American Road Trip

Long before America had an infrastructure to support travel, writers, families, laborers, and nomads hit the open road in search of stories, adventure, and work. Some areas of exploration could be:

the romantic road trip
heading West
travel writing and American identity
the journey as a metaphor for life
travel writing and narrative
historical perspectives in travel writing
distinct voices: Walt Whitman, Henry David Thoreau, and Mark Twain.
Beat culture and bohemian writings

We can't fit every resource about the American Road Trip on this list! A topic guide is just the beginning of building your bibliography.

Reference materials

This is the place to start any research project. Reference books offer short, authoritative information on every topic. These books must be used in the library and can be found on the first floor. Most contain bibliographies of important books on your topic.

Barker-Benfield and Clinton, Catherine. (1991). Portraits of American Women: From Settlement to the Present. 622 pages. REF 920.72 B24 1991
Marcoe, Arnold. (2007). The Scribner encyclopedia of American lives : 2003-2005. 649 pages. REF 920 Sc6 v. 7 2007
Parini, Jay. (2003). American writers : classics. 388 pages. REF 810.9 Am3 2003 v.1
Unger, Leonard. (1981). American writers : a collection of literary biographies. 4 Volumes. REF 810.9 Am3 A 4-volume collection (with 3 supplements) featuring biographies on various American writers, from Jack Kerouac to John Steinbeck.
West, Aberjhani and Sandra. (2003). Encyclopedia of The Harlem Renaissance. 424 pages. REF 810.9896 Ab3 2003 1 volume.


Books on travel writing and the American Road Trip can be found in several sections at the library. These books can fall under literature, fiction, and non-fiction. The non-fiction travel writing can be found in the 917, many of the authors which you will be examining in your class on this topic and criticisms and interpretations of many of these authors can be found in 810, 917, 921. It's important to examine the our catalog using the title, author, and subject searches once you have picked a research topic. Try the subject terms American Literature--History and Criticism and American Literature--bio-bibliography.

Harris, Patricia and David Lyon. (1999). Journey to New England. 430 pages. 917.404 H24 199
Kaplan, Justin. (1980). Walt Whitman, a life. 432 pages. 921 W59k
Kerouac, Jack. (2004). Windblown world : the journals of Jack Kerouac, 1947-1954. 387 pages. 921 K45 Kerouac 2004
Levy, Bernard Henri. (2006). American vertigo : traveling America in the footsteps of Tocqueville. 308 pages. 917.304 L57 2006
Peabody, Richard. (1997). A different beat : writings by women of the beat generation. 235 pages. 810.809 P31 199


Log into any of these databases by clicking on the link. If you are away from campus, please read the instructions on remote access, located on the BCDS library Googlesite.
Biography Resource Center A database of complete biographies on notable people around the world.
Contemporary Literary Criticism A database offering full-text articles on literature.
Gale Student Edition Full-text articles and other multimedia geared toward high school students. Go here before Google! Search for subject "American and Literature" to find full-text articles; multimedia, newspapers, and other popular resources. Author searches and subject area searches are also possible. Play with different combination of search terms; for questions, consult the BCDS library for searching help.
Readers Guide Full Text Select Good source of articles and criticisms. Check box for Readers Guide Full Text select. Basic or advanced search: "American and Literature".

Internet sites

American Collection A portal to the best Internet sites related to American writers.
Travel Writing in the South The UNC South Library project, dedicated to collecting memories of the South. This features an overview of Southern travel writing.
Mark Twain at Large: His Travels Here and Abroad An online exhibition, part of The Mark Twain Papers at the Bancroft Library, University of California Berkeley.
Studies in Travel Writing A companion to the scholarly journal of the same name. An Internet resource for students, teachers, and researchers on the travel writing genre.
(2006). Poetry on record 98 poets read their work, 1888-2006. 4 CDs. TA/CD 808.81 P75 2006
Antonelli, John. (2003). Jack Kerouac king of the beats. 1 DVD. DVD 813.54 K45 2003
Ives, Stephen. (2004). Ken Burns Presents...The West. 5 DVDs. DVD 978 WEST

BPL: electronic resources

JSTOR: More than 600 core scholarly journals focusing on literature and the humanities. Collection spans the last 150 years but does not includes most current 3 to 5 years.
Literary Resource Center: Full-text database that combines more than 1,000 books, major literary encyclopedias, and reference works from antiquity to the present. It also houses more than 100 literary journals and unique sources not available elsewhere.
Student Resource Center: Designed for grades 6-12, this database offers easy keyword searching across journals, images, books, and reference materials.

Updated 10-09.