Seeing the Beat Generation

Entering the Literature through Film


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About the Book

Beat generation writers dismantled mainstream America. They wrote under the influence of psychedelic drugs; they crossed and navigated multicultural boundaries and questioned the American dream; and they explored homosexuality, feminism and hyper-masculinity, redefining America’s marital and familial codes. Teaching such a history can be daunting, but film adaptations of Beat literature have proven to engage students. This book looks closely at the film adaptations of works by such authors as Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Gary Snyder, Carolyn Cassady, Amiri Baraka and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, as they relate to American history and literary studies.

About the Author(s)

Raj Chandarlapaty has taught literature and writing for the past 17 years, and has published articles on Norman Mailer, Allen Ginsberg, James Baldwin and Mohammed Mrabet. He lives in Aurora, Colorado.

Bibliographic Details

Raj Chandarlapaty

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 235
Bibliographic Info: appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7575-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3670-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1

Introduction: New Americanist Visions, Modern Theory and Knowledge, and the Beat “Setting” as Found in Film 11

One. Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac: The Films and the Reinvention of Text 25

Two. Allen Ginsberg: The Films and Romanticism’s True Test 89

Three. William S. Burroughs: The Films and His Postmodern Techniques of Reinvention 113

Four. Amiri Baraka, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Carolyn Cassady and Gary Snyder: Films on the Relevance of the ­Lesser-Known Beats 167

Conclusion: ­Sixty-Five Years Later, and What Did We Learn? 197

Appendix: Audiobooks and Recordings—New Beat

Consciousness and Teaching the Beats 201

Chapter Notes 215

Works Cited 221

Index 225

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “[This] book presents a warmly argued and impassioned rationale for advancing the teaching of Beat film in the literature classroom…Raj Chandarlapaty provides a method for Generation Z to benefit from this long metamorphosis, that their incendiary visions will persist, and that alone is reason to appreciate this remarkable book.”—The Mailer Review
  • “This book extends Beat generation criticism by considering film adaptations of the lives and works of authors such as Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, and ‘lesser-known’ Beats like Amiri Baraka and Carolyn Cassady. … Chandarlapaty also considers pedagogy, claiming that studying film makes Beat writing ‘more accurate and active’ for students and scholars. …examines how films such as Beat Angel (2004), Big Sur (2013), and Gang of Souls (1989) can foster a more robust understanding of the Beats’ ‘counterhistories’ of American ethos and experiences in a postmodern context.”—American Literature
  • “Raj Chandarlapaty’s Seeing the Beat Generation is an innovative foray into how documentaries and films can alter and enhance our perceptions of literary works by the Beat writers. Delving into an immense body of visual works focused on the Beat movement, Chandarlapaty critiques the increasing power of film to dominate our understanding of literature in our increasingly visual culture.”—Kurt Hemmer, Harper College, editor, Encyclopedia of Beat Literature