UWSP: English professor edits Beat encyclopedia

University Relations and Communications, 715-346-3046, Fax 715-346-2042, www.uwsp.edu/news

January 26, 2006

William Lawlor, professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, has edited an encyclopedia of 20th century American literature, art, culture and history.

The single-volume, illustrated encyclopedia, “Beat Culture: Lifestyles, Icons, and Impact,” focuses on the writers of the Beat Generation, such as Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs and others, and examines the musicians, painters, dancers, and other artists who surrounded the Beats. A detailed chronological history and cultural background also provide context for the works of the Beat writers.

The book is published by ABC-CLIO of Santa Barbara, Calif., and touches on the painting of Jackson Pollock, the dance of Merce Cunningham, even the music of Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie. “Beat Culture” will be available in both printed and e-book formats. It has been reviewed favorably by both “Library Journal” in November and “Booklist” in October. Book editor Geeta Sharma-Jensen of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel wrote that the book “will tell you everything, really everything, you might want to know about the Beat Generation and its culture — music, art, film, poetry, other writings, the Cold War, censorship, sexual attitudes and even Jack Kerouac’s travels.”

Lawlor, also the City of Stevens Point Poet Laureate, has devoted a great deal of time to studying the Beat Generation. In 1993 he received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to research the topic. In the fall of 1994 Lawlor began teaching a new English course at UWSP titled “The Lives and Literature of the Beat Generation.” Lawlor served as co-organizer of “Beat Meets East: An International Interdisciplinary Conference on the Age of Spontaneity” held in Chengdu, China, in 2004.

Numerous scholars and experts from around the world contributed to the encyclopedia as well as UWSP faculty members. From the English Department, David Arnold wrote about Hunter S. Thompson and various jazz musicians, Pat Gott contributed a section on Janine Pommy Vega, Sarah Pogell penned an entry on Kenneth Rexroth, and Rebecca Stephens wrote an extended entry on theatre in the era. Contributors from the History Department include Theresa Kaminski, who wrote about Joyce Johnson, and Valentina Peguero, who wrote about the Beat experience in the mountains.