Jason Vredenburg; “Solitary Bartlebies”: Kerouac’s On the Road and the Ideology of the Superhighway. Twentieth-Century Literature 1 June 2016; 62 (2): 170–196. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0041462X-3616576
In both the critical literature and the popular imagination, Jack Kerouac’s seminal road narrative On the Road is often viewed as a celebration of American individualism and frontier myth. Placing the novel within the context of the changing approach to automotive infrastructure, however, challenges this conventional reading. Setting the text against the emerging superhighway ethic-which values the individuated automobile over established communities, conquest of nature over integration with nature, and productivity over all else-reveals a more nuanced and forceful critique of postwar consumer culture and illuminates Kerouac’s investment in nature and community.