Academic Courses & Programs

Jack Kerouac Study At Home Program

At Lilac Evening, Jack Kerouac In Denver
In Denver, Colorado, in 1951, en route from the West Coast to his home in the East, Jack Kerouac wrote On The Road, a fictional autobiography about his life in the mid to late 1940s hitchhiking back and forth across America. The novel was published in 1957 and was immediately heralded as a classic story of American cool. In this course, we examine both the writing and content of this novel, using the city of Denver as a way to understand how places can become stories, as well as how a story can become a place. Class time will include lectures, novel and poetry readings, not only of Kerouac's writings but also the work of his peers Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, Joyce Johnson and Carolyn Cassady, documentary and film screenings, as well as urban hikes through the city of Denver to the place sites Kerouac, Cassady, Ginsberg and Cassady lived in and wrote about, sometimes all at once. Topics of in-depth analysis will include the buying and selling of beat literature and stories by corporate America, i.e., the long history of beatsploitation; how to read Beat literature and stories as narrative sociology, a counter to the analyses put forth by scientific sociology; the distances and differences between Beat writers and African-American cool; the understated geographical foundations of spontaneous prose; the intersection between racial, ethnic and sexual struggles since post/cold war America. To hear a radio broadcast about this course click here. • University of Denver

Jack Kerouac Wrote Here, Crisscrossing America Chasing Cool
Between 1946 and 1969, Jack Kerouac, a Massachusetts native of French Canadian descent wrote thousands upon thousands of pages. Inspired by the beauty of people's lives his literary imagination during this time seemed to know no narrative bounds. He moved freely within and between several different writing styles and literary genres, producing diaries and letters, novels and plays, haikus and blues poems, each one of them a deeply personal and intimate account of his everyday life, even when they were fictionalized. In this course we will read and listen to brief selections from all of these writings, as well as the writings and music of Kerouac's peers and contemporaries, and allow them to lure us out in the world into the places where they were set and, in many instances, actually written, namely Denver, Colorado; San Francisco, California; Chicago, Illinois; New York City, New York; Lowell, Massachusetts; and, of course, all the road, which rests in between. Doing this will allow us to separate Jack Kerouac's life from his work, as well as his work from his mythological image, as well as to try and put into practice the narrative strategies he developed for documenting the places he moved through and rested in. To hear some radio broadcasts of this course, click here and here.
 • University of Denver • State University of New York-College at Potsdam • Denver Public Library