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Making Suburbia

New Histories of Everyday America

2015

John Archer, Paul J. P. Sandul, and Katherine Solomonson, Editors
Afterword by Margaret Crawford

Making Suburbia

Illustrates the astonishing complexity of American suburbia

The stereotypical portrayal of the suburbs as a boring, homogeneous, and alienating place tells us very little about the lives of the people who actually live there. Making Suburbia offers a diverse collection of essays that examine how the history and landscape of the American suburb are constructed through the everyday actions and experiences of its inhabitants.

Contributors attempt to remove stereotypes-- plenty are called out-- and to legitimate suburbs as a field of study. The topics covered here might fall into several fields ranging from sociology to urban planning, remain peripheral to them, or provoke further investigation.

CHOICE

What are the suburbs? The popular vision of monotonous streets curving into culs-de-sac and emerald lawns unfurling from nearly identical houses would have us believe that suburbia is a boring, homogeneous, and alienating place. But this stereotypical portrayal of the suburbs tells us very little about the lives of the people who actually live there. Making Suburbia offers a diverse collection of essays that examine how the history and landscape of the American suburb are constructed through the everyday actions and experiences of its inhabitants.

From home decor and garage rock to modernist shopping malls and holiday parades, contributors explore how suburbanites actively created the spaces of suburbia. The volume is divided into four parts, each of which addresses a distinct aspect of the ways in which suburbia is lived in and made. More than twenty essays range from Becky Nicolaides’s chronicle of cross-racial alliances in Pasadena, to Jodi Rios’s investigation of St. Louis residents’ debates over public space and behavior, to Andrew Friedman’s story of Cold War double agents who used the suburban milieu as a cover for their espionage.

Presenting a wide variety of voices, Making Suburbia reveals that suburbs are a constantly evolving landscape for the articulation of American society and are ultimately defined not by planners but by their inhabitants.

Contributors: Anna Vemer Andrzejewski, U of Wisconsin–Madison; Heather Bailey; Gretchen Buggeln, Valparaiso U; Charity R. Carney, Western Governors U; Martin Dines, Kingston U London; Andrew Friedman, Haverford College; Beverly K. Grindstaff, San José State U; Dianne Harris, U of Illinois, Urbana–Champaign; Ursula Lang; Matthew Gordon Lasner, Hunter College; Willow Lung-Amam, U of Maryland, College Park; Becky Nicolaides, U of California, Los Angeles; Trecia Pottinger, Oberlin College; Tim Retzloff, Michigan State U; Jodi Rios; Christopher Sellers, Stony Brook U; David Smiley, Columbia U; Stacie Taranto, Ramapo College of New Jersey; Steve Waksman, Smith College; Holley Wlodarczyk, U of Minnesota.

Awards

Popular Culture / American Culture Association — Ray and Pat Browne Award for Best Edited Collection — Honorable Mention

Making Suburbia

John Archer, professor of cultural studies and comparative literature at the University of Minnesota, is author of Architecture and Suburbia and The Literature of British Domestic Architecture, 1715–1842.


Margaret Crawford is professor of architecture at University of California, Berkeley.

Katherine Solomonson is associate professor of architecture at the University of Minnesota. She is the author of The Chicago Tribune Tower Competition: Skyscraper Design and Cultural Change in the 1920s.

Paul J. P. Sandul is assistant professor of history at Stephen F. Austin State University. He is the author of California Dreaming: Boosterism, Memory, and Rural Suburbs in the Golden State.

Making Suburbia

Contributors attempt to remove stereotypes-- plenty are called out-- and to legitimate suburbs as a field of study. The topics covered here might fall into several fields ranging from sociology to urban planning, remain peripheral to them, or provoke further investigation.

CHOICE

The book succeeds in demolishing the single sterile stereotype of suburbia.

Planning Magazine

Making Suburbia

Contents

Contents
Introduction: Making, Performing, Living Suburbia {~?~TN: book page vii}
John Archer, Paul J. P. Sandul, and Katherine Solomonson
Part I. Mobilizing (~?~TN: book page 1}
1. The Social Fallout of Racial Politics: Civic Engagement in Suburban Pasadena, 1950–2000 {~?~TN: book page 3}
Becky M. Nicolaides
2. Race, Planning, and Activism on Philadelphia’s Main Line
Trecia Pottinger
3. Defending “Women Who Stand by the Sink”: Suburban Homemakers and Anti-ERA Activism in New York State
Stacie Taranto
4. Gay Organizing in the “Desert of Suburbia” of Metropolitan Detroit
Tim Retzloff
5. Ecological Preservation in Suburban Atlanta
Christopher Sellers
Part II. Representing
6. Metaburbia: The Evolving Suburb in Contemporary Fiction
Martin Dines
7. Suburban Memory Works: Historical Representation and Meaning in Orangevale, California
Paul J. P. Sandul
8. Does This Place Really Matter? The Preservation Debate in Denver’s Postwar Suburbs
Heather Bailey
9. Yards and Everyday Life in Minneapolis
Ursula Lang
10. Suburban Rhetorics: Planning and Design for American Shopping, 1930–1960
David Smiley
11. This Old House of the Future: Remixing Progress and Nostalgia in Suburban Domestic Design
Holley Wlodarczyk
Part III. Gathering
12. Everyday Racialization: Contesting Space and Identity in Suburban St. Louis
Jodi Rios
13. The Vibrant Life of Asian Malls in Silicon Valley
Willow Lung-Amam
14. Spaces for Youth in Suburban Protestant Churches
Gretchen Buggeln
15. Sanctifying the SUV: Megachurches, the Prosperity Gospel, and the Suburban Christian
Charity R. Carney
Part IV. Building
16. The Fabric of Spying: Double Agents and the Suburban Cold War
Andrew Friedman
17. Selling Suburbia: Marshall Erdman’s Marketing Strategies for Prefabricated Buildings in the Postwar United States
Anna Vemer Andrzejewski
18. A Tiny Orchestra in the Living Room: High-Fidelity Sound, Stereo Systems, and the Postwar House
Dianne Harris
19. Suburban Noise: Getting inside Garage Rock
Steve Waksman
20. The Complex: Social Difference and the Suburban Apartment in Postwar America
Matthew Gordon Lasner
21. The Outdoor Kitchen and Twenty-First-Century Domesticity
Beverly K. Grindstaff
Afterword
Margaret Crawford
Contributors
Index