Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2015

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis



First Advisor

William Watson


Post-World War II American ideology was steeped in consumerism, capitalism and distinct social expectations. In the 1950s and 60s, a counter-cultural movement emerged in which young poets, writers, and artists expressed their opposing views on American society. These counter-cultural pioneers became known as Beatniks or the Beats. The Beat Movement rejected traditional social expectations and portrayed gender roles differently in comparison to previous literary works. This thesis examines the manner in which some works of Beatnik literature portray women and LGBT individuals and how that portrayal may have aided the progress in the fight against repression of straight women and LGBT individuals. The research suggests that the gender politics exhibited in Beatnik literature was sexually liberating for straight women and LGBT individuals in mid-twentieth century America.

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