Thursday, 17 July 2014
Winthrop Professor Philippa Maddern, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for History of Emotions, died on 16 June. She is remembered here by her nearest and dearest.
Matthew Champion & Michael Champion
Philippa Maddern was a scholar, generous, irreverent, fierce, devoted and brilliant. Her death on June 16, after cancer first diagnosed in 2011, has left friends, family and colleagues - for Pip, these distinctions were never clear - grieving. In Pip's death, we have lost a brave advocate for the life of the mind, a scholar alert to the political possibilities of history, passionate about the archive, attentive to difficulties of interpretation, and filled with a love for her fellow scholars which led her to devote much of her academic and personal energies to teaching, and promoting and supporting the work of colleagues and younger scholars. Pip is an impossible person to summarize: not even one of her eloquent syntheses could do justice to her, so we write not to try to foreclose or contain Pip, but in an attempt to honour her life-long commitment to fashioning and refashioning narratives, and to the task of remembering the past.
Pip was born in Wodonga, Victoria, and spent much of her childhood in the Latrobe Valley. Elsie, her mother, was a much-loved woman of great empathy, strength and energy, with a wicked sense of fun. In different circumstances she could have run the country. Her father, Ivan, was a school headmaster, an Esperantist, and a copious letter-writer to The Age . Her dear elder sisters Marian and Dorothy remember Pip as a precocious, imaginative, loquacious, inventive and strong-willed child. Her family was musical. Elsie's eloquent contralto was passed on to her daughter, and she also played piano and recorder, influenced by her sister Marian and the early-music revival of the sixties and seventies. Pip's love of literature was formed early in life, and when she moved to Melbourne to start her Arts degree, she commenced her studies in English Literature. But the style of instruction then common in the department was most definitely not to her liking. So she instead devoted herself to History, Indonesian, and Musicology (her copy of Man and his Music is still extant, though given Pip's contempt for its title, we wonder that it managed not to self-immolate).
On going up to Melbourne from the country Pip entered St Hilda's College. There, her rich voice was added to the Queen's College Choir. Later, when a Sugden Fellow at Queen's College, she would write a history of St Hilda's foundation. Pip's history grappled with the place of women in the university. In the last months of her life, going through one of many piles of papers in her home study (chaotic, yet full of hidden order embedded in her extraordinary memory), she came across a copy of a poem drafted by a male tutor to celebrate the College's foundation which archly suggested that the chief ornament to a woman's college career would be contracting a suitable marriage. It was these kinds of assumptions that Pip constantly attacked as a feminist scholar: as she enjoyed quoting, she would become ‘a post-feminist in the post-patriarchy.'
As an undergraduate she formed a deep friendship with our parents, Gaye Mitchell and Neil Champion. This was a friendship of sincere love and unusual commitment. Profoundly devoted to one another, they had the most blinding of arguments and showed the most loving of care, rejoicing with and supporting one another through the tragedies, joys and absurdities of life. This friendship, we think, does not make sense unless placed alongside their openly expressed and embodied commitment to living in Christian community, forged in the particular setting of the 1970s. It was a time when Pip engaged in continuing conversations about philosophy and theology with a group of close friends. For example, the ‘Küng group' that met to debate and discuss post-Barthian theology was a site of difficult wrestling with the implications of Christianity in late modernity. Our father recalls an occasion where Pip railed against the distinction between thinking and feeling that she heard presented in the discussion: she felt what she thought, and thought what she felt. The unusual commitment that Pip, Gaye and Neil made to living together shaped in some way, we think, her intellectual interests in the history of friendship and the non-nuclear family, interests fostered by a long-running dialogue with our mother's research into socially-excluded families. Their friendship was given a physical form by the purchase of a house together in Moonee Ponds - it was in the kitchen of this much-loved home that Pip married her great love, Ted Mundie, in 1995.
For her final year, following recovery from ovarian cancer, Pip undertook joint Honours in History and Indonesian. The name that she most mentioned from her time in the History Department in Melbourne was that of Laurie Gardiner, who, together with his wife Lindsay, was a valued mentor. Her Honours and MA theses (‘English Fifteenth-Century Chronicles of the Reign of Edward IV' and ‘The Chronicling of Fifteenth-Century England: A Study of the Values, Purposes and Methods of Fifteenth-Century English Chroniclers, Expressed in their Work') signaled her developing dedication to the history and historiography of late-medieval England. They inaugurated a long interest in attending to more marginal sources, and to how methods and theoretical assumptions, medieval and modern, shape the interpretation of history.
Pip's substantial Honours thesis in Indonesian, ‘Australians and Indonesians: A Sample Study of Two Different Reactions to Specimens of Indonesian Literature', which included translations of three Indonesian stories, united and pointed forward to several intellectual and personal passions (she thought what she felt, and felt what she thought). It is a sign of her enduring interests in language and literature. Beyond her Latin and French, in mid-life she would take up the study of Italian. In her last years, after finding close colleagues and, more particularly, her dear niece Hilary and her wife living in Berlin, she began reading Rosemary Sutcliffe in German. The thesis also shows her interest in what might be termed ‘interculturality' (though she would most likely have said this with a smile), which included her planned libretto on a Muslim woman in England in the wake of the crusades. Pip's study of Indonesia, and more particularly Bali, was undertaken alongside the emergence of the work of Clifford Geertz and the challenges and inspirations of cultural anthropology. Pip deeply appreciated Geertz's attention to the thick description of the symbolic webs of culture, though she was not an uncritical admirer (was she ever?). Bali, too, was a place where Pip and Ted were happy explorers together, and where they were engaged.
From Melbourne, Pip was granted a Hume Scholarship to Oxford. There she found lifelong devoted friends and a greater extended family, particularly among fellow members of Brasenose Chapel Choir. Her doctoral studies culminated in her important monograph Violence and Social Order: East Anglia 1422-1442 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992). Pip's Oxford experience was in some ways difficult: when talking about her time there, she would laugh at, and rail against, the stuffy manner of the dons, the stifling culture in seminars, and the many ways in which women were marginalized and exploited. But it was also a time of great intellectual excitement and formation. Influenced by the tradition of English social history, with its political attention to the marginalized and unheard voices of the past, she threw herself into archival research, commencing her great task of collecting and remembering the lives of people across the social spectrum. This task of collecting spurred Pip's interest in the practice of history involving newly-developing database technology, while her late-night slot with a friend's word processor cemented a habit of working into the small hours of the morning. Her thesis combined her interest in the historian's craft with an attention to the dynamics of discourse and power in social order, an interest which resonates with Pip's frequent discussion and debate of the work of Michel Foucault. Then, there is that characteristic attention to genre and literature: the superb third chapter of Pip's monograph brought theology, medicine, poetry, historiography, and wider cultural frameworks to bear on the question of violence, in a way relatively uncharacteristic of contemporary English social and economic history.
On her return to Australia, Pip tutored at Monash University, and for a short period worked at National Mutual. It was there that her nous with computers was utilized and she found a group of deeply respectful colleagues in what was a largely male office. Her faithful cat Salvador waited for her each night on the fence in Moonee Ponds till she returned from the city. It is from around this time that our first personal memories of Pip appear: she sang us to sleep with medieval chansons , read to us, made pizzas with us, and sewed Matthew an extraordinary and beautiful pink princess dress (replete with clusters of seed pearls - fake, but tasteful nonetheless). Pip rejoiced in the opportunity this gave her, when asked by feminist colleagues in a meeting about what she was doing, of replying that she was making a dress for her nephew. Rehearsals in the house in Moonee Ponds of the medieval music ensemble Tre fontane , with attendant harps and viols, were a curiosity which later became the norm, as we would gather to make music with Pip and her family, Dorothy, Mike, Janet, John, Hilary and Elizabeth, to sing, busk at Christmas, or jam a trio sonata by Thornowitz.
From National Mutual, Pip moved to The University of Western Australia - as children we were terribly excited, the great Pip had finally got the permanent job she deserved. But there was also a sadness felt by many that Pip was no longer around. Pip, of course, softened that sadness by making sure that she was back from WA for significant events, for almost every Christmas and Easter, for all her family. A familiar expectation of childhood is thinking that the time for real celebration had come once Pip arrived at the airport, her huge, ungainly backpack heaved onto her back (full of god knows how many presents for god knows how many people). She would mull the wine, mix the punch for hours according to a sacred recipe, get in everyone's way, be shouted at, shout back, and then sit in the evenings with chocolate and cumquat brandy, thinking about history, whittling another piece in the red gum nativity for the front mantelpiece, raging about Australia's idiot politicians, excoriating a bad book or delighting in a good one. Speaking of books, she also sent to Melbourne stories read onto tape - The Armourer's House , the Narnia Chronicles , Noel Streatfield's Ballet Shoes or The Circus is Coming - from her ever-growing collection of children's literature, recorded at night in her small flat in Bayswater (often accompanied by the mewing of her new cat, Caterina).
In UWA she found a new home, and dear colleagues - other voices must speak this history with the kind of detail it deserves. But a particular place must be made for Patricia Crawford and her husband Ian. Pip was mentored by Trish and found in her a strong intellectual companion. UWA was an intellectual home for Pip among a group of activist historians whose work was deeply committed to understanding the past and transforming the current world. In this environment, her intellectual interests roamed widely, perhaps unified by a deep certainty that the strangeness of the past should unsettle the present. She developed a scholarly interest in climate change through work on the environmental history of medieval England. Relying on the help of colleagues in Australian Studies, she ventured into Australian history and politics and insisted that Australian experience was connected to the medieval past. In her collaborative work on women's citizenship in Australia, she probed beyond what she saw as the violent unity of dominant contemporary representations of nationhood and citizenship, in the face of which she thought it the historian's task to reveal also ‘divisions, conflicts and paradoxes' and ‘bitterly contested diversities, of class, gender, ethnicity and combinations of all three'. In this project as in others, Pip presented a diversity of voices as sources of resistance to one-dimensional contemporary narratives, drawing on saints' lives, chronicles, high theology, and analyses of widowhood, households, wives, and famous female intellectuals like Christine de Pisan. Her social histories of households and children in medieval England (often with Stephanie Tarbin) continued to highlight the experience of the marginalized by drawing on a range of understudied sources and bringing new questions to old texts. She spent countless hours in local and ecclesiastical archives across England, and developed an extensive database of sources from which she spun fascinating stories that illumined the lives of ordinary people. She wondered in one article whether medieval children's stories had not been told by historians because they ‘act to destabilize the very well-entrenched orthodoxy that the nuclear family has been not only normative, but normal for at least the last 700 years in England'. Her retellings of their stories, and those of their non-normative but by no means unusual households, were partly told in the context of her own concern that discourses about the heterosexual nuclear family should not be used to disempower those outside them.
Pip's first-year lectures inspired many with a love of history, and she took great care of her research students, actively supervising up to her death, and delighting in their discoveries. She modeled engaging, creative and disruptive teaching and won a national award for outstanding contributions to student learning in 2008. Her conference papers grappled with significant problems, brought her sources to life and were delivered with clarity and flair. Her enthusiasm for communicating and living with her subject overflowed into singing medieval music with friends, including ‘Sneaks', and into the wider community through her active membership of the Perth Medieval and Renaissance Group, and talks for teachers and community groups.
Together with her scholarship and teaching, Pip fostered academic community by participating in the political life of the university: her membership of the university senate and the promotions committee (much lamented for its extensive paperwork, yet deeply enjoyed); her advocacy for gender equality, and equity and diversity more generally, throughout the university; her roles as Head of History and the School of Humanities. If she had a healthy distrust of institutions and a withering contempt for administrivia (with typical wit she wrote of patriotic odes at Federation that it was hard to imagine such an administrative merger producing ecstasies), she also cared to make the institution as healthy as possible. In her various university fights, her tenacity could be bolstered by stubbornness - one may have disagreed with her, but her arguments would be clear. As a leader within the university, she became a mentor to many and was respected for her integrity, energy, powerful advocacy and human care. Two months before she died, she distributed Easter eggs to Humanities staff, claiming as always that the Easter bunny had visited her office.
Her capacity to nurture collegial relationships, manage efficiently and think strategically spilled out of WA in her participation in ANZAMEMS and the Network for Early European Research (NEER). From among the tributes offered to Pip, Lyndal Roper has observed that, together with Trish Crawford, the health of medieval and early modern studies in Australia owes much to Pip's advocacy and active development of scholars and scholarly communities.
In Perth she made a home too with Ted, a twinkling-eyed and wickedly funny companion for over ten happy years. They first met at a science fiction writing workshop. Pip's writing in this largely male-dominated area was published, and even translated into Dutch; and she continued writing fiction into the last years of her life. Theirs was a marriage of true difference, with fierce argument accompanying deep love - impossible to summarize. Ted was largely self-taught, a rabbit-trapper and brush fence builder, a children's broadcaster, a writer in many genres from oral history to do-it-yourself advice, a handy-man, inveterate op-shopper and collector of wood from nature strips (an art Pip continued to practise in her final months), and cook of artery-stopping cuisine that delighted Pip. Together they bought a house in Bayswater, and set about transforming it. It is now part treasure trove, all chaos - it was always like that. Pip warmly embraced a new family too in Ted's daughters, their partners and children. Ted died suddenly of a heart attack in 2005, and Pip was heart-broken. It was a deep grief, a wound that endured for the rest of her life.
Pip's consciously tended, considered, and reflective grief is perhaps one of the reasons that the history of emotions became so important for her. The Centre for the History of Emotions (CHE) gave her great joy amidst grief, as her significant work on both merriment and tears attests. At Centre events, her incisive questioning and command of a wide variety of scholarly approaches generated stimulating discussion and genuinely interdisciplinary research. Focusing attention on questions of method, she opened a space for researchers from psychology, music, linguistics, history, philosophy and literature to learn from one another. The Centre gave her a chance to develop an extraordinary wardrobe of directorial ensembles (post-chemo with brilliant hats), to augment her gloriously dilapidated repertoire of jeans and sweaters. Often accessorized with an ancient bum-bag, Pip had style. CHE allowed her to extend her love to scholars at all stages of their lives, to welcome the families of new researchers, and to travel across the globe to new places that she quickly learned to relish. It was usual for Pip, when mentioning a colleague, to describe them as ‘dear' to her. In her final days, she rejoiced in news of the Centre's progress.
As for Pip as a mentor of young scholars, we can speak for ourselves. In our family, Pip nurtured three historians of various stripes (Michael, Matthew and Benita). She helped to give us all the gift of music: it was while watching Michael and Pip playing a Parcham sonata together that Matthew remembers first realizing that he could read music. In a sad, yet wonderful trip around Germany in 2011, we analysed the windows of the Freiburg Münster and spent hours in the Bode Museum and Gemäldegalerie in Berlin, always finding new images for Pip's extraordinary collection of photos, always having to drag her away. In precious lunches at the British Library, we would talk about what we had found that morning, and hear the latest snippet on the history of children's emotions that Pip had turned up in the Manuscripts room.
One final thought: although Pip was never able to have children, she loved them deeply. That love extended, by a spirit of adoption, to many things, animals, and people - be they her house and garden; her chickens, cats, and the scarred dog Boy she adopted after Ted's death; the many visitors and lodgers she welcomed into her home; the Bayswater families she constantly supported; or her students, colleagues, families and friends. In her last days in hospital, Pip continued to offer love to those around her, and she meditated actively on divine love, the ground in the Christian tradition for hope in adoption by God. That spirit of loving adoption is now both a wound and a comfort.
Tribute to an inspirational Director
Jane Davidson and Andrew Lynch
Our Director, Professor Philippa Maddern died on 16 June 2014. She was a widely respected scholar of medieval English history, a wonderful teacher and an inspired leader. She was loved by those who knew her and, on hearing of her death, many from all over the world sent contributions to the Centre's condolences page, sharing memories of her approachability, sense of fun, and above all her infectious passion for the humanities. Deep in her soul, Philippa wanted to make good things happen for other people, and kept the will to do that, to the extent of treating a mortal illness as a side-issue that would not distract her from the path. Her caring direction of the Centre for the History of Emotions can be seen in that light.
At UWA, Philippa made a unique and extraordinary contribution to medieval and early modern studies, and more widely to the culture of the Arts Faculty and the University. She arrived with a superb set of skills in historical method, and with that a deep feeling for languages, literature and cultural analysis. The mix made her a brilliant teacher and colleague: Philippa could (and did) help students with everything from palaeography to historiographical theory to construction of a computer database for analysing manorial records. She put huge skill and enthusiasm into History teaching and supervision at all levels from first year (a love of hers) to Ph.D, and into wise mentoring of junior staff. Beyond that, her energy and good will embraced every existing and emerging opportunity to engage more broadly with colleagues. Her work enhanced the Perth Medieval and Renaissance Group, the former MPhil in MEMS (now the MMEMS), the undergraduate major, and the journal Parergon. She helped set up the UWA Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, and then triumphantly took that momentum into the current ARC Centre for the History of Emotions, which is only the most recent visible item in a very long legacy. She co-edited and co-wrote, often well beyond her home field, jointly supervised dissertations, contributed to the first inter-disciplinary courses in Arts, and generally helped create a spirit of collegiality and cooperation which now has a wide international reach.
For the Centre of Excellence, remarkably, in only three years, Philippa led our innovative program of research to produce significant insights that we believe have had a major transformative impact on the field, strengthening its theoretical basis, and enabling the history of emotions to become part of mainstream history, rather than just an interesting sideline to a ‘main' historical narrative of social, cultural, and political change. She led us to look for evidence of how emotions worked as processes and relationships in the past, and what were their causes and effects. The strongly interdisciplinary approach Philippa nurtured - covering not just social and cultural history, but literature, drama studies, performance studies, musicology, and art history - has provided an extremely beneficial example to researchers world-wide.
Besides leading intellectual work, Philippa also took active roles in forging industry partnerships, adding to the Centre's education and outreach, and taking in as many of the performance program activities as she could. Indeed, she was amongst the first to jump on stage for a workshop exploring ritual and emotion in Shakespeare.
Philippa had a strong notion of what she thought was best, was not the retiring type, and no friend to patriarchy, but anyone with a good new idea, or anyone in trouble, had the key to her heart. She was deeply thoughtful and generous, and had the unique capacity to find and offer the most remarkable gifts to colleagues and friends at Christmas and on birthdays; gifts that were left without fuss for their recipients, impossible to guess by their wrapping, always carefully considered, funny, historical, quirky and sometimes baked according to a traditional (but totally inedible) recipe.
Pip, as she was fondly known, was an irresistibly good person. She lived life passionately and remains a true inspiration to us all. May she rest in peace.
- UWA Forward