Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
Dr. Frances W. Gregory
The beatnik has been a favorite character in American films and television in recent years. Somewhere in the lost shuffle of Jerry Lewis movies is found a scene containing typical Hollywood treatment of the bohemian of the 1950's. A "square," i.e., a "normal" person, finds himself in a smoky tomb-like cafe featuring the props necessary to represent a "beatnik scene:" expresso coffee, unwashed, bearded men wearing sweatshirts, dungarees, and sneakers accompanied by classic beatnik "chicks" (female bohemians) with long, straight hair, an abundance of dark eye shadow, perhaps sunglasses, and, of course, they are clad entirely in black. Without fail, the center of activity would be a touseled-haired young man wearing sunglasses, goatee, beret, or some other suitable badge of eccentricity. This bard would be shouting unintelligible poetry against the equally unintelligible rhythms of a beatnik combo. All about him, the sunken cheeks, sad eyes, and mouths sucking cigarettes attest to the sheer profundity of his verse. All this provides the comic setting for the square hero's antics; a superficial technique for lampooning a superficial bohemia.
Winders, James A., "The early Beats: humanity and machinery" (1971). Honors Theses. 780.