In this thesis I argue that a suburban cultural imagination developed transnationally during the post-war period (roughly 1945-1970) rather than as a cultural phenomenon largely associated with the 1950s United States. I situate the suburbs—in both their physical and cultural constructions—as my primary focus and discuss the suburb's influence on hegemonic culture by performing an in-depth comparison of the U.S. with another country with a long history of suburbanization—Australia. Given that the suburbs structure several social, cultural, economic, political, and historical vectors—which all in turn inform issues of gender, race, class, sexuality, and nationality—I focus on how the suburbs inform gender; in particular, I identify how the suburban imagination has contributed to the creation of the housewife figure. To locate these suburbs, I turn to the mass-circulation magazines of the mid-twentieth century whose advertisements, editorials, and short fiction disseminated the rhetoric and iconography of the suburb. Magazines like Ladies' Home Journal and Harper's helped form a U.S. suburban imagination through "housewife writers" such as Shirley Jackson. Comparing these suburban texts to the Australian Women's Weekly, we can see continuities and variations between suburbia in the U.S. and Australian cultural imaginations. I conclude this thesis by sketching potential coordinates for future investigation, including in Asia, Europe, Latin America, and Africa. While the process of suburbanization may vary in each country, a suburban imagination exists which transcends national experience and instead forms transnational lines that connect nations throughout the post-war period. These insights provide new ways of thinking about suburbanization, transnationalism, and globalization and the role that magazines had in shaping the cultures being constructed inside these suburban developments.
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Bishop, Louise Kane
Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
English; Literary, Cultural and Textual Studies
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Dick, Tyler, "Circulating Suburbia: Locating a Transnational Suburban Imagination in Post-War Periodicals, 1945-1970" (2022). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 1194.