Research strengths

The School conducts research into a wide range of historical and philosophical practices, covering through its subjects a diversity of times, places and themes which reflect the latest developments in historical research and vocational practice.

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Research aspirations

Classics and Archaeology lie at the heart of the humanities and are positioned at the nexus between the arts and the sciences. Whereas it would be possible to live in a world without the humanities and, in turn, Classics and Archaeology, what a meaningless world it would be - bereft of memory, imagination, creativity, or any understanding of the cultural environment that has shaped all our lives. This is the programs simply stated relevance to contemporary life. 

The ongoing core mission of the program is to explore what it is to be human. Its driving aspirations are threefold:

(a) To be relevant to the contemporary world

(b) To achieve excellence in research, teaching and learning

(c) To inspire the next generation of intellectual academic and global leaders and the community at large

Classics and Archaeology places great weight on research and in communicating the results to a range of audiences, including national and international networks of scholars as well as the general public. In driving research and in disseminating ideas, the course embraces both traditional means (lectures, publications and exhibitions) and new forms of technologies.

Every staff member who teaches this course cares deeply about the discipline. The academic staff of the program are eager to share their passion with others: sharing their knowledge with people who understand that humanities skills are skills for life and for the benefit of society as a whole. Their qualities as teachers and scholars are well attested. With enthusiasm, they continue to influence world leaders as well as scores of professionals and researchers, business and community leaders. This is a worthy goal that the program seeks to develop in the years ahead. We hope you can join us.

Conservation research strengths

The Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation has strong and ongoing collaborative research programmes with partners in Australia, The Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, the United States of America and the United Kingdom. High impact research is central to The Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation's overall strategy and market positioning. This strategy strengthens The Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation's existing research framework and will enhance the University's knowledge transfer agenda.

Assoc. Prof. Robyn Sloggett and Dr Nicole Tse analysing physical changes to a painting with Electronic Speckle Pattern Interferometry (Collaborative project with Professor Ann Roberts, School of Physics)

Art fraud and art authentication

The Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation's work on the authentication of artwork evolved from studies which used securely provenanced works in the University of Melbourne Art Collection as the basis for the investigation of the materials and techniques used by Australian artists. Staff at Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation in collaboration with researchers in Earth Sciences, Chemistry, Physics and Art History, investigated a range of materials including pigments, supports, and varnishes. Studies have also been undertaken in frames used by Australian artists, and underdrawing in Australian paintings. Databases have been developed on a range of Australian artists including Rupert Bunny, William Strutt, Arthur Streeton, John Peter Russell, Rover Thomas, and Sidney Nolan. This work has informed enquiries from the public, collectors and the commercial art market relating to suspected problematic artwork.

Authentication study also involves an understanding of provenance and history, and research projects have resulted in the establishment of data bases that identify securely provenanced works in public institutions, and the catalogue records for prominent artists. Researchers at Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation have access to advanced microscopy, and UV and IR examination techniques. Researchers in the Faculty of Science provide analytical expertise and access to equipment including SEM, FTIR, Raman, PIXE, XRD and XRF. Recently the Australian Synchrotron was also employed in an art authentication enquiry.

Characterisation of Cultural Materials

Archaeological Conservation: The development of analysis and assessment protocols for adhesives used on archaeological pottery

Adhesives that are used to repair archaeological pottery require high standards in performance and formulation. We identified a formulae variation that occurred ten years ago, in a 'conservation grade' adhesive that has been used since the 1980's. More information...

Controlling Biodeterioration of Cultural Materials: The use of free-radical based treatments to inhibit the communication pathways of biofilms

Biofilms are assemblages of microorganisms that assist in the colonisation and potential damage and degradation of materials to which they are attached. Free-radicals such as nitric oxide have been identified as inhibitors of biofilm formation. Investigation, assessment and application of this free-radical in the treatment of the biodeterioration of cultural materials forms the basis of this project. This research was conducted by PhD candidate Caroline Kyi under the supervision of Professor Carl Schiesser, Assoc. Prof Robyn Sloggett and Ms Sharon Cather, through both the School of Chemistry (Free Radical Chemistry Biotechnology an ARC Centre of Excellence) and The School of Historical and Philosophical Studies (Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation).
For more information please see the following links:

Fading Behaviour and Colour Matching of Daylight Fluorescent Paint

A lot is known about the conservation of traditional pigments. However little is known about the behaviour and conservation of modern materials such as daylight fluorescent paints used by artists like Howard Arkley and Andy Warhol in the late 20th century. This project is investigating methods of optical characterisation and the ageing characteristics of daylight fluorescent paints. The aim is to apply this knowledge to the conservation of modern works of art. This research was conducted as a PhD project by Elizabeth Hinde under the supervision of Dr Petronella Nel, Assoc. Professor Robyn Sloggett and Assoc. Professor Ann Roberts and was carried out through The School of Historical and Philosophical Studies (Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation) and the School of Physics.

Publications

  • Hinde, L., Nel, P., Sloggett, R. and Roberts, A. "A novel technique for the photography of daylight fluorescent artwork" in ICOM-CC 15th Triennial Meeting - Diversity in Heritage Conservation: Tradition, Innovation and Participation, Conference Preprints. New Delhi, India, September 22-26, 2008
  • Hinde, E., Nel, P., Sloggett, R. and Roberts, A. "A photographic method for documenting daylight fluorescent paint" in Pagliarino, A. and Osmond, G. (eds.,). Contemporary Collections - AICCM National Conference - Preprints. Brisbane, 17th-19th October 2007, p. 31-36

Investigating New Corrosion Inhibitors for Copper Based Artefacts

This project investigated new corrosion inhibitors for copper based artefacts with the aim of identifying a safer and more effective corrosion inhibitor than benzotriazole. The project aimed to further investigate the inhibitive action of the proposed inhibitors on the decuprification of bronze and dezincification of brass. This PhD project was conducted by Ahmad Abu-Baker under the supervision of Professor Antonio Sagona, Dr Ian McLeod, Assoc. Professor Robyn Sloggett and Dr Russell Taylor.

The Behaviour of Western Artist's Materials in Tropical Environments

An extensive study on the behaviour and conservation of oil painting materials in tropical climates. This research is a critical first step to assess the behaviour of canvas paintings in tropical climates, and is essential in providing informed advice on the care of such collections. More information...

The Twentieth Century in Paint

An ARC-funded project that examined new media, pigments, dyes and additives that led to the creation of revolutionary works of art in the 20th century in both Australia and Southeast Asia. More information...

History research strengths

The History program's collective research examines the histories and transformations of society, religion, politics and culture in Australia, Asia, North America, North Africa, the Middle East and Europe, from the medieval period to today, utilizing disciplinary and interdisciplinary frameworks.  

The program has well-established expertise in key areas including Australian History and Australian Studies; European History (in particular Italy, Germany, Russia, Irish Studies); Asian History (in particular China, India, Indonesia); American History; and histories of North Africa, the British West Indies, the British Empire and the Atlantic World. There is also established expertise in approaches to the study of the past that cut across geographical and national boundaries, including transnational and international histories, historical memory and commemoration, cultural heritage, the histories of media and popular culture, and studies of war, diplomacy, social movements and Indigenous and human rights.

Research orientations

History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) at The University of Melbourne is oriented towards an integrated approach that aims to link historical, philosophical, and sociological methods in the study of science, technology and medicine. It is thus by nature interdisciplinary, linking to various other disciplines within the faculty, in other faculties and outside the university. 

The program combines the traditional broad approach to research in HPS with methodologies developed in historical and social epistemology aiming to explore links and correspondences between the different research areas. These research areas include:

  • the use of technology in domestic environments
  • scientific naturalism
  • historical demography
  • the history and philosophy of 20th century physics
  • the history of early modern experimental natural philosophy 
  • practical mathematics

Jewish Culture and Society research strengths

Contemporary Hebrew fiction, second generation Holocaust writing, Hebrew language instruction and pedagogy, reconciliation and interfaith initiatives between Jews and Muslims and Palestinians and Israelis, Jewish literature, Jewish feminist writings, Israeli society and politics, Israeli ethnic studies, religious movements and streams in Judaism.

Philosophy research strengths

Research in Philosophy at The University of Melbourne covers the two discipline areas of 'Philosophy' and 'Applied Ethics'.

We have strengths in all research areas mentioned below, with particular international renown in: 

  • Logic, metaphysics, and philosophy of language
  • Ethics, moral psychology, and metaethics
  • Applied ethics and political philosophy

Research in the two disciplinary clusters ranges across the entire spectrum, from pure basic research to applied research. Pure basic research in Philosophy spans the core areas of theoretical philosophy (metaphysics, epistemology, philosophical logic, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, phenomenology, philosophy of science), practical philosophy (ethics, political philosophy, moral psychology, metaethics, aesthetics), and history of philosophy (Ancient philosophy, Asian philosophy, history of modern philosophy, history of 19th and 20th century European philosophy, and history of early analytic philosophy). 

We also engage in strategic basic research aimed at richer theoretical understandings of important social problems including the morality of terrorism, social justice and poverty both global and national, bioethics, and reasoning under uncertainty in the context of climate change debate. In addition, our applied research targets topics such as taxation and distributive justice, climate change justice, the ethics of food production and consumption, ownership of indigenous knowledge, and social organization in multi-faith societies.

Research aspirations

Philosophy would like to build extra capacity in the fields of political philosophy, Asian philosophy, philosophy of cognitive science, and history of philosophy.