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The Beat Movement (1944-1960s). Rizelle Capanzana, Khelsey Gozum, Rochelle Manongdo, Kimverly Garcia. Overview. Literary movement of the 1950s centered in the coffeehouses of New York and San Francisco Known for their experimentation with drugs and sexual adventures

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The Beat Movement (1944-1960s)

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the beat movement 1944 1960s

The Beat Movement (1944-1960s)

Rizelle Capanzana, Khelsey Gozum, Rochelle Manongdo, Kimverly Garcia

  • Literary movement of the 1950s centered in the coffeehouses of New York and San Francisco
  • Known for their experimentation with drugs and sexual adventures
  • Attracted the “silent generation” who sought to escape from American society rather than to change it
  • Beat writers rejected social conformity and literary tradition in favor of freedom of the individual. The individual should embrace creativity, sexual freedom, drugs, and adventure
    • Used hallucinogenic drugs or Buddhism to achieve higher consciousness
    • Beat poetry is largely free verse, often surrealistic, and influences by the cadences of jazz
  • Beat writers’ boldness gave the next generation the courage to fight for what they believed in
techniques themes
Techniques & Themes
  • Techniques
    • Free verse: poetry which is not written in a traditional meter but is still rhythmical
    • Imagery: sensory details of a work
    • Allusion: a reference in a work of literature to something outside the work
    • Symbolism: something that is simultaneously itself and a sign of something else
    • Metaphors: a direct comparison of two unlikely things
    • Euphemism: a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant
  • Themes:
    • Do not let anyone dictate what you are allowed to say and what you aren’t.
    • Nonconformism; changing of the orthodox view of society to a more liberal perception
    • Reach an understanding of one’s self with the help of hallucinogenic drugs and meditation
    • Oppose the rising military industrial complex overtaking society for your own sake
    • Return to holding idiosyncratic people to high regards
allen ginsberg
Allen Ginsberg

(1926 - 1997)

  • His younger years was marked by his mother’s psychological troubles, including a series of nervous breakdowns
  • Ginsberg attended Columbia University where he met Jack Kerouac. Together they are considered the founders of the Beat movement.
  • Major theme in Ginsberg’s life and poetry: strongly libertarian in nature, echoing his poetic preference for individual expression over tradition
  • Spiritual and visionary aspect of his poetry stems from inspiration of William Blake’s poetry; the mysticism led him to experiment with various drugs
  • He went to India in 1962 and it changed his mind on the use of drugs. It convinced him that meditation and yoga were far superior in raising one’s consciousness
  • Fan of Walt Whitman and Edgar Allen Poe
  • Notable Works:
    • Howl
    • Kaddish
    • A Supermarket in California

“Poetry is the one place where people can speak their original human mind. It is the outlet for people to say in public what is known in private“

― Allen Ginsberg.

lawrence ferlinghetti
Lawrence Ferlinghetti

1919- Present

  • Born in 1919 in Yonkers, NY but grew up in France and moved to San Francisco in 1951
  • Served in the WWII and detested the US for dropping the atomic bomb in Nagasaki and became an anarchist and pacifist
  • Co-founded City Lights Bookstore and Publishers with Peter Martin and became the heart of the Beat Movement and the sole publisher for the unwanted writers.
  • His career consisted of constant challenging of the status quo, defying the popular political movement and the literary tradition
    • themes mostly consisted of the tragicomic life of the common man, the plight of the individual in mass society, and the dream and betrayal of democracy.
    • highly influenced by e.e. cummings, T. S. Eliot,, Ezra Pound, Jacques Prevert
  • Notable Works
    • I Am Waiting, The Changing Light, A Coney Island of the Mind, Wild Dreams of a New Beginning

“Anyone who saw Nagasaki would suddenly realize that they'd been kept in the dark by the United States government as to what atomic bombs can do.”

― Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

gregory corso
Gregory corso


  • Spent most of childhood shifting from orphanages to his truant parents
  • Spent youth in a boys’ home and jail for theft’ jail was where he began reading classics and writing poems
  • Sent to the hospital for “observation” of his behavior
  • “Authentic, distinctive, and enormously effective voice that can range from sentimental affection and pathos to exuberance and da Dadaist irreverence toward almost anything except poetry itself”
  • Notable works:
    • “Marriage”
    • “Bomb”
    • “The Mad Yak”

“I just trust people and they sense everything's gonna be alright.”

― Gregory Corso

gary snyder
Gary Snyder


  • Was born in San Francisco but was mostly raised on the farmlands in Washington and Oregon state
  • His work comprises of his insight regarding physical reality and his observations of nature
  • Major themes in Gary Snyder’s poetry: Human relations with nature and the need for human coexistence with natural world
    • Snyder’s main purpose with his poems, which correlates to his being part of the counterculture, was trying to instill an ecological consciousness in his audience
  • Notable works of Gary Snyder:
    • Turtle Island (compilation of poems that address the need for humans to peacefully coexist with nature)
    • Four Poems for Robin (4 poems about his young first love and how it was lost)
    • “The Berry Feast”
    • “For All”

“Find your place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there.”

  • ― Gary Snyder
art of the beat movement
Art of the Beat movement

Untitled by Franz Kline

Lavender Mist by Jackson Pollock

Fountain by Marcel Duchump

ap test prompts
Ap test Prompts
  • While the United States appeared to be dominated by consensus and conformity in the 1950’s, some Americans reacted against the status quo. Analyze the critiques of United States society by TWO of the following Youth and Literary Works.
  • Analyze the extent to which the 1920s and 1950s were similar in by Intolerant attitudes and literary developments
  • Explore three major types of transgressive behavior exhibited by the Beats, supporting each key concept with sufficient supporting examples.  How do the authors view their own actions — do they acknowledge their wrongdoing or downplay it, taking issue with society's mores?
  • Gartner, D, John.. "Manic mensch." National Review. 22 May. 2000: 70. eLibrary. Web. 14 Dec. 2013.
  • f
  • In which two American cities did the Beat Movement primarily start?
  • What were the two ways in which the Beat writers use to reach a higher level of consciousness?
  • What were some of the topics that Beat writers discussed?
  • What was the relationship between Ginsberg and Ferlinghetti?
  • Were the Beatniks hippies?
  • How long did the beat movement last?
  • How well did we do?
  • What did you learn about the Beat Movement?