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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Howl: The Tip of the Obscene Iceberg


My essay on Allen Ginsberg’s Howl is actually a chapter of a bigger research paper I’m working  on. While performing research on literary censorship, I found a source from the UC Merced  Library search engine. It was a book called Howl on Trial. Thus, I went down the rabbit hole. My objective was to actually argue against a commonly-viewed idea regarding Howl. Thanks to  the information provided by Howl on Trial, it was evident that many scholars had specific takes  on why Howl was initially banned. I decided to assert that many authors don’t really consider the  idea that the people who banned Howl, mainly police officers from the 1950s, never understood  the point of the poem. It was actually thanks to Professor Garcia from the UC Merced English  Department who gave me the idea to create a thesis that contested a previously established point.  Thus, thanks to the UC Merced Library, I chose to discuss American Scream: Allen Ginsberg's  Howl and the Making of the Beat Generation by Jonah Raskin.

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