5) Diane di Prima, Revolutionary Letters (Last Gasp).
6) Deborah Baker, A Blue Hand: The Beats in India (Penguin).
7) Gary Snyder, Earth House Hold (New Directions).
8) William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, Yage Letters Redux (City Lights Press).
This course will elaborate, through close reading of poems, travelogues, critical texts, novels, and memoirs, connections of the Beat literary and social movements to the world. While Beat Generation authors connect to US urban sites of Bohemian transformation like North Beach and Greenwich Village from the 1940s to the 1990s, their lives and works are driven no less by global trajectories and quests that link their transformations-- literary, spiritual, and political-- to world urban sites and journeys across and out from the Americas. Their works trace patterns of cross-cultural globalization and social energies from Mexico City and Havana to Paris, Morocco, Kyoto, Calcutta, Tangier, and back to San Francisco, Denver, and New York City. The course will elaborate linkages of Beat authors and the Beat movement to American and international literary sources as well as to some later authors and cultural forces whom their works impact as world influence, from Bob Dylan and Patty Smith to Anne Waldman and Albert Saijo et al.
The quest to define social visions of “beatitude” will focus on processes of world-making. Our readings will open up perspectives on forms of Beat world-making, experimental writing, and revolutionary modes of consciousness and community formation they quested for as “literal beatitude”: (a) we will track some of the actual journeys the Beats make on world roads that lead them out of a Cold War commodity-driven America into life- and art-altering sites like Mexico City, India, Japan, Paris, Tangiers, Cuba, Africa, and Eastern Europe; (b) we will examine some of the “subterranean” world sites and bohemian modes they are drawn to; (c) we will examine modes of consciousness transformation they seek that would open up altered worlds; (d) we will focus on modes of poetic writing they invent (from spontaneous bop prosody and Americanized haiku to cut-ups, ecological polemics or travelogues) to open up these altered worlds.
REQUIRED WRITING ASSIGNMENTS:
A) For any 5 of the 8 books assigned, each student should write a "reaction" comment or set of online “provocations” expressing views on some aspect of this Beat writing and world-formations in any part of the assigned readings or viewings. Each student must keep up with weekly readings and come to class and sections prepared to ask questions about the text or focus upon passages that challenge and intrigue the reader. Each student should bring to the class discussion-sections or post on the blog discussion list at least one provocative question per week relating to assigned readings and/or to present a written paragraph in which you take some kind of stand or suggest possible topics or issues for class discussion.
These questions and passages will provide the basis of the TA-led discussion sections and may later become the basis for part of a class session, as communicated to the instructor by the TA or the students. TA’s will give their specific section assignments concerning section writings and blog assignments. Most commonly, the TA will meet with half of his/her students on a given week; when students are not required to come to section that week, they will instead be required to blog their comments, passages, images, songs etc. in relation to the readings. These materials will be handed in to weekly sections or posted online (starting at the second week of class and continuing until the tenth week of class): these writings will comprise a cumulative "portfolio" of your class work.
B) There will be a final paper (due no later than Wed. December 11, to be submitted at the scheduled final exam time of 4:00-7:00PM that day or by arrangement with your TA). It will consist of a “research” essay, ranging in length at around 8 pages, and in the form of critical (or creative) analysis with footnotes and bibliography. The main topic will be to pick a Beat author, genre, site, or cultural phenomenon and discuss the cultural, geopolitical, and social dynamics making this object a world “Beat” phenomenon, movement, or expressive formation. A wide-ranging set of topics will be provided by the instructor in weeks eight or nine of the term.
You need to provide a one-page outline of your topic and discuss it with instructor/TA as you begin. If you do a creative project (which you can do in various genres), you will need to provide a one-page description of what you are aiming for, techniques used, Beat authors and materials drawn upon as model or source. Group projects can be done with the approval of the instructor and TA; each participant will receive the same grade for this final project.
Course Requirements: % of grade (approx)
Attendance to class/ section participation and 5 weekly reaction papers: 60%
Final Essay at end of course: 40%
LTEL 120H: Beat Literature & the World (Fall, 2013):
Introduction to Beat Literature & the World
Mon. Sept. 30:
Introduction to Course Themes, Procedures, & Requirements. Self-description Sheets. Wed, October 2:
On the Roads across America and the World:
Jack Kerouac’s Vision of Beatific Americas.
Selected memoir, poetry, and essay readings in The Portable Jack Kerouac: “The Railroad Earth” (from Lonesome Traveler) (pp. 232-245); poems by Kerouac (pp. 449-477); essays by Kerouac called “About the Beat Generation,” “Lamb No Lion,” “Beatific: The Origins of the Beat Generation” (pp. 559-573); “Belief & Technique For Modern Prose” & “Essentials of Spontaneous Prose” (pp. 483-485).
Beyond Kerouac: Woman Writing and Making the Beat World
Mon, October 7: Selected novel readings in The Portable Jack Kerouac: On the Road (pp. 139-148); The Dharma Bums (pp. 277-320); Tristessa (pp. 260-277); Tangier section of Desolation Angels (pp. 364-376).
Wed., October 9: “Precursors and Muses” in Women of the Beat Generation: Foreword by Anne Waldman (pp. iv-xii); “Helen Adam: Bardic Matriarch” (8-17); “Jane Bowles: A Life at the End of the World” (18-27); “Carolyn Cassady: Karmic Grace” (57-75); “Edie Parker Kerouac: First Mate” (76-85); “Joan Haverty Kerouac: Nobody’s Wife” (86-102).
“Beatitude” Quest as World-Making Project:
Mon. October 14: “Precursors and Muses” in Women of the Beat Generation: Foreword by Anne Waldman (pp. iv-xii); “Helen Adam: Bardic Matriarch” (8-17); “Jane Bowles: A Life at the End of the World” (18-27); “Eileen Kaufman: Keeper of the Flame” (103-114).
Wed. October 16: Readings in Rob Sean Wilson, Beat Attitudes: On the Roads to Beatitude for Post-Beat Writers, Dharma Bums, and Cultural-Political Activists.
Assignment: Read pp. 1-69 of Beat Attitudes and find one passage or inter-linked set of passages that best define what the Beat literature movement and/or Beat writing was, or still is, all about as you see it as a world-making project. Or, find a critical-theory passage (from Deleuze, Emerson, Spinoza, Nietzsche etc.) that helps you to grasp what Beat writing seeks.
Ginsberg‘s Polymorphous Visionary “America” and World
Mon., Oct. 21: Read Howl and Other poems: concentrate on “Howl” (pp. 1-34)
Wed. Oct. 23: Read the “other poems” in Howl and Other poems (pp. 35-57). Also read in
Women of the Beat Generation: “Janine Pommy Vega: Lyric Adventurer” 223-240); Lenore Kandel: Word Alchemist” (279-285).
Spreading Utopian Anarchism across “Turtle Island” and the World.
Mon., Oct. 28: Read the poems (letters # 1-70) in Diane Di Prima, Revolutionary Letters (pp. 1-94). Also read in Women of the Beat Generation: “Diane Di Prima: Poet Priestess” (123-140).
Passages toIndia and Japan: Searching for Beat Vision & Hope Savage
Mon. Nov. 4: Parts one & two of Deborah Baker: A Blue Hand: The Beats in India (1-139).
Wed. Nov. 6: Finish reading Deborah Baker: A Blue Hand (pp. 140-242).
Also read in Women of the Beat Generation: “Joanne Kyger: Dharma Sister” (197-204).
Gary Snyder’s Trans-Pacific Ecology and “Earth House Hold”
Mon. Nov.11: Holiday (no class): Veterans Day.
Wed. Nov. 13: Read Gary Snyder’s poems and essays in Earth Household (pp. 1-143).
Woman Writing and Making the Beat World
Mon. Nov. 18: Read in Women of the Beat Generation: “Madeline Gleason: True Born Poet” (28-38); “Josephine Miles: Mentor to Revolution” (39-45); “Joanna McClure: West Coast Villager” (214-222); “Mary Norbert Korte: Redwood Mama Activist” (257-267).
Wed. Nov. 20: Read in Women of the Beat Generation: “The Artists” (Jay DeFeo and Joan Brown) (320-330); Ted Joans, “Worthy Beat Women” (331-333).
Final topics & prompts to be handed out in class. WEEK NINE:
Mon. Nov. 25: Read introduction to (pp. i-lii); William S. Burroughs: The Yage Letters (1-53).
Wed. Nov. 27: Finish reading William S. Burroughs: The Yage Letters, “Seven Years Later,” Epilogue, and Appendices (pp. 54-126). Also read in Women of the Beat Generation: “Joan Vollmer Adams Burroughs: Calypso Stranded” (49-56).
Towards a Post-Beat World: On the Roads to X?
Mon. Dec. 2: Finish reading Beat Attitudes: On the Roads to Beatitude for Post-Beat Writers, Dharma Bums, and Cultural-Political Activists (pp. 70-138) and try to define what “post-beat” means as a writing practice and social vision.
Wed. Dec. 4: Read selected “post-Beat” works: Bob Dylan, “Chimes of Freedom,” “Desolation Row,” and “Subterranean Homesick Blues”; Also read in Women of the Beat Generation: “Anne Waldman: Fast Speaking Woman” (287-307); “Jan Kerouac: The Next Generation” (309-318). Works by Lisa Jarnot, Patty Smith, Tom Marshall, Albert Saijo et al. Final class meeting.
NOTE: The final paper will be due no later than Wednesday, Dec. 11, and is to be submitted in class at the scheduled final exam time of 4:00-7PM that day or by arrangement with your TA.