Twitter Tumblr FlickrFacebookContact me
This Month Previous Articles Author Title Source Age Genre Series Format Inclusivity LGBTA Portfolio

Recent posts


Month in review

Reviews
American Road Narratives: Reimagining Mobility in Literature and Film by Ann Brigham
Author: A True Story by Helen Lester
The Big Roads by Earl Swift
Bull by David Elliott
The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman
Giant Days, Volume 4 by John Allison, Max Sarin, and Whitney Cogar
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Hilda and the Stone Forest by Luke Pearson
I Say Tomato by Katie Wall
Instructions by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess
Jem and the Holograms, Volume 3: Dark Jem by Kelly Thompson
The Long Cosmos by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran
Lunch Lady and the Field Trip Fiasco by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Mayday by Karen Harrington
The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break by Steven Sherrill
National Audubon Society Guide to Landscape Photography by Tim Fitzharris
Needled to Death by Maggie Sefton
Noragami Volume 03 by Adachitoka
Over the Ocean by Taro Gomi
Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel
Ten Things We Did by Sarah Mlynowski
Tip of the Tongue by Patrick Ness
Tru & Nelle by G. Neri

Miscellaneous
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (July 03)
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (July 10)
June 2017 Reading Report June 2017 Reading Sources

Rating System

5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish

Reading Challenges

My Kind of Mystery Reading Challenge 2017 February - January 2017-8



American Road Narratives: Reimagining Mobility in Literature and Film: 07/04/17

American Road Narratives: Reimagining Mobility in Literature and Film  by Ann Brigham

American Road Narratives: Reimagining Mobility in Literature and Film by Ann Brigham is a critical analysis of the American road narrative, beginning with the early memoirs and novels of the 1910-1920s, and ending with the post September 11th literature.

Brigham sees the road narrative as "a mode of engagement" with "space, society, or identity" (p. 4). On this we agree, though the what and how that discourse happens we don't. For Brigham, the road narrative discourse changes in specific ways in specific eras. The earliest years were about assimilation — learning how to be American through a road trip — or proving to others that one is a American by taking a road trip. For the post War years, it's a rediscovery of the masculine self. For the 1980s it's a re-examination of Feminism in a space codified as masculine. The post September 11th narratives are again about assimilation and a scary America first attitude.

For the outlining of her thesis, Brigham looks at the exemplars from each era:

  • On the Trail to Sunset by Thomas William Wilby and Agnes Anderson Wilby
  • By Motor to the Golden Gate by Emily Post [LINK]
  • It Might Have Been Worse by Beatrice Larned Massey [LINK]
  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  • Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
  • This is My Country Too by John A. Williams
  • Thelma & Louise directed by Ridley Scott

But there's no examination of the aberrations in the genre. There's no discussion of books or films that don't comfortably fit into their decade's cubbyhole. While the reading of these texts is different — focusing on the interaction of traveler with their social context across space and time — there is only one type of discussion explored for each era.

My approach to the road narrative was originally very similar. Back in 1995, I started with the idea that the semantics of the road — of actual real world roads, roadsigns, highways, their infrastructure, their support systems, and so forth had been so well codified as to be their own proto-language. These signs were something that had been assimilated in the American experience — something that could be then used to create narratives that could be universally understood by an American audience. In the last two years of actively re-addressing this thesis, I've read enough of the early texts to see that the codification of tropes and motifs predates the standardization of roadsigns and the building up of infrastructure.

My research happened to coincide with the beginnings of the We Need Diverse Books movement. I realized I needed to look for other voices — other ways of constructing road narratives. The road narrative isn't for a single dominant voice in any given era. It is there. It is part of the American psyche, built out of national and regional memories, folktales, traditions.

Three stars

Comments (0)


Name:
Email (won't be posted):
Blog URL:
Comment: