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Gender And The Beat Generation

Decent Essays
Gender and the Beat Generation
The entire Beat Generation began with a small group of boys who had all attended Columbia University at one point or another (Watson 29-38). The term Beat Generation was initially coined in 1948 within the context of this era by their leader, Jack Kerouac, stating that they were a generation having been “beaten” into consciousness (Watson 3). Four years later, in 1942 the term was introduced to the public at large by writer Clellon Holmes in an article for the New York Times he titled, “This Is the Beat Generation” (Watson 3). In his article he describes “beatness” as being, “more than mere weariness, it implies the feeling of having been used, of being raw. It involves a certain nakedness of mind, and ultimately
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It reflects a certain style of writing, a dress, a new set of slang lingo, and a music too. It was a trend influenced partially by the growing African American street culture, copying their jazz, art, and even replicating their unique argot (Breines 142). It was a counter-culture as well as a literary movement. The Beat Generation was angry, non-conformist, and male. The Beat Generation was created by men, and that is how history has always tended to see this group. An example of this is the anthology, A Casebook On the Beat, edited by Thomas Parkinson and published in 1961. The preface claims that “the aim of this book is to present a body of material essential to understanding the writing often placed under the rubric “Beat Generation”” (Parkinson V), yet the anthology hardly contains a single reference even to any female…show more content…
LeRoi Jones was a Beat generation poet himself, who felt widely alienated by the upper-middle class American society and found a sense of identification after reading Allen Ginsberg’s epic poem, Howl (Watson 267). Unlike other Beat couples, the two met through work, and thus worked together as more of intellectual equals (Watson 268). However, their union was still quite shocking to many and was a huge disappointment to Hettie’s Italian-American family (Watson 267). As Hettie Jones recounts in her memoir, she hardly felt safe to walk down the street hand in hand with her lover, for constant verbal assault was thrown at them (Jones 36). Despite their intense love, the couple divorced in 1965 in response to Malcom X’s assassination and LeRoi Jones’s growing involvement with the black separatist movement (Watson
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