At Home in the City: Urban Domesticity in American Literature and Culture, 1850-1930

Overview

In the middle of the nineteenth century, urban families began to inhabit multi-unit residences that redefined American city landscapes and altered the ways in which Americans understood urban space. Helping to create among city dwellers a distinctively modern subjectivity was a host of writers who experimented in prose with the possibilities and dangers of urban space. Reformers, planners, and engineers also shaped urban sensibilities by experimenting with architectural form in ...
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Overview

In the middle of the nineteenth century, urban families began to inhabit multi-unit residences that redefined American city landscapes and altered the ways in which Americans understood urban space. Helping to create among city dwellers a distinctively modern subjectivity was a host of writers who experimented in prose with the possibilities and dangers of urban space. Reformers, planners, and engineers also shaped urban sensibilities by experimenting with architectural form in the city's physical landscape.

Imaginatively juxtaposing literary criticism with a history of the built environment, Klimasmith emphaszies the fluidity and dynamism of these new residential spaces, allowing us to witness the unfolding of modernity and to view the modernist subject at its very inception.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Beautifully written and illustrated...this book is a fascinating read from a promising young scholar. Anyone interested in urban studies, American historical fiction, and architecture will be delighted.” —Choice

Klimasmith “brings new insights into the lived experiences of urban dwellers, challenging both contemporary accounts as well as more recent scholarship.”—H-Urban

"Klimasmith successfully guides readers through a literary and artistic terrain that enables us all to become more At Home in the City"—Studies in American Naturalism

"Betsy Klimasmith's At Home in the City is a genuine pleasure to read. The narrative seamlessly moves from close readings of urban novels to discussions about architectural designs of tenements and boarding houses as well as of New York's Central Park. It analyzes the interiority of urban domestic fiction then literally and figuratively goes outside, to extra-literary sources. It is as if the very structure of the book confirms its central observation: the boundedness of the rural home gave way to an urban domesticity, where home is understood in terms of permeability, interconnectedness, and the fluidity of private and public spaces."—Journal of American History

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Product Details

Meet the Author

BETSY KLIMASMITH is associate professor of English, University of Massachusetts, Boston.

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 Architectural determinism and the industrial city in The Blithedale Romance and Ruth Hall 16
Ch. 2 The city's drawing-room : spatial practice in The Bostonians and Central Park 51
Ch. 3 The tenement home : pushing the city's limits 90
Ch. 4 The apartment as utopia : reimagining the city, reconstructing the home 128
Ch. 5 From artifact to investment : hotel homes, the economics of luxury, and The Custom of the Country 161
Ch. 6 The paradox to intimacy : mobility, sociology, and the function of home in Quicksand 191
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2006

    Outstanding Academic Research Tool

    The book is a superior resource for any student of history and literature of the period. It provides detailed information about the trends and influence of urban life on 19th century families that migrated from rural areas to the city, and demonstrates also the effects of this migration on literary works of the period. Ms Klimasmith has created a very interesting volume a combination of historical data coupled with examples of texts by important authors of the period.

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