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

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U of Minnesota Press, 2005 - Architecture - 470 pages
The American suburban dream house - a single-family, detached dwelling, frequently clustered in tight rows and cul-de-sacs - has been attacked for some time as homogeneous and barren, yet the suburbs are home to half of Americans. Architectural historian John Archer suggests the endurance of the ideal house is deeply rooted in the notions of privacy, property, and selfhood that were introduced in late seventeenth-century England and became the foundation of the American nation and identity. 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 alike. Finally, he recognizes "hybridized" or increasingly diverse American suburbs as the dynamic basis for a strengthened social fabric. From Enlightenment philosophy to rap lyrics, from the rise of a mercantile economy to discussions over neighborhoods, sprawl, and gated communities, Archer addresses the past, present, and future of the American dream house.
 

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User Review  - pranogajec - LibraryThing

This is two books in one. The first book--parts one and two--is quite good. Unfortunately, part three is part of the package deal. It undermines the coherence and force of the book's best arguments ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - pranogajec - LibraryThing

This is two books in one. The first book--parts one and two--is quite good. If those parts stood alone as one book I would give it 4.5 stars. Unfortunately, part three is part of the package deal. It ... Read full review

Contents

Self House and Suburb
xv
Built Spaces and Identity
1
Locating the Self in Space
17
Villa Suburbana Terra Suburbana
45
The Apparatus of Selfhood
93
Republican Pastoral Toward a Bourgeois Arcadia
173
Suburbanizing the Self
203
Nationalizing the Dream
249
Analyzing the Dream
291
Reframing Suburbia
331
Looking Ahead
365
Notes
375
Permissions
443
Index
447
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About the author (2005)

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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