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All Roads Lead to the American City

Edited by Peter Swirski

Publication Year: 2007

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.

Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU


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Introduction: American City or Global Village?

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pp. 1-5

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...

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1. All Roads Lead from the American City? The Land of the Urban Frontier

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pp. 7-26

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 ...

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2. In the City and on the Road in Asian American Film: My America... or Honk if You Love Buddha

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pp. 27-47

In American culture, the road and the city have many different meanings.

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3. A Is for American, B Is for Bad, C Is for City: Ed McBain and the ABC of Police and Urban Procedurals

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pp. 49-69

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 ...

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4. Just Apassin' Through: Betterment and Its Discontents in America's Literature of the Road

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pp. 71-95

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 ...

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5. Urbs Americana: A Work In Progress

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pp. 97-123

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 ...


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pp. 125-130


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pp. 131-143


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pp. 145-147

Index of Names

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pp. 149-154

E-ISBN-13: 9789882205208
Print-ISBN-13: 9789622098626

Page Count: 162
Publication Year: 2007

OCLC Number: 707092614
MUSE Marc Record: Download for All Roads Lead to the American City

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • American literature -- 20th century -- History and criticism.
  • Cities and towns in literature.
  • Roads in literature.
  • City and town life -- United States.
  • Civilization -- American influences.
  • Globalization -- Social aspects.
  • Cities and towns -- United States
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