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View From On the Road

View From On the Road

The Rhetorical Vision of Jack Kerouac

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Omar Swartz


NLEB (Other formats: Paperback)
144 pages, 6 x 9


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About the Book

Through careful analysis of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, Omar Swartz argues that Kerouac’s influence on American society is largely rhetorical. Kerouac’s significance as a cultural icon can be best understood, Swartz asserts, in terms of traditional rhetorical practices and principles.

To Swartz, Kerouac is a rhetor who symbolically reconstructs his world and offers arguments and encouragements for others to follow. Swartz proposes that On the Road constitutes a “rhetorical vision,” a reality-defining discourse suggesting alternative possibilities for growth and change. Swartz asserts that the reader of Kerouac’s On theRoadbecomes capable of responding to the larger, confusing culture in a strategic manner. Kerouac's rhetorical vision of an alternative social and cultural reality contributes to the identity of localized cultures within the United States. 


Omar Swartz is the author of Conducting Socially Responsible Research: Critical Theory, Neo-Pragmatism, and Rhetorical Inquiry and The Rise of Rhetoric and Its Intersections with Modern Critical Thought.  


“[This] book provides an invigorating experience. It resurrects a time and place of great ferment and frenzied resolve. The idealism in Kerouac’s project is clearly displayed—even if detractors judged it misguided. On the Road is an excellent vehicle for revealing the power of rhetoric and the importance of rhetorical analysis. There is ample insight regarding the ‘visions’ invoked here, and we can learn much about how generational fissures form in the narrative Swartz provides. This book will be particularly useful to those outside the field of rhetorical studies or to students who are just getting acquainted with Bormannian approaches to rhetorical analysis.”—Rhetoric & Public Affairs

“Swartz has produced a valuable book. It says a considerable number of sensible things about the Kerouac story and how he is perceived…. Somebody stands up and speaks the truth. How wonderful to read this.”—Beat Scene

“The author’s style is clear, concise, and interesting. The author manages to cover ground that often encourages academic styles that are abstruse and awkward (i.e., postmodernism) in a manner that is both available to the general reader and to the professional critic.”—Ernest G. Bormann, author of The Force of Fantasy: Restoring the American Dream

"In a book that is both intellectually insightful and a pleasure to read, Omar Swartz argues that Kerouac's novel is a vision for living. Written in an age of stability and conformity, On the Road urged its readers to travel freely with only occasional visits to stability. Through Swartz's discussion of deviance, sexuality, and Dean Moriarty, it becomes apparent that Kerouac presaged not only the Beat Generation and the hippies, but also our mobile phone and laptop computer society. For Swartz, it is the experience of a text that changes us, and The View from On the Road: The Rhetorical Vision of Jack Kerouac is a text well worth experiencing."—Craig Allen Smith, Wayne State University