to acknowledge the violence committed against Indigenous owners. As Australia struggles to reconcile its racist past, perhaps this monument shows a way forward.
Australia’s first memorial to Indigenous service people.
Many of our public commemorations honour people and incidents that brought great harm to others. We need to look at what that says about us, and how we build more inclusive public memorials.
Judge May Lahey (left) with actor Jean Harlow in 1932.
The Cornell Daily Sun (digitally coloured image)
Dame Roma Mitchell is remembered as Australia's first female judge. But Queenslander May Lahey beat her to the punch when she became a judge in Los Angeles in 1928. Her lack of recognition is symptomatic of how Australia remembers expats, particularly women.
Detail from Percy Leason, Thomas Foster, 1934, oil on canvas, 76.0 x 60.8 cm, State Library Victoria, Melbourne.
Gift of Mrs Isabelle Leason, 1969 (H32094) © Max Leason
Anthropologist Percy Leason thought he was painting the extinction of Victoria's Indigenous people in the 1930s. He was wrong, but his portraits, part of a new exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, are surprisingly sympathetic.
Delegates to the Australasian Federation Conference, Melbourne, 1890, where being white, male and bearded was standard form.
National Library of Australia
This year is the 120th anniversary of the Australasian Federal Convention through which, with rancour, prejudices and vested interests, the Australian nation was eventually born.
Ben Hall and Tim Draxl in Only Heaven Knows
Queer life thrived in 1940s Sydney despite policing and prohibition, as a new production of the musical Only Heaven Knows demonstrates. But it was not to last.
A treaty would be an agreement that is rather like that of host and guest, with rights and responsibilities for each party.
Treaties have to be the foundation for constitutional recognition, not the reverse.
‘We cannot talk about building truthful relationships without being honest about the racialised realities of our social world.’
The result of the 1967 referendum may well have made Australia appear less racist, but it did not address the inherently racist nature of the Constitution.
People look out over an ornamental lake from behind a wrought iron fence at the Carlton Gardens.
State Library of Victoria
Melbourne is a product of British colonial planning policies to control public access and movement in Australian cities. This legacy still influences the use of public spaces today.
Australians are deeply attached to the cluster of beliefs and traditions we call the ‘Anzac legend’.
In 1960, historian Ken Inglis wondered if Anzac functioned as a secular religion in Australian society. In 2017, we can confidently answer: yes, it does.
Gone are the days when we were told to suck out a snake’s venom. So what’s the current treatment and how have treatments changed over time?
State Library of NSW/Hood
Snake bite treatments have changed remarkably over the past 200 years. But most, if not all, made sense in their historical context.