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American Studies / Cultural Studies / Latin American Studies / Literature & Criticism

Countering the Counterculture
Rereading Postwar American Dissent
from Jack Kerouac to Tomás Rivera
Manuel Luis Martinez

"A passionate and powerful book that offers a fresh and compelling perspective on social dissent in postwar America."—Albert Gelpi, Stanford University

Rebelling against bourgeois vacuity and taking their countercultural critique on the road, the Beat writers and artists have long symbolized a spirit of freedom and radical democracy. Manuel
Luis Martinez offers an eye-opening challenge to this characterization of the Beats, juxtaposing them against Chicano nationalists like Raul Salinas, Jose Montoya, Luis Valdez, and Oscar Acosta and Mexican migrant writers in the United States, like Tomás Rivera and Ernesto Galarza.

In an innovative rereading of American radical politics and culture of the 1950s and 1960s, Martinez uncovers reactionary, neoromantic, and sometimes racist strains in the Beats' vision of freedom, and he brings to the fore the complex stances of Latinos on participant democracy and progressive culture. He analyzes the ways that Beats, Chicanos, and migrant writers conceived of and articulated social and political perspectives. He contends that both the Beats' extreme individualism and the Chicano nationalists' narrow vision of citizenship are betrayals of the democratic ideal, but that the migrant writers presented a distinctly radical and inclusive vision of democracy that was truly countercultural.

"A totally original and brilliant revision of American cultural studies and Chicano studies. It persuasively pairs the Beats with Chicano writers and activists through the metaphor and palpable reality of migratory movement and its meanings for the American experience."José E. Limón, University of Texas at Austin

Manuel L
uis Martinez is assistant professor in the Department of English at Indiana University. His novel Crossing was chosen as one 1998's Best Books by Writers of Color by the PEN American Center. His most recent novel is called Drift.

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Image of Kerouac and other beat poets above an image of a girl and her friends giving a "peace" sign

October 2003

LC: 2003005654 PS
368 pp.    6 x 9

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Paper $29.95 s
ISBN 978-0-299-19284-6
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Updated November 10, 2011

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