Part 1Paper 4: English Literature and its Contexts 1830-Present.
(2.4.9) Countercultural Writing 1950-1999
Dr. James Riley
Theodore Roszak, The Making of a Counter Culture (University of California, 1969).
2. Alexander Trocchi.
Trocchi, Cain’s Book (Calder, 1963).
3. Children of Albion (Michael Horovitz and Harry Fainlight)
Horovitz (ed.), Children of Albion: Poetry of the Underground in Great Britain (Penguin, 1969).
4. British Poetry Revival (Lee Harwood and Roy Fisher)
Harwood, Crossing the Frozen River (Paladin, 1988); Fisher, Poems 1955-1980 (Oxford, 1980).
5. Iain Sinclair and the 1960s
Sinclair, Kodak Mantra Diaries (Albion Village, 1972); Lights Out for the Territory
(Granta,1997); Rodinsky’s Room (Granta, 1999).
6. Terminal Documents: James Williamson, James Havoc and Creation Books.
James Havoc, Butchershop in the Sky (Creation, 2000).
Lecture 1 Counterculture
1. to enable students to read as wide a range as possible of the literature which falls within its scope, and to study that literature in the light of the period's social and intellectual life.
2. Counterculture: A radical culture, esp. amongst the young, that rejects established social values and practices; a mode of life opposed to the conventional or dominant (OED)
3.Its disciples are mostly young and generally thoughtful Americans who are unable to reconcile themselves to the stated values and implicit contradictions of contemporary Western society, and have become internal émigrés seeking individual liberation through means as various as drug use, total withdrawal from the economy and the quest for individual identity. (Robert Jones, ‘Hippie: The Philosophy of a Subculture’, Time, July 1967).
4. the embryonic cultural base of New Left politics, the effort to discover new types of community, new family patterns, new sexual mores, new kinds of livelihood, new aesthetic forms, new personal identities on the far side of power politics, the bourgeoise home, and the Protestant work ethic
Its disciples are mostly young and generally thoughtful Americans who are unable to reconcile themselves to the stated values and implicit contradictions of contemporary Western society, and have become internal émigrés seeking individual liberation through means as various as drug use, total withdrawal from the economy and the quest for individual identity. (Theodore Roszak, 'Youth and the Great Refusal', 1969).
Sexual Intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(Which was rather late for me) –
Between the end of the Chatterley ban
And the Beatles’ first LP.
--Philip Larkin, ‘Annus Mirabilis’ in High Windows (Faber, 1974).
6. […] this transformation was not due solely to counter-cultural protest and activism but also to a conjunction of developments, including economic, demographic, and technological ones, and, critically, to the existence in positions of authority of men and women of traditional and enlightened outlook who respond flexibly and tolerantly to counter-cultural demands. (Arthur Marwick, The Sixties, 1998).
I was run over by the truth one day.
Ever since the accident I’ve walked this way
So stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.
You put your bombers in, you put your conscience out,
You take the human being and you twist it all about
So scrub my skin with women
Chain my tongue with whiskey
Stuff my nose with garlic
Coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.
--Adrian Mitchell, ‘To Whom It May Concern (Tell Me Lies About Vietnam)’ in Wholly Communion, (London: Lorrimer, 1965).
8.[… ] a cultural subset of the era: a movement that, springing from an eclectic fusion of beats, mods, the New Left, black music and white teenagers became known as the ‘alternative society’, the ‘counterculture’ or (most inappropriately) ‘the underground’. It flourished in its most visible manifestation from the Albert Hall poetry reading of June 1965 to the Oz trial of July 1971, achieving its most powerful period between 1966 and 1969. It was not simply that, as Jeff Nuttall put it, young people “made war” on their elders, but that for brief but influential period some of them attempted with varying degrees of success to step outside the bounds of established society and exist within a world whose only limits were of their own definition. (Jonathan Green, Days in the Life, 1989).
9. Practically all the activists, student protestors, hippies, yippies, Situationists, advocates of psychedelic liberation, participants in be-ins and rock festivals, proponents of free love, members of the underground, and advocates of Black Power, women’s liberation, and gay liberation believed that by engaging in struggles, giving witness, or simply doing their own thing they were contributing to the final collapse of bad bourgeoise society. To say that is not to withhold admiration from the activism and idealism nor to deny the many positive achievements of the protestors; but it is to recognize that their ultimate objectives were based on a fundamental fallacy. There was never any possibility of a revolution; there was never any possibility of a ‘counter-culture’ replacing ‘bourgeoise’ culture. Modern society is highly complex with respect to the distribution of power, authority, and influence. Just as it was not formed by the simple overthrow of the aristocracy by the bourgeoisie, so, in its contemporary form, it does not consist simply of a bourgeois ruling class and a proletariat. (Marwick, The Sixties).
Suggested further reading
Allen, Donald (ed.) The New American Poetry 1945-1960 (California, 1960).
Bell, Daniel, The End of Ideology (Harvard, 1960).
Berke, Joseph, Counterculture (Fire, 1969).
Brautigan, Richard, Trout Fishing in America (Four Seasons, 1967).
Fabian, Jenny, Groupie (New English Library, 1967) and A Chemical Romance (New English Library, 1970).
Green, Jonathan, Days in the Life (Heinemann, 1989).
Hewison, Robert, Too Much: Art and Society in the Sixties, 1960-75 (Methuen, 1986).
Kandel, Lenore, The Love Book (City Lights, 1966).
Keyes, Thom, All Night Stand (W.H. Allen, 1966).
Marcuse, Herbert, One-Dimensional Man (1964),
Marwick, Arthur, The Sixties (Oxford, 1998).
McClure, Michael, Meat Science Essays (City Lights, 1963).
Nuttall, Jeff, Bomb Culture (Paladin, 1968).
Roszak, Theodore, The Making of a Counter Culture (California, 1969).
Thompson, Hunter, S., Hell’s Angels (Random House, 1966).
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Random House, 1971).
Whitehead, Peter, Wholly Communion (Lorrimer, 1965) and Tonite Let’s All Make Love in London (Hathor, 1999).
Wolfe, Tom, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (Farrar, Straus, 1967).
Mills, C., Wright, The White Collar: The American Middle Classes (Oxford, 1951).