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Barnstorming the PrairiesHow Aerial Vision Shaped the Midwest$
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Jason Weems

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780816677504

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816677504.001.0001

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Over the Rainbow

(p.251) Conclusion
Barnstorming the Prairies

Jason Weems

University of Minnesota Press

The book concludes with a speculative glance at two unusual spaces: the fantasy world into which Dorothy plummeted at the beginning of the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, and the to some measure equally contrived landscape of individual “homesteads” that made up the post–World War II American suburb. In different ways, each was indebted to a distinctly Midwestern vision of land and culture. For Dorothy, the flight to Oz offered a means to reinvent the constrained world of the gridded Midwest as a vibrant landscape of swirling hills and opulent color. For postwar Americans, the flight to the suburb, with its idiosyncratic mix of regimented spaces, curvilinear layouts, and homogeneously democratic culture (much of it realized through aerial imagery), represented a new incarnation of a Jeffersonian society of independent, landowning homesteaders. Although the promise of each flight proved illusory, they both indicate the continued relevance of the Midwestern aerial image, which through them became a means to reconfigure not only the modern rural landscape but also the form, ideology, and experience of American social space.

Keywords:   The Wizard of Oz, Homesteads, American suburb, Landscape, Postwar America, Midwestern aerial image, Rural landscape, Modernity, Social space

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