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News of the day: open schoolhouses building the future of New South Wales, 1880-1896


Orr, K, News of the day: open schoolhouses building the future of New South Wales, 1880-1896, Proceedings of the 30th Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand, 02-05 July 2013, Gold Coast, Australia, pp. 499-514. ISBN 9780987605504 (2013) [Refereed Conference Paper]

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It is claimed that "architectural history is the stepping stone into various ways of interpreting and understanding the past" because of its broad, inter-disciplinary nature. A relationship exists between architecture, economics and the social functioning of human society. Old buildings are relics of an epoch, reflecting the ethos of the society that built and used them. Thus the modest school buildings designed by William Edmund Kemp, New South Wales Architect for Public Schools between 1880-1896, represent the achievement of the introduction of public education and are expressions of the hopes and aspirations of the Colony of New South Wales in the final decades of the Nineteenth Century. The challenge for anyone attempting to construe the history and significance of Kemp’s vast oeuvre of school buildings is to overcome the very limited evidentiary field on which an historical analysis might rest. This paper draws upon primary material found in the newspaper reports of 72 schoolhouse openings. It examines the discourse of the policy-makers—the politicians, community leaders and newspaper editors of the day—to reveal the intersections between public issues and personal views and uncover the ideological function of Kemp’s schools. The schoolhouse, around which the ceremony revolved, provided a venue for civic engagement, symbolised progress, generated pride and exposed people to the broader interests of the state. The schoolrooms were to mould future citizens with the moral virtues and literacy necessary to advance the nation- Colony. Kemp’s school buildings were an outcome of societal aspirations and, in turn, played an active role in shaping the social and political progress of New South Wales.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Conference Paper
Keywords:schoolhouse, New South Wales, architectural history, William Edmund Kemp
Research Division:Built Environment and Design
Research Group:Architecture
Research Field:Architectural history, theory and criticism
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Understanding past societies
Objective Field:Understanding Australia's past
UTAS Author:Orr, K (Professor Kirsten Orr)
ID Code:107620
Year Published:2013
Deposited By:Architecture
Deposited On:2016-03-21
Last Modified:2018-03-15

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