In Welcome to the Dreamhouse feminist media studies pioneer Lynn Spigel takes on Barbie collectors, African American media coverage of the early NASA space launches, and television’s changing role in the family home and its links to the broader visual culture of modern art. Exploring postwar U.S. media in the context of the period’s reigning ideals about home and family life, Spigel looks at a range of commercial objects and phenomena, from television and toys to comic books and magazines.
The volume considers not only how the media portrayed suburban family life, but also how both middle-class ideals and a perceived division between private and public worlds helped to shape the visual forms, storytelling practices, and reception of postwar media and consumer culture. Spigel also explores those aspects of suburban culture that media typically render invisible. She looks at the often unspoken assumptions about class, nation, ethnicity, race, and sexual orientation that underscored both media images (like those of 1960s space missions) and social policies of the mass-produced suburb. Issues of memory and nostalgia are central in the final section as Spigel considers how contemporary girls use television reruns as a source for women’s history and then analyzes the current nostalgia for baby boom era family ideals that runs through contemporary images of new household media technologies.
Containing some of Spigel’s well-known essays on television’s cultural history as well as new essays on a range of topics dealing with popular visual culture, Welcome to the Dreamhouse is important reading for students and scholars of media and communications studies, popular culture, American studies, women’s studies, and sociology.
Part I. TV Households
1. The Suburban Home Companion: Television and the Neighborhood Ideal in Postwar America
2. Portable TV: Studies in Domestic Space Travel
Part II. White Flight
3. From Domestic Space to Outer Space: The 1960s Fantastic Family Sit-Com
Part III. Baby Boom Kids
5. Seducing the Innocent: Television and Childhood in Postwar America
6. Innocence Abroad: The Geopolitics of Childhood in Postwar Kid Strips
Part IV. Living Room to Gallery
7. High Culture in Low Places: Television and Modern Art, 1950–1970
8. Barbies without Ken: Femininity, Feminism, and the Art-Culture System
Part V. Rewind and Fast Forward
9. From the Dark Ages to the Golden Age: Women’s Memories and Television Reruns
10. Yesterday’s Future, Tomorrow’s Home
“Lynn Spigel’s Welcome to the Dreamhouse is quite simply superb. It is original, impeccably researched, dazzlingly intelligent, and prickling with humor.”—Julie D’Acci, author of Defining Women: Television and the Case of Cagney and Lacey
“Spigel possesses one of the few indispensable voices in American cultural studies. She sees the complexity of popular culture where others have tended to see formula and repetition. This is a perfect anthology, one that reflects the intellectual growth of an important thinker and at the same time represents a coherent argument about an important topic.”—Henry Jenkins, author of From Barbie to Mortal Combat