THE DOMESTIC FANTASTIC
My dissertation begins with a central question: what does it mean that Ray Bradbury published short stories in women’s magazines such as McCall’s (the originator of the idea of familial “togetherness”) and opens The Martian Chronicles with the narrative of a depressed Martian housewife? Throughout the work of Bradbury and his contemporaries such as Shirley Jackson, Flannery O'Connor, and Sylvia Plath, the mundane concerns of a post-World War II readership merge with the monstrous and otherworldly. I term this fusion of domesticity with the tropes of science fiction, fantasy, and horror the domestic fantastic. By creating the emergent genre of the domestic fantastic, postwar authors scrutinized and warped the dream image of the perfect home and family that circulated throughout their contemporary popular culture, challenging the reigning narrative that the postwar era was a time of normativity and national consensus. Furthermore, their reworking of the everyday in terms of the fantastic (a phenomenon that also occurs within postwar advertising) indicates a need to bring the marginalized genres of science fiction and horror back to the center of American postwar studies and rethink how genres are mapped during this period.
Image sources (from left to right)
- Kelvinator. Saturday Evening Post 5 April 1952: 2. Print.
- The Martian Chronicles. Digital image. Internet Speculative Fiction Database. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Sept. 2014.
- Hangsaman. Digital image. Internet Speculative Fiction Database. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Sep. 2014.
- Lux. Ladies' Home Journal Oct. 1955: 151. Print.