Homemaking for the Apocalypse
Domesticating Horror in Atomic Age Literature & Media
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In Homemaking for the Apocalypse, Jill E. Anderson interrogates patterns of Atomic Age conformity that controlled the domestic practices and private activities of Americans. Used as a way to promote security in a period rife with anxieties about nuclear annihilation and The Bomb, these narratives of domesticity were governed by ideals of compulsory normativity, and their circulation upheld the wholesale idealization of homemaking within a white, middle-class nuclear family and all that came along with it: unchecked reproduction, constant consumerism, and a general policing of practices deemed contradictory to normative American life. Homemaking for the apocalypse seeks out the disruptions to the domestic ideals found in memoirs, Civil Defense literature, the fallout shelter debate, horror films, comics, and science fiction, engaging in elements of horror in order to expose how closely domestic practices are tied to dread and anxiety. Homemaking for the Apocalypse offers a narrative of the Atomic Age that calls into question popular memory’s acceptance of the conformity thesis and proposes new methods for critiquing the domestic imperative of the period by acknowledging its deep tie to horror.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Homemaking for the Apocalypse: Compulsory Normativity, Banality, and Horror
Chapter 1: Die, Dig, or Get Out; Or, Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Chapter 2: "You can Protect Your Family": Common Prudence, Survival Insurance, and Fallout Shelters
Chapter 3: The Madonna of the Suburbs: The Ludicrous Horrors of Everyday Life
Chapter 4: "…we are already but one step removed from pod people": Compulsory Ableism and the Revenge of the Lawn in Postwar Suburbia
Chapter 5: Population Bombs & Baby Boom: Overpopulation as Apocalypse
Conclusion: Apocalypse Now-ish: (Still) Domesticating Horror
Jill E. Anderson is an Associate Professor of English and Women's Studies at Tennessee State University in Nashville, TN.
In Domesticating Horror in the Atomic Age, Jill Anderson makes a compelling argument for how the anxieties underlying the popular myth of Cold War, June Cleaver-like domestic tranquillity troubled the media of the time. By exploring the constraints of conformity and the fears of atomic apocalypse, Anderson traces American horrors not from without, but from within domestic spaces, including family, home spaces like kitchens and lawns, and the suburbs.
Melanie R. Anderson, Glenville State College