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American social and literary movement of the 1950s and '60s. It is associated with artists' communities in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York. Its adherents expressed alienation from conventional society and advocated personal release and illumination through heightened sensory awareness and altered states of consciousness. Beat poets, including Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso (1930–2001), and Gary Snyder, sought to liberate poetry from academic refinement, creating verse that was vernacular, sometimes sprinkled with obscenities, but often powerful and moving. Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs developed an unstructured, spontaneous, sometimes hallucinatory approach to prose writing that was designed to convey the immediacy of experience. The Beat movement had faded by c. 1970, though its influence continued to be felt decades later.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Beat movement, visit Britannica.com.
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