Reading the Suburbs

Spring 2016-2017


Adrienne Brown

From midcentury writers like John Cheever, John Updike, and Richard Yates to the more contemporary work of Richard Ford, Tom Perrotta and shows like The Real Housewives the suburbs have largely been thought of as a place of homogenous unhappiness. In this class, we will both look at how this narrative has been constructed over the last sixty years while also interrogating the centrality of this claim by looking at works troubling its claims by authors such as Anne Petry, Chang Rae Lee, Vladimir Nabokov, and Alice Childress. Alongside fiction, we will be looking at history, advertising, and film that contextualize the rise of the suburbs, helping us understand the key role the suburbs played and continue to play in the accumulation of wealth, racial mobility, second wave feminism, and policing. (20th/21st)