Academic journal article American Journal of Play

Get out of My Room!: A History of Teen Bedrooms in America

Academic journal article American Journal of Play

Get out of My Room!: A History of Teen Bedrooms in America

Article excerpt

Get Out of My Room!: A History of Teen Bedrooms in America Jason Reid Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2017. Acknowledgments, introduction, conclusion, notes, bibliography, and index. 320 pp. $45.00 cloth. ISBN: 9780226409214

Jason Reid's Get Out of My Room: A History of Teen Bedrooms in America is a comprehensive and engaging study that accomplishes what all historical writing aims for but which it so seldom achieves. It illuminates its subject matter while simultaneously enriching the reader's understanding of the broader historical periods in which it contextualizes Reid's analysis. Get Out of My Room is a worthwhile addition to the existing historiography in its own right as well as an excellent reference point for twentieth-century U.S. social and cultural history.

Reid, however, reaches beyond the twentieth century and delves into the nineteenth-century origins of teen bedroom autonomy in America. His investigation is as deep as it is broad, situating the birth of teen bedroom culture within the context of "the rise of modern capitalism and the sweeping social, demographic, and cultural changes that emerged in its wake" (p. 3). The first two chapters chart a narrative in which teen bedrooms shifted from sites of "character building, intellectual growth, spiritual awareness, and personal responsibility" to spaces of "self-reliance, property ownership, and personal autonomy" (pp. 12, 40). Reid points out that, in some respects, the narrative shift from spiritual to social-scientific rationales for children having rooms of their own was "offering old wine in new bottles" (p. 40). But he effectively illustrates the overall secularization of approaches to teen bedroom autonomy.

From there, chapter 3 includes a lively discussion of the consumer culture's impulse to individualize teen bedrooms vis-a-vis the décor-industrial complex. Chapter 4 covers the social acceptance and near ubiquity of having a room of one's own in the post-World War II period. Noteworthy here is Reid's deft treatment of class in his narrative. …

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