Associate Professor Melissa Bellanta - Nat Sch of Arts (Faculty of Education and Arts)

Fully accredited supervisor - Can supervise as principal supervisor

ORCID NO: 0000-0003-0797-7618

I am an associate professor in history with a special interest in social, cultural and gender history of Australia: particularly masculinities, fashion, emotion and popular entertainment between the late nineteenth- and mid-twentieth centuries.

I was a lecturer at the University of Queensland (UQ) before joining ACU, and before that worked as a researcher at the Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies at UQ, funded by ARC and UQ postdoctoral fellowships.

My work looks at youth culture, protest masculinity, 'rough girls' and street style in Australian history. I also work on the history of the emotions and sentimentality in Western popular culture. I have an ongoing interest in the history of popular theatre, entertainments and early cinema - including the history of blackface minstrelsy and African-American performance.

I am currently supervising historical projects on 'bad girls' and women from the 'criminal classes' in Australian cities,and Aboriginal domestic servants in Queensland.


Phone :4148 (Strathfield)
URIs : Staff Directory ProfilePersonal Website

Research Interests

Social and Cultural History of Australia ; History of Youth Culture ; History of the Emotions ; Street Style and Street Culture ; History of Popular Theatre and Entertainments ; Blackface and African-American Performance ; Gender History (especially of masculinities) ;

Methods Expertise

No research method is currently recorded.

Research Projects

Completed Projects

  • In Bad Company: Female Criminal Subcultures in Brisbane and Melbourne, 1860-1920 (PhD) (Principal Supervisor)

Current Projects

  • Motherhood, Servanthood and Race: Aboriginal Female Domestic Servants in Australia, 1900-1950 (PhD) (Associate Supervisor)
  • Feminine Morality in Late-Colonial Brisbane (PhD) (Associate Supervisor)

Selected Publications


'Uncle Tom in the White Pacific: African-American Performances of the Slave Sublime in Australasia, 1878-1889', soon to appear in the Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History

'The Leary Larrikin: Street Style in Late-Colonial Australia', co-written with Simon Sleight, soon to appear in Cultural and Social History

'Looking Flash: Disreputable Women's Dress and Modernity', co-written with Alana Piper, soon to appear in History Workshop Journal


'Rethinking the 1890s', in Cambridge History of Australia, vol. 1, ed. Alison Bashford and Stuart Macintyre (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)


Larrikins: A History, in St Lucia: University of Queensland Press

'Victorian Spiritualism and Other Comedies', in Meanjin 70.1: 119-25.

'Ta-ra-ra-bum-de-ay: Lottie Collins' Act and the Not-So-Modern Girl', in Nineteenth Century Theatre and History 37.1: 3-13

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

'Rough Maria and Clever Simone: Some Introductory Remarks on the Girl in Australian Historya??, in Journal of Australian Studies 34.4: 417a??28

'Popular Song and Australian Masculinities: The Songs of Sentimental Blokes, 1900s-1930sa??, in Australian Historical Studies 43.3: 412a??28.

'The Larrikin Girl', in Journal of Australian Studies 34.4: 499-512

'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: 355-77.

'Naughty and Gay? Revisiting the Nineties in the Australian Colonies', in History Australia 9.1: 198-215.


'A Hard Culture? Religion and Politics in Turn-of-the-Century Australian History', in Australian Journal of Politics and History 56.1: 55-65


'16 August 1890: The Maritime Strike Begins. On Utopia and Class War',, in Turning Points in Australian History, ed. Martin Crotty and David Roberts (Sydney: UNSW Press)

'Leary Kin: The Australian Larrikin and the Blackface Minstrel Dandy', in Journal of Social History 42.3: 677-695


'Voting For Pleasure, Or, A View From a Late-Victorian Theatre Gallerya??. M/C, 10/11.6 (April 2008).

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

'A Man of Civic Sentiment: The Case of William Guthrie Spence', in Journal of Australian Studies, 2:1: 63-77

'The Larrikins' Hop:' Larrikinism and Late-Colonial Popular Theatre'. Australasian Drama Studies 52 (April): 131-47

'Feminism, Mateship and the Brotherhood of Man in 1890s Adelaide, in. History Australia 5.1: 7.1-7.14

'The Manliness of Radical Sentiment: The Manhood of George Napier Birks', in Australian Historical Studies 39.3: 322-37

'Engineering the Kingdom of God: Irrigation, Science and the "Social Christian" Millennium, 1880a??1914', in Journal of Religious History, 32:1: 1a??15


'Transcending Class? Australiaa??s Single Taxers in the Early 1890s', in Labour History 92 (May): 17-30