Our House: The Representation of Domestic Space in Modern Culture

Our House: The Representation of Domestic Space in Modern Culture

Our House: The Representation of Domestic Space in Modern Culture

Our House: The Representation of Domestic Space in Modern Culture

Excerpt

In one of those coincidences with which we are all familiar (but which no one – and certainly no 'professional' academic – likes to speak about too much), the editors of this book happened to move house within a two-week period of each other around about the end of April 2004. One consequence of this was that matters which had exercised them at an abstract theoretical level during the early stages of the editorial process for this book now began to impact upon their 'real' lives. Academic analysis of the 'meaning' of domestic space suddenly became a little … well, academic, as the various physical, emotional and administrative ordeals which are part and parcel of moving house in contemporary Britain came (so to speak) home to roost with a vengeance.

What were the chances of two people moving house during a period in which they were editing a book about houses? Pretty good, it seems. In Britain, we live and breathe houses: we talk about them all the time; we watch television programmes about them; we read magazines about them; we spend large amounts of money buying and doing them up; some of us even self-consciously try to ignore them, thereby confirming the absolute centrality of the house to the culture at large. Once you start looking – as we did when we began thinking seriously about the scope of this collection – images of the house appear everywhere, bearing upon contemporary life in a great variety of ways.

For scholars working in the general area of the humanities, writing about the meaning of domestic space is not the same as writing about the development of the novel, or the evolution of classic cinematic narrative, or the emergence of a modernist avant-garde in the fine arts.

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