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LTEN 087 The Beat Generation: Home

Information on finding criticism and other information about writers of The Beat Generation in reference books, books, and journal articles, and a basic guide to finding original manuscript materials about them in UCSD's Archive for New Poetry.

Finding Relevant Books in Roger

UCSD's online catalog, UC Library Search, contains individual records for each book, DVD, journal, magazine, and manuscript collection owned by the Library. (It does not, though, index the specific articals in all those journals and magazines.) The search box for Roger defaults to a keyword search. However, by dropping down from "Keyword" to "General Subjects," you can search on the precise subject headings that the Libraries provide for each item we acquire. Here are some relevant subject headings to search:

Beat Generation.

   Notice the "sub-headings" after this phrase, which lead to specific aspects of the topic--for example, biography, diaries, dictionaries and encyclopedias, and full-length bibliographies that list books, magazine articles, videos, etc.  Books that focus on the Beat movement in a particular city can be found like this: "Beat Generation--California--San Francisco."

Books about individual Beat writers or artists are listed under their individual names (last name first), for example:

Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997

Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969

Burroughs, William S., 1914-1997

Notice that these headings are also sub-divided to lead you to specific types of books--for example, collections of their correspondence or diaries, information about their "friends and associates," books about a specific literary work (e.g., Howl or On the Road), and bibliographies of books and articles specifically about that author.

The most important sub-heading for finding books of criticsm or interpretation of an author's literary works is the sub-heading "--Criticism and Interpretation."  

Original Manuscripts in the Archive for New Poetry

The Archive for New Poetry, one of numerous collection strengths within the Library's Special Collections & Archives, on the main floor of Geisel Library, is one of the major collections in the world for the study of experimental poetry and some prose written in English since the end of World War II. It currently comprises approximately 30,700 printed books, broadsides, and little magazines as well as the manuscripts and archives of approximately fifty writers and small presses. Because of the rarity and fragility of much of the material, all material must be consulted in the Reading Room and certain rules must be followed while using the materials. 

FINDING BOOKS and OTHER PRINTED ITEMS. All printed books, broadsides, and little magazines have bibliographic records in Roger and may be searched by author, title, and sometimes by the publisher or printer, the illustrator, and other special attributes. Relevant items may be discovered by searching by genre (for example "Concrete Poems"). In addition to their titles, literary magazines may be found by using the subject heading "American poetry [or literature]--20th century [or 21st Century]--Periodicals."

FINDING MANUSCRIPTS. A basic catalog record for each manuscript collection or archive can be found in Roger, and these can also be discovered using the subject heading of the writer or press, for example: Notley, Alice, 1945-      --Archives or Sun and Moon Press--Archives.  Many of the important correspondents in an archive are also listed in Roger as authors, followed by the term "correspondent." For example, you can easily see that we have letters from Allen Ginsberg in at least eight separate archives by entering "Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997, correspondent" as an author.  

However, the contents of an archive are far too diverse, complex, and voluminous to be fully represented in Roger. Therefore, for each separate collection of manuscripts in ANP, a FINDING AID is created that details the scope and organization of the collection and then lists, box by box and folder by folder, the contents of the archive. The link to all of the finding aids for manuscript collections in ANP can be found here. Be sure to read the description of the archive carefully before scanning the list of boxes. Many of the archives in ANP have been acquired over a period of years, and each of these separate acquisitions are listed separately. Therefore, letters from Writer X to the archive's creator may be listed in two or more boxes. For an example of this, see the finding aid for the Alice Notley Papers.

Manuscripts by The Beats. ANP does not have the archives of any of the major Beat writers. Some of the writers whose archives are in ANP may have been considered to be a "Beat" writer by some critics, by some of their fellow writers, or even by themselves, but none of ANP's writers are primarily regarded as Beats. Several writers connected with the San Francisco Renaissance, such as Lew Welch and Joanne Kyger, whose archives are in ANP, may have had Beat influences and/or friends. The same is true for some of the so-called New York School of poets, such as Bernadette Mayer, Alice Notley, James Schuyler, and the United Artists (small press) archive. Although ANP does not have his principal archive, we do own a small collection of letters by Gary Snyder. Principally, however, our manuscripts and letters by Beat writers are located in the archives of OTHER writers or small presses. 


Reference Books about the Beats

The Beat Generation: A Gale Critical Companion. Ed. Lynn M. Zott. Detroit: Gale Cengage, 2003. 3 volumes. SSH Reference PS 228 .B6 Z68 2003. Volume I has essays on general topices relating to the Beat writers and activists; volumes 2-3 have individual essays on each individual.

Encyclopedia of Beat Literature. Ed. Kurt Hemmer. New York: Facts on File, 2007. SSH Reference PS 228 .B6 E53 2007

 Beat Culture: Icons, Lifestyles, and Impact. Ed. William T. Lawlor. Santa Barbara: ABC Clio, 2005. SSH Reference PS 228 .B6 B368 2005. Ebook ordered April 10th, 2012.

Finding Critical Articles

Individual articles in journals and magazines and individual chapters or essays in books are not cataloged in Roger or, generally, in any library's online catalog. To access these thousands of critical and biographical articles and chapters, we rely on discipline-specific databases (usually derived from printed bibliographies that were published annually back in the twentieth century). There are quite a few databases that focus on literature in general and American literature in particular, but for the purposes of undergraduate research, two of them are probably sufficient.

MLA International Bibliography. MLAIB is a continuously updated database of citations to articles in thousands of scholarly journals devoted to literary criticism, biography, and other aspects of literary studies and to a large number of scholarly collections of articles published within books. It is published by the largest professional organization of literature professors and scholars in the world, the Modern Language Association. Note that the default for the search boxes is "keyword." However, I recommend that when looking for articles about a specific author and a specific major work by that author, you change the search box row from "keyword" to "Descriptor," which is the same thing as a subject heading. For example, typing "Ginsberg, Allen" as a descriptor in one line and "Howl" as a descriptor in the second line will result in a much more focused set of results than using those words as keywords.

The important thing to remember about MLAIB is that it is a citation database only--it does not contain the full texts of the articles. However, there are direct links to the full texts of articles that appear in both the JSTOR and Project Muse collections of full-text journals. In addition, every single citation in MLAIB has an orange "UC eLink" icon that will link you to any source of the full text for that article that is owned by the Libraries or, if not owned online, to Roger so that you can easily see if the Library owns a subscription to the print version of the journal (or book) in which the article appears.

Humanities International Complete (HIC). This database is not as comprehensive for literary criticism as MLAIB. It attempts to index many of the most important journals in a lot of different humanities disciplines rather than all of the journals in one specific field. The trade-off is that a fairly high percentage of the results of your search have the full text of the document linked directly from the citation. I recommend in this database that you leave all your search terms in the "Select a Field (Optional)" box rather than switching to subject headings.