AustLit logo
Issue Details: First known date: 2018... 2018 Literary Sociability on the Goldfields : The Mechanics' Institute in the Colony of Victoria, 1854–1870
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'Examining the connections between the social and economic aspects of mechanics’ institutes in their gold-rush settings of colonial Victoria, Australia, this article situates literary sociability at the heart of the institute’s function. Through an analysis of colonial newspaper reports and the surviving archives of five gold-rush era institutes (Ballaarat, Beechworth, Chiltern, Sandhurst and Stanley), it demonstrates how events like popular readings, lecture series and soirées worked to create a cohesive community in a diverse society. While the gold rush provided the economic means by which these institutions could be formed and their buildings erected, the institutes in turn lent a social and economic propriety to these growing settlements. This article argues that these popular, social events were crucial not only to the cultural and economic functions the mechanics’ institutes began to serve in the goldfields but also the role of moral, social and educational improvement that these institutes and their founding members envisioned themselves as playing. Excavating the hitherto ignored roles of women in these early settlements, this article examines women’s significance as markers of colonial respectability, while revealing the vital financial contribution they made to these institutes through the social events they organized.' (Publication abstract)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Last amended 10 Jan 2020 12:39:34
447-462 Literary Sociability on the Goldfields : The Mechanics' Institute in the Colony of Victoria, 1854–1870small AustLit logo Journal of Victorian Culture