Biography

My research and teaching explores the ways in which different kinds of life story evidence can illuminate the past and its meanings in the present lives of individuals and society. My books (listed on my Publications page) have explored the histories and memories of war veterans, migrants, adult learners and post-WW2 families, in Britain and Australia. As an internationally renowned oral historian, I write about the theory and method of oral history and life history research, including research involving recorded and written memory, diaries and letters, and family photographs.

In 2007 I returned to Melbourne after 22 years in England at the University of Sussex, where I was Professor of Oral History, Director of the Centre for Continuing Education, joint Director of the Centre for Life History Research, co-editor of the British journal Oral History (1990-2007), a Trustee of the Mass-Observation Archive and President of the International Oral History Association (2006-08). For many years I also worked with the Brighton-based community history and publishing group QueenSpark Books.

Back in Australia, I relish my position as Professor of History at Monash University. At Monash I am Director of the Historical Studies Graduate Research Program. I teach a range of undergraduate and postgraduate units in oral history, public history and Australian social history, and supervise research students working on diverse topics involving social and cultural history, public history and oral history (as listed below). In recent years I have been a Research Fellow at the National Museum of Australia and Harold White Fellow at the National Library of Australia. In 2012 I was Distinguished Visiting Professor at Aarhus University in Denmark and in 2014 I was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences Australia.

You can see me talking about my work as an oral historian (in the Museum Victoria Making History project for school students in which I was the lead academic partner) at: Museum Victoria.