Postwar American Poetry and the Cinematic Influence: Charles Bukowski and the Beat Poets
Professor Gina Wisker
Jian’s PhD thesis explores the influence of cinema on postwar American literature with specific focus on Charles Bukowski and the Beat poets. He is interested in the various movements in modernist, avant-garde and post-modernist poetry including the Beats, New York School and San Francisco Renaissance, and how they pertain to film.
Jian’s research examines Bukowski’s shared cultural milieu with Kerouac, Cassady, Ginsberg, Burroughs, O’Hara and Ashbery, and the generation-wide experimental zeitgeist that sprang from the nexus between contemporary cinema, bebop jazz and abstract expressionism. He investigates the resulting linkages and intertextuality within the works of these writers and the oft-recurring pervasive trope of the ‘outsider’ (stemming from Chaplin’s Tramp).
Particular attention is paid to the ubiquitous allusions to macho film genres such as westerns, gangster movies and film noir, and highly sexualised star actors (e.g. Bogart, Brando, Bardot, Taylor), and their combined effects on gender politics, class struggle and notions of the American Dream as presented in literature.
Film noir and Hollywood’s new European sensibility for disorder and disillusionment (via directors such as Lang and Curtiz) particularly affected Bukowski (n.b. his recurring themes of anti-hero vs. hero; femme fatale vs. heroine). The arrival of auteur theory and the Nouvelle Vague (especially the works and ideas of Truffaut and Godard) are also significant.
Jian’s research asks whether Bukowski’s anti-establishment stance, performative sexism and experimental technique (which replaces formal language with the everyday American idiom and traditional structure with free form narrative) are essentially an imitation of cinema. Do Bukowski and the Beats refer to movies as a way to create a forum of presumed shared experience within which to meet their readers, thereby creating a feeling of familiarity and improving the communicative potential of their work?
Jian Farhoumand, MPhil (Sussex), MA Hons (Uni. Edinburgh), MA (London Film School), NCTJ DipJ (Brighton Journalist Works), is a PhD researcher, freelance journalist and part-time lecturer in American Literature at the University of Brighton. He has newsroom experience at The Sunday Times, The Independent, Esquire, FE Week and The Argus, and has also contributed to The Guardian, Sussex Life, Campus Round-Up and Sabotage Times. He is editor of not-for-profit news site The Brighton Bugle and has written-directed for theatre, film and radio.