Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


American Studies

First Advisor

Lori Marso




Beat Generation, Generation X, feminism, music, punk, DIY


In my thesis, I investigate the cultural, artistic and political effects of the Beat Generation and a subculture within Generation X known as the Riot Grrrls. Both groups serve as an alternative to their mainstream cultural counterparts-the Beats are a reaction to 1950s post‐war suburbia, and the riot grrrls subvert the pop‐culture overload and the backlash against feminism that is indicative of Generation X. Arising in the midst of the conformist 1950s, the Beats were a group of writers and artists, some of them women, who were willing to fight against the constraints of male‐dominated “Wonder bread” culture. Similarly, the riot grrrl movement of the 80s and 90s subverts the punk movement and combats anti‐feminism, using their words, music and cut‐and‐paste skills to assert both their collective feminism and their individual identities. Both of these groups of women sought a more active role in a counterculture that still valued a passive female participation—in both the Beat and punk circles, the majority of the women participated as wives, girlfriends and muses of their male artist counterparts. In the first chapter, I outline the historical and cultural contexts that surround both the Beat generation and Generation X. I examine the artistic, cultural, political and historical impacts of both these marginalized groups and their forms of DIY “do it yourself” self‐expression. Specifically, I look at self‐made zines from the riot grrrl generation alongside Beat publications such as Diane di Prima’s Floating Bear newsletter. The second chapter focuses on di Prima, The Floating Bear, and her contributions to the Beat community, while the third chapter focuses on the world making and zine circulation of the riot grrrls. I consider these works to be exemplary representations of their respective counter‐publics. Through examining their creative output within the theoretical framework of Michael Warner’s Publics and Counterpublics, the fourth chapter assesses the ways in which these movements are able to challenge and offer alternatives to the existing defined social constructs.