UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Splitting space : destabilizing the suburban house in postwar art and contemporary horror film Prasad, Marcus


This thesis explores the representation of the suburban house and the concept of suburbia as an extension of social normativity in America following World War II and into the contemporary period. I pursue this line of investigation by analyzing three works that question and disrupt this distinct space – Dan Graham’s Homes for America (1966-67), Gordon Matta-Clark’s Splitting (1974), and James Wan’s Insidious (2010). While seemingly disparate in terms of media and chronology, the following reveals the unique means through which each work exposes a shared disdain toward suburban development and its deep ties to normativity. By closely examining how each artist represents the space of the home and its subsequent undoing, a network of cultural production that seeks to destabilize the fraught idealism that has long been attributed to the suburbs is formed. Drawing from spatial and temporal theory, I articulate how normativity is formed in the space of the suburbs through structured rhythms, movements, and gestures that become attributed to the heterosexual, white, middle- to upper-class family. My investigations of postwar art then create a methodology used in my following analysis of contemporary horror film. This methodology adopts from queer theory a process of estrangement, a deviation from the normative space of the suburbs that seeks to disrupt and challenge existing scripts within dominant social frameworks. As such, this thesis provides a new method through which postwar art and contemporary film may be analyzed, away from canonical or genre prescriptions, in addition to a justification for continued representational engagements with the suburban house in the contemporary period.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International