Errand into the wilderness: the cursed earth as apocalyptic road narrative

Brian Ireland

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Mobility is a significant feature of American history and culture. This is reflected in the literature and cinema of the road genre, in influential novels such as Jack Kerouac's On the Road and John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath, and in films like Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and Easy Rider (1969). However, when non-Americans create road stories they tend to employ symbols and narratives that are often considered intrinsically American. These storytellers appear to have absorbed or internalized aspects of American national identity, and this is reflected in their work. This is demonstrated in The Cursed Earth, an apocalyptic road story in twenty-five parts, which was published in the British weekly comic 2000AD from May to October 1978. Written by British writer Pat Mills, with contributions from John Wagner and Chris Lowder, The Cursed Earth features the character Judge Dredd, perhaps the most popular and most recognizable icon of British comics of the last thirty years. Through close textual analysis of the Cursed Earth story, this article reveals how thematic elements of the road genre are linked to significant themes in American history and culture.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)497 - 534
    Number of pages37
    JournalJournal of American Studies
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2009


    • road
    • american


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