2015/2016, Semester 2
Arts & Social Sciences (Japanese Studies)
Modular Credits: GEM1046 ( 4 ) / GET1003 ( 4 )
Few words in the English language (or any language) are as evocative and emotionally-charged as “home.” But how do we determine what we call home, and why should we take the topic of “home” seriously? This module explores the political, social, economic, and cultural aspects of the complex idea of home. Major topics include: sense of place, home technologies and design, gender and housework, home and travel, globalization, nationalism, homelessness, and exile. You will complete the module with a new appreciation for the complexity of the places – house, neighborhood, nation, planet – you call home.
For many, “home” is an everyday space often taken for granted. However, home has long been a central concern of scholars across the social sciences and humanities, since it is tied to broad concerns about belonging, (local and national) identity, family, gender, travel, legal title, commercial interests, domestic consumption, and more. What makes a house a home? What social relations, political circumstances, technologies, design elements, and more create the sense of place that we equate with home? How do representations of home – including music, poetry, art, film, and more – feed into particularly nostalgic, nationalistic, gendered, etc. conceptions of home?
In an increasingly globalized world, home becomes an ever more meaningful place to be represented, remembered, longed for, protected, and consumed. This module will help you understand the relevance of “home” beyond your front door and encourage you to look for the deeper social, political, and cultural associations found in the everyday objects and institutions around you. Finally, this module will introduce you to the myriad ways that a seemingly mundane idea—home—relates to politics, art, society, commerce, engineering, planning, and more.
You will gain knowledge about the long-established centrality of home across the social sciences, arts, and humanities, as well as critical thinking skills necessary to analyze assumptions about what constitutes a home and why the association between being “at home” and being rooted in place have long been considered the norm in most societies.
The following outcomes are based on Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives and increase in cognitive skill. By the end of the semester, students should be able to:
Identify major technological and design changes that have impacted domestic life (knowledge: remember and recall details)
Describe how gendered ideas of the home relate to notions of paid work, travel, sense of place (knowledge/comprehension: remember and recall details, explain main ideas in one’s own words)
Learn the social, economic, and political background behind conceptual pairs such as home/house, home/work, and home/away, and relate these to one’s own life (knowledge/ application:
apply context-specific knowledge to one’s life
Analyze representations of home in music, film, literature, art (analysis: incorporate academic knowledge in everyday life; apply context-specific knowledge)
Explain both verbally and in writing how various social, cultural, economic, and political conditions have impacted the place(s) they call home (comprehension/application: apply context-specific knowledge to one’s circumstances)
Voice ideas clearly and with supporting evidence, in both writing and spoken form (develop communication skills, including persuasion)
Project: Create or Critique (choose A or B)
Create: home in one object
- In the spirit of BBC’s “A History of the World in 100 Objects,” identify a single object that reminds you of “home.” This can be something nostalgic (a photograph, a childhood toy) or everyday (a coffee cup, the front gate of your house). The more specific to yourself, the better. Write an essay (500 words, excluding references) that tells a bit of the history of the object (interview family members or neighbors if necessary) and explains why it signifies home for you. Incorporate ideas from the module, as well as one or more images of the object. A rubric will be made available ahead of time.
Critique: representing home review
- Review a film, song, poem, painting, etc. that depicts “home,” and explain how it relates to ideas discussed in the readings and/or lecture (500 words, excluding references). You can review anything that is relevant.
25% Home Fieldtrip and Presentation
: In a group of 3-4 students (from the same tutorial – we will assign groups), visit a display condo, community centre, heritage centre, IKEA, or other site
selling or promoting
(literally or figuratively) the idea of "home". The group
: In tutorial in weeks 7 and 8, you will give a group presentation describing the fieldtrip and how it relates to module themes. More info to follow.
: 1000-word paper that expands on the presentation. You can go into depth on aspects of the field site you could not cover in the presentation. Due the Sunday following your presentation at 5:00pm. One group member will upload to Turnitin.com.
Rubrics for the presentation and paper we be made available ahead of time.
50% Final Exam
short and long essay questions.
Lecture will be held once a week.
Tutorial will be held once every two weeks.
There are NO prerequisites for this module except to have
someplace in the world you call home.
Please note: although Dr. McMorran is based in Japanese Studies, this module will not be about Japan so no previous knowledge about Japan is necessary or beneficial.
Schedule of topics - see "Syllabus" link for complete list of readings and assignments.
12 Jan - Week 1
Introduction: themes, approaches, objectives
19 Jan - Week 2
26 Jan - Week 3
A place called home
. We explore the geographical notion of sense of place, which will help you understand how a house, neighborhood, region, and/or nation becomes something called “home”. We also talk about normative assumptions related to home and transgressions of those norms.
2 Feb - Week 4
House as home
. Why are house and home often conflated? How does a house (or neighborhood, city, region, nation, planet) become a home? This week we will critically examine the connections between house and home, house design and technologies, and the idea of homeliness (and unhomeliness).
9 Feb - Week 5
No lecture – Chinese New Year
16 Feb - Week 6
. The commonly-held belief that home and work constitute two separate spheres (private/public) has long been challenged by feminists and others, who argue for a revaluing of domestic labor and caregiving. We discuss the idea of the “second shift,” gendered expectations of housework, and the role of migrant domestic labor in the contemporary world.
22-26 February - RECESS WEEK
1 Mar - Week 7
. We examine the political and economic conditions underlying homelessness, as well as theoretical reasons why homelessness is often considered a “problem.”
8 Mar - Week 8
Exiles and refugees
This week we examine the political and economic conditions in which people flee home, including conflict. How do exiles negotiate the uncertainty of return and how do they represent and imagine home while away? How do the experiences of homelessness and exile differ? How are they similar?
15 Mar - Week 9
Disasters and dangers
. In the wake of natural disasters people are frequently placed in temporary housing. We examine types and conditions of temporary housing and ask what objects and social relations might bring a sense of home to these places. We look at the fractious politics of relocation and indefinite homelessness following disaster, as well as other, less obvious threats to home.
22 Mar - Week 10
Making home away
. We study the link between mobility and home by asking how much “home” we take with us when we move, especially abroad, as well as who bears the responsibility for making a home away from home.
29 Mar - Week 11
Guest lecture: A/P Thang Leng Leng
– We continue talking about “bubbles” of home away from home and the challenges facing Japanese women making home overseas.
5 Apr - Week 12
Home and travel
. We discuss the connection between home and mobility, focusing on how leisure travel and migration by choice (e.g. for education or work) produces certain impressions of and relationships to home.
12 Apr - Week 13
. We will conclude by debriefing the module and discussing the exam.
Workload Components : A-B-C-D-E
A: no. of lecture hours per week
B: no. of tutorial hours per week
C: no. of lab hours per week
D: no. of hours for projects, assignments, fieldwork etc per week
E: no. of hours for preparatory work by a student per week