Dr Bellanta
Dr Bellanta
Honorary Research Fellow
Contact Details:
Email: m.bellanta@uq.edu.au
BArts (Hons), University Medal, University of Sydney
PhD, University of Sydney
Melissa Bellanta is an historian interested in Australian popular culture, gender and social history. Her recent book Larrikins: A History looks at the poor urban youth known as larrikins between 1870 and 1930 - youth of both sexes who developed their own 'rough' subculture and were notoriously involved in crime on the streets. A blend of social, urban, cultural and theatrical history, the book explores the cheap variety theatres, blackface minstrel shows, boxing tents, football matches, dance halls, city markets, pubs, prison cells, vacant lots and street corners frequented by Australia's first larrikins. Both the book and Melissa's other research will be of interest to readers wanting to find out more about street gangs, 'flash' fashions, sensational youth crimes, popular entertainments, urban communities and developing notions of Australianness in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Research Interests:
  • History of youth subcultures and street fashions
  • Australian popular culture, including theatre, cinema and sport in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries
  • Australian gender history: especially history of girlhood and masculinities
  • History of the emotions
Current Research:
Melissa’s current project, Sentimental Blokes, explores the way that Australian men have historically expressed sentimentality through popular culture and pastimes. It considers, among other things, the sentimentality of Australian country music and ballads sung at neighbourhood parties, by male choirs or on the vaudeville stage in the early 1900s. Melissa is also writing a chapter on the 1890s for the upcoming Cambridge History of Australia and is co-writing a piece on ‘flash’ Australian women’s dress in the late nineteenth century.
Selected Publications:
  • Larrikins: A History, University of Queensland Press, 2012. 
Recent Articles
  • ‘Looking Flash: Disreputable Women’s Dress and “Modernity”, 1870-1910’. Co-written with Alana Piper. History Workshop Journal (forthcoming 2014).
  • ‘The Leary Larrikin: Street Style in Late-Colonial Australia’. Co-written with Simon Sleight. Social and Cultural History (forthcoming 2013).
  • ‘The Sins of the Son: Country Music and Masculine Sentimentality in 1930s and 1940s Australia’. Co-written with Toby Martin. Australian Feminist Studies 27.74 (2012): 355-372.
  • ‘Australian Masculinities and Popular Song: The Songs of Sentimental Blokes 1900 - 1930s’, Australian Historical Studies 43.3 (2012): 412-428.
  • ‘Naughty and Gay? Revisiting the Nineties in the Australian Colonies’. History Australia 9.1 (2012): 136-154.
  • ‘Victorian spiritualism and other black comedies’, Meanjin 70.1 (2011): 119-125.
  • ‘Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay: Lottie Collins’ Act and the Not-So-Modern Girl’, Nineteenth Century Theatre and History 37.1 (2010): 3-13.
  • ‘A Hard Culture? Religion and Politics in Turn-of-the-Century Australian History’, Australian Journal of Politics and History 56.1 (2010): 55-65.
  • ‘Rough Maria and Clever Simone: Some Introductory Remarks on the Girl in Australian History’, Journal of Australian Studies 34.4 (2010): 417–28.
  • ‘The Larrikin Girl’, Journal of Australian Studies 34.4 (2010): 499–512
  • ‘Leary Kin: The Australian Larrikin and the Blackface Minstrel Dandy’, Journal of Social History 42.3 (2009): 677–695.
  • ‘The Manliness of Radical Sentiment: The Manhood of George Napier Birks’, Australian Historical Studies 39.3 (2008): 322–37.
  • ‘The Larrikin's Hop: Larrikinism and Late-Colonial Popular Theatre’, Australasian Drama Studies 52 (April 2008): 131–47.
  • ‘Feminism, Mateship and the Brotherhood of Man in 1890s Adelaide’, History Australia 5(1): 7.1-7.14.
  • ‘A Man of Civic Sentiment: The Case of William Guthrie Spence’, Journal of Australian Studies, 2:1 (March 2008): 63-77.
  • ‘Voting For Pleasure, Or, A View From a Late-Victorian Theatre Gallery’, M/C, 10/11.6 (April 2008).
  • ‘Engineering the Kingdom of God: Irrigation, Science and the “Social Christian” Millennium, 1880–1914’. Journal of Religious History, 32:1 (2008): 1–15.
  • ‘Transcending Class? Australia’s Single Taxers in the early 1890s’, Labour History 92 (May 2007): 17–30.
Book Chapters
  • 'Rethinking the 1890s'. In The New Cambridge History of Australia ed. Alison Bashford and Stuart Macintyre (forthcoming 2013).
  • 'Poor urban youth and popular theatricals: the case of the late 19th century Australia', in A World of Popular Entertainments, ed. Victor Emeljanow and Gillian Arrighi (Cambridge Scholarly Press, 2012).
  • ‘16 August 1890: The Maritime Strike Begins. On Utopia and Class War’, in Martin Crotty and David Roberts (eds), Turning Points in Australian History (Sydney: UNSW Press, 2009).
  • ‘The Davenport Brothers Down Under: Theatre, Belief and Modernity in 1870s Australia’, in Robert Dixon and Veronica Kelly (eds), Impact of the Modern: Everyday Modernities in Australia (Sydney: University of Sydney Press, 2008).
Edited Collections
  • The Girl in Australian History, special issue of Journal of Australian Studies, vol. 34, no. 4, 2010.
Recent Research Grants:
UQ Research Fellowship in the Humanities and Social Sciences
(to be taken up in 2013)
July 2010 - June 2013
ARC Postdoctoral Fellowship
July 2007 - June 2010
UQ Postdoctoral Fellowship

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