L470 2103 SPERBER
Seminar: Literature and Interdisciplinary Studies

3:35p-6:35p T (15) 3 CR.

TOPIC: “The Beat Generation Writers”

This course focuses on the works of Beat Generation writers as well as the literary, journalistic, scholarly, and visual treatments about them. Obviously, we will spend much of our time on the works of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, but we will also read William Burroughs, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael McClure, Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, and other Beats. In addition, we will look at some of the works of writers whom the Beats directly influenced: Ken Kesey, Bob Dylan, Amari Baraka (LeRoi Jones), Joyce Johnson, and Carolyn Cassady. We will try to understand the writings of the Beats, and also the historical context in which they existed and their meaning to American culture--particularly youth culture--from the 1950s to the present.

The main books in the course will be: The Portable Beat Reader; The Portable Kerouac Reader; Beat Down to Your Soul: What Was the Beat Generation; and Kerouac’s On the Road. We will also study some of the films made by the Beats and about the Beats.

Student responsibility in the course includes a class presentation on a Beat writer, a number of short papers, and a final exam. Students will have the option of doing a major project instead of the final exam. The major projects can consist of a research paper on any topic connected to the course, or a creative project, e.g., a short story or script or a short film or videotape on any topic prompted by the course.