Kerouac, Ginsberg, Snyder: The beat generation reconsidered as postmodern literature

Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor's Name

Alfred Lopez

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Mary Jane Elkins

Third Advisor's Name

Butler Waugh

Date of Defense



The purpose of this thesis paper is to uncover how the major writers of the Beat Generation-Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Snyder-reflect the coming of postmodern literary theory and aesthetic principles and values. The Beats, far from being the sole territory of modernist discourse, are indications of the dismantling of cultural barriers and the introduction of postmodern commercial and visual culture into literary reality.

The paper considers and establishes the writing of the Beats within eight ideals that are found in postmodern literature, visual arts, and theory: the concept of culture as a commodity, the deterritorialization of culture, historicizing the past into the present, decentering American hegemony, deconstructing the “bourgeois ego”, deconstructing “otherness”, muti-imagistic qualities, and “schizophrenia”.



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