Architecture and Suburbia: From English Villa to American Dream House, 1690-2000

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Spanning four centuries, Architecture and Suburbia explores phenomena ranging from household furnishings and routines to the proliferation of the dream house in parallel with Cold War politics. Beginning with John Locke, whose Enlightenment philosophy imagined individuals capable of self-fulfillment, Archer examines the eighteenth-century British bourgeois villa and the earliest London suburbs. He recounts how early American homeowners used houses to establish social status and how twentieth-century Americans continued to flock to single-family houses in the suburbs, encouraged by patriotism, fueled by consumerism, and resisting disdain by disaffected youths, designers, and intellectuals. Finally, he recognizes "hybridized" or increasingly diverse American suburbs as the dynamic basis for a strengthened social fabric.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Archer shows that the creation and evolution of the suburban house and the suburban landscape raise the most profound issues of 'self, identity, gender, and relation to family and society.' . . . Archer is both a compelling a theorist and an adventurous researcher." -Robert Fishman, University of Michigan
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816643035
  • Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
  • Publication date: 5/5/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 496
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

John Archer is professor of cultural studies and comparative literature at the University of Minnesota. His book, The Literature of British Domestic Architecture, 1715-1842 (1985), is the standard reference on the subject, and he also contributed to the Encyclopedia of Urban America (1998) and the Encyclopedia of 20th Century Architecture (2004).

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Table of Contents

Contents List of IllustrationsAcknowledgmentsPrologue: Self, House, and SuburbIntroduction: Built Spaces and Identity Part I. Eighteenth-Century England: The Genesis of the Bourgeois Dwelling1. Locating the Self in Space2. Villa Suburbana, Terra Suburbana3. The Apparatus of Selfhood Part II. Nineteenth-Century America: Republican Homes in Arcadian Suburbs4. Republican Pastoral: Toward a Bourgeois Arcadia5. Suburbanizing the Self Part III. Twentieth-Century America: The Dream House Ideal and Its Implications for the Suburban Landscape6. Nationalizing the Dream7. Analyzing the DreamConclusion: Reframing SuburbiaCoda: Looking AheadNotesIndex

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  • Posted January 22, 2009

    origins and development of suburbia

    Archer puts suburbia into historical context, going back to before it was even known as this. Its beginnings were in the 'nascent bourgeoisie...philosophical, economic, and political circumstances' of late seventeenth century England. Especially, the 'new architectural type [of] the compact bourgeois villa' came to be seen as an ideal residence by the nascent bourgeois public. This architecture type allowed for a 'new settlement pattern' different from the traditional ones of dense urban development and sprawling manors--namely, suburbia with its homes surrounded by lawns clustered in country-like areas. Along with laying out the cultural and philosophical origins of suburbia, including the developing concept of the self, Archer presents both sides of the assessment of suburbia. In modern-day America, where the majority of the population now live in suburbia, there has for many decades been an ongoing debate over whether suburbia is the acme of the American dream of prosperity and upward mobility or an illusion entailing the stifling of individuality and cultivation of materialism. Archer's book is substantive enough to be a text in college courses on suburban studies, while also being accessible and engaging enough as a timely work of cultural studies for the general reader. The author is a professor of cultural studies and comparative literature at the U. of Minnesota. With material ranging from Enlightenment English philosophy to portrayals of suburbia in recent movies, from architectural plans of the 'compact bourgeois villa' to inventions such as lawnmowers and economic changes such as new banking practices associated with suburbia, the work demonstrates how fertile this subject is while bringing it into focus and drawing the avenues for further exploration of it.

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