The 1950s is usually treated in the popular media as a metaphor for an Australia that was complacent, monocultural, banal and domesticated. On the other hand, historical writing about the decade has long been dominated by accounts of political and foreign policy conflict, the Labor Split, the Cold War and the seemingly endless long summer of Robert Menzies.
This collection assembles some of Australia s leading historians to present new perspectives on the 1950s. Focusing on social and cultural themes, they reveal a decade full of contradictions which belie the common, simplistic accounts of the time. Ranging from the education of the young Barry Humphries to the idea of an Australian identity in the lead-up to the 1956 Olympics, these essays also include the personal recollections of three leading historians, providing a lively and critical insight into the Australia of the period.
Drawing out themes such as style, sexuality, modernism, the suburbs, travel writing and immigrant assimilation , the authors excavate the experience of everyday life and the attitudes that characterised the 1950s. They present a past that—despite having shaped our lives&mdas