In a recent article for the Washington Post, Jeff Weiss describes traveling the West Coast of America, interviewing surviving members of the Beat Generation (Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Diane di Prima, Michael McClure, Herbert Gold, and Gary Snyder). During his Beat odyssey, Weiss recounts how a woman “with a side-ponytail berated me in a Mardi Gras-themed bar for glorifying ‘worthless straight white men of privilege’” (2017). This accusation suggests a particular understanding of what the label “Beat Generation” means, one informed by the stereotype of On the Road (1957) and the sense of Jack Kerouac’s protagonists as pioneers of the gap year and cultural appropriation. Weiss’s barroom encounter is telling for what it indicates about the future standing of the Beats; while once progressives might have argued for these writers’ acceptance into the academy, in the future they may argue for their exclusion.

In the...

Article PDF first page preview

Article PDF first page preview
You do not currently have access to this content.