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Revolutionary Writing: The Symbiosis of Social and Literary Conflict and Aesthetic Production in Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

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Published in SPELL: Swiss Papers in English Language and Literature. 2013, vol. 29, p. 123-139
Abstract The American Sixties was an era of social and cultural conflict, the effects of which created groundbreaking new aesthetic products. Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters played a major role in creating these conflicts and their subsequent aesthetics, as they experimented with LSD, linguistic expression and the limits of the body and mind during their Acid Tests. At the same time, journalists like Tom Wolfe created a radical form of literary expression with New Journalism, combining the nonfiction subjective journalism with fictional social realism, resulting in immersive, emotionally-involving true stories that “read like novels” (The New Journalism 22). These controversial figures, their conflicts and aesthetic products are brought uniquely together in Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, which, this paper proposes, acts as a symbiotic vehicle of expression between the socio-cultural and literary upheavals that helped shape the Sixties. The controversial style of subjective journalism accurately portrays the intersubjective, present-tense aesthetics of the Pranksters by adopting their techniques into its language. Consequently, this relationship of style and subject calls into question the very nature of how a conflict is “written” into the public zeitgeist
Keywords New JournalismKen KeseyTom WolfePsychedelic NarrativesAltered-state narrativeLSDAmerican sixties
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SKIBO-BIRNEY, Bryn. Revolutionary Writing: The Symbiosis of Social and Literary Conflict and Aesthetic Production in Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. In: SPELL, 2013, vol. 29, p. 123-139. https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:56194

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Deposited on : 2015-05-15

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