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New Journal Probes Impact of Beat Generation Writers

UPublish story by John Finn

WOOSTER, Ohio — Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsburg, Joyce Johnson, Anne Waldman, and other Beat Generation icons have been largely overlooked and underappreciated in the world of higher education…but that’s about to change. A new scholarly journal, conceived and co-edited by The College of Wooster’s Nancy Grace, will critique the literary style of these writers and appropriately recognize their noteworthy contributions to American culture.

The Journal of Beat Studies is a peer-reviewed journal sponsored by the Beat Studies Association (BSA) and published by Pace University Press. “I have felt for some time that we really needed a scholarly journal devoted entirely to Beat literature,” said Grace, professor of English and director of the Center for Diversity and Global Engagement at Wooster. “It is important to raise the level of scholarship on these writers.”

Grace and her longtime writing associate, Ronna C. Johnson, professor of English at Tufts University, along with the executive board of the BSA, approached Pace University Press, which showed keen interest in the proposal and eventually agreed to produce the publication. “It’s tough to start a scholarly journal from scratch,” said Grace, “but we knew it would be worth the effort.”

The journal features thoughtful critiques of the fiction, poetry, drama, travel, screenplay, and other literary musings from this fascinating period in American history. Beginning shortly after World War II in 1946 and continuing to the beginning of the hippie movement around 1964, a collection of Beat writers emerged to chronicle and shape a rapidly changing American landscape.

“Beat writers are an incredibly important part of American literature,” said Grace, whose scholarly contributions include Jack Kerouac and the Literary Imagination and Breaking the Rule of Cool: Interviewing and Reading Beat Women Writers, “but their work has not received a lot of support in the academy, primarily because of the misleading stereotype that Beat writers were anti-intellectual, which has resulted in very few English studies graduate programs hiring faculty with Beat studies expertise. But we need to understand the culture of this period and to continue the scholarship to learn more about how and why (these writers) had such an impact, not only in our country, but around the world as well.”

The first issue includes essays on popular Beat writers Jack Kerouac, Bryon Gysin, and Stewart Perkoff as well as reviews of recent Beat scholarship and an index of all reviews published on the online Beat Review ( The second issue is scheduled for a March 2013 release date.


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