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This imaginative and resonant book looks at the constitution as a cultural artefact. It attempts to understand the period during which it emerged, culminating in Federation in 1901. Irving looks beyond the well-known events, places and figures to locate federation and the constitution in the context of broader social, political and cultural changes. She argues that Australians displayed an ability to reconcile the demands of pragmatism with the urge of romanticism. Despite its paradoxical construction, there is something uniquely Australian about the constitution, and it marked a utopian moment as the old century gave way to the new. Irving analyses the background and outcomes of the recent Constitutional Convention and considers its significance for Australia's possible future as a republic.