Irrational Doorways: Religion and Spirituality in the Work of the Beat Generation

Hdl Handle:
http://hdl.handle.net/10142/284534
Title:
Irrational Doorways: Religion and Spirituality in the Work of the Beat Generation
Authors:
Reynolds, Lori
Abstract:
My thesis explores the role of religion and spirituality in the work of the Beat Generation, a mid-twentieth century American literary movement. I focus on four major Beat authors: William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Gregory Corso. Through a close reading of their work, I identify the major religious and spiritual attitudes that shape their texts. All four authors’ religious and spiritual beliefs form a challenge to the Modern Western worldview of rationality, embracing systems of belief which allow for experiences that cannot be empirically explained. They also assert the primacy of the individual—a major American value—in a society which the authors believed to encroach upon individual agency. Ginsberg, Kerouac, and Corso are also strongly influenced by established religious traditions: an aspect of their work that is currently overlooked in Beat criticism. Burroughs’ belief in a magical universe shapes his work. Ginsberg is heavily influenced by the Jewish exegetical tradition. Kerouac and Corso’s work contains Catholic themes. My study rectifies some tendencies in current criticism which I find problematic: a dismissal of the Beats as a countercultural phenomenon rather than a literary movement, a tendency to frame Beat religion and spirituality in vague language, and a tendency to focus solely on Buddhism within the movement. My study illustrates that the Beat authors’ work contains serious religious and spiritual content, that they take part in American religious and literary traditions, and that the authors engage with major social issues of the post-war period.
Publisher:
Roehampton University
Issue Date:
2011
URI:
http://hdl.handle.net/10142/284534
Type:
Thesis or dissertation
Language:
en
Appears in Collections:
PhD Theses

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.contributor.authorReynolds, Lorien_GB
dc.date.accessioned2013-04-25T10:14:42Z-
dc.date.available2013-04-25T10:14:42Z-
dc.date.issued2011-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10142/284534-
dc.description.abstractMy thesis explores the role of religion and spirituality in the work of the Beat Generation, a mid-twentieth century American literary movement. I focus on four major Beat authors: William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Gregory Corso. Through a close reading of their work, I identify the major religious and spiritual attitudes that shape their texts. All four authors’ religious and spiritual beliefs form a challenge to the Modern Western worldview of rationality, embracing systems of belief which allow for experiences that cannot be empirically explained. They also assert the primacy of the individual—a major American value—in a society which the authors believed to encroach upon individual agency. Ginsberg, Kerouac, and Corso are also strongly influenced by established religious traditions: an aspect of their work that is currently overlooked in Beat criticism. Burroughs’ belief in a magical universe shapes his work. Ginsberg is heavily influenced by the Jewish exegetical tradition. Kerouac and Corso’s work contains Catholic themes. My study rectifies some tendencies in current criticism which I find problematic: a dismissal of the Beats as a countercultural phenomenon rather than a literary movement, a tendency to frame Beat religion and spirituality in vague language, and a tendency to focus solely on Buddhism within the movement. My study illustrates that the Beat authors’ work contains serious religious and spiritual content, that they take part in American religious and literary traditions, and that the authors engage with major social issues of the post-war period.en_GB
dc.description.provenanceSubmitted by Phil Jones (philip.jones@roehampton.ac.uk) on 2013-04-25T10:10:06Z No. of bitstreams: 3 Reynolds, Loni.pdf: 1341753 bytes, checksum: 0826b35e060e2e33f7b4b03235331d70 (MD5) license_rdf: 20325 bytes, checksum: c7f3e3c064c19e93e905bbb07856484c (MD5) license_text: 0 bytes, checksum: d41d8cd98f00b204e9800998ecf8427e (MD5)en
dc.description.provenanceApproved for entry into archive by Phil Jones (philip.jones@roehampton.ac.uk) on 2013-04-25T10:14:42Z (GMT) No. of bitstreams: 3 Reynolds, Loni.pdf: 1341753 bytes, checksum: 0826b35e060e2e33f7b4b03235331d70 (MD5) license_rdf: 20325 bytes, checksum: c7f3e3c064c19e93e905bbb07856484c (MD5) license_text: 0 bytes, checksum: d41d8cd98f00b204e9800998ecf8427e (MD5)en
dc.description.provenanceMade available in DSpace on 2013-04-25T10:14:42Z (GMT). No. of bitstreams: 3 Reynolds, Loni.pdf: 1341753 bytes, checksum: 0826b35e060e2e33f7b4b03235331d70 (MD5) license_rdf: 20325 bytes, checksum: c7f3e3c064c19e93e905bbb07856484c (MD5) license_text: 0 bytes, checksum: d41d8cd98f00b204e9800998ecf8427e (MD5) Previous issue date: 2011en
dc.language.isoenen
dc.publisherRoehampton Universityen
dc.subjectBeat generationen_GB
dc.subjectWilliam Burroughsen_GB
dc.subjectAllen Ginsbergen_GB
dc.subjectJack Kerouacen_GB
dc.subjectGregory Corsoen_GB
dc.subjectreligionen_GB
dc.subjectspritualityen_GB
dc.titleIrrational Doorways: Religion and Spirituality in the Work of the Beat Generationen_GB
dc.typeThesis or dissertationen
dc.type.qualificationnamePhDen
dc.type.qualificationlevelDoctoralen
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