English Seminar Capstone Research Papers

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Capstone Project

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Urban historian Dr. Kenneth Jackson classifies the suburbs “the quintessential physical achievement of the United States,” an achievement “perhaps more representative of [US] culture than big cars, tall buildings, or professional football” (Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States 4). As of 2012, over half of Americans live in the suburbs, and approximately 169 thousand of the United State’s 3.79 million square miles is populated by suburban development (6). An environment so expansive and primary to American culture and space indicates its towering significance in cultural discourse. But the suburbs could not exist were it not for the invention of the automobile. Automobiles paved the way for a binary between the public and privates spheres. For the first time, workers were able to commute large distances to and from their private homes and their work places in the cities. They were able to cultivate an individualized, pastoral, safe private life shielded from the corruption and congestion of the city. The result of this individualized life was fragmentation from the community and visual conformity to others around—a life spiritually and socially vapid.


Arcade Fire, The Suburbs

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