Michael McDonnell

Professor Michael McDonnell

  • Post Nominals: FAHA
  • Fellow Type: Fellow
  • Elected to the Academy: 2021
  • Section(s): History


Michael McDonnell is Professor of History at the University of Sydney. He explores the histories of often ignored actors and the hidden ways in which they exert powerful influences on major historical turning points – most notably in the two prize-winning books he has written, Masters of Empire: Great Lakes Indians and the Making of America (2015), which won a Michigan State History Award and a Western Historical Association Prize, and The Politics of War: Race, Class, and Conflict in Revolutionary Virginia (2007), which won the NSW Premier’s History Prize in 2008. He has edited or co-edited three other works on the Age of Revolution, including Facing Empire: Indigenous Experiences in a Revolutionary Age, with Kate Fullagar (2018), and Remembering the Revolution: Memory, History, and Nation-Making from the Revolution to the Civil War, with Frances Clarke, Clare Corbould, and W. Fitzhugh Brundage (2013). He has also won numerous essay prizes, and internal and external grants, including three ARC Discovery Project Grants, and a Linkage grant. In the US, he served as a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians (OAH) and his work featured in their series, Best American History Essays (2008).

He is currently examining the place of the American Revolution in African American life (with Clare Corbould), a study of Revolutionary War memoirs written by lower-class participants in the conflict, and a three-volume co-edited Cambridge History of the American Revolution, with Marjoleine Kars and Andy Schocket. For many years now, he has also been committed to widening participation at Universities, including local efforts to create a more inclusive and equitable working and teaching environment at the University of Sydney. He is keen to support staff and students at all levels to engage with local communities, whether through high school outreach programs in disadvantaged areas, or through community-engaged and led teaching efforts. He helped to design an award-winning capstone History unit at the University of Sydney called €œHistory Beyond the Classroom€ in which students work with community organisations to create a public history project.



Acknowledgement of Country

The Australian Academy of the Humanities recognises Australia’s First Nations Peoples as the traditional owners and custodians of this land, and their continuous connection to country, community and culture.