Review of International American Studies
14 (2/2021)

From Henry Ford’s 1908 Model T, which offered millions a means of affordable transportation, to Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster, launched into space to orbit the sun in 2018, cars have been shaping American horizons, both real and imaginary, like no other object of daily use, inspiring dreams of prosperity, mobility and a brighter future. They have colonized teenagers’ bedroom walls and built multinational corporations, in the process irreversibly changing lifestyles and seriously influencing the formation of American identity, as well as becoming indispensable components of American dreams and nightmares alike.

But they have done more than that. Operating within the technological system of industrial capitalism, they have built highways, bridges, fly-overs, motels, billboards, road-side bars, drive-thru restaurants, cinemas, and even – most recently – testing sites for coronavirus. They have not only modified urban, suburban and country landscapes, but effectively created a number of American environments. They have saved lives and taken lives, they have provided jobs, secured services, offered temptations of escape and means to return.

As a result, they have turned into vital artefacts of both modern American history and the popular imagination. From Bonnie and Clyde’s Ford V8, to James Dean’s Porsche “Little Bastard” 550, to JFK’s Lincoln Continental, to O.J. Simpson’s Ford Bronco, motor vehicles have ingrained themselves in the socio-political milieu, and have become semi-mythological tools of American socio-technological heritage. And today that mythology, and that heritage, are more alive than ever; boosted by cinematic and televised imagery, automobiles have marked their presence in most movie genres, from action movies to science fiction, let alone the “proper” car genre of the road movie.

But their mythological significance does not end with their semiotic charm. In the age of the Anthropocene and growing environmental awareness, the predatory growl of a V8 no longer signifies a mixture of escapist (and mostly masculine) dreams of technological perfection, speed, power and control, all executed on the open road. On the contrary, it is the destructive power of their fumes, and the economy behind it, that attract public attention as the muscle cars become politically incorrect and are gradually replaced by Toyota Prius’s successors. We might well be witnessing the end of the car as we have known it.

In an attempt to critically approach the above problems, issues, and dilemmas, we invite submissions inspired by, but not limited to, the following questions:
mobility and national/individual identity
highway culture and redefined landscapes
cinematic/literary representations
automobile mythologies and popular imagination
automotive heritage
cars and gender
car culture and social segregation
car semiotics/aesthetics/art
accident culture/risk society
social location of car travel
speed culture/slow mobility

Articles, including all required metadata, should be submitted through the OJS system by 15 April 2021 (but not before 1 February 2021) in accordance with all the guidelines available in the “About” and “Submission” sections. Submissions lacking abstracts, keywords, the Author's ORCID number, and institutional affiliation will be automatically rejected.