Americans love road trips. They love to go on road trips. They love to read about road trips. They love to watch road trip stories unfold on television and film. Road trip stories are a consistent feature of the American landscape, a central part of American mythology, and an important piece of the American dream. In The American Road Trip and American Political Thought, Susan McWilliams argues that the American fascination with road trip stories is about more than mere escapism or wanderlust. She shows, in walking through stories like On the Road and The Grapes of Wrath, that American road trip stories are a key expression of American political thought. They are not just stories of personal journeys. They are stories of the American nation. McWilliams Barndt shows how Americans have long used road trip stories to raise and explore central questions about American politics in theory and practice. They talk about freedom and equality and diversity and take those vaunted American ideals for a test drive. American road trip stories are where the rubber meets the road in American political thought. The American Road Trip and American Political Thought includes explorations of a wide variety of American authors, from Walt Whitman and Henry David Thoreau to Erika Lopez and Cheryl Strayed, from Mark Twain and John Steinbeck to Solomon Northup and Hunter S. Thompson. It covers topics including gender, labor, place, race, and technology in American political life. This is a book that will change the way you think about the great American road trip and the great American story.
About the Author: Susan McWilliams Barndt is chair and associate professor of the Department of Politics at Pomona College.