Like so many other aspects of modern life-the interstate highway system, fast food chains, telephones, televisions, and shopping malls-the lawn occupies a central, and often unconsidered, place in America's cultural landscape. In spaces as diverse as city parks, town squares, and suburban backyards, it has played an essential part in the development of our national identity. The site of political demonstrations, sporting events, and barbecues, and the object of loving, if not obsessive, care and attention, the lawn is also symbolically tied to our notions of community and civic responsibility, serving in the process as one of the foundations of democracy.
The American Lawn: Surface of Everyday Life examines the lawn within its historical, artistic, literary, and political contexts, situating it on the boundary between utopian ideal and dystopian nightmare. Contributions from a distinguished group of historians, theorists, and architects cover a variety of topics, ranging from European precedents to the golf course fairway as a model for today's flawless suburban lawn. Illustrations and references are drawn from film and television, horticultural and architectural publications, gardening tools, corporate literature, and the fine arts.
Essays in this collection include "The American Lawn: Surface of Everyday Life" by Georges Teyssot, "The Saga of Grass: From the Heavenly Carpet to Fallow Fields" by Monique Mosser, "The Lawn in Early American Landscape and Garden Design" by Thrse O'Malley, "Professional Pastoralism: The Writing on the Lawn" by Alessandra Ponte, "Fairway Living: Lawncare and Lifestyle from Croquet to Golf Course" by Virginia Scott Jenkins, "The Lawn at War: 1941-61" by Beatriz Colomina, "The Electric Lawn" by Mark Wigley, and a text and graphics project by Diller & Scofidio.