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Abstract

The Beats introduced the counter-culture to twentieth century America. They were the first to break away from Eisenhower conformity, from the era of the Man in the Grey Flannel Suit. With them came an infusion of rebel spirit—a spirit that hearkened back to Walt Whitman—in their lives, literature, and law. Their literature spawned a remarkable chapter in American obscenity law. The prosecution of Allen Ginsberg’s epic poem, Howl, was the last of its kind in this nation; and the prosecution of William Burroughs’s Naked Lunch is one of the last times that a novel was charged as obscene. The First Amendment victory in the Howl obscenity case further secured the freedom of Beat poets and authors to write their life experiences into literature using the vernacular and vulgarity of their times. Mania recounts in colorful detail the histories of the government’s attempts to ban those creative works. The publication of Mania was celebrated by a full-day Symposium, sponsored by Seattle University School of Law on April 5, 2013. Mania contains pieces by distinguished Beats scholars Matt Theado, Jean Stefancic, and Richard Delgado, as well as pieces examining Beats literature and the law by Albert Bendich, and Nadine Strossen.