The Beats: Poets and Provocateurs
Dr. William Nesbitt
The Beats are one of the last movements in American literature. They pushed boundaries and wrote about still-relevant issues such as political topics, gender equality, rights for the LGBTQ+ community, the environment, censorship, and compassion for the world. The Beat Generation originated in the 1950s and principal members include Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Diane di Prima, Amiri Baraka, and Gregory Corso. Both censorship and media coverage galvanized the movement. In 1956, City Lights publishes Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl and Other Poems,” which when banned attracts national attention. In 1957 On the Road by Jack Kerouac appears. It receives a great review in The New York Times and Kerouac became an overnight celebrity. In 1959 ten episodes of Naked Lunch (later published in its entirety in 1960) by Burroughs are printed in the first issue of Big Table. Those episodes are also banned. Beacon College professor Nesbitt examines a movement that some say peaked in the 1950s and 1960s. Others believe that the movement lived until 1997 when Ginsberg and Burroughs passed. Still others point out that with the ongoing and increasing popular, creative, and academic interest in the Beats, the Beats exert considerable cultural influence through the present moment.
This Salon Series Speaker event is at the Venetian Center in Leesburg.