All Roads Lead to the American City

All Roads Lead to the American City

Edited by Peter Swirski
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 162
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt2jc6n3
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  • Book Info
    All Roads Lead to the American City
    Book Description:

    All Roads Lead to the American City provides an original view of the urban culture in America seen through its irrevocable ties with the cities and roads. Examining the history, cinema, literature, cultural myths and social geography of the United States, the book puts some of the greatest as well as the "baddest" American cities under the microscope. Taking the role of the roads that crisscross and connect the cities as their shared point of reference, these essays explore ways to understand the people who live, commute, work, create, govern, commit crime and conduct business in them.Cities, for the most part, are America. Their values and problems define not only what the United States is, but what other nations perceive the United States to be. Roads and transportation, on the other hand, and their impact on the American culture and lifestyle, form not only the integral part of the historical rise-and-shine of the modern city, but a physical release from and a cultural antidote to its pressure-cooker stresses. Tracing the boundless variety and complexity of these twin themes, All Roads Lead to the American City is built around an interlinked series of essays on the urban culture in America. Juxtaposing the city and the road, it looks alternatively at cities as historical, geographical, social and cultural centres of life in the land, and at roads as physical as well as metaphorical arteries that lead in and out of the city.

    eISBN: 978-988-220-520-8
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. Introduction American City or Global Village?
    (pp. 1-6)
    Peter Swirski

    Cities, for the most part, are America. Their values and problems define not only what the United States is, but what other nations perceive the United States to be. They are the tone-setters and pace-setters for the country and the continent, if not the entire world. Roads, on the other hand, and their impact on the American culture and lifestyle, form not only the integral part of the historical rise-and-shine of the modern city but a physical release from and a cultural antidote to its pressure-cooker stresses. Tracing the boundless variety and complexity of these twin themes, All Roads Lead...

  4. CHAPTER 1 All Roads Lead from the American City? The Land of the Urban Frontier
    (pp. 7-26)
    Priscilla Roberts

    In Europe, picaresque accounts of travel, adventure, and self-discovery are nothing new, their models dating back to Miguel Cervantes’s Don Quixote and the tales of Henry Fielding and Tobias Smollett, if not to The Canterbury Tales or The Odyssey. But in the popular imagination it is the United States that is the urban nation par excellence. According to received wisdom, it is a country of huge and impersonal concrete jungle cities, tower blocks and housing projects, linked by a network of highways along which Americans, propelled by cheap gasoline, career in huge, gas-guzzling automobiles.

    In the twentieth century, the United...

  5. CHAPTER 2 In the City and on the Road in Asian American Film: My America ... or, Honk if You Love Buddha
    (pp. 27-48)
    Gina Marchetti

    In American culture, the road and the city have many different meanings.¹ For Asian Americans, for example, the road may not open up a frontier of possibilities and hope for a broad horizon of opportunities. Rather, it may signify the ultimatum of leaving town, facing a lynch mob, or even the tragedy of the forced evacuation of the Internment during the Second World War. Similarly, the city may not signal the Puritan promise of the “city on the hill.” Rather, it may mean racist exclusionism, being sequestered into ethnic ghettoes, or relying on quick wits to stay one step ahead...

  6. CHAPTER 3 A Is for American, B Is for Bad, C Is for City: Ed McBain and the ABC of Police and Urban Procedurals
    (pp. 49-70)
    Peter Swirski

    Born Salvatore Albert Lombino before legally changing his name in 1952, Evan Hunter is a popular writer par excellence. Writing as Ed McBain, his bestselling cycle of 87th-Precinct police procedurals won him the loyalty of generations of readers, with sales to prove it: more than 100 million worldwide. Yet even critics of the more apocalyptic persuasion (to use Eco’s parlance) would find it hard to dismiss him as a generic crowd pleaser.¹ Over half a century of writing the world’s longest running crime-fiction soap, his fifty-six volume opus has drawn praise from just about everyone, including the literary mavens. The...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Just Apassin’ Through: Betterment and Its Discontents in America’s Literature of the Road
    (pp. 71-96)
    Earle Waugh

    Of all the symbols of conquest of the American landscape, the road seems to occupy a special place. More than anything else, it appears to capture and express the immediacy of American civilization’s victory over the unruly continent. And yet, instead of a simple apotheosis of this victory, literature about the road is replete with condemnations, hand-wringing and conflict. In this chapter, I want to examine the road as a kind of refracted American identity, as a prism indicative of basic American values, precisely because the road is capable of encompassing and representing so many themes. In an analysis drawn...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Urbs Americans: A Work in Progress
    (pp. 97-124)
    William John Kyle

    In the opening sentence of the first chapter of The Age of Reform, the American historian Richard Hofstadter aptly remarked that “the United States was born in the country and has moved to the city ” (23). In fact, few nations have urbanized more rapidly and more extensively. Urbanization is by definition a process whereby the number of urban dwellers increases in relation to rural dwellers. At the time of the signing of the Constitution, American society was overwhelmingly rural (95 percent) and agricultural. Over the course of the nineteenth century the United States developed a vast network of cities,...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 125-130)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 131-144)
  11. Contributors
    (pp. 145-148)
  12. Index of Names
    (pp. 149-154)