Revelatory Lines, Revolutionary Love: Beats, Black Arts and the Poetics of Public Engagement
PhD Defense of 3 November 2016, University of Florida
Chair: Tace Hedrick
Committee members: Marsha Bryant, Debra Walker King, Louise Newman
On 3 November 2016 Berit Brink successfully defended her PhD dissertation, titled “Revelatory Lines, Revolutionary Love: Beats, Black Arts and the Poetics of Public Engagement.”
In this dissertation, she examines the ways in which poets from both the Beat Generation and the Black Arts movement used poetry as a form of activism during the long 1960s (1955-1975) in San Francisco, and considers to what extent parallels in their performative and stylistic strategies warrant a reconceptualization of “the counterculture.”
Specifically, by juxtaposing the early work of Beat poets Gary Snyder and Michael McClure with that of Black Arts poets Nikki Giovanni and Sonia Sanchez, she shows that each used poetry to project so-called “alternative social imaginaries”: visions of an ideal society that served as the driving force behind social change.
In addition to this commonality, she also shows how performance in the public sphere and engagement with publics were crucial for all four poets. Although the Beats and Black Arts’ ideologies diverged, then, the resemblance of some of their core ideals and strategies make it possible to argue that they could, to a certain extent, be seen as part of the same counterculture.
Starting in February 2017, Berit will be employed at the Department of English Language and Linguistics, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.