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Posts Tagged ‘home’

Histories of Home (now renamed Studies of Home)
Practices of inhabitance in large houses: Comfort, privacy and status in Sydney, Australia
Robyn Dowling (Macquarie University)
12 October 2011

Since the 1980s house size has increased by around 50% in Sydney, Australia.  This is a large increase and brings with it a rapid change of lifestyle.  Robyn Dowling examines what happens in these enlarged spaces and what makes them a home.  She also investigates materiality and the impact on the family unit that greater space provokes.

The study is based around interviews carried out in the early 2000s and focuses on a study of 26 Sydney mass-produced houses.  These mass-produced houses are increasingly popular in Australia and in most cases are designed with the nuclear family in mind.  The interviewees were found to be largely in their thirties with children under the age of twelve.  Most were middle class and natural born Australians.

So what did Dowling discover?  Well the most significant change is in the fracturing of the household.  With increased room to create individual spaces the needs of each family member is given greater focus over that of the whole.  The expectation has shifted from a family-focused unit to individual privacy, with specific areas designated for quality family time.

This transformation of the family unit brings Dowling to look into methods of parenting in these enlarged spaces and the perception surrounding homeliness (such as notions of comfort and relaxation).  A home is made up from a mixture of standard possessions and personal touches including family heirlooms.  Identification of status and class (including demonstrating wealth through material accumulation and display) is also still highly sought in the design of rooms.  As a final point, Dowling notes that despite modern lifestyle, women still remain the centre of the home.

To listen to this podcast click here. 

 

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 Histories of Home
Home-making in pre-modern England
Sara Pennell (Roehampton University)
7 March 2012

 

The house or home as a person’s castle is a common way to looking at a property that belongs to a family or individual.  The image conjures up thoughts of wealth and status both of which are common themes in histories of the home.  Another aspect of this allusion that is less considered by historians is the castle as a fortification – thus the home as a secure place to live and to protect property.  This is the subject that Sara Pennell looks at for the Histories of Home seminar.  Pennell considers the role of chattel distress (meaning movable private property rather than real estate that is seized for the satisfaction of a demand such as debt) as a way into the subject of home security.

Beginning with a general background on theories concerning the meanings of home, largely built upon the work of Karen Harvey (who wrote conceptually on the subject in 2009) Pennell examines the often-ignored area of security via the evidence in various legal collections including the Old Bailey and through legal codes in the American 4th Amendment.  Where property has been examined it is often focused around the elite and ignores the fact that for most people property came down to their furniture and objects within the home.  Pennell wishes to even out the examination of this topic therefore, by tackling property owned by those of lower status.

To listen to this podcast click here.

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Histories of Home
6 December 2011
Helen Schneider (University of Oxford)
Domestic responsibilities: the discipline of home economics in twentieth century China

Chinese traditional style kitchen built in the Qing Dynasty of China , located in Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province, China

The development of home economics education in China in the early twentieth-century was in part a parallel to similar developments in America and the Western world, but also in part an attempt in China to improve standards.  There was an entrenched belief that women were naturally inclined toward homemaking and that home economics study was to supplement and improve the skills Chinese woman already possessed.  Helen Schneider looks at how home economics provide us the opportunity to study gender roles, family, and the organisation of the home in the early twentieth century.  The Chinese example, as of those elsewhere, favoured a push towards making home economics a science focusing on hygiene, food chemistry, house design and time management skills amongst much else.  Practice homes were created to train students where decisions were made as to how western or how Chinese these should be.  For instance electric lights were added (which were less common in China than in America) but chopsticks remained.  The rise of home economics as a discipline fell again as the century progressed and it is now a largely forgotten footnote both in China and the West, yet as Schneider shows us, there is still much that can be learnt from its study. 

 To listen to this podcast click here.

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Histories of Home
9 November 2011 
Trevor Keeble (Kingston University)
Living in the past: Acquisition and display in late nineteenth century homemaking
Replica of a Victorian dining room. Photo taken at The Museum of Lincolnshire Life, Lincoln, England.

Replica of a Victorian dining room. Photo taken at The Museum of Lincolnshire Life, Lincoln, England.

Trevor Keeble looks at the Victorian home through the lens of design as an act or process rather than the binary lens of production and consumption more commonly examined.  This paper looks at the rising trade in bric-a-brac in the Victorian era as an insight into the broader issues of homemaking.  Keeble asks why second hand objects became meaningful and desired and examines the entire process of buying old things and making them your own.  Indeed, the process of acquisition is something that is only now beginning to receive attention.  Through that interest Keeble not only provides an insight into Victorian homemaking but also into the emergence of the antique market and the backlash against it in various circles as unnecessary and wasteful (in terms of household expenditure).

 To listen to this podcast click here.

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