Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair/Advisor

Maria Bose

Committee Member

Lee Morrissey

Committee Member

Michael LeMahieu


In his 1986 book America, Baudrillard noted that “the most banal suburb…is more at the centre of the world than any of the cultural manifestations of old Europe.” My thesis argues that this monumental shift from the suburbs as enclaves at the outer edges of cultural urban centers to “the centre of the world” is at the heart of Richard Ford’s realist project in his Pulitzer Prize winning Bascombe series starting with The Sportswriter in 1986. Emergent twentieth- and twenty-first-century literature scholars have been interested in the schism between the fictionalized representation and the lived experience of suburbia — while suburban life remains the dominant mode of dwelling in the United States, the suburban imaginary overwhelmingly condemns it as a predominately white middle-class experience, and as a place which is marked by emptiness, ennui, and rote social reproduction. I argue that Ford’s fictional subject Frank Bascombe, throughout the Bascombe series, acts to animate the changing and more complex relationality between suburban and urban landscapes toward the millennium as modernization and globalization bring the new capitalism, engendering what some scholars have called the “postsuburban” landscape. I close my argument with an exploration of how Ford not only explores this new polymorphous (post)suburbia through Frank Bascombe, but also of how the character exhibits Ford’s own idiosyncratic philosophy of language and Emersonian pragmatism which allow him to unironically represent suburban life and its more generative possibilities.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.