We live near the edge—whether in a settlement at the core of the Rockies, a gated community tucked into the wilds of the Santa Monica Mountains, a silicon culture emerging in the suburbs, or, in the future, homesteading on a terraformed Mars. In Imagined Frontiers, urban historian and popular culture scholar Carl Abbott looks at the work of American artists who have used novels, film, television, maps, and occasionally even performance art to explore these frontiers—the metropolitan frontier of suburban development, the classic continental frontier of American settlement, and the yet unrealized frontiers beyond Earth.

Focusing on writers and artists working during the past half-century, an era of global economic and social reach, Abbott describes the dialogue between historians and social scientists seeking to understand these frontier places and the artists reimagining them in written and visual fictions. This book offers perspectives on such well-known authors as T. C. Boyle and John Updike and on such familiar movies and television shows as Falling Down and The Sopranos. By putting The Rockford Files and the cult favorite Firefly in conversation with popular fiction writers Robert Heinlein and Stephen King and literary novelists Peter Matthiessen and Leslie Marmon Silko, Abbott interweaves the disparate subjects of western history, urban planning, and science fiction in a single volume.

Abbott combines all-new essays with others previously published but substantially revised to integrate western and urban history, literary analysis, and American studies scholarship in a uniquely compelling analysis of the frontier in popular culture.

About The Author
Carl Abbott is Professor Emeritus of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University in Oregon. He is the author of numerous books on urban history and development, including How Cities Won the West: Four Centuries of Urban Change in Western North America and Portland in Three Centuries: The People and the Place.

Reviews & Praise
“From Jack London to Jim Rockford and Tony Soprano; from Florida and New Jersey to California, Cascadia, and Colorado; from film and television to science fiction and urban planning; and from race and environment to culture and community, Carl Abbott’s superb interdisciplinary examination of how Americans have imagined frontiers is expansive in scope and thoroughly engaging both as scholarship and as cultural commentary.”—David M. Wrobel, author of Global West, American Frontier: Travel, Empire and Exceptionalism, from Manifest Destiny to the Great Depression and Promised Lands: Promotion, Memory, and the Creation of the American West

“Wise and witty, vividly written, and deeply insightful, Carl Abbott’s new book is a masterful analysis of frontiers as ‘places on the edge.’”—Michael C. Steiner, author of Regionalists on the Left: Radical Voices from the American West

Book Information
14 b&w illus., 1 table
270 Pages
Paperback 978-0-8061-4836-6
Kindle 978-0-8061-5239-4
e-pub 978-0-8061-5240-0
Published September 2015