Book Projects

Under Siege: The Suburban Crisis in American Culture, 1975-2001 - Under Contract with Johns Hopkins University Press


Under Siege: The Suburban Crisis in American Culture, 1975-2001 addresses the novel and increasingly dominant ways that Americans imagined, traversed, and regulated suburban space in the late 20th century. It examines the intersection of media, popular culture, and practice to interpret the production of space and power in the postwar United States. Specifically, Under Siege considers how news media and popular culture shifted the notion of suburban life from a largely bucolic existence to a hazardous undertaking; the shift involved cultural changes in how media and the public represented and reproduced criminal, environmental, moral, and social threats as emerging problems in American suburbs. This shift was a crisis in which suburbanites felt genuine anxiety and danger. In that new cultural climate, they likewise felt justified in their responses to vexing issues like toxic waste, burglary, satanic heavy metal music, and kidnapping among many others. The emergent “dangers” of suburbia, and the sense of constant hazard that media portraits of suburban life produced did not undermine suburbanites’ power so much as facilitate forms of victimization that actually enhanced local sovereignty and a sense of social and geographic distinction. Those real and imagined threats, then, extended and enhanced the suburbanites’ politics of pragmatic privatism and self-protection. Those articulations represented an ideologically agnostic culture of conservatism facilitated by broader political movements of the era largely divorced from their ideological attachments. 

In progress:

“‘Say You Love Satan’: Teens and Popular Occulture in 1980s America,” in Growing Up America: Youth and Politics since 1945, Sara Fieldston, Susan Eckelman, and Paul Renfro, eds., under contract at University of Georgia Press, Publication Expected December 15, 2019.

Remote Control: Consumers Electronics, Space, and Power in Postwar America

Journal Articles and Encyclopedia Entries

“Mallrats and Arcade Addicts: Producing and Policing Suburban Public Space in 1980s America.” Vol. 5, Issue 2, Fall 2013, Environment, Space, Place, 65-89.

“Suburban Youth Culture” and “Mall Rats.” Encyclopedia of Youth Cultures. Ed. Simon J. Bronner. New York: M.E. Sharpe, 2015.

“Parents Music Resource Center,” Encyclopedia of American Reform Movements, Eds. John R. McKivigan and Heather L. Kaufman. New York: Facts on File, forthcoming.

“Suburbs,” with Simon J. Bronner. Encyclopedia of American Folklife.  Ed. Simon J. Bronner.  New York: M.E. Sharpe, August 2006.

Conferences and Invited Presentations

Presenter, Teach-In, “White Backlash in Postwar America,” Federated History Department, Rutgers-Newark/NJIT, February 28, 2017.

 “Transparency and Teaching: Building and Maintaining Student Trust,” Lunch at ITE, Institute for Teaching Excellence, NJIT, November 15, 2016.Panelist, “Converged Learning Success Stories: a Panel Discussion,” Institute for Teaching Excellence, NJIT, May 18, 2016.

“Sounds of the City in Crisis: Hip-Hop in the Postwar South Bronx,” Albright College, Department of History, February 9, 2016. 

“The University in the Neo-Liberal City: Re-Thinking Civic Engagement and Service Learning in Newark,” Presentation to the Albert Dorman Honors College, NJIT, October 1, 2015.

“'Fear Stalks the Streets': Crime and the Making of the Carceral Suburb in 1980s America," Seton Hall University, Department of History, February 4, 2015.

Panelist, “A New Public Square: The Economics of Politics and Today’s Social Media,” The Transforming Horizon: A Flat World Perspective for Business Today, NJIT, School of Management Fourth Annual Business Conference, November 20, 2014.

Chair, “Popular Culture and the Making and Remaking of the American City,” Urban History Association Conference, October 28, 2012.

Commenter, “Vietnam Represented: Image, Sound, and Word.” Rutgers-Newark/NJIT Graduate Student History Conference, March 29, 2012.

“Passive Intervention: The V-Chip as Suburban Media Regulation,” United States Intellectual History Conference, November 17, 2011.

“Punks, Muggers, and Vigilantes: Producing Urban Crime in the 1970s,” Accepted for Presentation, Urban History Association, October 2010.

“New Trouble in River City: Arcades and the Regulation of Teens in Suburban Public Space,” American Studies Association Conference, November 2009.

“Know Your Enemy: Understanding, Organizing, and Regulating Suburban Criminals in the 1990s,” National Center for Suburban Studies Conference, The Diverse Suburb: History, Politics, and Prospects, October 2009.

“Fear Stalks the Streets: Discourses of Crime in 1980s Suburban America,” George Washington University Urban Studies Seminar, April 2009.

“Parental Advisory—Explicit Lyrics: The Culture Wars Construct the Suburbs in the 1980s,” American Studies Association Conference, October 2008.  Organized panel – “At the Crossroads of Representation and Use: Negotiating Conflict and Distinction on the Postwar Sub/Urban Landscape.”

“Popular Culture and the Turn Against Nuclear Power: The China Syndrome and Three Mile Island,” Mid-Atlantic Popular/American Culture Association Conference, October 2006.