HL90 AT: The Postwar American Road Narrative

Buckle up–one of our popular HL90s is back this semester! Patrick Whitmarsh teaches The Postwar American Road Narrative, Thursdays, 3-5.

Tell us about your class!

This course examines the road narrative as it has been taken up by writers of color. Together, we will study the ways that writers (as well as filmmakers and musicians) adopt this narrative mode to critique the racial injustices built into the laws and infrastructure that dictate travel in the post-World War II United States.

Do you have a text you’re especially excited to read with students this semester?

I’m looking forward to reading Hari Kunzru’s novel White Tears with students. It’s a dark, haunting, challenging text, and has a little bit of something for everyone: road novel, ghost story, techno-thriller, detective fiction, family drama, and more.

Do you have any activities planned?

One cool activity in our course is the “road trip playlist.” For each class, students will listen to one or two songs, not all about the road but all relevant to topics and issues we will discuss in the course. By the end of the semester, we’ll compile a set of brief commentaries on each track. You can’t go on a road trip without a good playlist!

How can students learn more?

If students would like to learn more about the course, I’ll be holding two informal drop-in Zoom sessions on August 18 and 19 from 1:00-2:00 EST. If you can’t make these sessions, you can also feel free to send me an email. I’m happy to answer any questions about the course! You can also see the syllabus on the Canvas page here.

Published by Hist & Lit

Committee on Degrees in History & Literature at Harvard University

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