Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center.
“The home” cannot be defined by one thing. As a place of significance to billions of people, it takes on different meanings in different contexts, transforming walls and floors into a dimensional concept that is ripe for philosophical study. Through a Levitt Center-funded summer research project, four students are exploring the importance of the home under the direction and support of John Stewart Kennedy Professor of Philosophy Marianne Janack.
2022 Janack Levitt Research Group
Jack Ritzenberg ’24, Liam Hudgings ’24, Teddy Slosberg ’24, Scout Winer ’24, and Marianne Janack, the John Stewart Kennedy Professor of Philosophy. Photo: Zack Stanek

As is the case with many Hamilton student projects, this idea began in the classroom. During Janack’s spring-semester course, students read The Second Sex, in which Simone de Beauvoir interprets the home as a confining domestic sphere that restricts female ambition. This interpretation struck Jack Ritzenberg ’24, a government major, who had developed an interest in the subject during an earlier course. He began talking about the home with philosophy majors Liam Hudgings ’24, Teddy Slosberg ’24, and other students in Janack’s course. Eventually, he met with Janack, who suggested they turn this interest into a summer research project.

Janack, Ritzenberg, Hudgings, Slosberg, and Scout Winer ’24, a philosophy and studio art double major, have spent the past eight weeks studying the home. Each person’s research focuses on a specific dimension to this concept, allowing their findings to culminate in a more comprehensive study. Slosberg, for example, is considering it through an architectural lens, while Ritzenberg is studying it in relation to nationalism.

“I think the connection to the home is very apparent in the language nationalists use,” Ritzenberg said. “They often reference the homeland, which projects your feelings about an individual home onto a whole territory. It gets you to develop more patriotic ideals.”

Though the project has expanded beyond de Beauvoir’s critique of the home interpretation, Winer’s research continues to bring feminist theory into the discussion. She has found that many authors oppose de Beauvoir’s analysis of the home as a site of restriction. Instead, they claim that it can be a site of resistance, a reminder that domesticity does not negate a woman’s power. As Winer explores these ideas, she is also interested in the home’s importance for other marginalized groups.

“Ultimately, the home is a place of safety that people can retreat to,” Winer said. “It’s a place where outside prejudices don’t exist, where you can be the subject of your own narrative. People need a place like that. Without it, they’re not going to be able to make changes in how things are.”

Students conduct their research independently and meet semiweekly to discuss findings. At the beginning of August, however, students will come together with podcast producer and editor Emma Reynolds ’17 for a workshop focused on ethical interviewing and journalistic ethics, preparing students to conduct interviews. Reynolds will also teach podcast techniques, which will come in handy when students create their own podcast in August.

“I’m excited for all this research to really become something,” Winer said. “It’s really cool to all be reading and researching a bunch of different things, but I’m ready to see it all come together. I feel like then my research this summer will really have a tangible purpose.”

Research at Hamilton

Through independent projects, the Senior Program, research with faculty members, and summer internships, Hamilton provides many opportunities for students to engage in significant research.

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