Unit 4

Peyton Place and Levittown

The core of this unit is the bestselling novel of the 1950s, Peyton Place, the first (and semi-autobiographical) novel by New Englander Grace Metalious. Not only did it spend nearly 60 weeks on the bestseller list, but it was also made into a feature film, with several sequels, and a long-running television soap opera. The storyline deals with the salacious personal secrets of small-town America – places which were losing population through most the decade. Metalious portrays thinly-disguised Gilmanton NH as violent, abusive, stifling, inbred and oversexed. In contrast (or not?) we’ll also be talking about popular imagery of the new suburbs, and broad demographic and geographic changes in America during the 1950s.

*Remember to keep a log of your reading for Peyton Place. The form this takes can be up to you, but it needs to be turned in on Mon 10/30. It can be a simple list of pages read on what dates, or something more developed, like chapter notes or a response journal, or whatever makes sense for you.

Mon 10/23 Suburbs and Small Towns. Reading: Dunar Ch 6: 167-181 + Brier “Peyton Place” PDF

Wed 10/25 Levittown’s Little White Houses. Reading: Halberstam Ch 9 PDF

Levittown video links we will screen in class: Levittown 1947, Our Home Town, Crisis in Levittown. In pop culture: BTTF, LSOH

Fri 10/27 Peyton Place Part 1 – read Book One. Bring, ready to discuss.

Discussion Questions (Book 1, 2, 3)

Mon 10/28 Peyton Place Part 2 – read Books Two and Three. Bring the novel, ready to discuss, and turn in your Peyton reading logs.

Wed 10/30 The Problem With No Name. Reading: Dunar 6: 186-202 + Friedan, “The Feminine Mystique” PDF

Discussion Questions for the Feminine Mystique

Fri 11/1 Film & Discussion Day: Peyton Place (no reading) – H-Lab #4 is due on the novel.