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Maximum Feasible ParticipationAmerican Literature and the War on Poverty$
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Stephen Schryer

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781503603677

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9781503603677.001.0001

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Jack Kerouac’s Delinquent Art

Jack Kerouac’s Delinquent Art

Chapter:
(p.27) 1 Jack Kerouac’s Delinquent Art
Source:
Maximum Feasible Participation
Author(s):

Stephen Schryer

Publisher:
Stanford University Press
DOI:10.11126/stanford/9781503603677.003.0002

This chapter puts the Beat writer Jack Kerouac in conversation with 1950s sociologists and psychologists interested in juvenile delinquency. These social scientists used the delinquent to develop ideas that would culminate in the class culture paradigm of the 1960s. Kerouac’s fiction prefigures this paradigm, drawing on the work of Oswald Spengler to distinguish between lower-class minority and middle-class white cultures in the United States. In autobiographical novels like Maggie Cassidy, On the Road, and Dr. Sax, Kerouac imagines the delinquent as a self-divided figure, alienated from the traditional lower class and unable to adapt to the new demands of the rising professional class. His version of process art replicates this division, offering its readers a failed synthesis of middlebrow and avant-garde literature.

Keywords:   Jack Kerouac, Maggie Cassidy, On the Road, Dr. Sax, Beat Generation, juvenile delinquency, process art

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