Theses and Dissertations - UTB/UTPA

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Rob Johnson

Second Advisor

Dr. David Anshen

Third Advisor

Dr. Marci McMahon


Although punk was not used as a signifying term for a subculture or its cultural production until the 1970s, the punk spirit can be identified within cultural texts that precede the term. A punk aesthetics includes rejection of societal norms, class-consciousness, and spontaneity, or a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach that is antagonistic toward the modes of production. In this thesis, I claim and develop a concept I call the punk unconscious; in the texts I examine, punk aesthetics can be found just below the surface through the employment of specific theoretical frameworks, namely Fredric Jameson’s political unconscious and Mikhail Bakhtin’s dialogic imagination. This thesis will examine the works of three major movements of the twentieth century: the Lost Generation, the Beat Generation, and the Blank Generation. In my analysis, texts by Ernest Hemingway, Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and Richard Hell will be read through the lens of the punk unconscious. Punk songs inspired by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy will also be analyzed through the course of this thesis to establish a shift in mindset and consciousness. The goal is to recognize the role of the punk unconscious within these movements, as well as the shift from unconscious to conscious acts that fit within a punk aesthetics and sensibility.


Copyright 2015 Joel R. West. All Rights Reserved.

Granting Institution

University of Texas-Pan American