“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road,” Jack Kerouac famously wrote in 1957’s On the Road , summarizing an optimistic (and particularly American) ethos: Just Go. America is a frontier country, and hitting the open road – in search of catharsis, transformation, answers, a new beginning of one kind of another – is a venerated and beloved American tradition. This first-year research seminar will examine how the great American road trip has been depicted in literature and, especially, music: what it entails, what it connotes, what it requires, what it actuates. What should happen during a road trip? How might a person expect to be different at the end? Paying especially close attention to the role music plays – a tour being, of course, the ultimate road trip – we’ll look at how the idea, the practice, and the myth of the road trip has been presented in books, essays, photographs, films, and records, from Robert Frank’s “The Americans” to Terrence Malick’s “Badlands” to Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run,” and write and workshop three short, researched pieces – including at least one first-person essay incorporating original reportage – and a final research paper analyzing a notable road trip from art or history.