1st Edition

Beat Myths in Literature Revisionist Strategies in Beat Women

By Estíbaliz Encarnación-Pinedo Copyright 2023
    200 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Beat Myths in Literature reassesses the work of women poets associated with the Beat Generation from the critical lens of revisionist discourses. Using the metaphor and the critical lens of looking back, an act infused with feminist implications after Adrienne Rich (1972), the volume focuses on poetry, fiction, and autobiographical writing to analyze the different ways in which Beat women used revisionist discourses to refashion the Beat Generation and establish themselves as literary and artistic subjects. Offering the first comprehensive study of the use of mythology in the Beat Generation, Beat Myths in Literature: Revisionist Strategies in Beat Women focuses on the specific re-writing or revisioning of mythical texts. As such, it studies the ways in which Beat poets incorporate mythology into their works, both through the feminist reinvention or appropriation of ancient myths, but also by debunking more contemporary myths used to contain women in particular social and artistic roles. Furthermore, this volume expands Rich’s notion of re-vision, considering memoirs and autobiographies as factual and fictional re-interpretations of history. Seen through the eyes of revisionist studies and the poets’ investment in “personal myth”, the book establishes new points of entrance into works that allow us to explore the feminist, political, and poetical relevance of the work of Beat women

    Chapter 1: The Art of Looking Back

    Myth and the Beat Generation

    When Women Look Back: Political and Aesthetic Considerations

    Chapter 2: Joanne Kyger and the Subversion of Discourse

    Reevaluation of Female Passivity: Genre Considerations

    Uses of Myth and the Mythologizing of the Self

    Poet as Editor

    Chapter 3: Diane di Prima’s Feral Epic Revisionism

    Constructing Loba: Some Images

    Goddess in a Patriarchal World

    Revision and Appropriation: The Mythic and Mystic Discourses

    Chapter 4: Anne Waldman and the Scope of Jove

    The Gender/Genre Debate: Epic and Female Experience

    Dismantling Jove: Poet as Archivist

    Myth and the Androgynous Position

    Chapter 5: Memoir and the Beat Chick

    Beat Chick and the Female Body

    The Reversal and Perpetuation of Gender Roles: Independence and Marriage

    Beatnik Motherhood: Myths and Realities

    Chapter 6: Memoir and Writing (the) Beat

    Why memoir? Some Genre Considerations

    Writing (in) the Memoirs

    Beat Generation Revisited: Stylistic Considerations

    Coda: Expansive Revisionism


    Estíbaliz Encarnación-Pinedo holds a PhD in postwar American literature from the University of Murcia (Spain) and is currently a lecturer and researcher in the Department of Modern Languages at Polytechnic University of Cartagena, Murcia. Her research focuses on gender and feminism in postwar and avant-garde American poetry. She is co-editor of ruth weiss: Beat Poetry, Jazz, Art (2021), and has published journal articles and book chapters on Beat women and Beat-related poets such as Anne Waldman, ruth weiss, Harold Norse, Diane di Prima, or Joanne Kyger.

    "In Beat Myths in Literature, Estíbaliz Encarnación-Pinedo "looks back" in two important senses: she looks back at ancient myths through the optic of women poets who rewrite these stories in contemporary, gendered terms. In like manner she looks back at the positioning of women in ancient myth alongside contemporary myths that continue to define women’s position in society. In her remarkable readings of long poems by Anne Waldman, Joanne Kyger, Diane di Prima and personal memoirs by Hettie Jones, Joyce Johnson, and others, Encarnación-Pinedo enlarges our view of writers loosely associated with the "Beat generation" label. By contesting treatments of myth within a masculinist mythopoetics and revising the role of women writers in a largely male enclave she looks back by looking forward".

    --Michael Davidson, author of The San Francisco Renaissance: Poetics and Community at Mid-century and Guys Like Us: Citing Masculinity in Cold War Poetics

    "Anyone seeking a cogent introduction to the significance of women Beat writers should turn to Beat Myths in Literature: Revisionist Strategies in Beat Women. It proves a useful starting point and an expansion of extant scholarship through exploration of writers including Diane di Prima, Joanne Kyger, Joyce Johnson, Hettie Jones, and Anne Waldman. With cat-like nimbleness, Encarnacioìn-Pinedo elucidates their production of established Beat aesthetics while deftly arguing for the experimental techniques—via□poetry, memoir, film, and archival work—by which the women looked backward into myth to create plausible visions of their then-contemporary realities alongside a more equitable future". 

    --Nancy M. Grace, author of Jack Kerouac and the Literary Imagination and co-editor of Girls who Wore Black: Women Writing the Beat Generation

    "In this masterful work, Estíbaliz Encarnación-Pinedo provides a compelling account of how Beat women writers skillfully deployed myths, both ancient and contemporary, to refashion their lives and poetics, offering nothing less than a re-evaluation of the myth of the Beat Generation itself in the process. Linking insightful close readings with a range of critical approaches, Encarnación-Pinedo has produced an eminently readable account of a body of texts that deserve more attention. An indispensable book not only for those interested in Beat writing, but for anyone concerned with how mythology continues to create meaning in the present".

    --Erik Mortenson, author of Capturing the Beat Moment: Cultural Politics and the Poetics of Presence and Translating the Counterculture: The Reception of the Beats in Turkey

    "Beat Myths in Literature: Revisionist Strategies in Beat Women is a fascinating survey of the ways authors including Joanne Kyger, Diane di Prima and Anne Waldman employ mythic narratives to illuminate their own lives as artists and at the same time reimagine a male-centered literary history from the silenced woman's point of view. Filled with insights concerning the intersections of ancient and modern myths and literature, this book marks an important advance in the field of Beat Studies and will remain an important source for both scholars in the field and the general reader."

    --David Stephen Calonne, author of Diane di Prima: Visionary Poetics and the Hidden Religions, and The Beats in Mexico