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Professor Susan Magarey

Position Adjunct Professor
Fax +61 8 8313 3443
Building Napier Building
Floor/Room 3 10
Campus North Terrace
Org Unit History

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Biography/ Background

Susan Magarey AM, FASSA, PhD, has degrees in English Literature and History from Adelaide University and the Australian National University. She was the Director of the Research Centre for Women's Studies at Adelaide University, where she is now Professor Emerita in History.

She is the Founder of the Magarey Medal for Biography and a member of the Board of History SA. She is writing a history of the Women's Liberation Movement in Australia. For fun, she gardens, cooks and listens to classical music.

She describes her life in the words of Australian poet Jennifer Maiden: 'Ambivalent, ambidextrous, ambiguous, androgynous, amorous, ironic'.



 At the end of 2012, Susan Magarey was appointed a member of the Panel assessing Non-Fictional Entrants for the Prime Minister's Literary Awards for 2013.

Unbridling the tongues of women (1985), winner of the Walter McRae Russell prize in 1986, was republished in April 2010 by Adelaide University Press, with a new Introduction;

Passions of the first-wave feminists (UNSW Press) Sydney, 2001.

One reviewer wrote'Her enthusiasm for her subject is infectious, her direct and often humorous voice is engaging and insightful, and the individual stories that carry the book are full of complex significance' (P. Russell, The Drawing Board: An Australian Review of Public Affairs). Another observed 'By exploring what "passion" meant for these first-wave feminists, Magarey has set a new agenda for future feminist historicns ((D. Deacon, Australian Feminist Studies). Yet another notes, 'She makes wonderful use of contemporary fiction to show how widespread the discussion of marriage and women's sexuality, women's work and their demands for independence currently were. Although emphasising the importance of discourses about the body to first wave feminists, Magarey rejects the idea that there was any single dominant interest or approach amongst those involved in the Women Movement, insisting rather on the need to recognise the breadth of their concerns. The great merit of this approach lies in its emphasis on the context for early feminist protests and campaigns, and in its capacity to show why some women felt so very strongly about the need for emancipation and how disruptive and subversive their ideas and activiies were in the eyes of others' (B. Caine, Australian Historical Studies.)

Looking Backward: Looking Forward. A History of the Queen Adelaide Club 1909-2009 (Queen Adelaide Club) Adelaide, 2009.

Roma the First: a Biography of Dame Roma Mitchell (Wakefield Press), Adelaide, 2007, with Kerrie Round, second revised imprint 2009. Reviewers considered this 'an excellent biography of a very important figure ... It is also an intricate, authoritative and highly engaging story of a place and a society, which must be of interest to all Australians' (Alan Atkinson), 'quite the most outstanding book I have read for a long while (Sr Deirdre O'Connor, Eureka Street.)

Founding Editor of the tri-annual journal, Australian Feminist Studies 1985-2005.

Edited eight collections of articles - including Women in a Restructuring Australia: Work & Welfare (1995) with Anne Edwards, and Debutante Nation: Feminism Contests the 1890s (1993) with Sue Rowley and Susan Sheridan.

Seventy-plus articles and book chapters. Among the most recent are

'What is Happening to Women's History in Australia at the Beginning of the Third Millenium?', Women's History Review, Vol.16, No.1, February 2007;

'Dreams and Desires: four 1970s Feminist Visions of Utopia', Australian Feminist Studies, Vol.22, No. 53, July 2007;

'Dame Roma Mitchell's Unmentionables: Sex, Politics and Religion', the Fourth History Council of South Australia Lecture, 2007, in History Australia, 2008;

'When it changed: the beginnings of Women's Liberation in Australia', in David Roberts and Martin Crotty (eds), Turning Points In Australian History (UNSW Press) Sydney, 2008;

Three Questions for Biographers: Public or Private? Individual or Society? Truth or Beauty?, Journal of Historical Biography (Canada), no.4, Autumn 2008;

The Sexual Revolution as Big Flop, in Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (ed.), Dialogue, vol.27, no.3, 2008;

'The invention of juvenile delinquency in early nineteenth century England', first pub. Labour History, 1978, republished in John Muncie and Barry Goldson (eds), Youth Crime and Juvenile Justice, 3 vols (Sage Publications), London 2008.

'The private life of Catherine Helen Spence 1825-1910' in Graeme Davison, Pat Jalland and Wilfrid Prest (eds), Body and Mind in Modern British and Australian History: Essays in Honour of FB Smith (Melbourne University Publishing), Melbourne, 2009.

'"To Demand Equality Is To Lack Ambition": Sex Discrimination legislation: contexts and contradictions', Conference held at the Australian National University to mark the Silver anniversary of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984, October 2009, now published in Margaret Thornton (ed.), Sex Discrimination in Uncertain Times (ANU E Press) Canberra, 2010.

'Louisa Lawson' in the Dictionary of Sydney

'The Sexual Revolution as Big Flop: Women's Liberation Lesson One', paper presented to the Network for Research in Women's History conference, University of Melbourne, July 2008, in conjunction with the conference of the Australian Historical Association (an un-edited version is attached below).

'The 1970s Australian Girl: from "I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do" to "The Winner Takes It All"', Network for Research in Women's History conference held at the University of the Sunshine Coast in conjunction with the conference of the Australian Historical Association, June 2009 (also attached below).

'An Imagination Goes Visiting: Louisa Lawson meets Charlotte Perkins Gilman at Desley Deacon's Women's Studies Centre at the University of Texas at Austin', paper presented to a special event to honour the career of Professor Desley Deacon at the Australian National University, April 2010 (also attached below).

'Sex and Citizenship: From ballot boxes to bedrooms' in Rob Foster and Paul Sendziuk (eds), Turning Points in South Australia's History (Wakefield Press) Adelaide, 2012.

'Literary Friendship: a Tale of Two Catherines: a Tribute to Margaret Allen', Australian Feminist Studies, vol.27, no.73, September 2012.

'Gender Studies and Social Analysis', with Margaret Allen, in Nick Harvey, Jean Fornasiero, Greg McCarthy, Clem Macintyre and Carl Crossin (eds), A History of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Adelaide 1876-2012 (Adelaide University Press) Adelaide, 2012.

'The Tampon' in Margaret Henderson and Alison Bartlett (eds), Things that Liberate: An Australian Feminist Wunderkammer (Cambridge Scholars Publishing) Newcastle-upon-Tyne) 2013.

Women's Liberation was a Movement, not an Organisation', Journal of Australian Studies, forthcoming 2013.

'Leadership in the Women's Liberation Movement', in Judith Smart and Shurlee Swain (eds), Australian Women and Leadership: Online Encyclopedia, forthcoming.

'Louisa Lawson, Printer, 1848-1920', in Georgine Clarsen (ed.), 'Woman and Trades' in Judith Smart and Shurlee Swain (eds), Australian Women and Leadership: Online Encyclopedia, forthcoming.



Expertise for Media Contact

CategoriesHuman Rights & Civil Liberties, History
ExpertiseLate 19th and early 20th century; history; feminism (history of women's movements, women's suffrage in Australia, women's liberation, equal rights)
NotesAlt phone: (08) 8303 5611

Entry last updated: Sunday, 19 Oct 2014

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