Joan Wardrop

Associate Professor, School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts @ Notre Dame Australia /Curtin University

The wall, the house, the street: traces of past lives in a small street in Paris


With some imagination, the building can just be discerned at the far end of the narrow rue des Jardins Saint Paul in one of a collection of black and white images made by the great photographer of Paris, Eugène Atget in 1899.  Now, after an uninterrupted history of habitation on the site stretching back to the 13th century, the building no longer exists.  What remains is an empty but not unused space.  But through its traces, through the small disconnected details left by chance in documents and images and stories, narratives emerge that connect life in a small urban place with the complicated histories of the big city that surrounds it. So, here, I explore how chance and serendipity meet place and space to make history.



I received a First Class Honours degree in History (Medieval and Renaissance) from the University of Western Australia and, through a Hackett Studentship from UWA was able to undertake a D.Phil. in History at Oxford University which resulted in a thesis published as Fountains Abbey and its benefactors 1132-1300.   Since then, teaching at UWA, Curtin University and now at Notre Dame Australia, I have become fascinated by aspects of modern history, and by the possibilities of the connections between Anthropology and History, as well as by those offered by the analysis of both visual and literary sources.  These have come together in two intricately connected research projects exploring ways of seeing and the complex histories of Paris.