Space, gender, race: Josephine Miles and the poetics of the California suburbs

Gill, J. (2011) Space, gender, race: Josephine Miles and the poetics of the California suburbs. Western American Literature, 46(3), pp. 250-271. (doi: 10.1353/wal.2011.0070)

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This essay takes as its focus the rich—if hither overlooked—seam of poetry emerging from and reflecting on the suburbs of the West Coast of America across their mid-twentieth century decades of settlement and maturity. It examines in particular the work of Josephine Miles (1911-1985) and reads her poetry in relation to the historical and discursive contexts in which suburbia emerged and flourished and as a corpus which in its own detail and complexity has much to tell us about the specificities of Californian suburban experience. It argues that Miles's poetry traces the changing discourses of suburban landscape, architecture, community, and subjectivity in this period. And by comparing examples of her poetry with work by Langston Hughes, it suggests that Miles engages in compelling, if sometimes disturbing, ways with the processes of spatial, gender, and racial exclusion on which the suburbs were founded.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gill, Professor Jo
Authors: Gill, J.
College/School:College of Arts
Journal Name:Western American Literature
Publisher:University of Nebraska Press
ISSN (Online):1948-7142

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