“For the Historic Record”: Memoirs, History, and Australian Political Culture

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Genres of written communication do not take place in a vacuum; rather they are fundamentally influenced by historical context and socio-political circumstance. In recent years, the political memoir genre in Australia has moved away from its tradition of personalised narrative towards a more assertive mode of historical representation. Drawing on empirical and oral history research, this article examines recent alterations in the genre as manifest in six political memoirs produced by senior members of the Rudd–Gillard Labor government. I conclude that Australia's embittered and combative political culture has driven changes in the aesthetic and epistemological features of the genre itself. This research demonstrates that the “trust deficit” embedded in contemporary democracies is manifest not only in the daily ephemera of public discourse, but also in long-form modes and genres of political communication.




Black, J. (2021). “For the Historic Record”: Memoirs, History, and Australian Political Culture. Australian Journal of Politics and History, 67(2), 312–330. https://doi.org/10.1111/ajph.12751

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