Black Mountain/Beat Poetry (LIT2525.01)

Sandra Simonds

The Beats were a mid-20th century group of writers who rebelled against the oppressive societal and cultural norms of 1950s America. These writers celebrated the freedom of the open road, dropping out of school, spoken-word poetry set to jazz, and drug culture. At roughly same time, another community of antiestablishment writers and artists sprung-up at Black Mountain College, an experimental arts school in North Carolina which operated from 1933-1957. Charles Olson’s manifesto Projective Verse champions a poetics that seeks to “reorient a poet’s stance towards reality.” In this class we will think through the following questions: What leads writers and artists to reject traditional institutions in favor of creating a literary counterculture? What are the aesthetic choices that writers make which align with this rejection? And finally, how did these writers set the stage for the cultural and sexual revolution of the 1960s?  We will read Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems as well as texts by Amiri Baraka, Anne Waldman, Diane di Prima and Joanne Kyger. Readings of Black Mountain poets will include Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Denise Levertov and Paul Blackburn. Students are expected to write a midterm paper and create a presentation based on course content as well as take part in frequent creative writing exercises.

Learning Outcomes:
*Analyze the historical, cultural and social foundations of the Beat Movement and Black Mountain College.
*Develop and refine skills in close reading poetry and fiction.
*Conduct independent scholarly research to produce quality written work.
*Engage with literature through collaborative and creative activities.
*Make connections between Beat Movement and Black Mountain aesthetics to contemporary writing practices.

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Course Level: 2000-level
Credits: 4
Click here for course meeting days/times. (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 20
Course Frequency: One time only

Categories: 2000 , All courses , Four Credit , Fully In-Person , Literature