Road Trips and the American Imagination

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Out “On the road,” generations of Americans have sought what Jack Kerouac called “the pearl,” that shiny little piece of wisdom polished by dust and gravel and pavement.

The American road trip has become a modern day Manifest Destiny, a paved rite of passage, a journey across what Steinbeck called this monster of a land. So the myth goes, to experience America, to truly understand America, one must be behind the wheel of an automobile.

Whether it’s John Steinbeck in his make-shift truck camper or Thelma and Louise claiming the highway for women, the road trip has become, or perhaps has always been, an American ritual of discovery of self and country, New York to LA, mountains, deserts, and oceans. Adventure, nostalgia and speed.
(Hosted by Dick Gordon)


Jonathan Lethem, author of five novels, including “Motherless Brooklyn” and “Amnesia Moon”

Timothy Conley, chair of the American Studies Department at Bradley University

Tim Cahill, ubiquitous travel writer

and Cameron Tuttle, author of “The Bad Girl’s Guide to the Open Road.”