Item description for Invisible Suburbs: Recovering Protest Fiction in the 1950s United States by Josh Lukin...
Were the 1950s an oppressive or a liberating time? Some scholars argue that the Red Scare, newly institutionalized discrimination against gays, and a public discourse saturated with sexism left wounds in American society. Others trace the origins of sixties liberation movements to the fifties and celebrate America's postwar prosperity, or argue that such new phenomena as rock 'n' roll, teenage consumerism, and Beat poetry gave Americans a new sense of freedom and identity.
Invisible Suburbs advances a new synthesis of both views from the perspective of literary scholarship. Essayists ask how overlooked literature in the 1950s addressed or anticipated the struggles of disenfranchised groups to receive rights and recognition. Scholars analyze the many ways in which the decade's culture stigmatized women, minorities, and the poor. They uncover work that illustrates how groups and individuals challenged or resisted that oppression, fiction by authors who sometimes found roots in earlier liberation movements and anticipated later struggles. Included are Ian Peddie's examination of how Nelson Algren, keeping alive his Depression-era outrage over class injustice, was condemned by Cold War critics but voiced attitudes that would be picked up by sixties authors and activists; Kathlene McDonald's essay showing how the feminism of Red Scare victim Martha Dodd took a similar path; Ladislava Khailova's writing on disability; and Jennifer Worley's exploration of lesbian pulp fiction of the decade.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.75" Width: 6.75" Height: 9.25" Weight: 1 lbs.
Release Date Aug 8, 2008
Publisher University Press of Mississippi
ISBN 1934110876 ISBN13 9781934110874
Availability 0 units.
More About Josh Lukin
Josh Lukin is lecturer of English at Temple University. His work has appeared in many periodicals, among them Modern Language Notes, minnesota review, Comics Journal, and Exquisite Corpse, as well as in the anthology Daughters of Earth: Feminist Science Fiction in the Twentieth Century.
Reviews - What do customers think about Invisible Suburbs: Recovering Protest Fiction in the 1950s United States?
Take a look at Invisible Suburbs Aug 10, 2008
The 1950's was about much more than conformity, containment, and contentment, and Lukin and his "Suburbanites" provide a peek behind the gray flannel curtain to show aspects of Fifites culture previously "invisible" in scholarship. Although all of the essays were well-written and felt ground-breaking in terms of their subjects (feminism during the Red Scare, homosexuality in the deep South, working-class conflict), two essays in particular captured my imagination and attention: Jennifer Worley's take on lesbian pulps and Ladislava Khailova's examination of mental disability in "The Light in the Piazza".
Khailova provides a history of attitudes toward and treatment of people (particularly women) with mental disabilities, and contrasts the eugenicist tendencies of state institutions with the accommodating, even romantic attitudes author Elizabeth Spencer ascribes to Italy. While the mentally disabled Clara is coddled and contained in the US, her sexuality understood as threatening, in Italy she becomes in many ways the ideal romantic partner and wife.
But, as much as I enjoyed Khailova's essay,and as important as it is to my own field (Disability Studies), my favorite essay in the book is Jennifer Worley's "The Mid-Century Pulp Novel and the Imagining of Lesbian Community." While it is deeply scholarly and relentlessly smart, Worley's essay is also fun -- the writing itself sparkles with a sense of humor, and an affection for the subject matter. This is the only academic article I've read in years (if ever) that I wanted to read over and over again, in the bathtub with a glass of wine. It's sophisticated in its description of the social forces which constrained writers of pulp novels, and conversational when it explores the particulars of Ann Bannon's characters.
Overall, Invisible Suburbs is accessible to the non-specialist and covers new ground in 1950's scholarship for those in the know. This is a book I'll be re-reading frequently.