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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis-ISU Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of English

First Advisor

Christopher D. Breu


Jack Kerouac. The name alone is enough to conjure up images of young Americans dropping out of life, taking off down the road with nothing but a beret, bongos and their love for anything ‘cool’. Nearly sixty years after its publishing, On the Road is still seen as the epitome of the American Road story. Or is it?

For decades, Americans caught up in the mythology of rugged individualism have headed west in an attempt to discover their place in the world or in search of adventure. For diasporic communities, the process of finding one’s place in the world is especially difficult. Kerouac’s On the Road narrates this process or his journey of personal growth and self-understanding as a member of the French Canadian diaspora in New England. Throughout the majority of the time since its publication in 1957, much of the literary criticism surrounding the text has largely ignored the implications of Kerouac’s identity as a French Canadian born in New England as noted in Todd Tietchen’s recent translation of Kerouac’s journals. I suggest that the influence of Kerouac’s self-identification as a member of the French Canadian diaspora and onsideration of the cultural and historical context of the social milieu of 1940s America complicates our understanding of the text, its metaphors, and themes in new and interesting ways.


Imported from ProQuest Charron_ilstu_0092N_11554.pdf


Page Count


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