Memories of Australian History at school often evoke images of hot classrooms and well-meaning teachers struggling to spin out a thin tale of colonial administration and land settlement, in which nothing 'really happened'.
All that is changing. The history that is taught and written in universities today is less concerned with grand events and structured narratives, and more interested in reconstructing people's lives. This approach opens up new questions for discussion in Australian History and revitalises old ones.
Pastiche, with its companion volume Memories and Dreams, provides a window into the transformations which have taken place in the writing of Australian History in the last two decades. They bring together some of the most important, illuminating and path-breaking work by many of Australia's leading historians, each of whom reflects back on the circumstances in which they wrote the particular articles and looks at the directions history has taken since. Pastiche covers major issues in the history of white Australia before 1900, including reinterpretations of race relations, political culture, class antagonisms, urban and rural experience, sexual politics in the family and the public sphere, and popular cultural practices.
Collectively, these articles go even further, unstitching the narrative of Australian History, highlighting the unexpected connections, and challenging the whole notion of a fixed past.