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National Center for Suburban Studies Hosts International Symposium

The National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University® is hosting an international two-day symposium about the depiction of suburbia in popular culture, literature and art and how those representations affect attitudes about the suburbs.
The symposium, called “Out of Control Suburbs? Comparing Representations of Order, Disorder and Sprawl” will be held June 27 and 28 and bring together scholars from the United States, Great Britain, Australia, India and Ireland to explore representations of suburban sprawl in different parts of the world, and in different mediums.

“This symposium and collaboration represents shows how Hofstra and the NCSS are continuing to extend their reach to an international audience of students, donors and researchers,” said Lawrence Levy, executive dean of the NCSS. “It also shows how the suburbs have become places of great interest to the entire world and worthy of high-level research.”

It is the second in a series of symposia sponsored by the Cultures of the Suburbs International Research Network, a project funded by a three-year grant from the Leverhulme Foundation that is among the first and largest efforts at promoting international study and understanding of suburban life. The project is headed by English professor Joanna Gill, who is based at the University of Exeter.  The network’s first symposium was held at Maynooth, Ireland in 2011.

Dr. Christopher Niedt, NCSS academic director said scholars will examine how well cultural images of suburbia reflect the realities of suburban life, and how they influence the way people live.

“The stereotype of the suburbs is of a place – even if the landscape is sprawling, even if they are being built out of control – where life is orderly, controlled and safe,” Niedt said. “But more and more often, representations are challenging that.”

“We think of the suburbs as a background or a setting,” Niedt said, “but they are very important – whether in movies like Revolutionary Road or series like “The Sopranos” – to the action and the story.”

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