This week's reading was the most compelling for me thus far. The article "The Gendered Environment of the Corporate Workplace, 1880-1930" by Angel Kwolek-Folland made more obvious the intense ways that the organization of our lives are influenced by space. The location of restrooms, furniture, exits, and every other facet of office life was affected by the inclusion of women in the workforce. The inclusion of women in the workforce was transformative in obvious ways-allowing women more freedom, creating the development of "pink collar" jobs-but this article made it clear just how much gender, amongst other things, organizes space. While I knew this, it really put it into much clearer perspective. Similarly, "White and Black Landscapes in Eighteenth-Century Virginia" by Dell Upton showed that not only did the architecture and layout of plantations but the ways in which this spatial layout effected not just where enslaved people lived, but also what they did on their space. The slave quarters became their domain, but so did outdoor space and other places that because of the design served unexpected purposes.
Both of these articles make clear that space matters, and has both the power to oppress people and allow oppressed people to gain small amounts of agency. A Sense of Place, a Sense of Time by John Brinkerhoff Jackson argues for the importance of space in such diverse ways as emphasizing the importance of roads, taking a close examination of trailer homes and the prejudices many approach them with, conceptions of domesticating nature and the problematic implications that develop from that, and workspace. While much of his work focuses on close examinations of specific places-New Mexico for example- his examination of the way space organizes people and the ways that structural inequities effect it are important.
While I really enjoyed the readings for this week, I wasn't sure how I would connect them to my own object, The D.A.R.E T Shirt. But I realized that while the D.A.R.E shirt isn't necessarily a space, it helps to organize it. How do people react when someone wears a D.A.R.E shirt? Does it differ based on race or gender? About career? About political aspirations? Who chooses to wear a D.A.R.E shirt? While a shirt does not organize space is a semi-permanent way like a house, office bathroom, or slave dwelling would, its presence organizes space at least temporarily which is something I will explore further in my project, potentially by wearing the shirt in varied settings.
- How can these ideas about space be translated to the public or students?
- Can space allow us to study populations that leave few formal records?
- How do these works relate to our earlier readings defining material culture and methodology?