This thesis examines and reevaluates the impact of poet Allen Ginsberg and his Beat Generation counterparts on defining and portraying societal progress through countercultural literature and how they themselves may damage the impact of their works. Beat poets like Ginsberg may not act as the best representation of the counterculture due to unethical and immoral behaviors that take away from the credibility and impact of their work. In addition, the Beat Generation itself must be reevaluated for clarity in who should be associated with the original Beat writers as modern critics’ use of the beat terminology has lumped in artists like Hunter S. Thompson and Bob Dylan as part of or derivative of the Beats. This thesis seeks to evaluate these issues in three parts: first by defining define a disenfranchised generation, the force that acts in opposition to their success, and the path to rectifying their issues; second by distinguishing the difference between Beats like Ginsberg, Gonzo writers like Thompson, and Beat affiliates like Dylan; and lastly by reevaluating how the Beats should be read in the modern era as separate from their works to maintain their efficacy in examining their place in literary and cultural history.

Date of publication

Winter 12-17-2021

Document Type




Persistent identifier


Committee members

Anett Jessop, Hui Wu, Tara Propper


Master of Arts in English