© 2020

The American Roadside in Émigré Literature, Film, and Photography



Part of the Studies in Mobilities, Literature, and Culture book series (SMLC)

About this book


The American Roadside in Émigré Literature, Film, and Photography: 1955–1985 traces the origin of a postmodern iconography of mobile consumption equating roadside America with an authentic experience of the United States through the postwar road narrative, a narrative which, Elsa Court argues, has been shaped by and through white male émigré narratives of the American road, in both literature and visual culture. While stressing that these narratives are limited in their understanding of the processes of exclusion and unequal flux in experiences of modern automobility, the book works through four case studies in the American works of European-born authors Vladimir Nabokov, Robert Frank, Alfred Hitchcock, and Wim Wenders to unveil an early phenomenology of the postwar American highway, one that anticipates the works of late-twentieth-century spatial theorists Jean Baudrillard, Michel Foucault, and Marc Augé and sketches a postmodern aesthetic of western mobility and consumption that has become synonymous with contemporary America.


emigre literature American road trip narrative American roadside On the Road Jack Kerouac Vladimir Nabokov Robert Frank Alfred Hitchcock American postwar culture mobility studies mobility literary studies marginality in literature travel writing travel history dislocation in literature

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Queen Mary University of LondonLondonUK

About the authors

Elsa Court teaches American Literature at Queen Mary University of London, UK. She has previously taught courses on contemporary French culture at the University of Oxford and her work has appeared in Granta, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and the Financial Times, among others.

Bibliographic information


“Written with brio – especially when the book veers off the highway of academic writing – The American Roadside offers new perspectives on well-known works.” (Douglas Field, TLS The Times Literary Supplement,, January 8, 2021)

“Engaging and illuminating study. … Court opens up new inroads for looking at American literary and film history. … The achievement of this highly readable book is to send us back to these otherwise familiar artworks with refreshed, more inquisitive eyes.” (Neil Archer, Review 31, May, 2020)