Department Chair

Andrew D. Nicholls, Ph.D., Professor of History

Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

History, M.A.


History and Social Studies Education Department


Gary Marotta, Ph.D., Professor of History

Department Home page

First Reader

Gary Marotta, Ph.D., Professor of History

Second Reader

Donald Hetzner, Ed.D., Professor of History


Regarded as the founder of the Beat Generation, Jack Kerouac is upheld as a symbol of post-war freedom and opportunity in America, a precursor of the cultural shift of the 1960s. This paper is an exploration of the lesser known traits of Kerouac: qualities that are in conflict with the persona that is most closely associated with the author. The thesis begins with an examination of Kerouac’s childhood in Lowell, Massachusetts, and his exposure to those traits he adopted in adulthood, and chronicles events in his life that display his subversive character. The main argument of the thesis is that Jack Kerouac is not the embodiment of independence and post-war freedom with which he is often associated. Heis, rather, a reflection of his small-town, rural upbringing in Lowell, as opposed to the emblem of carefree youth and counterculture he projected in his prose and poetry.