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Buddhism, the Beat Movement, Jack Kerouac, literature, religion, literary criticism


American Studies | Buddhist Studies | Comparative Literature | English Language and Literature | Religion | Social History | United States History


In their quest to create an identity outside of what they saw as a materialistic and superficial society, the Beat Generation worked to develop a new understanding of American culture. This countercultural movement of the 1940s and 50s adopted new philosophies, ideologies and significantly, religious beliefs. The Beat Movement permeated many aspects of society, influencing American culture through its many works of art and literature. As a primary piece of Beat Literature, Jack Kerouac's The Dharma Bums served as a catalyst for the Beat movement, inspiring youth to explore new religious paths and cultural identities. The text works to capture a moment in history when Buddhist tradition was developing its place in the American religious landscape, a change which was accelerated by the publication of Kerouac's work. The Dharma Bums demonstrated a movement which challenged the traditional social and religious identity of America and inspired readers to incorporate these changes into their own lives. As Kerouac worked to develop his own understanding of Buddhism, his writing exemplifies the popularization of Buddhism during within the Beat movement.

Department 1 Awarding Honors Status

Religious Studies

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License