The American counterculture refers to the duration between 1964-1972 as soon as the standards of the 1950s were mostly rejected through youth.

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Key Takeaways

Key PointsA counterculture emerged in the United states in the late 1960s, lasting from approximately 1964 come 1972, and also coinciding v America’s authorized in Vietnam. Counterculture youth rubbish the cultural standards of your parents, particularly with respect to racial segregation, the Vietnam War, sex-related mores, women’s rights, and materialism.Hippies to be the biggest countercultural classification, and were comprised of largely white members of the middle class.The counterculture movement split the country. To some, it reflected American ideals of free speech, equality, and world peace; while come others, it reflected a self-indulgent and unpatriotic attack on America’s moral order. In an initiative to quell the movement, government authorities banned the psychedelic medicine LSD, limited political gatherings, and tried come enforce bans ~ above what they considered obscenity in books, music, theater, and also other media. Several things brought about the decrease of the activity in the early 1970s, including significant progress on the objectives of the movement and rising economic troubles that forced many former hippies to count on mainstream institutions.Key Termsquash: To loss forcibly.mores: A term supplied to describe social norms that room widely observed and are taken into consideration to have better moral meaning than others.counterculture: Any society whose values and lifestyles space opposed come those the the established mainstream culture.stagflation: Inflation accompanied by stagnant growth, unemployment, or recession.

The development of the Counterculture

A counterculture occurred in the United claims in the so late 1960s, lasting from around 1964 to 1972, and also coinciding through America’s involvement in Vietnam. The was defined by the refusal of standard social norms—in this case, the standards of the 1950s. The counterculture youth rubbish the cultural standards of their parents, specifically about racial segregation and also initial widespread assistance for the Vietnam War.

Woodstock Youth: This photo was taken near the wood storm Music Festival in August, 1969. The counterculture in the 1960s was identified by young human being breaking far from the traditional society of the 1950s.

As the 1960s progressed, extensive tensions arisen in American society that had tendency to circulation along generational lines concerning the war in Vietnam, race relations, sex-related mores, women’s rights, classic modes that authority, and also a materialist interpretation of the American Dream. Many thanks to widespread economic prosperity, white, middle-class youth—who consisted of the bulk of the counterculture—had sufficient recreation time to rotate their fist to social issues.

Vietnam war Protest: The counterculture the the 1960s was marked by a cultivation distrust the government, which consisted of anti-war protests, such as the one displayed in this picture.

Ideals and Interests

Unconventional appearance, music, drugs, communitarian experiments, and sexual liberation to be hallmarks of the 1960s counterculture, most of whose members to be white, middle-class, young Americans. Hippies became the biggest countercultural team in the joined States. The counterculture got to its optimal in the 1967 “Summer the Love,” once thousands the young world flocked to the Haight-Ashbury district of san Francisco. The counterculture lifestyle combined many the the ideals the the time, including peace, love, harmony, music, and also mysticism. Meditation, yoga, and also psychedelic drugs were often taken on as paths to broadening one’s consciousness. Spiritually, the counterculture included interest in astrology, the term “Age of Aquarius,” and also knowing people’s astrological signs.


The tranquility Sign: The peace sign became a significant symbol of the counterculture that the 1960s.


Rejection the mainstream culture was ideal embodied in the brand-new genres of psychedelic rock music, pop-art, and new explorations in spirituality. Musicians that exemplified this era include The Beatles, The grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, The rolling Stones, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, and Pink Floyd. New forms of musical presentation likewise played a crucial role in dispersing the counterculture, mainly big outdoor absent festivals. The climactic live explain of this occurred from respectable 15-18, 1969, through the wood storm Music Festival organized in Bethel, brand-new York. During this weekend festival, 32 that rock and psychedelic rock’s most renowned acts carry out live outdoors to an audience of half a million people. Countercultural sentiments were expressed in track lyrics and also popular sayings of the period, such as “do your own thing”; “turn on, track in, drop out”; “whatever turns you on”; “eight mile high”; “sex, drugs, and also rock ‘n’ roll”; and also “light mine fire.” 

Cultural Divisions and the collapse of the Movement

The counterculture movement split the country. To part Americans, the movement reflected American ideals of totally free speech, equality, world peace, and also the search of happiness. To others, it reflected a self-indulgent, pointlessly rebellious, unpatriotic, and also destructive attack on America’s classic moral order. In an effort to quash the movement, government authorities banned the psychedelic drug LSD, minimal political gatherings, and also tried to enforce bans ~ above what they considered obscenity in books, music, theater, and also other media. 

Ultimately, the counterculture collapsed on that own approximately 1973. Two main reasons are cited because that the collapse. First, the most renowned of the movement’s political goals (civil rights, civil liberties, gender equality, environmentalism, and also the end of the Vietnam War) had actually made far-reaching gains, and its most famous social attributes (particularly a “live-and-let-live” mentality in an individual lifestyles; i.e., the “sexual revolution”) were mostly co-opted by tendency society. Second, a decrease of idealism and hedonism arisen as numerous notable counterculture numbers died, and also the rest resolved into mainstream culture to start their own families. The “magic economy” the the 1960s gave method to the stagflation of the 1970s, and also many middle-class americans no longer had the luxury of living external of typical social institutions. 

The counterculture, however, continues to influence social movements, art, music, and society today, and also the post-1973 mainstream society has remained in many means a hybrid the the 1960s establishment and also counterculture—seen together the finest (or the worst) that both worlds.

Theatre and Novels

The counterculture the the 1960s offered rise to brand-new forms the media, such as underground newspapers, literature, theatre, and cinema. 

Learning Objectives

Examine the expression of countercultural values in media, such together newspapers and also theatre

Key Takeaways

Key PointsThe counterculture that the 1960s provided rise to number of independent or underground papers whose publishers were often harassed by police. The hatchet “underground newspaper” typically refers to an independent newspaper concentrating on unpopular themes or counterculture issues. Typically, these tend to it is in politically to the left or far left.The eight in the underground press was made useful by the availability of cheap counter printing, which do it feasible to publish a few thousand duplicates of a little tabloid record for a few hundred dollars. The Beats to be a group of post-World battle II American authors who pertained to prominence in the 1950s.Central elements of Beat society included trial and error with drugs, alternative forms of sexuality, an attention in eastern religion, a rejection of materialism, and also the idealizing that exuberant way of expression and being. Music theatre in the 1960s began to diverge from the relatively narrow boundaries of the 1950s; because that example, the musical Hair to be the very first of plenty of musicals to usage rock music.Like newspapers and theatre, the cinema of the time additionally reflected the attributes of the counterculture.Key TermsThe Establishment: A term used to describe a visible leading group or elite the holds power or government in a nation.counterculture: Any society whose values and also lifestyles space opposed come those that the developed mainstream culture, especially to western culture.Offset Printing: A frequently used printing method in i m sorry the inked photo is transferred from a plate to a rubber blanket, climate to the to press surface.

Counterculture in Literature: Underground push in the 1960s

In the U.S., the ax “underground newspaper” usually refers to an independent newspaper concentrating on unpopular themes or counterculture issues. Typically, these often tend to it is in politically to the left or far left. The hatchet most regularly refers to publications of the duration 1965-1973, once an underground newspaper craze brushed up the country. This publications ended up being the voice the the rising brand-new Left and the hippie/psychedelic/rock and roll counterculture of the 1960s in America; lock were likewise a focal suggest of opposition come the Vietnam War and also the draft. Underground newspapers sprang increase in most cities and college towns, offer to define and communicate the variety of phenomena that identified the counterculture: radical politics opposition to “The Establishment”; colorful experimental (and often clearly drug-influenced) philosophies to art, music, and cinema; and uninhibited indulgence in sex and also drugs as a price of freedom.

The eight in the underground press was made valuable by the accessibility of cheap offset printing, which make it possible to publish a couple of thousand copies of a tiny tabloid record for a couple of hundred dollars. Document was cheap, and many to press firms approximately the nation had over-expanded throughout the 1950s, leave them with excess volume on your offset net presses, which can be negotiated at cheap rates.

One the the an initial underground papers of the 1960s to be the Los Angeles complimentary Press, founded in 1964 and an initial published in 1965. The Rag, founded in Austin, Texas in 1966, was particularly influential underground newspaper as, according to chronicler Abe Peck, it was the “first undergrounder to stand for the participatory democracy, neighborhood organizing and synthesis of politics and society that the new Left that the midsixties to be trying to develop.”

The Rag: A Rag staffer marketing the newspaper in Austin, Texas, in 1966.

The Underground push Syndicate

In mid-1966, the cooperative Underground press Syndicate (UPS) to be formed. The UPS allowed member records to openly reprint contents from any kind of of the other member papers. Through 1969, essentially every sizable city or college town in north America boasted at the very least one underground newspaper. Throughout the optimal years of the underground press phenomenon, about 100 files were posting at any given time. A UPS roster released in November 1966 noted 14 secret papers, 11 of them in the united States.

Underground papers in the Military

There likewise existed an underground push network within the U.S. Military. The GI underground press produced a few hundred titles during the Vietnam War. Some were produced by anti-war GI coffeehouses, and many of them were small, crudely produced, and also low-circulation papers. Three or four GI underground documents had large-scale, national distribution of an ext than 20,000 copies, consisting of thousands of copies mailed come GIs overseas. These files were produced with the support of civilian anti-war activists, and also had to be disguised to be sent through the mail into Vietnam. Soldiers distributing or also possessing them could be subject to harassment, disciplinary action, or arrest.

Many the the papers challenged official harassment ~ above a continual basis; local police continuously raided offices, charged editors or writers through drug dues or obscenity, arrested street vendors, and pressured regional printers no to print underground papers.

The to win Generation

The beat Generation was a group of American post-World battle II writers who pertained to prominence in the 1950s, including the social phenomena lock documented and also inspired. Main elements the Beat society included the experimentation with drugs, different forms that sexuality, attention in Eastern religious beliefs (such together Buddhism), rejection of materialism, and also idealizing exuberant means of expression and being.

Allen Ginsberg’s Howl (1956), wilhelm S. Burroughs’s Naked Lunch (1959), and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (1957) are among the best known instances of beat literature. Both Howl and also Naked Lunch ended up being the focus of obscenity trials. The publishers winner the trials, however, and publishing in the United claims became an ext liberalized. The members that the win Generation emerged a reputation as new bohemian hedonists who commemorated non-conformity and spontaneous creativity.

Origin that the Beats

Jack Kerouac introduced the expression “Beat Generation” in 1948 to characterize a regarded underground, anti-conformist youth movement in new York. The adjective “beat” might colloquially mean tired or to win down, yet Kerouac increased the an interpretation to incorporate the connotations upbeat, beatific, and the musical association of gift on the beat.

The beginnings of the to win Generation can be traced come Columbia University, where Kerouac, Ginsberg, Lucien Carr, Hal Chase, and others first met. Classmates Carr and Ginsberg questioned the need for a new vision to counteract what they viewed as your teachers’ conservative, formalistic literature ideals. Later, in the mid-1950s, the main figures the the win Generation (with the exemption of Burroughs) finished up life in san Francisco together.

Beatniks and the beat Generation

The term “beatnik” was coined to represent the to win Generation and was a pat on words referring to both the name of the recent Russian satellite, Sputnik, and the win Generation. The term suggested that beatniks were far out that the mainstream of society and maybe pro-Communist. The beatnik ax stuck and became the renowned label linked with a new stereotype and even caricature the the Beats. While some of the original Beats taken on the beatnik identity, or at least discovered the parodies humorous (Ginsberg, because that example, appreciated the parody), rather criticized the beatniks together inauthentic posers. Kerouac feared that the spiritual aspect of his message had actually been lost and also that numerous were using the beat Generation together an excuse to it is in senselessly wild.

The to win Generation Lifestyle

The initial members of the win Generation experimented with a variety of different drugs, indigenous alcohol and marijuana to LSD and peyote. Many were inspired by pundit interest, believing this drugs could enhance creativity, insight, and productivity. Many of the vital Beat Generation numbers were open minded homosexual or bisexual, including two of the most significant writers, Ginsberg and also Burroughs. Both Ginsberg’s Howl and also Burroughs’ Naked Lunch save on computer explicit homosexuality, sexual content, and drug use.

The Beats’ impacts on western Culture

The phenomenon that the to win Generation had actually a pervasive affect on western culture. The was affected by, and in revolve influenced, the sex-related revolution, issues roughly censorship, the demystification the cannabis and also other drugs, the musical evolution of rock and also roll, the spread of eco-friendly consciousness, and opposition to the military-industrial device civilization.

The finish of the Beats and also the start of the Hippies

The 1950s Beat activity beliefs and also ideologies metamorphosed right into the counterculture of the 1960s, attach by a transition in terminology indigenous “beatnik” to “hippie.” numerous of the initial Beats remained energetic participants, especially Allen Ginsberg, who became a fixture that the anti-war movement. Notably, however, Jack Kerouac damaged with Ginsberg and criticized the politically radical protest motions of the 1960s together an excuse to be spiteful.

There were stylistic differences in between beatniks and also hippies—for example, somber colors, dark sunglasses, and also goatees gave method to colorful psychedelic clothing and also long hair. The beats were known for playing it cool (keeping a low profile), but the hippies came to be known for being cool (displaying their individuality). Beyond style, there were additionally changes in substance: the Beats tended to be basically apolitical, however the hippies became proactively engaged with the civil rights and anti-war movements.

Counterculture in Theatre

Musical theatre in the 1960s began to diverge native the fairly narrow confines of the 1950s. For example, absent music was used in number of Broadway musicals. This trend began with the musical Hair, which featured not only rock music, but likewise nudity and also controversial opinions around the Vietnam War, race relations, and also other society issues. Hair is regularly said to be a product of the hippie counterculture and also sexual revolution of the 1960s.

As the battle for minorities’ civil civil liberties progressed, musical authors were emboldened come write much more musicals and also operas the aimed to increase mainstream societal tolerance and also racial harmony. Early on works that focused on gyeongju tolerance, despite now recognized to have countless problematic elements, included Finian’s Rainbow, South Pacific, and also The King and I. The musical West side Story also spoke a article of gyeongju tolerance. Later on on, several shows tackled Jewish subjects and also issues, such together Fiddler on the Roof. By the end of the 1960s, musicals ended up being racially integrated, through black and also white actors members even covering each others’ roles.

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Counterculture in Film

Like newspapers, literature, and also theatre, the cinema that the time additionally reflected the features of the counterculture. Dennis Hopper’s Easy Rider (1969) focused on the transforms happening in the world. The movie Medium Cool portrayed the 1968 autonomous Convention and also Chicago police riots, which has actually led to it being labeled as “a blend of cinema-vérité and political radicalism.” One studio attempt to cash in top top the hippie trend was the 1968 movie Psych-Out, which shown the hippie lifestyle. The music of the era was represented by films such together 1970’s Woodstock, a documentary of the music festival the the same name.