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People, Places and Possessions


Edited By Antony Buxton, Linda Hulin and Jane Anderson

Central to human life and experience, habitation forms a context for enquiry within many disciplines. This collection brings together perspectives on human habitation in the fields of anthropology, archaeology, social history, material culture, literature, art and design, and architecture. Significant shared themes are the physical and social structuring of space, practice and agency, consumption and gender, and permanence and impermanence. Topics range from archaeological artefacts to architectural concepts, from Romano-British consumption to the 1950s Playboy apartment, from historical elite habitation to present-day homelessness, from dwelling «on the move» to the crisis of household dissolution, and from interior design to installation art. Not only is this volume a rich resource of varied aspects and contexts of habitation, it also provides compelling examples of the potential for interdisciplinary conversations around significant shared themes.

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7. Miracle Kitchens and Bachelor Pads: The Competing Narratives of Modern Spaces (Rebecca Devers)


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7 Miracle Kitchens and Bachelor Pads: The Competing Narratives of Modern Spaces


‘Miracle Kitchens and Bachelor Pads’ examines the presentation of domestic spaces in early issues of Playboy, particularly the use of narrative techniques in such presentations, arguing that such a practice contributed to a new mythology of masculinity in mid-twentieth-century America. The analysed issues include devoted features on domestic space, specifically the bachelor pad and how one inhabited and furnished it. The essay examines short stories and fables published in these issues (for instance, ‘The Amorous Goldsmith’, ‘Love, Incorporated’, ‘The Hoodwinked Husband’, and ‘A Cry from the Penthouse’), contemporary literary texts (John Cheever’s ‘O Youth and Beauty!’ and Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman), and social and literary theorists (including Pierre Bourdieu and Bill Osgerby) – as well as an advertisement for a new kitchen from a 1947 issue of Good Housekeeping – to argue that the magazine’s successful establishment of the bachelor as a cultural icon depended upon narrative elements like plot, character development and setting, as well as upon conventional structures of myths.

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