As part two of the #TORCHGoesDigital! themes, Storytelling and Women, the TORCH Heritage Programme brings to you 'Miracle Kitchens and Bachelor Pads: The Competing Narratives of Modern Spaces'. This paper by Rebecca Devers, Assistant Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, was published in the collective volume InHabit: People, Places and Possessions, edited by Antony Buxton, Linda Hulin, and Jane Anderson in 2017. The volume was the product of the TORCH research network inHabit: Text, Object and Domestic Space.
‘Miracle Kitchens and Bachelor Pads’ examines the presentation of domestic spaces in early issues of Playboy, particularly the use of narrative techniques in such presentations, arguing that such a practice contributed to a new mythology of masculinity in mid-twentieth century America. The analyzed issues include devoted features on domestic space, specifically the bachelor pad and how one inhabited and furnished it. The essay examines short stories and fables published in these issues (for instance, ‘The Amorous Goldsmith,’ ‘Love, Incorporated,’ ‘The Hoodwinked Husband,’ and ‘A Cry from the Penthouse’), contemporary literary texts (John Cheever's ‘O Youth and Beauty!’ and Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman), and social and literary theorists (including Pierre Bourdieu and Bill Osgerby) – as well as an advertisement for a new kitchen from a 1947 issue of Good Housekeeping – to argue that the magazine's successful establishment of the bachelor as a cultural icon depended upon narrative elements like plot, character development, and setting, as well as upon conventional structures of myths.
You can download the paper here.
Rebecca Devers is Assistant Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology. She teaches courses in composition as well as writing-intensive literature courses. Her own research mirrors the interdisciplinarity of Writing Across the Curriculum, because she studies domestic spaces in Cold War fiction and popular culture. She earned her BA at Transylvania University, and her MA and PhD from the University of Connecticut.
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