A Nation Of Neighborhoods: Imagining Cities, Communities, And Democracy In Postwar America

Paperback | October 22, 2015

byBenjamin Looker

not yet rated|write a review
Despite the pundits who have written its epitaph and the latter-day refugees who have fled its confines for the half-acre suburban estate, the city neighborhood has endured as an idea central to American culture. In A Nation of Neighborhoods, Benjamin Looker presents us with the city neighborhood as both an endless problem and a possibility.

Looker investigates the cultural, social, and political complexities of the idea of “neighborhood” in postwar America and how Americans grappled with vast changes in their urban spaces from World War II to the Reagan era. In the face of urban decline, competing visions of the city neighborhood’s significance and purpose became proxies for broader debates over the meaning and limits of American democracy. By studying the way these contests unfolded across a startling variety of genres—Broadway shows, radio plays, urban ethnographies, real estate documents, and even children’s programming—Looker shows that the neighborhood ideal has functioned as a central symbolic site for advancing and debating theories about American national identity and democratic practice.

Pricing and Purchase Info

$37.67

In stock online
Ships free on orders over $25

From the Publisher

Despite the pundits who have written its epitaph and the latter-day refugees who have fled its confines for the half-acre suburban estate, the city neighborhood has endured as an idea central to American culture. In A Nation of Neighborhoods, Benjamin Looker presents us with the city neighborhood as both an endless problem and a possib...

Benjamin Looker teaches in the American Studies Department at Saint Louis University. He is the author of “Point from Which Creation Begins”: The Black Artists’ Group of St. Louis.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:432 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.1 inPublished:October 22, 2015Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022629031X

ISBN - 13:9780226290317

Look for similar items by category:

Customer Reviews of A Nation Of Neighborhoods: Imagining Cities, Communities, And Democracy In Postwar America

Reviews

Extra Content

Table of Contents

Introduction

PART I Neighborhood Visions from Popular Front to Populist Memory

1 Microcosms of Democracy: Depicting the City Neighborhood in Wartime America
2 Communities under Glass: The Neighborhood Unit Plan and Postwar Privatization
3 The Specter of Blight: The Neighborhood under Siege
4 Routes of Escape: Cold War Individualism and Community Ties

PART II The Urban Crisis and the Meanings of City Community

5 A Place Apart: The “New Ghetto” and the “Old Neighborhood”
6 Brilliant Corners: Representing the Inner City, from Outside and from Within
7 Peaceable Kingdoms: The Great Society Neighborhood in Stories for Children

PART III Defining Urban Pluralism in the Age of the Neighborhoods Movement

8 Elementary Republics and Little Platoons: The Neighborhood Self- Government Movement
9 “A Theology of Neighborhood”: Post–Vatican II Catholicism, Ethnic Revival, and City Space
10 Neighborhood Feminisms: Refi guring Gender in the Urban Village
11 Local Spaces and White House Races: Urban Communities and Presidential Politics

Epilogue
Acknowledgments
Notes
Index

Editorial Reviews

“Academics have long struggled to pinpoint precise definitions of ‘neighborhood,’ but as Looker  demonstrates, outside academe, a surprisingly ‘vast fleet’ of writers, politicians, artists, and activists unhampered by specifics constructed myriad ideal versions of the urban neighborhood from WWII to the 1980s. Looker insightfully demonstrates that cultural workers of all political persuasions fashioned representations of the urban small community because traditional values and experiences, as well as new visions for reshaping society, could be usefully attached to neighborhoods. Thus, the urban neighborhood became ‘a rich symbolic vehicle’ through which to debate often competing visions for the nation and for managing change and social division nearby. Progressing chronologically, each of the eleven chapters examines several related efforts to shape ideal visions of the urban neighborhood, defining and redefining terms such as blight, ghetto, and slum. Deconstructing examples of these ‘elaborate territories of the imagination,’ such as the children’s stories of Jack Ezra Keats and the Sesame Street television program, this author strikingly reveals just how relentlessly diverse ideas of ‘neighborhood’ have been offered as proxy for the meaning of America. Recommended.”