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Good NeighborsThe Democracy of Everyday Life in America$
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Nancy L. Rosenblum

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780691169439

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691169439.001.0001

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Narrative Threads

Narrative Threads

Settlers, Immigrants, and Suburban “Grotesques”

(p.44) 2 Narrative Threads
Good Neighbors

Nancy L. Rosenblum

Princeton University Press

This chapter introduces accounts of good neighbor and the democracy of everyday life in American literature. Settler, immigrant, and suburban portrayals demonstrate the centrality of this regulative ideal in people's moral imagination and in Americans' self-representation. Good neighbor as a facet of moral identity and as a collective American self-representation are rich composites created from an unprecedented and ever-increasing wealth of fiction, poetry, and memoir. The significance of these narratives is that they make particular places and moments in time vivid; they endow the subject with dimension. Like “thick” cultural ethnography, these narratives document what, in this place, anyone would do. Neighbors in literature as in life are driven to think about the ethics of their situation, but in fiction they think aloud.

Keywords:   good neighbor, everyday life, American literature, settler, immigrant, suburban portrayals, self-representation, moral identity, cultural ethnography

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