“Encountering Allen Ginsberg: The South Asian Avant-Garde Response to the Beats” – ACLA, Harvard University – March 18

BENARES, INDIA - FEBRUARY 1963: Beat poet Allen Ginsberg points at art poster during February 1963 in his tenement apartment near the banks of the Ganges river in Benaras, India. Ginsberg explored Eastern philosophies with Peter Orlovsky and other founders of the Beat movement during his March '62 - May '63 stay. (Photo by Pete turner/Getty Images)

Presented by Dr. Rita Banerjee
Cross-Cultural Values: Confluences and Conflicts
Friday March 18, 2016 * 2:00 – 3:45 pm
Emerson Hall, Room 307, Harvard University

In the early 1960s, Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, Gregory Corso, and Gary Snyder travelled extensively across India and met with several avant-garde South Asian writer groups such as the Krittibās and Hungry Generation writers in Bengali, the Nayī Kavitā poets in Hindi, and with P. Lal’s English-language Writers Workshop group. This paper will examine the ways in which the South Asian avant-garde interpreted, welcomed, and/or challenged the Asia-oriented gaze of Allen Ginsberg and his fellow Beats. The complicated South Asian response to the Beat Generation will be investigated through examples of literary criticism, translation, and first-hand accounts of the Beats as produced by modernist, Hungry Generation, and post-Independence confessionalist writers in Hindi, Bengali, and Indian English.

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