Please select a topic for the first paper from one of the two topics below. Make sure to cite specific evidence appropriately when crafting your argument. These are prompt and not questions to be systematically answered, so make sure to write a paper that is coherent and has a logical flow. When you turn in your paper, make sure it follows the format outlined in the syllabus.
- Gender and Sexuality We have spent a good deal of time in class discussing how Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac represent gender roles and sexuality in their letters. As with all representations, these are not by definition reality but rather mediated representations of reality. Do you feel that these authors are sexist? Why or why not? Do their explorations of masculine sexuality and gender roles challenge the norms of 1950s America or repeat them? Perhaps both? What aspects of their representations of women feel incomplete when compared to their urge to explain their perspectives in full detail?
- Visionary Aesthetics As we have discussed in class, the aesthetics of the Beat generation are not for everyone, or even for most people. In your view, how do the works of Rimbaud and Blake influence the approach to writing in the letters or as explained in Kerouac’s manifestos? How of you understand the connection between Kerouac’s aesthetics and jazz? In your view, how does this writing attempt to transcend the written word and invite the reader in to participate in a visionary experience?