Since late 2019, the Covid-19 Pandemic has forced a reconsideration of home: what it means to have a home or homes, to spend time there, but also what it means to be away from homes with few opportunities to travel, and to be separated from loved ones. For people in East Asia, and for those with families and friends in the region, this process began long before the pandemic officially reached Europe, borders closed, and quarantines came into place. Complex patterns of identification, belonging, space, place, and material culture – of home, with its everyday rituals, materials, and objects – suddenly shifted. How can we contend with such experiences? How can creative writing help develop a better understanding of the idea and feeling of home, connecting words, texts, images, memories, and the senses?
During her period as TORCH humanities exchange fellow, Dr. Jennifer Wong will offer an opportunity for university members and the wider Oxford community to use creative writing to consider the meaning of home and of diasporic space, time, and materiality. In creative writing workshops and public events (see tab on ‘Event’), Dr. Wong will encourage and guide participants to reflect on how objects and material culture (objects brought, kept, lost, missed, or remembered), create or challenge our sense of home, and how to express this in different forms of writing. Writing workshops will be an opportunity for participants to create their own poems and stories, to experiment with ways of expressing their sense of home—as a lived or re-imagined experience, as translation, or perception. Workshops participants will be invited also to submit their work for inclusion in an anthology that will go live at the end of the fellowship.
Public events, meanwhile, will be an opportunity for anyone interested to join us in thinking about creating writing as an avenue to promote a more global, inclusive, transnational experience of home.
Everyone is warmly invited to join us on this journey to explore personal experiences of material culture, history, and belonging across diasporic space and time.
We all begin our journeys from our personal histories. What do they mean to you and how do you see histories and memories reflected in the materials surrounding our lives at different moments in time?
To explore ways of storytelling and translating popular culture through the experience of home, we will hold three writing workshops, each organised around creative writing prompts ranging from Sinophone visual and material world and culture. Prompts will include songs, art, photos, and participants’ own personal objects; from everyday things to precious personal mementos. In each workshop, there will be group discussion of prompts and relevant examples of poems and stories, group activities focused on storytelling, as well as ample time for participants to plan and write, and to present and talk about their works. Throughout, Dr. Wong will provide advice and feedback to participants as they explore different the types of writing and expression they are most interested in.
The workshops will be open to students and staff who are interested in creative writing. No prior experience is required, and we welcome anyone who would like to explore the themes of home and the practice of creative writing from short stories to poems.
The workshops are FREE in person events. The maximum number of participants for each workshop is 24, and tickets for these workshops will be allocated on a first come first served basis (there will also be a waitlist). Participants can choose to sign up for just one or more of the workshops.
Sign up for the workshop events via eventbrite will be available soon. Please note, workshop 1 and 2 are available only to Oxford University staff and students.
At the end of Trinity term, workshop participants will have a chance to submit their creative writing (stories, poems, and any accompanying photos, images, or short texts that inspired them) for a chance to be featured in a new anthology. They can also read out their work in a live poetry reading event later in 2022.
As part of the personal history of home project, Jennifer has invited submissions from writers and artists worldwide to contribute their own memories and published and unpublished creative work to illustrate the multiple facets of home, across geographical locations and other boundaries.