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Title: Scenes from the suburbs : the surburb in contemporary US film and television
Author: Vermeulen, Timotheus
ISNI:       0000 0004 2723 6179
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2011
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In recent years, Hollywood has increasingly suburbanised; US television, too, is progressively suburban. This can hardly be considered surprising, since it mirrors America's changing demographic: by 2000, more than half of all Americans inhabited a suburban dwelling and that number is still steadily increasing. The only thing that is surprising is that it seems to have gone by film and television critics unnoticed. This thesis seeks to address this critical gap. Examining the representation of the suburb across genres and formats, it asks what it means to be 'suburban'. In the first chapter, the thesis examines the ontology of the suburb as fictional entity in Pleasantville. The second and third chapter are concerned with the suburban mise-en-scene. Chapter Two concentrates in particular on the relationship between visual style and geography in Happiness, while the third chapter focuses on technical issues of width, depth, and volume in The Simpsons and King of the Hill. The final two chapters engage with the construction of the suburb as a social space. In the fourth chapter Desperate Housewives is analysed in order to come to an understanding of the relationships between the suburb and gender. Chapter Five, finally, looks at the representation of space and age in three teen noirs - Brick, Chumscrubber, and Alpha Dog - so as to suggest another language via which the cinematic and televisual suburb can be discussed in more complex and rewarding ways. The thesis argues that what makes a suburb suburban is not any particular spatiality, but a variable interplay between forms and meanings that renders an environment at once fixed and radically instable.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available