The Wages of Sprawl: The Experience of the Suburban Form in American Film and Fiction
Long, Christian Bradley
The American Way of Life as a suburban experience not only appears to be on its downward slope in the energy-starved early twenty-first century, it appears to be unsustainable. This dissertation identifies the everyday spatial practices in the non-home, non-work time and space of transit as the key site for the discursive construction of the suburbs rather than consumption and the built environment. The definitive experience of the suburban occurs not in houses or in office, but rather in the experience of transit – most notably time spent on the road – and the way in which film and literary representations of transit both reveal the imaginable models of sustainable suburban development as desirable but less and less possible. Post World War II suburban fictions retain an unconscious awareness of the shortcomings of the suburban form and the ideological barriers it imposes -- racial and class division, barriers between private and public experience as well as between genderings of experience – and it is through attention to representations of spatial practices that alternatives to these restrictive ideologies of suburban sprawl emerge.