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Title: Aesthetics of subversion in 1950s American Literature
Authors: Ahmed, Mahmood
Advisors: Williams, Peter Andrew Phillip 
Subjects: Beat generation
Ginsberg, Allen 1926-1997--Criticism and interpretation
American literature--20th century--History and criticism
Issue Date: 2013
This thesis argues that the Beat movement devises new aesthetics which subvert the political hegemony, repression, conformism, and mechanical consciousness of the 1950s America. They appear as a reaction to the conservatism, materialism, and consumerism that prevailed in the post-World War II American society and culture. The Beats create a new consciousness that depends upon their sense of themselves as prophets, in William Blakes terms, Whitmans transcendental politics of egalitarianism, democracy, openness, acceptance, and "unconditioned spirit". The Beats new consciousness offers an alternative vision, which aims to regain Whitmans version of America, where freedom, fraternity and equality are Americas basic ideals. Due to its controversial themes, Allen Ginsbergs "Howl" is a breakthrough to American poetry of the 1950s. Metaphorically, it is like a manifesto of Ginsbergs cohort, who are liberal, liberated, democratic Americans who seek a position for themselves amid the conformist and suffocated American culture and society during the Cold War era. "America" expresses Ginsbergs political liberated thought, which embraces democracy as a basic American ideal. Ginsberg continues writing powerful poems, which criticize the repressive policies of American authorities, until his death. He still commits to the Beats transcendental politics, whose goal is to improve and develop America. The San Francisco branch of the Beats shares with their friends of New York their refusal of the American ideals of the 1950s. They also embrace Whitmans transcendental politics and widen them to include, in addition, non-human objects. They invent new poetic concepts to subvert materialism, militarism, hegemonic policies, and oppression. "Howl" is an important poem which caused heated arguments in court in the 1950s. It was accused of obscenity, a matter which stimulated famous critics and experts to defend it. "Howls" literary and social value is confirmed by an external entity (the judges verdict), which empowers it as one of the crucial poems in American literature. The Beats and their subversive aesthetics left significant marks on American culture and society, a fact that is assured in later generations.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 105-112).

Supervised by Dr. Peter Williams.
Rights: This object is protected by copyright, and is made available here for research and educational purposes. Permission to reuse, publish, or reproduce the object beyond the personal and educational use exceptions must be obtained from the copyright holder
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Type: Thesis
Appears in Collections:UOB Theses and Projects

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