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Liminality and «Communitas» in the Beat Generation

Aaron Christopher Mitchell

The Beat Generation questioned mid-twentieth century America and sought the margins of society. This book analyzes the literature and lifestyles of the Beat authors Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and Allen Ginsberg in regard to Victor Turner’s anthropological studies. The Beats separated from society by willingly entering the rites of passage. Liminal symbolism is apparent in their literature such as in movement, time, space, pilgrimages, and monstrosities. In their liminal stage, they established «communitas» and developed anti-structure. They questioned society and made proposals to change it in their liminoid literature. The Beats shared similarities with previous countercultures, and they influenced the following Hippie Generation.

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Works Cited

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Achilles, Jochen and Ina Bergmann, eds. Liminality and the Short Story: Boundary Crossings in American, Canadian, and British Writing. New York: Taylor & Francis, 2015. Print. Routledge Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Literature 34.

Achilles, Jochen, Roland Borgards, and Brigitte Burrichter, eds. Liminale Anthropologien. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2012. Print.

“Affirming Humanness.” The San Francisco Oracle. 20 Sept. 1966. Vol. 1. Nr. 1. p. 2. CD-ROM. Cohen, Allen. The Oracle: The Psychedelic Newspaper of the Haight Ashbury. Vol. 1–12. Regent Press: Oakland, CA, 2005.

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