The Cambridge Companion to the Beats offers an in-depth overview of one of the most innovative and popular literary periods in America, the Beat era. The Beats were a literary and cultural phenomenon originating in New York City in the 1940s that reached worldwide significance. Although its most well-known figures are Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs, the Beat movement radiates out to encompass a rich diversity of figures and texts that merit further study. Consummate innovators, the Beats had a profound effect not only on the direction of American literature, but also on models of socio-political critique that would become more widespread in the 1960s and beyond. Bringing together the most influential Beat scholars writing today, this Companion provides a comprehensive exploration of the Beat movement, asking critical questions about its associated figures and arguing for their importance to postwar American letters.
Table of Contents
Chronology; Introduction: the Beat half-century Steven Belletto; 1. Were Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs a generation? William Lawlor; 2. Beatniks, hippies, yippies, feminists, and the ongoing American counterculture Jonah Raskin; 3. Locating a Beat aesthetic Regina Weinreich; 4. The Beats and literary history: myths and realities Nancy M. Grace; 5. Allen Ginsberg and Beat poetry Erik Mortenson; 6. Five ways of being Beat, circa 1958–9 Steven Belletto; 7. Jack Kerouac and the Beat novel Kurt Hemmer; 8. William S. Burroughs: Beating postmodernism Oliver Harris; 9. Memory babes: Joyce Johnson and Beat memoir Brenda Knight; 10. Beat writers and criticism Hilary Holladay; 11. Beats and gender Ronna C. Johnson; 12. Beats and sexuality Polina Mackay; 13. The Beats and race A. Robert Lee; 14. Ethnographies and networks: on Beat transnationalism Todd. F. Tietchen; 15. Buddhism and the Beats John Whalen-Bridge; 16. Beat as beatific: Gregory Corso's Christian poetics Kirby Olson; 17. Jazz and the Beat Generation Michael Hrebeniak; 18. Beats and visual culture David Sterritt; Further reading.