2.1 Special Issues
Other than the fact that Beat literature is generally subversive, it is of note that it often deals with "subject matter that few people had dared to describe before, and [sic] were the subjects of numerous obscenity cases because of it" (Miles, xvii). As a result I have wrestled with which works to include. Although Ginsberg's landmark poem "Howl" has gained mainstream acceptance, so much so that it is now included in the Norton Anthology of American Literature, I feel that its frank depictions of homosexuality are more appropriate for discussion at the college level. The same is true for much of the writings of William S. Burroughs, whose early novels Junky and Queer not only include graphic depictions of sex acts but also include protracted descriptions of the use of hard drugs i.e. opiates.
2.2 Aims: Objectives and Goals
By completion of this unit of study students will be able to do the following: work individually and cooperatively in defining Beat, the American Dream and related terms, have an understanding of the role that literature and art had in shaping the culture of postwar America, read and appreciate multiple works by the Beat writers Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, LeRoi Jones AKA Amiri Baraka, analyze both literary elements and the historical significance of these works and develop theories that relate these works to their own lives and to present day American life.