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Home on the Horizon

America’s Search for Space, from Emily Dickinson to Bob Dylan


Sally Bayley

In this study of space and place, Sally Bayley examines the meaning of ‘home’ in American literature and culture. Moving from the nineteenth-century homestead of Emily Dickinson to the present-day reality of Bob Dylan, Bayley investigates the relationship of the domestic frontier to the wide-open spaces of the American outdoors. In contemporary America, she argues, the experience of home is increasingly isolated, leading to unsettling moments of domestic fallout.
At the centre of the book is the exposed and often shifting domain of the domestic threshold: Emily Dickinson’s doorstep, Edward Hopper’s doors and windows, and Harper Lee’s front porch. Bayley tracks these historically fragile territories through contemporary literature and film, including Cormac McCarthy’s No Country For Old Men, Lars Von Trier’s Dogville, and Andrew Dominik’s The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford – works that explore local, domestic territories as emblems of nation. The culturally potent sites of the american home – the hearth, porch, backyard, front lawn, bathroom, and basement – are positioned in relation to the more conflicted sites of the American motel and hotel.


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List of Plates ix


Plates The plates are located between pages 116 and 117. 1. Uncanny trespassing: Watering Hole (2005) by Amy Stein. 2. Picturesque designs #1: Andrew Jackson Downing, ‘Small Bracketed Cottage’ from The Architecture of Country Houses. New York (1854). Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. Shelfmark: 17363.d.390. Design II, opp. p. 78. 3. Picturesque designs #2: Andrew Jackson Downing, ‘A Villa in the Italian Style’ from Cottage Residences, or, a series of designs for rural cottages and cottage villas, and their gardens and grounds. New York (1844). Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. Shelfmark: Vet. K6 d.11. Design VI, opp. p. 124. 4. The picturesque home: A Country Home (1854) by Frederic Edwin Church 1826–1900. Oil on canvas 32 × 51in. (81.3 × 129.5 cm.). Seattle Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Paul C. Carmichael, 65.80. Photograph © Paul Macapia. 5. Picturesque living: Calculating (1844) by Thomas Hicks. Photograph © 2010 Museum of Fine Arts Boston. 6. Picturesque reverie: Repose (1895) by John White Alexander. Oil on canvas, 52¼ × 63⅝ in. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Anonymous Gift, 1980 (1980.224) Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 7. Window longing: Evening Wind (1921) by Edward Hopper. Photograph © Trustees of the British Museum. 8. The uncanny threshold: Cape Cod Evening (1939) by Edward Hopper. John Hay Whitney Collection, Image courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington. x Plates 9. Living in corners: Corner Flat (2007) by Bob Dylan. Copyright © 2007 Black Buffalo Artworks. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Reprinted by permission. 10. Local disarray: View From Two Windows (2007)...

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