Aspects of the beat generation aesthetic

1. Read all of the resources about the Beat Generation. 

2. Conduct your own research about the beat writers. There are plenty of articles and documentaries about this interesting group of artists.

3. Use the articles provided, my slides, and your own research about the beats to create a list of 7-10 aspects of the beat values, ideas, and aesthetic. Provide your source for each item.

4. Point out one example of how Jitterbug Perfume could be considered a “beat” novel. Provide a specific page and/or quotation to demonstrate your point. 

In order to understand Jitterbug Perfume, it’s important to understand the cultural and literary contexts that influence it. 

After the Second World War, America entered into a new era epitomized by Southern California’s migration patterns and booming industries. Returning soldiers were eager to start families and enter into a stable workforce. Many developers capitalized on these desires and sold us the dream of the suburban family residence: a “nuclear family”: 2.4 kids, with mom as homemaker and dad off working to provide his family with all the modern conveniences in their white-picket-fence home. 

But not everyone bought into “square” values. Some artists and writers reacted against the commercial, materialistic, and conformist mainstream. In the 1950s this group of artists coalesced as “the beat generation”. 

Read pages 1-5 of Herd’s article for more help defining characteristics of the Beat Generation. (files: Herd Beat)

Read Ginsberg’s own definition here (

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