Macquarie University
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The dissemination of New Idealist thought in Australian print and radio media from 1885 to 1945

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posted on 2022-03-28, 01:40 authored by Margaret Van Heekeren
This thesis argues that journalism has been neglected as a major source in researching histories of ideas and public intellectualism in Australia. It responds to calls by historians for a close examination of journalism and undertakes an extensive survey of articles from 1885 to 1945 in the Sydney Morning Herald, Daily Telegraph, Adelaide Advertiser and Register newspapers and transcripts of Australian Broadcasting Commission talks programs. The study focuses on one form of philosophical and political thought, New Idealism, which has received little detailed academic attention in Australia. New Idealism, also known as British Idealism, was a philosophical movement of the mid to late nineteenth century and first half of the twentieth century that migrated to Australia with the former students of the British philosophers T. H. Green (1836 – 1882) and Edward Caird (1835 – 1908). New Idealism was very much a practical philosophy and its followers were just as likely to be found in public lecture halls and on school boards as in university offices. In Australia this public face of New Idealism extended to the media. The thesis identifies a considerable body of previously unknown work in newspaper articles and radio broadcasts by five Australian Idealist thinkers: William Jethro Brown (1869-1930); Francis Anderson (1858 – 1941); Mungo MacCallum (1854-1942); Garnet Vere Portus (1883 – 1954) and Ernest Burgmann (1885 – 1967). Four areas of thought as revealed in the media are examined: on education; the role of the state; international relations and war and post-war reconstruction. The thesis finds a sympathetic media, particularly the Sydney Morning Herald under the proprietorship of the Fairfax family, facilitated coverage of these debates and enabled the Australian Idealists to have, at times, considerable influence as public intellectuals. This leads to a conclusion that an historical focus on the journalistic report is a highly successful research approach in intellectual history.


Table of Contents

ch. 1 The 'organic filament': New Idealist through thought and media -- ch. 2 'Higher order journalism': Australian print journalism, talks programming and New Idealism -- ch. 3 'Fire, life, inspiration': Australian Idealists in the media on education -- ch. 4 'The problem of today and tomorrow': Australian Idealists in the media on the state and society -- ch. 5 'The hand that turned the key': Australia and the world -- ch. 6 'Unite or perish': War and Post-war reconstruction -- ch. 7 'A bridge between minds': the media and public reception of Australian Idealism


Includes bibliographical references (pages 284-315) "2nd December 2011". Submitted in (partial) fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations, 2012.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations

Department, Centre or School

Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Christopher Candlin

Additional Supervisor 1

Anne Burns


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Margaret Van Heekeren 2012.






1 online resources (315 pages) illustrations

Former Identifiers

mq:33182 2175608