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University of Iowa News Release

Jan. 21, 2005

Latham Will Talk About Beats And Beatniks Jan. 28 In UI Museum Of Art

The University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA) will host “Beat vs. Beatnik: Pop Cooptations of Kerouac and Company,” a free lecture by Rob Latham, a UI associate professor of English and American Studies, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 28 in the museum’s Lasansky Room.

Latham will discuss the changing paradigms of aesthetics during the Beat era and beyond. He will focus on how the Beat generation writers of the 1950s were caricatured throughout the contemporary mass media as ‘beatniks.’ He will also talk about how the Beat writers themselves, especially Kerouac, responded to these media caricatures.

The lecture will incorporate a discussion of films, television programs, journalistic articles, paperback novels and cartoons that, Latham said, “collectively contributed to an image of the beatnik as a pretentious, amoral slacker.”

“Pop Cooptations of Kerouac and Company” is being hosted in conjunction with  ‘Jack Kerouac: On the Road,’ an exhibition of Kerouac’s scroll manuscript of his iconic Beat Generation novel. The exhibition opened at the UIMA on Jan. 19 and will be on view in the museum’s North Gallery through March 13.

“On the Road” is a key work of American literature that gave life to the so-called Beat Generation, a subculture that conflicted with the conformist and materialistic American culture of the 1950s. Since its publication in 1957, “On the Road” has sold more than 3 million copies and has been translated into 25 languages.

The manuscript is typed on nearly 120 feet of paper taped together. Typed by Kerouac in New York City in a 20-day marathon in April 1951, the scroll comprises the first draft of the novel, including numerous penciled deletions and word changes.

The UIMA is the only venue in the Midwest displaying the scroll in 2005, and the only venue on the manuscript’s four-year national tour to display the entire length of the scroll.

The manuscript of “On the Road” (copyright Estate of Anthony G. Sampatacacus and the Estate of Jan Kerouac) is on loan from the collection of James S. Irsay.

Latham is also the academic coordinator of the Sexuality Studies Program and teaches a fall course entitled "Sex and Popular Culture" that focuses in part on the Beat generation.

The UI Museum of Art, located on North Riverside Drive in Iowa City, is open noon to 9 p.m. Fridays. Admission is free. Public metered parking is available in UI parking lots west and north of the museum.

For more information on the UI Museum of Art visit on the World Wide Web. Information on other UI arts events is available at To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

CONTACT: Media: Peter Alexander, 319-384-0072,; Writer: Krystle Johnson