Monthly Archives: February 2015

My Weekend with my Friend Zotero

My friend Zotero got a workout this weekend, and I guess, so did I.

Before reading about interactive note taking, I had made simple entries into Zotero about the general idea, argument or topic of a book, but that was all. Now after my first attempts at interactive note taking, I think I may have swung to the other side of pendulum. I may be writing too much, but I guess that remains to be seen. I may think I am writing too much because the article that I read, entitled The Missionary Home as Pulpit: Domestic paradoxes in Early Twentieth Century Korea contained a lot of information relevant to my topic. Also the book I read this week on the spaces found in homes, greatly informed my reading of Hyaeweol Choi’s work. So…I wrote…a lot and now I am tired. (But what graduate student doesn’t struggle with droopy eyelids?)

As I mentioned in the preceding paragraph, besides the article on the missionary home as a pulpit, I also read a book recommended by Dr. Schneider entitled The Poetics of Space: The classic Look at How We Experience Intimate Places,” which I also took interactive notes on, which added to my time with my friend Zotero. I’m beginning to believe that we will definitely by BFFs by the time I finish graduate school.

 This book examines images of what the author, Gaston Bachelard, calls “felicitous space”.  Spaces we love as humans. Spaces that are ‘warm’. Spaces we desire to defend. Spaces we can grasp in our memories and daydream about. And as such, he centers his work on the space of the home and of the spaces in the home. In this book, Bachelard examines human’s perceptions of home and how those perceptions, wrapped in emotions, shape our memories, thoughts and daydreams.

The author argues that the phenomenologist, psychoanalyst and psychologist must go beyond physical descriptions of houses to analyze why we perceive them as comfortable. Why do they produce attachments? What virtues do they possess that creates those attachments? What is the essential seed that produces this sense of well-being? According Bachelard, the house can be a place for topo-analysis. Homes can be analyzed for why or how the warm substance of intimacy is developed. In terms of topo-analysis, Blacherd also speaks of the inspiration that spaces of the home gives to its occupants in producing epiphanies of being, of self-awareness.

Also of particular importance to my work, Bachelard also talks about very intimate, closed-in tight spaces, like those found in a shell. He goes on to illuminate that the creature living in the shell, while in that shell, is always preparing a way out.

Some of the citeable notes I produced from this reading include:

  • (Bachelard, 1958) Book is theoretical, phenomenological look at spaces of the home.
  • (Bachelard, 1958) It is important to analyze why houses produce virtues such as warmth, etc in our imaginations.
  • (Blacherd, 1958) Houses can be a place for topo-analysis.
  • (Blacherd, 1958) Images of homes are powerful forces in the human psyche.
  • (Blacherd, 1958) Shells represent an intimate space that is so small and closed in that inhabitants are desirous of escape.

It is amazing how much this book, actually has opened up my thinking on my topic.

I do believe that interactive note taking helps you to read a work in a more dynamic way which in turn produces not only reference-able material, but higher levels of understanding and engagement. Because of this belief, I look forward to more time spent with my friend Zotero.



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An Awesome Advisor

I am very fortunate to have Dr. Helen Schneider as my advisor. Although her work is concentrated in China, she has extensive knowledge of East Asia, including Korea. She is also very familiar with Japanese colonialism. Japanese colonialism played a large role in Korea as the country was annexed by Japan in 1910. As a part of their colonial policies toward Korea, Japan tried to eradicate the Korean language and Korean culture.

In meeting with Dr. Schneider, we have discussed many preliminary, foundational lines of research and inquiry. She graciously shared a number of secondary sources with me, which I continue to learn from, interrogate and note implications for my research from. Through our discussions (as well as attending her undergraduate class on Chinese history), a key idea that has emerged and is shaping my thinking on my topic is Confucian ideas about women’s roles and proper “spaces”.

At the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, Korea prided itself on being the most Confucian state in the world. Neo-Confucianism ideals played a prominent role in Korean society. For women this meant very fixed ideas about their role in the social order, in the family as well as their proper “space” for being. Societal norms put great pressure on women to conform to Confucian principles.

One of these customs was the “inside-outside rule”. The “inside-outside rule” proscribed spatial dimensions for women and men. Women’s place was inside. Men’s place was outside. And when they said inside, they meant inside. One of the first primary sources I have looked at is an article written by a Christian Korean evangelist in the Korean publication 신학 워보 Sinhak Weolbo (Monthly Magazine on Christian Theology founded in 1900). 문경호 (Mun Kyongho) writes a scathing article about the implications for women of the “inside-outside rule.” He laments that women are treated like material objects in Korea who are relegated to their homes as slaves who cook, sew and do all kinds of odd jobs for husbands who routinely criticize them and treat them as objects of domination. Mun continues by drawing a distinction between men who are free to move about and enjoy the finer things of life but “prohibit their wives from moving even one step outside the house.”[1] While this source will have to be investigated for its overarching language, I believe that at the crux of his argument lies a truth about the spatial area assigned to women and the real-life implications of that ideal. I believe these very strict spatial boundaries will have implications for my research on women missionaries and the rise of Christianity Korea.

I am very thankful and appreciative of Dr. Schneider’s guidance and illumination so far and her gracious agreement to be my advisor.

[1] Mun kyeongho,문경호 ,The Custom of the Inside-Outside Rule, in New Women in Colonial Korea: A Sourcebook, 1 edition, ed./translator Hyaeweol Choi (Routledge, 2013).


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