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Academic Bulletin English - 2012-13 - 300 ENG 300

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ENG 300 Studies in Historical Contexts

Beat Writers

The writers of the Beat Generation have a perennial appeal. Perhaps it is the Dionysian energy of their writing, perhaps the myths that arose around their self-destructive lives, but they have come to represent for us “the other side” of the Fifties. Since much of this course is focused on poetry, and Kerouac’s novels may be considered extended prose poems, we will begin with some selections from Whitman’s Song of Myself. We will also do some reading on the Fifties, and view The Beat Generation. Then we will turn to the early work of Ginsberg, especially his tremendous poem, “Howl.” Next up is that late Ur-Text of the Beat Movement, Kerouac’s novel, On the Road. We will focus next on four poets of the San Francisco Renaissance, Michael McClure, Philip Lamantia, Gary Snyder, and Philip Whalen. Because Gary Snyder emerged as a major American poet, we will read one of his early books, Riprap, in its entirety and learn some principles of ecocriticism, Then we will turn to two later novels, Williams Burroughs’ famous, infernal satire, Naked Lunch, and Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums. We will conclude by reading the work of some less well-known Beats and fellow travelers, and the later work of Ginsberg and Snyder. Our focus will be the texts themselves and their relationship to American culture of the 1950s and after.

 Prerequisite: One English Literature course taken at Wabash.

Credits: 1/2