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Iain McCalman


Professor Iain McCalman was born in Nyasaland, Africa and was educated in Zimbabwe. He arrived in Australia in 1965 and studied for his BA (Hons) and his MA at the Australian National University, followed by a PhD at Monash University. Director of the Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National University from 1995 until July 2003 and President of the Australian Academy of the Humanities (2001-2004), he is currently Federation Fellow jointly at the Humanities Research Centre and the Centre for Cross-Cultural Research.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, a Fellow of Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. He has held many Visiting Research Fellowships in Britain and the United States, most recently at All Souls College, Oxford. He was awarded the Inaugural Vice Chancellor’s Prize for Teaching Excellence at the Australian National University in 1994.

In February 2005, he was appointed to the Prime Minister's Science, Engineering and Innovation Council. He chaired an inquiry into Creativity and the Innovation Economy, presenting the report to Prime Minister and Cabinet in December 2005.

Professor Iain McCalman is a specialist in eighteenth-century and early-nineteenth British and European history and has a particular interest in popular culture and low life. His most recent book, The Seven Ordeals of Count Cagliostro, Flamingo 2003 (also HarperCollins, US and Random House, UK 2003), explores the life of the celebrated and infamous alchemist, magician, freemason, and global identity of the eighteenth century. See http://www.thelastalchemist.com

Co-editor of a new edition of Charles Dickens, Barnaby Rudge, Oxford World Classics 2003, he is also general editor of The Enlightenment World, Routledge, 2004. His Oxford Companion to the Romantic Age was published in 1999 and was revised in a paperback edition in 2001.

Interested in the uses of other media for history, he has co-curated exhibitions such as, ‘Gold. Lost Treasures, Hidden Histories’ at the National Museum of Australia, for its opening in March 2001 and was curatorial adviser on ‘Cook and Omai: The Cult of the South Seas’, at the National Library of Australia also in March 2001. He was an historical consultant and participant in the six-part BBC2 re-enactment series of Cook’s first voyage, entitled ‘The Ship’ screened in Aug 2002 and the History Channel, USA, in Oct 2002. An abbreviated version was screened by the ABC in Australia in 2003.

In March 2003 he received an Australian Research Council Federation Fellowship to explore the life and work of Philippe de Loutherbourg — an eighteenth-century European artist, scientist, engineer and set-designer who pioneered revolutionary developments in the technology and culture of multimedia through the agency of 'spectacles.' These multi-sensory displays for entertainment and knowledge foreshadowed modern cinema and multimedia, and provide models for new ways of understanding and practicing history.