Humanities symposium explores concept of 'home'

tornado and house

To be held April 3-4, the theme of this year’s Institute for Humanities Research Fellows Symposium, “There’s No Place Like Home…,” is easily recognized as Dorothy’s last line from "The Wizard of Oz." When she says it, there seems little doubt that she speaks out of her joy at being safely ensconced on her family’s farm in Kansas.

However, while the word "home" often brings thoughts of security and belonging, it can also arouse feelings of dread, alienation and loss. Home resonates on cultural, emotional, intellectual, religious, philosophical, political and spiritual levels – as a place, a space, a myth, an impossibility and/or an inalienable right.

The event will kick off April 3 with a keynote lecture titled “Outline of a Theory of Place” by Tim Cresswell, professor of history and international affairs at Northeastern University. “Place has been theorized through a number of lenses in geography and beyond,” said Cresswell. “I will present a hybrid account of place by examining the elements that make up place (materiality, meaning and practice) and the ways that each of them contribute to place’s temporal dimension – how each plays a role in the endurance, or otherwise, of places.”

On April 4, Cresswell, along with Institue for Humanities Research (IHR) fellows Corine Schleif (art), Ersula J. Ore (English), J. Eugene Clay (religious studies), Desirée Garcia and Bambi Haggins (film and media studies), and visiting fellows Harvey Green (history, Northeastern University) and Abigail Manzella (English, University of Missouri), will engage more deeply with the topics of making, imagining and leaving home.

The discussion of "Making Home" will explore the ways we construct home through practices of belonging and inclusion, from rituals of inclusion and definition to systematic, sometimes violent practices of exclusion or othering. In "Imagining Home," discussants will explore home as a space of intense cultural fantasy and imaginings, a place defined by values that are attributed to it in media and textual images. The final panel, "Leaving Home," will investigate the various ways people elect or are forced to leave their home. This includes processes of migration, forced repatriation and leaving home in the imagination, if not in physical reality.

The Fellows Symposium is the culminating event stemming from the the institute's fellows program, which brings together Arizona State University faculty and visiting scholars to pursue interdisciplinary research and writing in a year-long seminar. Founded in 2005, IHR is an interdisciplinary research institute in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences that awards fellowships to visiting U.S. and international scholars, as well as to faculty from ASU. In addition to the fellowship program, the institute supports interdisciplinary humanities research through the sponsorship of conferences, seminars, lecture series, workshops, research clusters and an active seed grant program.

For more information on the Fellows Symposium or to RSVP for the event, visit: