Beat poetry
– Boehemian: practice of an unconventional lifestyle
– celebrated non-conformity and spontaneous creativity
– drew inspiration from Romanticism

Characteristics of Beat Culture
1. rejection of received standards
2. innovation in style
3. use of illegal drugs
4. alternative sexualities
5. an interest in examining religions
6. rejection of materialism
7. explicit portrayals of human condition

Beatniks
– name suggested Beats were . . .
1. far out of mainstream society
2. possibly pro-Communist
– used as new stereotype (hippies)
– beats embraced beatnik stereotype though many criticized them as inauthentic posers
– later became Hippies

Ginsberg
– spent short period of time in mental institution (Bellevue) after being accused of crime (pled insanity, not guilty)
– Father: HS English teacher in NJ
– Mother: loyal communist, battle mental illness throughout life, attempted suicide
– gay, jewish, no strongly-declared political affiliation (though definitely left-leaning)

“America”
– Written by Ginsberg (Confessional Poem)
– written after McCarthy Red Scare
– somewhat rambling, stream-of-consciousness
– political and also personal

Lowell
– Confessional poet
– Poetry of the personal, or “I”

“For the Union Dead”
– Written by Lowell
– Poem written at the height of the Civil Rights Movement and Lowell makes connection with the Civil War’s role as the first spark for African American civil rights (remember that the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by Lincoln, freeing all slaves). At the time Lowell wrote this poem, he was extremely concerned with the Civil Rights Movement and was critical of anyone, or anyplace, that didn’t respond positively to it.

Confessional Poetry
Characteristics
1. personal now public
2. 1st person narrative
3. intimate subject matter
4. autobiographical by design
5. lyrical craftsmanship

Sylvia Plath
– wrote The Bell Jar
– short, deeply troubled life
– committed suicide at age 30
– battled depression, possibly bi-polar disorder
– one of the 1st American poets to put her miseries on the page, credited with popularizing poetry

Kesey
“I was too old to be a beatnik and too young to be a hippie”
– wrote One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Sometimes A Great Notion
– Considered a link between the Beat generation of the 1950s and the Hippie generation of the 1960s
– Born in Colorado, moved to Oregon
– Attended University of Oregon
– Degree from the School of Journalism in speech and communication in 1957, followed by non-degree Creative Writing program at Stanford
– Experimented heavily with psychoactive drugs
– Took part in government funded study around LSD, mescaline, cocaine, DMT, Inspired Cuckoo’s Nest
– Kesey did not believe that patients were insane, but rather that they had been pushed out by society because they did not conform
– began hosting acid test parties

Merry Pranksters
– Cross-country road trip that involved a number of famous Beats
– A bus named “Further”
– The trip was the group’s attempt to create art out of everyday life and to experience roadway America while high on LSD
– Rooted in ideals of American freedom, “more haphazard than planned”
– Kesey directed the action like a ringmaster
– Kesey had intended this to be a summer trip, but people – – started to adopt it as a lifestyle

Post Modernism
– Opposed to use of sharp binary classifications (male versus female, straight versus gay, white versus black, and imperial versus colonial)
– Belief that apparent realities are only social constructs and are therefore subject to change
– Diversity is central to themes and key ideas
– Describes certain characteristics of post-World War II literature
– Fragmentation, paradox, questionable narrators
– Will not end with the neatly tied-up conclusion

Post Modernism: Environmental
– Postmodern literature concerns itself with reader response (the idea that the reader constructs meaning from what they are reading)
– Many postmodern authors weave concepts of environmentalism into their works
– The purpose is to push this into the culture conscious of a population and make them think about the world around them
– Unresolved

Post Modernism: Multiculturalism
– Push for inclusion of distinct cultural groups with equal cultural and political status.
– Old: Melting Pot Ideal
– New: Multicultural Ideal (salad bowl)
– Accept and embrace differences

Science Fiction
Combines postmodern concerns of environmentalism and multiculturalism to explore interactions between different forms of life and different conditions of living, not just restricted to traditional understandings of this life

Spaceship Earth
– written by William Bryant
– A metaphor for Earth by comparing it to a spaceship: limited resources, floats in space, holds passengers . . .

enjambment
(in verse) the continuation of a sentence without a pause beyond the end of a line, couplet, or stanza

refrain
a repeated line or number of lines in a poem or song, typically at the end of each verse

stanza
A grouped set of lines within a poem

metaphor
A figure of speech in which something is compared or directly related to something else

simile
A figure of speech in which something is compared using words such as ‘like’ or ‘as’

personification
Attributing human characteristics to something non-human

allusion
an expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly; an indirect or passing reference

imagery
The formation of mental images, figures, or likeness of things

symbolism
The use of symbols to represent ideas or qualities