Sharon Wall is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Winnipeg. Her areas of study include: Canadian social and cultural history, childhood and youth, gender and sexuality, education, urban history
I find myself drawn to research where I can explore some aspect of the history of space. In museums I’ve always been drawn to those tiny scale models of buildings, towns, cityscapes and so on that give one that omniscient, Friendly Giant kind of feeling of surveying the world from a superior vantage point. The bird’s-eye-view perspective is always so compelling. Isn’t it ultimately what we want from social history, to rise above our limited individual points of reference to see “the bigger picture,” to give meaning to the chaos of experience? Personally, I also feel closer to the past (to that “foreign country”) when I think through its physical aspects, one reason I find the literature on the history of architecture, the body, and more recently, the senses so inspiring.
My article in this volume, “Making Room(s) for Teenagers: Space and Place at Early Postwar Maternity Homes in Ontario and B.C.,” was one way to explore my interest in the expressions and meanings of space in the context of unmarried pregnancy in post-WWII Canada.