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Bloomsbury Academic USA
29 January 2015
Material culture; Media studies
Object Lessons is a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things.

A classic teenage fetish object, the American driver's license has long symbolized freedom and mobility in a nation whose design assumes car travel and whose vastness rivals continents. It is youth's pass to regulated vice-cigarettes, bars, tattoo parlors, casinos, strip joints, music venues, guns. In its more recent history, the license has become increasingly associated with freedom's flipside: screening. The airport's heightened security checkpoint. Controversial ID voting laws. Federally mandated, anti-terrorist driver's license re-designs. The driver's license encapsulates the contradictory values and practices of contemporary American culture-freedom and security, mobility and checkpoints, self-definition and standardization, democracy and exclusion, superficiality and intimacy, the stable self and the self in flux.

Object Lessons is published in partnership with an essay series in the The Atlantic.
By:   Meredith Castile
Series edited by:   Dr. Christopher Schaberg, Prof. Ian Bogost
Imprint:   Bloomsbury Academic USA
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 165mm,  Width: 121mm,  Spine: 15mm
Weight:   147g
ISBN:   9781628929133
ISBN 10:   1628929138
Series:   Object Lessons
Pages:   160
Publication Date:   29 January 2015
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Author Website:

Meredith Castile is a content strategist at Google. She did her graduate studies in English and comparative literature at Stanford University. Driver's License was written during her years living in Vienna, Austria.

Reviews for Driver's License

Ranging across the 20th century and between continents, Castile teaches a fundamental lesson about the license: what's meant to fix an identity in fact generates competing meanings and values. Freedom and control, security and vulnerability, authenticity and fakery, youth and maturity. The book's Kerouacian opening and mix of pop culture references, personal anecdote, and philosophical musings invite attention to this overlooked but ever-present object. Heather Houser, Assistant Professor of English, University of Texas at Austin, USA, and author of Ecosickness in Contemporary U.S. Fiction

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