Staff Directory

Dr Melissa Bellanta Name: Dr Melissa Bellanta
Associate Professor
+612 9701 4148
Organisational Area
Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Arts (NSW)
Building 540 - Mary MacKillop Place (7 Mount Street, North Sydney NSW 2060)-Level 2-Room 540.2.17
Biographical Information
Dr Melissa Bellanta is a senior lecturer in Australian History in the National School of Arts. Dr Bellanta is currently working on a project about street style and fashion in Australian history, and another on the history of men's tender feelings and engagement with sentimental culture in Australia's past. She has published historical work on street gangs, football hooliganism, juvenile delinquency, protest masculinity, 'rough' femininity and youth culture in Australian cities.
Dr Bellanta holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons), Bachelor of Laws, and a PhD in Laws from the University of Sydney. Her book Larrikins: A History won the Ernest Scott Prize for best book on Australian, New Zealand or colonial history in 2013. She has been awarded many other fellowships and prizes for her work.

2 books / edited collections

  • Larrikins: A History (University of Queensland Press, out April 2012).

  • 'The Girl in Australian History&rsquo. Special issue of Journal of Australian Studies 34.4 (2010).

36 journal articles and book chapters

  • 'Business Fashion: Masculinity, Class and Dress in 1870s Australia', Australian Historical Studies 48.2 (2017): 189-212.

  • 'Poor Gordon: What the Australian Cult of Adam Lindsay Gordon Tells Us About Turn-of-the-Twentieth-Century Masculine Sentimentality', 28.2 Gender and History (2016): 401-421.

  • 'His Two Mates Around Him Were Crying: Masculine Sentimentality in Late-Victorian Culture', Journal of Victorian Culture 20.4 (2015): 471-90.

  • 'Uncle Tom in the White Pacific: African-American Performances of the Slave Sublime in Australasia, 1878-1889', Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History (2014).

  • 'The Leary Larrikin: Street Style in Late-Colonial Australia'. Cultural and Social History (2014) 11.2: 263-83. Co-written with Simon Sleight.

  • 'Looking Flash: Disreputable Women's Dress and Modernity'. History Workshop Journal (2014). Co-written with Alana Piper.

  • 'The Sentimental Bloke: Australian Romance in the First World War Era'. Journal of Popular Romance Studies, special issue edited by Hsu-Ming Teo (2014) 4.2:

  • 'Bury Me Deep Down Below: Sentimentality, Masculinity and Death on the Colonial Frontier'. Outskirts 31:

  • 'Rethinking the 1890s'. In The New Cambridge History of Australia, ed. Alison Bashford and Stuart Macintyre (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), ch. 9.

  • 'Popular Song and Australian Masculinities: The Songs of Sentimental Blokes, 1900s-1930s'. Australian Historical Studies 43.3 (2012): 412-28.

  • 'The Sentimental Cowboy: Tex Morton and Hillbilly Masculinity', Australian Feminist Studies 27.74 (2012): 355-37. Co-written with Toby Martin.

  • 'Poor Urban Youth and Popular Theatricals in Late Nineteenth-Century Australia&rsquo. In A World of Popular Entertainments, ed. Victor Emeljanow and Gillian Arrighi (Cambridge Scholarly Press, 2012).

  • 'Naughty and Gay? Revisiting the Nineties in the Australian Colonies&rsquo. History Australia 9.1 (2012): 198-215.

  • 'Victorian Spiritualism and Other Black Comedies'. Meanjin 70.1 (2011): 119-125.

  • 'Ta-ra-ra-bum-de-ay: Lottie Collins&rsquo Act and the Not-So-Modern Girl'. Nineteenth Century Theatre and History 37.1 (2010): 3-13.

  • '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.

  • 'A Hard Culture? Religion and Politics in Turn-of-the-Century Australian History'. Australian Journal of Politics and History 56.1 (2010): 55-65.

  • 'Leary Kin: The Australian Larrikin and the Blackface Minstrel Dandy'. Journal of Social History 42.3 (2009): 677-695.

  • ? 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 Manliness of Radical Sentiment: The Manhood of George Napier Birks'. Australian Historical Studies 39.3 (2008): 32-37.

  • 'The Larrikins' 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. DOI 10.1214/ha080007.

  • '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'.  Journal of Religious History, 32:1 (2008).

  • 'The Davenport Brothers Down Under: Theatre, Belief and Modernity in 1870s Australia&rsquo, in Robert Dixon and Veronica Kelly (eds), Impact of the Modern: Everyday Modernities in Australia (Sydney: University of Sydney Press, 2008).

  • 'Transcending Class? Australia&rsquos Single Taxers in the Early 1890s', Labour History 92 (May 2007): 17-30.

  • Land Nationalisers, Single Taxers and Environmentalism in Late Nineteenth-Century Australia&rsquo, Melbourne Historical Journal 32 (December 2004): 13-30.

  • 'Fabulating the Australian Desert: Australia&rsquos Lost Race Romances, 1890-1908'. Philament 3 (April 2004).

  • 'Mobilising Fictions, or, Romancing the Australian Desert, 1890-1908', History Australia 1:1 (December 2003): 15-30.

  • 'Clearing Ground for the New Arcadia', Journal of Australian Studies, New Talents 21C edition, 72 (2002), 13-20.

  • 'Irrigation Millennium: Science, Religion and the New Garden of Eden', ERAS 3 (June 2002).


My research interests are:

  • gender history (I have published on 'bad girls' in colonial Australia and conduct ongoing work on masculiniities)
  • the history of street style and street subcultures (my most recent article here is on prostitutes' clothes in turn-of-the-century Brisbane)
  • the history of youth culture (especially in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries)
  • the history of popular entertainments (especially those associated with African Americans such as blackface minstrelsy and jazz).
  • the history of the emotions and of sentimentality.

My current major project is Tender Feeling in a Hard Country: Masculinity and Sentimentality in Australian History. This will be published as a book with Palgrave Macmillan in its Global Masculinities and Sexuality series in 2018. I have also published numerous articles for this project in journals such as Gender and History, the Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, the Journal of Victorian Culture and Australian Historical Studies. 

I am also working on a major new project: the history of men's dress in Australia. 

Professional Memberships

Australian Historical Association, Social History Society, Network for Research in Women's History, International Association of Australian Studies, Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association.


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