Essay On The Beat Generation

analytical Essay
1943 words
1943 words

Racist Depictions of Latinos/as in Beat Generation Literature

Studies regarding the Beat Generation have pulsated over the years since the movement itself was at its peak, but what has endured throughout the fifty years since their emergence is Beat literature’s popularity with the general public. To further add to the Beat’s influence, their literature has also had a tremendous impact on the American literary canon. During the past two decades, primary source materials of the Beat movement continue to be published. Major film adaptations are also being produced from some of their most influential works and their personal lives. The Beat Generation’s literature has been looked at through many different perspectives ranging from anthropological to sociological. Some have analyzed that the Beat’s—particularly Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs—were racist in their depictions of African Americans, but little research has been done regarding their depictions towards Latinos/as. The review of literature has shown that few to none have looked at the Beat’s racism toward Latinos/as and their culture despite the fact that they spent a significant amount of time in Mexico.
Who was the Beat Generation?

The Beat Generation was a subculture that arose from the post World War II Bohemian culture in the United States. Bohemians can be defined as persons, artists, who live an unconventional life, usually amongst others also practicing this lifestyle. Bohemianism, as such, has always had a strong affiliation with the development of avant-garde as movements within art; significantly, Bohemia has been called the “underworld of art.” The Bohemian culture itself “is characterized by an active, though perhaps, irregular communalism and group dyn...

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...hemselves from the mainstream American society, they weren’t so far from the period regarding their racist views. The time period that the Beats were most active was around the 1950s, and racism was still a norm during that time. So, although for many, the Beat Generation of writers—with their public refusal of social and cultural norms and their way of life governed by the pursuit of pleasure, belief, and truth—are celebrated for their literature, I would like to revisit their work. There has been little to no analyses regarding the Beat Generation’s depictions of Latinos/as, despite the fact that this minority group is depicted in multiple works by the Beats. I plan to see whether Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs’ social mores regarding racism reflect in their work by comparing their personal letters, journals, and essays to their published novels and poetry.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how the beat generation's literature has had a tremendous impact on the american literary canon.
  • Analyzes how the beat generation broke the boundaries of american censorship and opened the doors to all art forms.
  • Analyzes how the beat generation sought literary achievement, but contemporary fashion, entertainment, and opinion columnists granted them more notice than did literary critics.
  • Analyzes how kerouac's on the road portrays sal as an italian american who wants to relate to minority cultures.
  • Proposes that although the beat generation wanted to separate themselves from mainstream american society, they weren't so far from the period regarding their racist views.
  • Explains that the beat generation arose from the post-world war ii bohemian culture in the united states.
  • Analyzes how the beat generation's appropriation of african american culture is similar to that of the nineteenth-century romantic racialists.
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