‘Gentlemanly young Australians’ …

Tuesday 25th July, 2023 at 4:30pm (AEST), 7:30am (IST)
Scott McCarthy, PhD candidate, Deakin University
‘Gentlemanly young Australians’ and ‘”Cawtholic” snobs’: the liminal nature of middle-class Catholic identity in Victoria and New South Wales prior to the Great War.

The period between the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries saw the Australian-Catholic middle classes grow in both size and confidence. Those developments were aided in part by the temporal progress of élite Jesuit schools in Sydney and Melbourne. These colleges performed the dual role of facilitating the entry of young Catholic men into the universities and professions, and further assimilating educated, ‘respectable’ Catholics within cultural spaces otherwise defined by Protestant, or secular, elements. Such social and economic mobility was threatened, however, by opposing forces that sought to temper Catholics’ acceptance within normative middle-class society in Australia. This opposition came from reactionary, often extreme, Protestant voices, but also from the more defensive and insular Irish elements of the Australian-Catholic community. In navigating these tensions, the Jesuit colleges functioned as symbols of the liminality of middle-class Catholicism, at once straddling a distinctly British, Protestant, public-school privilege, and an irrevocable, Irish-Catholic otherness. This paper will explore these developments, and place them within the wider context of my PhD thesis’ research into middle-class Catholic identity, and that community’s navigation of social and sectarian divisions, often rooted in class distinctions, in Australia between the 1890s and 1920s.

Scott McCarthy’s PhD research examines the Australian-Catholic middle class in Victoria and New South Wales through the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. He is particularly interested in how that class functioned amidst sectarian tensions in the wider community, and how social relations between affluent Catholics and the Anglo-Protestant ascendancy were shaped by those tensions and their expressions. This research is thus less concerned with the theological history of the church than it is with the cultural history of Catholics in the Australian community. Profile

LOCATION (In-Person and Online)
This free public seminar will be streamed live online via Zoom, and held in-person in the Jabiru Room at Newman College (enter via main gate and follow the signs). The Zoom room will be open 10 minutes before the scheduled start to give everyone time to connect. Please keep your microphone on mute for the duration of the talk. There will be time for questions at the end of the seminar. Please RSVP to Dianne.hall@vu.edu.au if you would like the zoom link.