Bungalow Modernity

A Study of Twentieth Century Fictions of Home


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About the Book

Despite its cozy image, the bungalow in literature and film is haunted by violence even while fostering possibilities for personal transformation, utopian social vision and even comedy. Originating in Bengal and adapted as housing for colonialist ventures worldwide, the homes were sold in mail-order kits during the “bungalow mania” of the early 20th century and enjoyed a revival at century’s end. The bungalow as fictional setting stages ongoing contradictions of modernity—home and homelessness, property and dispossession, self and other—prompting a rethinking of our images of house and home. Drawing on the work of writers, architects and film directors, including Katherine Mansfield, E. M. Forster, Amitav Ghosh, Frank Lloyd Wright, Willa Cather, Buster Keaton and Walter Mosley, this study offers new readings of the transcultural bungalow.

About the Author(s)

Mary Lou Emery is Professor Emerita in the Department of English at the University of Iowa. Author of two previous books, plus critical essays and book chapters in British, Caribbean, and transnational modernism, she lives in Portland, Oregon.

Bibliographic Details

Mary Lou Emery
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 258
Bibliographic Info: 21 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8025-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4070-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments 1
Introduction: More Than One Story 5
Part One: Bungalow Empire
Prologue—“At the Bay”: Katherine Mansfield’s Bungalow Colony 28
1. From Seaside to Suburb: Bungalow Phobia in H.G. Wells, E.M. Forster and Rebecca West 35
2. Colonial Frontiers: Mutable Bungalows in E.M. Forster, George Orwell and Amitav Ghosh 60
Part Two: Bungalow America
Prologue—“The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill”: John Lennon’s Bungalow Hunt 86
3. On the Veranda: Plantation Labor and Design in Frank Lloyd Wright and William Faulkner 90
4. Bungalow Uncanny: Stranger Selves in Sinclair Lewis, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mildred Wirt Benson (Carolyn Keene) and Willa Cather 112
Part Three: California Dreams
Prologue—“In a California Bungalow”: Charles Warren Stoddard’s Bungalow Holiday 140
5. Playing House: Buster Keaton in Bungalow Land 147
6. From Bungalow Noir to Open House: The Multicultural Southland in James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald, Sue Grafton and Walter Mosley 171
Conclusion: Restorations 197
Notes 203
Works Cited 227
Index 243

Book Reviews & Awards

• “The argument ranges from colonial British India to 21st century Oregon, across texts as seemingly disparate as Forster’s Howards End, Ghosh’s The Glass Palace, Cain’s Double Indemnity, and Keaton’s One Week, and does so with a keen eye for textual detail and pattern…. A timely addition to a growing field.”— Mary Wilson, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

• “The author adds to conversations about the ‘spatial turn’ in literary studies, especially modernist studies…. The historical background and movement of the bungalow from the Indian colonies to the US is also fascinating, and provides a rich invitation to think about modern US housing forms in a global context.”—Ria Banerjee, Guttman Community College, CUNY