English 150

Senior Seminar: William S. Burroughs and the Beat Generation

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
8 Spring 2005 Loewinsohn, Ron
Loewinsohn, Ron
TTh 11-12:30 103 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Burroughs, William S: Queer, Naked Lunch, Junky, The Wild Boys, Cities of the Red Night, The Place of Dead Roads, The Western Lands; Harris, Oliver (ed.): The Letters of William S. Burroughs; Kerouac, Jack: On the Road; Lotringer, Sylvere: Burroughs Live: Collected Interviews of WSB


This class will examine the work of William S. Burroughs within the context of the Beat Generation, concentrating on the work of Burroughs' two closest friends and mutual influences, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. We will spend some time on the historical and literary historical background of the 1950's, when the three first came to prominence. But I want us to work our way up to what I take to be Burroughs' most important (and most challenging) work, Naked Lunch, by first looking at some of his earlier work (Junky & Queer) and then at some of his later work, including the trilogy that ends with The Western Lands (1987), along with interviews and letters. Once we've familiarized ourselves with the complex and contradictory topography of Burroughs' world we'll be in a better position to understand and appreciate Naked Lunch.

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