Mark Hearn

Biography and/or project

I am a senior lecturer in the Department of Modern History and Politics, Macquarie University. My current research focuses on the history of fin de siècle modernity in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Australia, and in the way in which historians have interpreted the fin de siècle and the experience of modernity.

In terms of my research background, I presented a paper under the major theme ‘Myths, Power and History, the Historian’s Responsibility’ at the 20th International Congress of Historical Sciences in 2005. The paper was subsequently published as ‘Writing the Nation in Australia: Australian Historians and Narrative Myths of Nation’, National Histories – A Global Perspective, edited by Stefan Berger, Palgrave MacMillan 2007.

During 2002-2005 I was a sesquicentenary post-doctoral fellow in Work and Organisational Studies at the University of Sydney. I published a number of works related to Australian working life and the mobilization of labour in the period. I was the co-editor of Rethinking Work: Time Space Discourse, published by Cambridge University Press (2006).

I was awarded the C.H. Currey Memorial Fellowship from the State Library of New South Wales for 2006 to research the fin de siècle imagination in Australia, 1890-1914, and flowing from this research project I have subsequently had a number of articles published. I have had scholarly articles accepted in journals including Rethinking History, National Identities, Gender and History and Australian Historical Studies.

In 2014-2015 I was an Australian Prime Minister’s Centre fellow, Museum of Australian Democracy, Old Parliament House Canberra, to research the project, ‘We are a free people: Alfred Deakin and the mobilization of Australian democracy, 1901-1911.’ In this research I have drawn from the work of Reinhart Koselleck, Michel Foucault and Hayden White to explore the historicized conception of modernity, and the pressures of modern time and space, at work in Australian governance in the period. I have also drawn inspiration from Aleida Assmann, ‘Transformations of the Modern Time Regime’, in Chris Lorenz and Berber Bevernage (eds.), Breaking Up Time: negotiating the borders between present, past and future (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2013). My most recent scholarly article, ‘Compelled by the circumstance of our time and situation’: Alfred Deakin’s 1907 defence statement as narrative of fin de siècle acceleration’, was published in History Australia Vol.13 No.4 2016.

I presented a paper on ‘Australians interpret the fin de siècle, 1890-1914’, at the Australian Historical Conference in July 2017. I argued that as a metaphor of modernity, fin de siècle discourse helped Australians break with the past in order to compose the future. In relation to the historiography of the fin de siècle, I am exploring the ways in which historians compose their ‘literary artefacts’, as Keith Jenkins and Alun Munslow have described historians’ narratives (The Nature of History Reader, p.198). I am interested in the aesthetic choices historians deploy in their narratives to account for the nature of fin de siècle modernity. From this research I am also interested in exploring the implications for a wider reconsideration of the modern project, and how historians account for the periodizations of modernity.

In 2018 I was a visiting scholar at the Centre for Philosophical Studies in History, University of Oulu, Finland, researching the historical periodization of the fin de siècle. I also presented a paper at the 3rd INTH conference at Södertörn University, Stockholm on the subject 'Dissolving into history? Historicizing Modern Nation Building'.