Expanding Suburbia: Reviewing Suburban Narratives

Expanding Suburbia: Reviewing Suburban Narratives

Expanding Suburbia: Reviewing Suburban Narratives

Expanding Suburbia: Reviewing Suburban Narratives

Synopsis

During the last few decades suburbia has grown enormously and become a phenomenon attracting the attention of scholars as well as practitioners by whom it is seen as an increasingly significant and complex area of modern life. The essays in this volume consider a range of representations of suburban life from the late nineteenth century to the present day, including fiction, film, and popular music, drawn from America and Australia as well as Britain. They explore and challenge traditional views of suburbia so that, rather than a location of conformity and stereotypicality, it can be viewed as a site of social conflict, division, and ambiguity as well as a source of significant creativity across a range of cultural texts. The volume takes a thematic approach, considering the rise of suburbia, imagined and real suburbias, alternative suburbias: all of the essays have a strong historical dimension and the overall approach is characterized by interdisciplinarity.

Excerpt

Do you know the road I live in – Ellesmere Road, West Bletch
ley? Even if you don’t, you know fifty others like it.

You know how these streets fester all over the inner-outer
suburbs. Always the same. Long, long rows of little semi
detached houses…. The stucco front, the creosoted gate, the
privet hedge, the green front door. The Laurels, the Myrtles, the
Hawthorns, Mon Abri, Mon Repos, Belle Vue. At perhaps one
house in fifty some anti-social type who’ll probably end in the
workhouse painted his front door blue instead of green….

When you’ve time to look about you, and when you happen
to be in the right mood, it’s a thing that makes you laugh inside
to walk down these streets in the inner-outer suburbs and to
think of the lives that go on there. Because after all, what is a
road like Ellesmere Road? Just a prison with cells in a row. A line
of semi-detached torture chambers where the poor little five-to
ten-pound-a-weekers quake and shiver, every one of them with
the boss twisting his tail and the wife riding him like the night
mare and the kids sucking his blood like leeches.

George Orwell’s caricature of suburbia in Coming up for Air (1939), serves as a defining illustration of the myths and stereotypes that have arisen around suburban culture. Orwell’s depiction is articulated through the 1930s character of George Bowling, a traditional middle-Englander undergoing a series of crises from mid-life to intimations of the rise of . . .

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