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Steven Hoelscher, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

Fall 2008

AMS 370 • The Myth of the Open Road in America-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
30088 TTh
3:30 PM-5:00 PM
BUR 234

Course Description

The open road is one of the most alluring cultural romances in America. In fact, the concept of "America" is itself one of the most seductive constructions in our fantasy of culture, and the open road is an integral part of the fantasy about America. We see evidence of this fantasyfreedom from limitations, the luxury of privacy and autonomy, the thrill of moving to a new place, reinventing ourselvesnearly everywhere we look, not least in the endless miles of freeway and the deluge of new cars each year.

In this course, we will analyze written and visual works that express this national fantasy. We also will examine other works that offer a complicating perspective, one that expresses the point of view of those whose circumstances make the open road something that is out of reach. We will view the myth of the open road in terms of the fact that some of us can explore the endless highway; others can only wonder about it. Still others are forced onto the open road as the only alternative to captivity or poverty. This course is not a lecture-based course. It is a discussion and presentation-based course, with a substantial amount of writing.

Grading Policy

Short responses to readings: 20% Class participation: 20% Class presentations: 20% Two nine-page papers: 40%


Possible Texts Strunk and White: The Elements of Style Jack Kerouac, On the Road Lillian Schlissel, Women's Diaries of the Westward Journey Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass Bill Bryson, Lost Continent Course packet


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