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Maxime McKenna

PhD Candidate

Lansstraße 5-9
14195 Berlin

Interstate Postmodernism: Infrastructure and Culture, 1956-92 (dissertation project)

Dissertation in Culture

Mentoring team:
First supervisor: Prof. Frank Kelleter
Second supervisor: N/A
Third supervisor: N/A

At its broadest, this research project asks how the space of the road changes in the American cultural imaginary in the era of the American Interstate Highway System. Focusing on moments of automobility in popular mid-twentieth-century genres—specifically, science fiction, neo-noir, and road narratives and film—this dissertation aims to shed light on the ways that superhighway networks have produced and disseminated an experience of space and time that overlaps with subjectivities that have been called postmodern, postwar, and late capitalist. In turn, I examine how the cultural moment reflects, responds to, and resists the ideal of the American automobile subject emerging during the period in which the US interstate was under construction, 1956–92. Pursuing inroads into critical discussions about systems, space, affect, and mobility, I interrogate the cultural and historical confluences that have shaped the horizon of what is imaginable within the forms of everyday life in which dependency on automobiles is a given and the maneuvers of superhighway driving (merging, passing, exiting) have become rote.

Dahlem Research School
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft