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Steven Hoelscher, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

Spring 2006

AMS 370 • The Beats and American Culture, 1945-1990-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
28635 TTh
9:30 AM-11:00 AM
GAR 301

Course Description

Historians and literary critics have long debated the significanceboth literary and culturalof such "Beat Generation" writers as Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs. This seminar will engage that debate by examining some "classics" of Beat writing and tracing their impact on popular art and culture from the 1960s through the 1980s. First we will assess several key texts both as literary works and as documents of social and cultural history from the 1940s through the early 1960s. Then, using an interdisciplinary approach, we will ask whether a Beat aesthetic spread from literature to other areas of cultural production. Finally, we will examine survivals, influences, and appropriations of Beat or neo-Beat modes of expression in popular arts from the 1960s through the 1990s, including but not limited to literature, art, music, film, photography, and comics. This course has a significant writing component, including a final paper on a single Beat or neo-Beat figure or phenomenon. In a sense, the course is an exploration of alternative cultures during the last half of the 20th century.


This course requires considerable reading, probably about ten books and a packet of articles. If that worries you, then the course may not be for you. Students may also be asked to view several films and listen to music outside of class. Assigned texts have not been selected but will include books like the following: Jack Kerouac, On the Road and Lonesome Traveler Allen Ginsberg, Howl and The Fall of America Herbert Huncke, The Herbert Huncke Reader John Clellon Holmes, Go and The Horn William Burroughs, Naked Lunch Lenny Bruce, How to Talk Dirty and Influence People Carolyn Cassady, Off the Road Ronna Johnson and Nancy Grace, ed., Girls Who Wore Black Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Gary Snyder, Turtle Island Thomas Pynchon, Vineland Kathy Acker, Essential Acker Jan Kerouac, Baby Driver Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1 Mac Montandon, ed., The Tom Waits Reader Rosalee Goldberg, Laurie Anderson Paul Auster, Three Films John Leland, Hip: The History


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