Centre College’s Beau Weston, John M. and Louise Van Winkle Professor of Sociology, recently published “Between Bohemia and Suburbia: Boburbia in the USA” and will give a lecture about the main findings of the book at the Highlands Public Library in the Mid-City Mall in Louisville, Kentucky, on Aug. 14 at 7 p.m.
“I wanted to understand who chose to raise their families in the dense, walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods in the cities, and who chose instead to raise their families in the gated communities in the suburbs,” Weston said, describing his inspiration for the book.
“David Brooks, in his best-seller, ‘Bobos in Paradise,’ described the bourgeois bohemians—bobos—who have a bourgeois work ethic married to broad bohemian cultural tastes,” he continued. “These are the kind of people who cherish neighborhoods like the Highlands and Crescent Hill in Louisville. I call these kinds of neighborhoods, where the bobos live, ‘boburbs.’ Thus, the title of the book: ‘Between Bohemia and Suburbia: Boburbia in the USA.’”
Weston’s interest in boburbs grew out of a first-year seminar he titled “Coffeehouses and Public Life.” He described the boburb as the kind of neighborhood where independent coffeehouses thrive, along with the other independent and unusual institutions serving the same kind of people.
“I studied the neighborhoods of Louisville as both the nearest city to Centre, and as the home to 1/6th of all Centre alumni,” he added. “The book, based on three years of study, uses published studies of Louisville, Census data, decades of newspaper and magazine articles, two surveys that I did of Centre alumni and interviews I conducted with more than 180 people.”
Weston said he focused on college graduates on the theory that they have more choice of where to live.
“I started with my own students, then spread out to other contacts who lived across the city,” he added. “I also commissioned surveys in five other boburbs around the country for comparison.”
Several students and alumni assisted Weston with his research, including Clara Gaddie ’16, Nate Kratzer ’10 and Harrison Kirby ’17.
According to Weston, his upcoming lecture on the book will also allow time for interaction with the audience.
“I write to spread ideas,” he said. “A public lecture with Q&A is the most direct way to take my ideas to the people who would be interested in them. Centre alumni are particularly likely to come to these talks and ask good questions, and I always like to connect with old Colonels.
“Matt Lane ’06 and Elizabeth Cornell Lane ‘07, who live near the Highlands library, have generously invited alumni to their house after the talk,” he continued. “This is so typical of the generosity and interest of alumni in continued learning.”
IF YOU GO
Lecture on “Between Bohemia and Suburbia: Boburbia in the USA” by Beau Weston
Highlands Public Library, Mid-City Mall, in Louisville, Kentucky
Aug. 14 at 7 p.m.
by Kerry Steinhofer
July 23, 2019