Reading Jack Kerouac’s classic On the road through Virginia Woolf’s canonical A Room of One’s Own, the author of this book examines a genre in North American literature that, despite its popularity, has received little attention in literary and cultural criticism: women’s road narratives. The study shows how women’s literature has been inscribed into the American discourse of the Whitmanesque “open road” or, more generally, the “freedom of the road.” Women writers have participated in this powerful American myth. Yet, at the same time, they have also rejected that myth as fundamentally based on gendered and racial/ethnic hierarchies and power structures and modified it in writing back to it. The book analyzes stories about female runaways, outlaws, questers, adventurers, kidnappees, biker chicks, traveling saleswomen, and picaras. It makes theoretical observations on the debates regarding spatiality and mobility discourses that have defined the so-called spatial turn in the humanities. The analytical concept of “transference” is introduced to theorize the dissonant plurality of social and cultural affiliations and the narrative tensions produced by such bulks better to understand the textual worlds of women’s multiple belongings as they are present in these writings. Roads of Her Ownis thus situated not only in the broader context of constructivist cultural studies but also, by discussing narrative mobility under the sign of gender, combines insights from social theory and philosophy, feminist cultural geography, and literary studies. Key names and concepts: Doreen Massey, Rosi Braidotti, Literary Studies – Spatial Turn: Gendered Space and Mobility; – Nomadism; – Road Writing; – Transdifference; – American Culture; – Popular Culture; – Women’s Literature after the Second Wave; – Quest; – Picara
Table of Contents
1. Points of Departure……Page 16
2. Contemporary American Women’s Road Narratives: Genre and Gender……Page 40
3. Space, Gender, Mobility……Page 60
4. Questers on the Road……Page 84
5. Para-Nomadic Travelers……Page 166
6. Ex-centric & Wayward: Picaras of the Late 20th Century……Page 260
Works Cited……Page 316
Roads of Her Own: Gendered Space and Mobility in American Women’s Road Narratives, 1970-2000.
Author(s): Alexandra Ganser
Series: Spatial Practices: An Interdisciplinary Series in Cultural History, Geography and Literature
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