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A Queer Reading of Ginsberg’s America

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  1. The simple fact of an author's homosexual identity generally qualifies a text for a queer interpretation, but that identity is not necessarily a starting point for such criticism.
  2. Tyson identifies ?homosocial bonding? relationships as cues to a queer reading
  3. Tyson states that a focus on transgressive sexuality, even of the heterosexual variety, ?throws into question the rules of traditional heterosexuality?
  4. A few lines later, there is another flower reference tied to oppression and repression:
  5. One final line that may be emblematic of the gay experience is line 38: ?My psychoanalyst thinks I'm perfectly right.?
  6. In conclusion, Alan Ginsberg's poem ?America? is ripe with imagery representing homosexuality, from accepted symbols such as flowers and closeting to coded language such as 'queer' and the implicit male-male relationship with William Burroughs.

Famed Beat poet Alan Ginsberg was openly gay, a lifestyle decision largely frowned upon in the society in which the Beat generation grew up. However, such constraining standards were typical of the forces that artists like Ginsberg and his compatriots struggled against. The Beat generation was characterized by rebellion against what they saw as a moralizing and even paranoid American society. Ginsberg's poem ?America? attacks these values in a scathing streaming-consciousness style. While ?America? is not explicitly or even primarily about homosexual or queer issues, Ginsberg's own sexual identity is infused in the language and imagery of the poem, imbuing its politicized social commentary with a queer subtext.

[...] A Queer Reading of Ginsberg's America Famed Beat poet Alan Ginsberg was openly gay, a lifestyle decision largely frowned upon in the society in which the Beat generation grew up. However, such constraining standards were typical of the forces that artists like Ginsberg and his compatriots struggled against. The Beat generation was characterized by rebellion against what they saw as a moralizing and even paranoid American society. Ginsberg's poem ?America? attacks these values in a scathing streaming-consciousness style. While ?America? is not explicitly or even primarily about homosexual or queer issues, Ginsberg's own sexual identity is infused in the language and imagery of the poem, imbuing its politicized social commentary with a queer subtext. [...]


[...] One final line that may be emblematic of the gay experience is line 38: psychoanalyst thinks I'm perfectly right.? Tyson explains that gay, lesbian and queer experiences involve some similarities: ?These themes include : initiation, including discovering one's queer sexual orientation A gay/lesbian/bi-sexual/transgender/queer encyclopedia credits Ginsberg's work with a counselor for helping him become aware and accepting of his gay identity. Thus the line may well be an affirmation of this experience. Now that the symbols have been identified, there are questions to be raised about how the poem contributes to the gay or queer experience. [...]

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