Where the Road will take you…

The Beat Generation Through the Writings of Ginsberg, Kerouac, and Burroughs

The Beats created a counterculture by rejecting the rampant materialism of post-war prosperity and the conservative moral code of the 1950s.  The ideals of the Beat generation are largely expressed in the writings of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs.

We will provide three major sections on the website: Biographies, Ideals, and Historical Context.  The Biography section will outline the lives of Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs and provide background information on their lives.  The Historical Context section will describe the characteristics of post-WWII society and how it set the stage for the Beat rebellion.  This section will also discuss the public’s reaction to the Beat generation.  The Ideals section will be focused mainly on the writings (literature and letters) of these authors and how their ideals are expressed through their words, with an emphasis on how their ideals respond to the post-WWII culture of conformity.  We will also use secondary sources (essays, film clips, newspaper articles, reviews) that analyze their writings and the Beat Generation as a whole to place them in the larger context of American history.

Our goals are 1) to explain how Kerouac , Ginsberg, and Burroughs were emblematic of the Beat Generation and 2) to show the Beat Generation influenced future generations by altering America’s view of social norms and authority.  The existing Cold War unit discusses only the mainstream of the 1950s, omitting the rise of the Beat generation.


Katherine Agnew, Chelsea Kashur, Nicholas Lenderking-Brill, Susan Murphy, Mitchell Phelan, Natalia Scorer, Cesar Souza