The Beats

BookThe Beats

The Beats

A Teaching Companion

Clemson University Press: Beat Studies


March 11th, 2021



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This volume addresses integrating into the classroom Beat authors, texts, and themes associated with Beat writing, generally dated from the early 1950s to 1964-65, when the major social justice movements in the United States began to tear apart the fabric of post war containment culture and Hippie counterculture became a dominant movement. The book provides a robust foundation for discussions of the continued relevance of Beat literature in educational settings.

The volume’s 22 essays are divided into six domains: 1) Foundational Issues, 2) Beat Literary Genres, 3) Beat Literary Topics, 4) Beat Lineages and Legacies, 5) Selected Resources, and 6) Sample Assignments. The volume presents a blending of authors and subject matters representative of current styles and methods of Beat scholarship. Literature-focused pedagogies dominate, but course materials and perspectives relative to history, composition theory and practice, religious studies, art history, film studies, and other cross-curricular courses are also represented. The sequencing of each part is hierarchical only in the sense that Part 1 is intended to be read first, since topics in that section speak to key practices and traditions undergirding Beat history and the teaching of Beat writing in general. The volume concludes with sample classroom assignments and examination prompts by Beat scholars.

Author Information

Nancy M. Grace is the Virginia Myers Professor of English (emerita) at The College of Wooster (Wooster, Ohio USA), where she taught Beat literature, James Joyce’s Ulysses, journalism, and women’s and gender studies. Her current research projects include studies of (1) the environmental correspondences between the works of Black Mountain poet Charles Olson and Beat poet Diane di Prima and (2) the pedagogical practices of Beat writers including Hettie Jones, Janine Pommy Vega, and Ed Sanders. She also co-edits (with Ronna C. Johnson) The Journal of Beat Studies (Pace University Press) and The Beat Studies Book Series (Clemson University Press/Liverpool University Press).

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
Back to the Future
            Nancy M. Grace
Part I –
Foundational Issues
1: A History of U.S. Censorship of Beat Writing
            Matthew Theado
2: Multiculturalism and Beat Writing
            A. Robert Lee
3: Beat Little Magazines
            Steven Belletto
4: Spirituality and Religious Traditions in Beat Literature
            David Stephen Calonne
5: Retaking the Universe of Lower-Division Writing Courses on the South     Texas Border
            Rob Johnson and Robert Casas
6: Teaching Gender, Sexuality, and Race in On
The Road
            Ronna C. Johnson
Part II –Beat Literary Genres
Chapter 7: Open Form Poetics
      Eric Keenaghan
8: ruth weiss’s “Expanded Poetry”
            Estibaliz Encarnacion-Pinedo
9: Creative Nonfiction: Joyce Johnson’s
Minor Characters and Joanne Kyger’s Japan
and Indian Journals
Pacinni Carden
10: The Buddhist Techno-Poetics of Allen Ginsberg’s “Wichita Vortex Sutra”
            Tony Trigilio
Chapter 11: Kerouac’s The Dharma
Bums and the Diamond Sutra
            Darin Pradittatsanee
III –Beat Literary Topics
Chapter 12: Drug Use and Beat Writers
            Erik Mortenson
13: “Humanism, Posthumanism, Transhumanism: (Re)Teaching Naked         Lunch”
Chapter 14: Kerouac’s Bilingualism
            Hassan Meleny
15: The Reciprocal Classroom: Diane di Prima’s Italian American Heritage
            Roseanne Quinn
Part IV – Beat Lineages and Legacies
Chapter 16: Teaching
the Road Novel After On the Road
            Jimmy Fazzino
17: The Beat Generation and the “Rise of the Sixties” in the Visual Arts
            Leslie Stewart Curtis
18: The Beat in Offbeat Comedy
            Amy L. Friedman
Chapter 19:
Venice West and
California’s Literary Canon
            William Mohr
20: Beat Performance Poetry: Ginsberg, Kaufman, Baraka, and Waldman
            Deborah R. Geis
21: Gary Snyder: Connecting Youthful Dissent and the Global Ecological       Future:
            John Whalen-Bridge
Part V – Resources