Annual graduate student symposium explores changing nature of suburbs

The 10th annual Revisiting Suburbia symposium will explore suburbia as a dynamic cultural form that persistently shifts, changes and often eludes attention, but is at the same time a legitimate and fertile ground for cultural inquiry.

The symposium will take place Saturday, April 23, from 9:30am to 4pm, in the Executive Learning Centre’s private dining room in the Seymour Schulich Building. It is presented by the Art History Graduate Student Association. Admission is free, as is lunch and coffee.

Revisiting Suburbia Cinema studies and visual culture Professor Meghan Sutherland of the University of Toronto and Shawn Micallef, senior editor at Spacing magazine and co-founder of Murmur, will deliver the keynote speeches. In addition, there will be graduate student presenters from Canada, the United States and elsewhere.

The speakers will examine the myths and realities of today’s suburbs, including community-based and site-specific artistic practices, radical approaches to landscapes, cartography and urbanism, as well as representations of suburbia in pop culture and mass media.

Revisiting Suburbia proposes to critically engage with both the cultural fantasies and existing realities of suburbia, such as the promise and failure, utopia and dystopia, public and private, and centre and margin of suburbs. Despite the steady growth of downtown populations in cities across North America and Europe, metropolitan growth remains primarily peripheral.

Common perceptions of suburbia as communities of white, middle- and upper-middle class families in detached houses, sprawling into homogeneity occlude the reality that the suburbs are developing racial and ethnic diversity.

Some suburbs are in economic decline, non-family households and single people are now the fastest growing groups in suburbia, and the suburbs now generate more new employment than traditional downtowns.

For more information, contact Maxine Proctor at