Stories of the open road have a powerful sway over our imagination, particularly in America, where the vast web of interstate highways transformed the national identity as well as the national landscape. Sometimes seen as the harbinger of a golden future, other times as the conduit of a dehumanized dystopia, the highway reflects some of our most potent fantasies as well as our deepest anxieties about modernity, ecology, commerce, and individuality.
In a work rich in embedded multimedia, Helen J. Burgess and Jeanne Hamming look at cultural and media representations of the highway in planning documents, industrial films, corporate ephemera, and science fiction narratives to explore how these stories of the road have reconfigured how we think about ourselves and our world. Highways of the Mind, available only on the Apple iBookstore site in iBook format, shows how the stories we tell about the highway—whether in the service of national pride, corporate advertising, urban planning, or apocalyptic warnings—determine how we imagine, or fail to imagine, the possibilities for human action in built environments.
Helen J. Burgess is Associate Professor of English at North Carolina State University.
Jeanne Hamming is Associate Professor of English at Centenary College of Louisiana.