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Ignoring the eight percent: 06/29/18

May book sources

My background in narrative analysis is film. Film theory is heavily steeped in the cult of the white cis-gendered heterosexual male. The man as hero. The window into the diegesis being male. There are only two things to do in film — to see yourself as the hero or imagine yourself being banged the hero (if you're a young, white cis-gendered heterosexual female).

For all other narratives and characters, there is the cult of the other. There is no attempt to read film from any other point of view than that of the default white male. The other is alien. The other is threatening. The other is danger. The other is there to provide narrative foils for the hero. The other is there to be the villain. The other is there to make the hero a hero.

I began the road narrative project from the point of view of a would be PhD candidate. I still believed the male centered theory foolishly even though I in no way fit the bill (beyond having a rather masculine way of thinking sometimes).

Time passes and interests evolve. My road narrative project was reborn in the beginnings of the "we need diverse books" campaign and the call for book bloggers and book reviewers to make more of a conscious effort to diversify our reading.

Now that I've quantified just how many types of road narratives there are, I've come to realize how narrowly focused the road narrative analysis I've read is. Even when doing literary analysis, the road narrative analysis is narrowly focused on the white male just as film analysis is.

The academic discourses I've read so far have looked at road narratives where the traveler is white, usually male, and usually well to do. The trips are primarily to the city or the country and are primarily done on safe roads; either the railroad (for older stories) or the interstate (for newer ones) or on the smaller highways.

The scholarship on the road narrative only includes women in the context of a romantic coupling, a person to be rescued, a person to be a victim on the road, or in the greater context as a family member on the road. The privileged and couple / family travelers are at the safest, most common end of the road narrative spectrum. The table below outlines the stories covered in standard "road scholarship." These twelve narratives out of the 216 I have categorized account for only eight percent of the total narrative types but get the majority of the analysis.

Hypothetical narratives
Character Destination Road Hex Color
Privileged City Interstate 000000  
Privileged Rural Interstate 003300  
Privileged Home Interstate 006600  
Privileged City Blue Highway 000033  
Privileged Rural Blue Highway 003333  
Privileged Home Blue Highway 006633  
Couple / Family City Interstate 330000  
Couple / Family Rural Interstate 333300  
Couple / Family Home Interstate 336600  
Couple / Family City Blue Highway 330033  
Couple / Family Rural Blue Highway 333333  
Couple / Family Home Blue Highway 336633  

Moving forward, I will be purposefully ignoring these twelve narratives as they have written about in excess. Instead I will be seeking out narratives that fit into the other ninety-two percent. I will be seeking out road narratives featuring travelers of color and road narratives by authors of color.

That's not to say I will completely ignore white characters or white authors but I am turning my attention away from these twelve stories.

To see how I came to this conclusion, please read my notes/analysis of American Road Narratives on Tumblr.

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