The Beat Generation

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A group of writers that changed America forever: The Beat Generation When writers and poets of post World War II America started questioning the mainstream and accepted social conventions of society, a cultural and literary movement was born. During the postwar economic boom several progressive university students started asking such profound questions as: How do we as a society move beyond runaway capitalism and rampant materialism? How can we enlighten people to live beyond the oppressive prudery of the previous generation? These expansive thinkers used art and literature to rally against social norms and became the ultimate contrarians to all of society and common thought. These artistic provocateurs became known as ‘Beats” and their movement became known as The Beat Generation (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2013). The fathers of the Beat Generation met while students at Columbia University in New York City in the early 1940’s (Rahn, 2011). Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac made up the core of the first Beats. Around them and less well known, were: Neal Cassidy, Lucien Carr and John Clellon Holmes (Rahn, 2011). These early beat poets recited their poetry openly and were on a mission to bring the art to the people, rather than the art be limited to academic settings. Basically these beat poets wanted to take their poetry ‘back to the streets’ (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2013). Often times the poetry was recited to the accompaniment of progressive jazz (The Washington

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