Date of Submission



The historical analysis of any individual life is augmented by an incorporation of the complexity of identity formation and representation. Using an intersectional framework and with reference to various insights from some of the recent scholarship on historical biographies, this thesis focuses on the life of one Australian woman, Anna Brennan (1879-1962). Brennan was a pioneering lawyer in Victoria and an ardent advocate for the rights of women. The central issue that is examined in this thesis is how Brennan’s personal commitment to Catholicism propelled her advocacy in this domain. A significant feature of Brennan’s life was her active involvement and leadership in many clubs and organisations for women, within and beyond the Catholic community. Besides her extensive engagement in legal and social welfare issues, Brennan was also known for her literary ability and her promotion of the arts. It is suggested in this thesis, that the close examination of the influence of Catholicism in Brennan’s life supports an argument for investigating the significance of religion from an intersectional standpoint. This study of Brennan’s life will assist in highlighting the leadership of lay women in the Catholic Church in Australia, providing a role model who successfully navigated the gendered historical context of twentieth century Australian society and culture.


School of Arts

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


256 pages

Degree Name

Master of Philosophy (MPhil)


Faculty of Education and Arts

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