Communication And Culture | Media, Culture and Politics
C445 | 1203 | Nicola Evans


Topic: American Bohemians
Class meetings: T 6:00-8:30 pm BH314

The concept of bohemianism evolved in early nineteenth century France
as a romantic protest against the stifling conformity of the
bourgeoisie. Bohemians are noted for their faith in art as an agent
of social transformation, and for their attempt not merely to preach
these ideas, but also to embody them in their everyday lives. This
course will examine four famous examples of American bohemianism. We
begin with Greenwich Village circa 1913, a time when playwrights,
artists, poets, journalists and feminists gathered in the Village to
invent a radical new lifestyle and to rattle the cage of middle class
America. Next we move to the Left Bank in Paris in the 1920s and
1930s, where writers such as Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway
created a bohemian enclave of experimentation with language and life.
The third great resurgence of bohemianism took place in the 1950s,
with the rise of the beat generation. We will look at the two
groundbreaking figures of this movement: Jack Kerouac and Allan
Ginsberg, whose work and life inspired the counterculture of the
1960s. The last section of the course looks at three road movies that
continue the ideals of bohemianism into contemporary times: Easy
Rider, My Own Private Idaho and Slackers. The objective of this
course is to introduce students to some of the key thinkers and
movements in which we see a merging of culture and politics, as new
ideas about art fed into new beliefs about the way society should be
run. The course also offers students the opportunity to study
classics from a mix of media including film, literature and poetry.