May 29th, 2000
Allen Ginsburg: Poetry and Politics
Lesson Overview


The American Master’s Series lesson on Allen Ginsberg will consist of three thematic components: (1) the link between art and politics, (2) the Sixties, and (3) poetry and popular music. Each of these overlapping themes will be addressed and developed using the poet’s work as a point of departure. Within an examination of these themes, students will read one or more of Ginsberg’s poems, will read about the work of other Beat writers, and will investigate the larger social and political climate in which they lived. Students will conduct internet and/or library research to address their own questions about Ginsberg, the Beat movement, and the turbulent social and historical context of the Sixties.

Grade Level

9 – 12

Subject Areas

Language Arts, History


Students will:

  • read selections of Allen Ginsberg’s work.

  • respond in writing journals to the work of Allen Ginsberg.

  • conduct internet research.

  • collect examples of written, visual, and/or performance art of the Sixties.
  • participate effectively in small group discussions.

  • create a presentation that illustrates their developing understanding of the poetic form.


Language Arts:

Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of literary texts

  • Understands relationships between literature and its historical period, culture, and society (e.g., influence of historical context on form, style, and point of view; influence of literature on political events; social influences on author’s description of characters, plot, and setting; how writer’s represent and reveal their cultures and traditions)
  • Understands the effects of author’s style and complex literary devices and techniques on the overall quality of a work (e.g., tone; irony; mood; figurative language; allusion; diction; dialogue; symbolism; point of view; voice; understatement and overstatement; time and sequence; narrator; poetic elements, such as sound, imagery, personification)

Understands economic, social, and cultural developments in the contemporary United States

  • Understands the influence of social change and the entertainment industry in shaping views on art, gender, and culture (e.g., how social change and renewed ethnic diversity affects artistic expression in contemporary American society, the reflection of values in popular TV shows, the effects of women’s participation in sports on gender roles and career choices)s

Understands the relationship between music and history and culture

  • Knows various roles that musicians perform (e.g., entertainer, teacher, transmitter of cultural tradition) and representative individuals who have functioned in these roles


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