Summer Book Discussion Series! Register Now!

  • Date(s): Friday, April 18th 2008 - Monday, May 26th 2008
  • Time: 7 p.m.
  • Location: Niobrara County Library

This summer, the Niobrara County Library will be hosting a four-book discussion series entitled, “On the Road: 50 Years of the Beatniks.” The Beat movement, also called the Beat Generation describes an American social and literary movement that originated in the 1950s. Its adherents, also known as Beatniks expressed their alienation from conventional or “square” society by adopting an almost uniform style of seedy dress, manners, and vocabulary. Beat poets sought to liberate poetry from academic preciosity and bring it back to the streets; the verse was frequently chaotic and liberally sprinkled with obscenities but often times ruggedly powerful and moving.

The series will be facilitated by Deane Tucker, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Humanities at Chadron State College and will begin on Monday, June 2 at 7 p.m. with Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. On the Road is an example of spontaneous prose and also Kerouac’s last effort to obey the dictates of novelistic tradition. Often considered a defining work of the Beat movement, this book was chosen by Time Magazine as one of the 100 best English language novels from 1923 to 2005.

The Dharma Bums, also by Kerouac, will be discussed on Monday, June 16. This semi-fictional, partly autobiographical novel accounts events that occurred after On the Road. The book largely concerns the duality in Kerouac’s life and ideals; written with spontaneous flow of thought and phrase that critics have both praised and ridiculed. The classical structure of The Dharma Bums is important to both style and meaning.

Monday, June 30, Allen Ginsberg’s Howl will be discussed. This epic poem is considered to be one of the most significant products of the Beat movement and was also the subject of a censorship trial at which a series of poets and professors persuaded the court that the book was not obscene.

William S. Burroughs’ Junky will be discussed on Monday, July 14. Burroughs’ first novel has come to be considered a seminal text on the lifestyle of heroin addicts in the early 1950’s and is the rebellion of the disaffected insider.

“On the Road: 50 Years of the Beatniks” is a program of the Wyoming Council for the Humanities and will also include a poetry slam tour of Casper, Cheyenne, and Lusk hosted by UW poet and professor Craig Arnold, and a bus trip on June 22 to visit Beat locales in Denver.

All programs are free and open to the public. This program is sponsored by the We the People initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

For more information and to register contact Debbie Sturman at the Niobrara County Library at 334-3490.