New Visions of Suburban Life
An Interdisciplinary Conference
Friday and Saturday, March 18 and 19, 2005
The issues of the suburbs are the issues of our nation. Suburbanites are the new majority, with half of the entire U.S. population living in the suburbs, and the number is growing every day. Developed as an alternative to crowded cities and the passing rural agricultural economy for returning World War II veterans and members of the urban working classes, the suburbs were popularized in the national imagination by communities such as Long Island's Levittown.
Those first suburbs are more than 50 years old and have resources and challenges that set them apart from newer suburban areas. These new spaces are starting to fill in in places never expected, and a kind of sprawl beyond sprawl has developed as one suburb stretches to meet another.
In Robert Fishman's groundbreaking book Bourgeois Utopias: The Rise and Fall of Suburbia (1987), he describes "technoburbs" as a new socioeconomic unit that is spread out along highway growth corridors with shopping malls, industrial parks, campuslike office complexes, hospitals, schools and a full range of housing types.
The realities of the American suburbs today are complicated and multifaceted, and they affect almost all areas of American life. A new field of investigation, suburban studies, is developing across disciplinary boundaries to investigate and understand the various phenomena of suburbia.
Our intention is to provide a forum for new approaches to study the suburbs. It is time to take a look at existing models of understanding the suburbs, moving suburbia to the forefront rather than treating it as merely an "other" for the city. We hope the conference will give us an opportunity to reassess our concepts about suburbia and examine the suburbs in terms of the unique problems and opportunities they present.
The interdisciplinary focus of this conference, directed by Daniel Rubey, Dean of Library and Information Services, and Richard Guardino, Executive Dean of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University®, reflects the nature of modern suburbs and the growing body of research about them. Wherever feasible, we have mixed disciplinary approaches on a single panel in order to give a sense of the many perspectives from which the same issues can be viewed. We hope to leave the conference with newly enriched perspectives, new ideas for future research and a new vision of suburban life.
New Visions of Suburban Life: An Interdisciplinary Conference
Program (PDF file - 620 KB)