For my intro to American Studies course during second summer session, I chose to focus on how we can read place and space to uncover American beliefs, habits, and values about community. We're starting inside the home and moving outward to neighborhoods and cities. (OK, my syllabus isn't really that smooth, but let's pretend it is, shall we?)
Yesterday we took a survey of my students' apartments. In addition to comparing them to their family homes, we talked about the material culture of their apartments and how the rooms were arranged. Based on the stuff we found in each room, we drew conclusions about how students interact with each other (or fail to interact) and what they value.
Random things I learned, some of which you undoubtedly already knew:
1. Students like to keep pets in the kitchen. Hamsters, fish, whatever fits.
2. Reading material in the bathroom is almost exclusively a male domain.
3. Students eat on their couches. They don't cook with their roommates. Sometimes they'll eat different meals, sitting side-by-side on the couch, while enjoying different forms of media.
4. Most students' parents still bring them home-cooked meals, which the students bank in their freezers. WTF?! My parents fell down on the job. (Of course, it could have been because I lived 2,000-3,000 miles away from them during college. Stir fry just doesn't travel well, even through FedEx.)
5. Students keep their bongs in their bedrooms. (Why did I ask about this? Well, because one student had to go and say she kept her "alcohol and alcohol paraphernalia" in her kitchen. And so I ran with "paraphernalia." The kids think I'm soooo cool.) *sigh*