How the Beats Influenced Social Movements in the Later Half of the Twentieth Century

Essay Question: How did the beat generation influence other sociauikhuhuhjl movements that occurred in the second half of the twentieth century?
By Brydie Siryj
The origins of the beat movement can be traced back to Columbia University where Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Lucien Carr, Hal Chase and others met.   It was at Columbia University where the future beats discussed and shared ideas that would later lead to the experimentation of drugs, alternative forms of sexuality, interest in Eastern religion, rejection of materialism and the creation of the spontaneous prose that would occur throughout the 1950’s. These central elements of the beat generation would see a new form of American literature that would greatly influence the counterculture of the 60’s. One of the most famous works that came from the Beat movement was Jack Kerouac’s ‘On The Road’ where Kerouac wrote the entire novel in less than 3 weeks on a single continuous roll of paper, inspiring an expression of consciousness that would later be seen in other notable Beat author’s work. Some of these works include William Burroughs’s ‘Naked Lunch’ and Allen Ginsberg’s poem ‘Howl’. Through these forms of literary expression the Beat movement resisted social norms of the time and created a foundation for some of the many social movements of the 1960’s.
At the height of the Cold war where it was a time of compliance and conformity in 1950’s America, the Beat’s obscurity and unconventional ways of life were met with a variety of critics. Life Magazine claimed that they were at war with everything sacred in Eisenhower’s America and compared them to communists. While New York Times literary critic Gilbert Millstein hailed the appearance of Jack Kerouac’s ‘On The Road’ as “a historic occasion”. Whether critics demean or praise the purpose of the Beat movement, there is no doubt that the Beat’s open writing about homosexuality, drugs and different religions paved the way for social movements such as the Lesbian...