History Seminar: Family History and History of the Family and Behind the Scenes in Late Medieval Diplomacy

Date/Time: Fri 16 Mar / 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Location: Monash University, Room E561, (Menzies Building) 20 Chancellors Walk, Clayton Campus

School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies (SoPHIS)

History Seminar

Family History and History of the Family

Over my academic lifetime these two approaches to the past have suffered a stunning reversal of academic fortunes. In the last decades of the last century the academy regarded family history as mere antiquarianism at best, and pursued the history of the family as a way of exploring – even answering – fundamental questions about modernity and its discontents. Now historians have abandoned that field to the demographers and their FDTs and SDTs, and family history is being hailed as ‘the new social history’. The flyer for the recent ANU conference ‘Related Histories: Studying the Family’, declared that ‘As faith in the grand narratives of class, civic responsibility and national identity has declined, family history has come to promise a deeper sense of who we are.’

This brief paper will consider where a study of the emigration and Australian settlement of my great-great grandparents might sit within the grand narratives of class, civic responsibility, national identity and yes, the history of the family.

Marian Quartly is currently Professor Emerita in the Monash School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies. She was first appointed to the Monash Department of History in 1980, and served as Dean of the Monash Arts Faculty from 1995-2000. She remains active as a researcher; her most recent publications include joint authorship of The Market in Babies: Stories of Australian Adoption (2014) and Respectable Radicals: A History of the National Council of Australian Women (2015).

Behind the Scenes in Late Medieval Diplomacy

Medieval diplomatic history tends to focus on the gradual development of institutions such as that of the resident ambassador, and the official settlement or initiation of conflict through treaties and declarations. Such accounts of diplomacy naturally privilege the kingdom as the negotiating unit whose abstract interests are to be protected or advanced. In this paper I explore, instead, the informal mechanisms of negotiation, intelligence gathering and alliance forming, that were essential to formal diplomacy. This ‘behind the scenes’ activity reveals the continuing influence of kinship, affinity, and affect upon the decisions and decision making of ‘kingdoms’ like late medieval England and France, resisting a simple narrative of progression towards the sovereign state, and, crucially, making room for women in the history of diplomacy.

Kathleen Neal (Monash) is a historian of the later middle ages, specialising in political culture and rhetoric in the British Isles and western Europe. She is particularly interested in official letter writing, and in women’s political participation in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Her book on The Correspondence of Edward I: Polities and Letters is forthcoming with Boydell & Brewer.

Friday 16th March

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm 

Monash University 
Room E561
Menzies Building
20 Chancellors Walk 
Clayton Campus 

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