Symposium explores the legacy of the Beat Generation

(March 11, 2013) Professor David Skover's latest book, "Mania: The Story of the Outraged and Outrageous Lives that Launched a Cultural Revolution," vividly portrays the lives of the great Beat Generation authors and tells a gripping story of literary censorship that reached historic proportions in the 1957 "Howl" obscenity trial.

David SkoverSkover and co-author Ron Collins will discuss their book at a symposium, Mania: The Lives, Literature, and Law of the Beats, which starts at 1 p.m. Friday, April 5 at Seattle University School of Law. A reception and book signing will follow. There is no charge to attend.

An expert in Constitutional Law and First Amendment Law, Skover is the Fredric C. Tausend Professor at Seattle University School of Law.

Also speaking is Albert Bendich, who was co-counsel for the defense in the "Howl" trial, People v. Ferlinghetti (1957), the first prosecution undertaken under the modern standards of federal obscenity law.  Bendich also represented Lenny Bruce in the San Francisco obscenity prosecution (1961-1962) brought against the famous comedian for his club act at the Jazz Workshop.

Other speakers are Professors Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic from Seattle University School of Law; Nadine Strossen, professor at New York Law School and past president of the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented the defendants in the "Howl" trial; and Matt Theado, professor of English at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, N.C, and a nationally renowned scholar on the Beats. 

The book has already earned high praise from many. James L. Swanson, a New York Times best-selling author, called it "a remarkable achievement."

"Mania is a stunning and chilling portrait of rebellious youth gone mad," Swanson said. "The story descends into a nether world of heroes and anti-heroes, killers and creators, junkies and geniuses. Collins and Skover, through a thrilling narrative and unprecedented research, reveal how a misfit band of brothers, dreamers, and vagabonds broke old ties, abandoned families, and lived by their own rules to concoct an ecstatic and uninhibited vision of literary modernism."

Find more information on "Mania:"

For more information on the symposium or to arrange interviews, contact Katherine Hedland Hansen, director of Communications.  

Symposium Agenda

1:00 p.m.: Weaving Lives into Literature
Introduction: Ronald Collins, "The Literary Side of Mania

Panelists:
Matt Theado, "Why Another Beat Story?: The Modern Significance of the Beats
Jean Stefancic, "The Beat Women: Their Roles & Ruin"
Richard Delgado, "Literature in Law: Mania as a Prototype"

2:30 p.m. Break

Coffee, tea, and cookies will be provided outside of the lecture room.

3:30 p.m.:  The Law of "Howl"

Introduction: David Skover, "The Legal Side of Mania"
Panelists:
Albert Bendich, "Poetry on Trial"
Nadine Strossen, "Obscenity & Indecency Law: Why 'Howl' Is Still Silenced"

5:00 p.m.: Reception & Book-Signing, 2nd Floor Gallery
A reception for the panelists and audience will feature wine and hors d'oeuvres. The Seattle University Book Store will host a book-signing table.

 

Symposium Participants

Albert Bendich Albert Bendich is the Executive Vice-President, business & legal affairs, of The Saul Zaentz Company - a producer of feature films, including Academy Award winners such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus, and The English Patient. Until its sale to Concord Records in 2004, he also held the same position at Fantasy Inc., a record and publishing company whose catalogue included artists from the musical world of jazz, folk, rock & roll, rhythm & blues (including, among others, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, and Creedence Clearwater Revival), as well as poets of the San Francisco Renaissance (including Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Kenneth Rexroth and Alan Ginsberg). As a young staff attorney for the San Francisco Chapter of the ACLU, Bendich was co-counsel for the defense in the "Howl" trial, People v. Ferlinghetti, (1957), the first prosecution undertaken under the modern standards of the federal obscenity law. Subsequently, he successfully represented Lenny Bruce in the San Francisco obscenity prosecution (1961-1962) brought against the famous comedian for his club act at the Jazz Workshop.

Ronald Collins is the Harold S. Shefelman Scholar at the University of Washington School of Law. He specializes in First Amendment law and in constitutional law. In addition to Mania, his books coauthored with David Skover include The Death of Discourse (2nd ed., 2005), The Trials of Lenny Bruce (2002, e-book ed., 2013), and On Dissent (2013). Recently, he is the editor of The Fundamental Holmes: A Free Speech Chronicle and Reader (2010), and the coauthor of We Must Not Be Afraid to Be Free: Stories about Free Speech in America (2011). His last book was Nuanced Absolutism: Floyd Abrams and the First Amendment (2013).

Richard Delgado is a University Professor at Seattle University School of Law. He is the author of 27 books and over 150 journal articles. His books have won eight national book prizes, including six Gustavus Myers Awards for outstanding book on human rights in North America, the American Library Association's Outstanding Academic Book, and a Pulitzer Prize nomination. He is one of the leading commentators on racial justice in the United States, and also a recognized authority within the Law & Literature movement.

David Skover is the Fredric C. Tausend Professor at Seattle University School of Law. He specializes in constitutional law, federal courts law, and First Amendment law. In addition to Mania, his books coauthored with Ronald Collins include The Death of Discourse (2nd ed., 2005), The Trials of Lenny Bruce (2002, e-book ed., 2013), and On Dissent (2013). He is also coauthor of Tactics of Legal Reasoning (1986).

Jean Stefancic is a Research Professor at Seattle University School of Law. She has written and co-authored 15 books and over 40 articles dealing with law reform, social change, and legal scholarship. Her most recent book, How Lawyers Lose Their Way, examines the causes of unhappiness among attorneys. Her 1996 book, No Mercy: How Conservative Think Tanks and Foundations Changed America's Social Agenda, won praise by Herbert Gans as a "careful and comprehensive accounting of who did what in trying to kill liberal programs and policies."

Nadine Strossen is a Professor of Law at New York Law School and the immediate past president of the American Civil Liberties Union (1991-2008). She has written, lectured, and practiced extensively in the areas of constitutional law, civil liberties, and international human rights. Among her more than 300 published works, Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex, and the Fight for Women's Rights was named by the New York Times as a "Notable Book" of 1995, and her coauthored work, Speaking of Race, Speaking of Sex (1995) was deemed an "outstanding book" by the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights in America. The National Law Journal has named Strossen one of "The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America."

Matt Theado is a Professor of English at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, North Carolina. One of America's most distinguished scholars on the Beats, he is the author of Understanding Jack Kerouac (2000) and The Beats: A Literary Reference (2003). His essay "Revisions of Kerouac" in What's Your Road, Man? (2008) details the composition of On the Road.

 Advance Praise for Mania

"Mania is a stunning and chilling portrait of rebellious youth gone mad. The story descends into a nether world of heroes and anti-heroes, killers and creators, junkies and geniuses. Collins and Skover, through a thrilling narrative and unprecedented research, reveal how a misfit band of brothers, dreamers, and vagabonds broke old ties, abandoned families, and lived by their own rules to concoct an ecstatic and uninhibited vision of literary modernism. From the macabre killing that opens the book to the grand free speech victory at its climax, Mania is both a celebratory and cautionary tale of American revolt. A remarkable achievement!" 

-- James L. Swanson, N.Y. Times best-selling author of Bloody Crimes and Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer.

"Collins and Skover have worked extensively through the available resources that detail the true stories they bring to literary life. In fact, they have put together the most comprehensively researched account that I have seen of the apprentice years of the Beat writers. Their book will become the go-to account of the composition of their key works, the ground-breaking legal issues that resulted, and their continuing cultural aftermath."

 -- Professor Matt Theado, author of Understanding Jack Kerouac and The Beats, and keynote speaker at the 2007 Kerouac Conference. 

"This book makes an important and lively contribution to the literature. The authors' narrative is unique and their amazing attention to detail illuminates many dark areas in Beat history. Mania also solidifies the importance of Allen Ginsberg's "Howl," not only for 20th-century poetry but for its impact on America's political, cultural, and legal climate as well. A book long overdue."

-- Paul Maher, author of Jack Kerouac's American Journey and Kerouac: His Life & Work and editor of Empty Phantoms: Interviews and Encounters with Jack Kerouac.

"The scope and depth of the research in this book is most impressive as is the quality of analysis and understanding of the main issues. Responsibly scholarly, Collins and Skover's engaging book reveals a full appreciation of their subject."

-- Al Bendich, ACLU attorney acting as co-counsel for Lawrence Ferlinghetti in the 1957 "Howl" trial.

"Mania is the most detailed, accurate documentation I have so far encountered of the roots and early development of the Beat Generation. Presented in a gripping, easily-readable writing style, the book breaks new ground in its well-documented explanation of the lives and motivations of all the main characters involved in this cultural and literary revolution. Mania makes for an exciting story, exceptionally well told, and the one book I'd recommend to anyone wanting to learn the truth about the Beats and their associates."

-- Dave Moore, founding editor, The Kerouac Connection magazine, and editor of Neal Cassady: Collected Letters 1944-1967 and publisher of Dharma Beat: A Kerouac Website.

 

 

  

Details from "Triumvirate," by William Morris Robinson