Beat Movement

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In the 1950s, the Beat Movement touted frequent drug use, sexual freedom, disinterest in social and political issues, and disregard for law. How do you think a movement like this would fare at the beginning of the twenty-first century? Why would American society tolerate a new Beat Movement or why would it not?

Though few in number, all the original members of the Beat Generation were young, white males, yet women and African Americans were certainly affected by and involved in the movement. Do some research to find out more about the lesser-known Beats and write an essay on how their lives were similar to or different from the prominent ones.

Of the three main artistic facets of the Beat Movement—writing, visual art, and music— the writings were the most controversial and often least welcomed by mainstream Americans. Why do you think this was true? What was it about Beat literature that was so different from Abstract Expressionist art and bebop music?

Author Gertrude Stein coined the term “Lost Generation” in the 1920s as a label for the intellectuals, poets, artists, and writers who fled to France after World War I. What did Stein mean by this term and how was the Lost Generation different from or similar to the Beat Generation?

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