Professor Carolyn Strange

PhD (U.S. and women's history) Rutgers, State University of New Jersey, USA; M.A. (Canadian History) University of Ottawa, Canada; B.A. hons. (European History) University of Western Ontario, Canada
Professor and Head of School
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
T: 0011 2 6125-2613

Areas of expertise

  • History And Philosophy Of Law And Justice 220204
  • North American History 210312
  • Culture, Gender, Sexuality 200205
  • Law And Society 180119
  • Courts And Sentencing 160203
  • Criminology 1602
  • Australian History (Excl. Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander History) 210303
  • History And Philosophy Of Medicine 220205

Research interests

My educational training in history has been enhanced over my career through teaching appointments in the U.S., Canada and Australia in women's studies, law and criminology in addition to history.

The range of my research is expansive, and I have published on Australian, Canadian, U.S., and British modern history in the following areas: the history of crime and justice; the history of gender, sexuality and medicine; the history of geography; and the concepts of place, memory and identity in modernity. 

My research has been supported by major grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Canada) and the Australian Research Council. In addition to institutionally-awarded funding I have received grants from the Hannah Institute for the History of Medicine, the Canadian High Commission, the National Institute for Social Sciences and Law, the National Library of Australia, and the Huntington Library. 

In 2013 the New York State Archives named me 'researcher of the year' in recognition of my publications based on its collections. In 2014 I was awarded a fellowship at the Huntington Library, which further supported the research for my most recent book, published by New York University Press in 2016. 

I have extended my expertise in crime, justice and gender through my research on the history of sex murder and capital punishment in post-Confederation Canadian history. This research has led to the production of a monograph and several articles.

I am currently returning to the field of twentieth-century Australian history through the analysis of inter-gender homicide. Initial funding for this project was awarded through a collaborative inter-School research grant from the Research School of Social Sciences.

In 2019, I was awarded a five-year strategic initiative grant from the Research School of Social Sciences to co-ordinate a cross-campus network on the History and Legacies of Violence. Affiliates and updates are listed on the dedicated website:

In 2022 I was awarded a two-year grant by the ANU Gender Institute to establish a working group on Coercive Control.



Public attitudes towards coercive control: Evidence from a nationally representative population survey ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods (Canberra: Australian National University, Centre for Social Research Methods, 2023) pp. 45 (with Lorana Bartels, Hayley Boxall, Kate Fitz-Gibbon, and Nicholas Biddle). CoerciveControl-ANUPoll-Attitudes.pdf (PDF1.22 MB)

“The Female Poisoner's Fate: Accounting for Lenient Outcomes in New South Wales, Australia, 1855-1955,” Crime, History and Societies, 27 1(2023): 59-80. [special issue on women’s lethal violence]


I have studied and taught in Canada (Queen's University, Carleton University, the University of Toronto); the U.S. (Rutgers University); and Australia (Griffith University, ANU). With a focus on nineteenth- and twentieth-century history I have specialised in legal, social, cultural and political history.  

In addition to my academic publications I endeavour to bridge divides in scholarly communities and to reach out to the wider public to communicate my research. I have curated several museum exhibitions in Toronto, Canberra and Sydney and I have organised public symposia on a range of issues, including prison history tourism, the memory of lost places and environmental anxiety. In these projects and publications I have worked closely with collaborators in literary studies, law, anthropology, environmental science, criminology, and media studies.

My teaching speciality is graduate training. I have directed graduate studies at the University of Toronto (Criminology) and founded two graduate training programs at ANU (Cross-Cultural Research; History). In addition I have devised and conducted workshops for graduate students in the social sciences and humanities, as well as specialised skills development workshops for history students. 

I have been awarded fellowships at Warwick University (Institute for Advanced Study); Macquarie University (Law); and the University of Sydney (Law).

In 2012 I was appointed an Adjunct Professor of Arts, Education and Creative Media at Murdoch University, Perth, and I served in that position until 2015.

In 2016 I was honoured to be elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia.

From 2010 to 2016 I served as the external academic assessor for the histor department at Lingnan University, Hong Kong.

In 2017 I was appointed Visiting Professor in the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies, York University, Toronto

In 2018, I was appointed Visiting Professor, Faculty of Law, Univesity of Toronto

In 2021 I was appointed Head of the School of History for a three-year term.

In 2022 I was honoured to be elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

Researcher's projects

My research profile in the history of gender and violence was extended through a two-year funding grant from the ANU Gender Institute to explore the concept of 'coercive control' from multi-disciplinary perspectives. The grant funds student and researcher projects. 

My latest book, The Death Penalty and Sex Murder in Canadian History, covers the period from Confederation (1867) to the abolition of the death penalty (1976). It is supported by a joint ARC Discovery Grant. I completed the manuscript as a visiting professor in the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, in 2018. It was published by the University of Toronto Press in 2020.

The previous project, also supported by an ARC Discovery grant, examines the history of discretionary justice in New York State. Discretionary Justice: Pardon and Parole in New York, from the Revolution to the Depression (New York University Press, 2016) extends the insights I developed in my 1996 edited collection, Qualities of Mercy: Justice, Punishment and Discretion (UBC Press, 1996). It also builds on my publication, “The Unwritten Law of Executive Justice: Pardoning Patricide in Reconstruction-era New York,” Law and History Review, 28 4(November 2010): 891-30. I challenge Foucauldian scholarship's fixation on sovereign power as the capacity to inflict violence by focusing on the gubernatorial prerogative of mercy, and I track its bureaucratisation over the late-19th and early-twentieth centuries through the emergence of a disciplinary apparatus, marked by indeterminate sentencing, parole and the rise of the 'psi' complex.  

Two further projects flowed from this grant. The first was a feature radio documentary, produced for ABC's Hindsight: 'Patricide! A Murder Close to Home'. This production draws on interviews with historians Natalie Zemon Davis, Charles Rosenberg, and Timothy Gilfoyle, and includes dramatisations of an 1873 murder trial in New York City, which brought the relationship between family, violence and honour to the fore. Using this high-profile case, I interrogate contemporary concerns over the legal and cultural erosion of masculine familial prerogatives; the medicalisation of criminal responsibility; women's growing use of law to advance individual and collective ambitions and citizenship aspirations; and rising suspicion over the place of sentiment in legal dispositions.

The second project was a major international conference on 'Honour Killing across Culture and Time',  8-9 December 2011. Inspired by contributions to this conference I co-edited two books: Honour, Violence and Emotions in History (London: Bloomsbury, 2014) (with Robert Cribb and Christopher Forth); and Honour Killing and Violence: Theory, Policy and Practice (London: Palgrave, 2014) (with Aisha Gill and Karl Roberts).


Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  19 July 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers