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The American Counterculture

Christopher Gair

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The American counterculture played a major role during a pivotal moment in American history. Post-War prosperity combined with the social and political repression characteristic of middle-class life to produce both widespread civil disobedience and artistic creativity in the Baby Boomer generation.

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Section 1: 1945-1960
1. The Beat Generation
2. Abstract Expressionism
3. Hollywood Beat
4. Rock and Roll
Section II: 1961-1975
5. Literature in the 1960s
6. Art in the 1960s
7. Movies and the Counterculture
8. From Civil Rights to Woodstock

About the Author

Christopher Gair is a Senior Lecturer in American Literature at the University of Glasgow. He is author of Complicity and Resistance in Jack London’s Novels: From Naturalism to Nature (1997), and editor of C.L.R. James and Postnational Studies (2006).


A significant contribution to the field.
- Adriana Neagu, Universitatea Babe?-Bolyai, Cluj-Napoca, American Studies Today
This study of the American counterculture in the post war period offers an immensely readable overview of a complex and many-stranded topic. Strongly informed by a detailed knowledge of the history and politics of the era, the book charts two chronological stages (1945-60 and 1960-72) in the emergence and flourishing of the counterculture, focusing on the four fields of fiction, music, painting and film. This is a fine book and one that can be enjoyed by the knowledgeable general reader as well as by an academic audience. Its range, content and comparative approach make it an example of American cultural studies at its best
- Peter Messent, University of Nottingham
As Christopher Gair's extremely knowledgable study The American Counterculture shows, an array of literature, music, art and film from 1945 to 1972 constitute a much broader understanding of the complex relationships between mainstream, popular culture and its peripheral or oppositional coutnerparts... Each chapter interveaves its content with analyses and insightful commentary from throughout the book, providing an accessible and entertaining overview... The American Counterculture provides an excellent introduction to a complex subject and a telling investigation of the counterculture, from an original perspective for those already familiar with teh area of study.
- Kevin Hunt, Nottingham Trent University, American Studies Today
An adroit and hugely enjoyable study of American counterculture, Christopher Gair moves fluently and perceptively across fiction, music, painting and film, and demonstrates with great skill the contradictions and tensions internal to countercultural forms and the degree to which they become assimilated to the imperatives of pre-existing ideologies. Gair negotiates the canonical and non-canonical in each of his fields with an adventurousness that is wonderfully informed, lively and stimulating
- Professor Ian FA Bell, University of Keele