Dr James Findlay

DR. JAMES FINDLAY is an historian with interests in media history, convict history, Indigenous history,  settler colonialism, and the historical profession in Australia. His work engages with cultural, institutional and personal stories, exploring the ways that representation, myth and memory inform an understanding of Australian history.

Dr. Findlay’s PhD thesis, awarded at the University of Sydney in 2017, explored the intersection between historical myth and screen culture in relation to convictism in Australia. Since the origins of Australian cinema, filmmakers have told stories about convicts: those men, women and children transported from their homelands whose role as founding settlers was often viewed as a stain on the country’s reputation. Findlay argues that with the rise of film and television, convicts emerged as key historical figures who shaped and defined ideas and attitudes about Australia’s colonial past. His research navigates a way through representations of the convict experience across a wide range of genres, from silent epics to musical melodramas and reality television. In doing so it demonstrates the critical role their production and reception has played in ascribing meaning to the processes and outcomes of colonisation in Australia.

Dr. Findlay was recently awarded the Jill Roe Prize by the Australian Historical Association for the best unpublished article-length work of historical research in any area of historical enquiry produced by a postgraduate student for his article “Cinematic Landscapes, Dark Tourism, and the Ghosts of Port Arthur.”

Before returning to study Dr. Findlay worked extensively in film and television production for companies and broadcasters including Beyond Television, Screenworld, Film Australia and the BBC in London.

Currently, in addition to working in the Department of History at the University of Sydney, Findlay is also an adjunct lecturer at Australian Catholic University [ACU], National School of Arts.

Read about more of Dr. Findlay’s research on Academia. See also his recent interview with AHA here.


  • William Cosgrove: Duty and Destiny,” St. John’s Online, (2020).
  • Book chapter (forthcoming) with Sarah Pinto, “Screening Australia’s Colonisation: Colony v Metropole,” in Screening Australia: Culture, Media, Context, ed. Peter Kilroy and Stephen Morgan (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2019).


  • PhD, University of Sydney (2018)
  • Graduate Certificate in Drama Screen Writing / Directing, Australian Film Television and Radio School (2009)
  • BA (Media and Communications)University of New South Wales (2002)


  • Honorary Associate: Centre for Media History, Macquarie University


Follow Dr. James Findlay on Twitter@find_findlay