The urban legends shaping Melbourne

How do Melbourne’s buildings and landscapes intersect with the history and identity of the city? The intensive subject Urban Legends: Melbourne provides students with the opportunity to conduct fieldwork on the role of space in the development of modern Australia and discover the city’s past.

“It is an interesting way of learning the history of Melbourne,” says Bachelor of Arts student Holi Walsh. “I’m not from Melbourne, so it’s great to have the opportunity to learn about the various elements which make up the city through experiencing the physical spaces, rather sitting in a lecture for an hour.”

One of the experiences is a tour of the Shrine of Remembrance, including  a special curatorial panel with Access & Learning Director Jean McAuslan; and Shrine Curator Neil Sharkey, held exclusively for University of Melbourne students.

“For us it is a two-way conversation about the observations the students have. Everybody has their own experience of the space and how it honours and tells the stories of people who have faced war,” says Jean.

The discussion focused on questioning history and the importance placed on certain aspects of war history. Dr Meighen Katz, subject co-ordinator alongside Professor Andrew May, says “the curatorial panel provided insight into the decision-making processes, challenges and opportunities faced by cultural organisations.”

Dr Meighen Katz; Jean McAuslan; Unit Tutor James Lesh, photograph: supplied.

Other fieldwork opportunities include a Kulin Indigenous Walking Tour, Melbourne Museum, State Library Victoria, the Immigration Museum and the National Gallery of Victoria, amongst others.

“It is important for students to critically think about the narratives presented, and to give them a variety of voices and perspectives to understand the idea of multiple truths,” Dr Katz adds.

These individual fieldwork trips will help students consciously translate cultural practice and research into a deeper understanding of how Melbourne has created a narrative for itself as a vibrant, creative, sporting, liveable city.

Find out more about Urban Legends: Melbourne.