Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


American Studies

First Advisor

Bill V. Mullen

Committee Member 1

Wendy Stallard Flory

Committee Member 2

Jennifer Freeman Marshall

Committee Member 3

Susan Curtis


"Roads to Rebellion: Cultural Contributions by Women of the Beat Generation" explores female members of a subculture that mythologized the road as a space for escaping Cold War containment. This project begins by redefining Cold War "containment," typically identified as the strategy for controlling communism's spread, to a cultural narrative whose spatial and gendered implications illuminate the complexities of a rebellion hinged on the masculinized road. Through this lens, I explore women's participation in and efforts toward the Beat aesthetic and ethos--performed in domestic spaces or from the road--as examples of the complicated negotiation with the dominant culture and Beat lifestyle. Specifically, Joan Vollmer, Joyce Johnson, and Hettie Jones, who did not rebel on the road, instead challenged containment in their stationary lives and from their homes. In addition, Lu Anne Henderson, Brenda Frazer, and Joanne Kyger--female Beats who did go on the road--rejected and contended with containment from the U.S. highway, the border, and transnational spaces; they faced limitations as they engaged the popular model of Beat rebellion, yet transgressed the masculinized road space and extended female Beat possibilities. Ultimately, "Roads to Rebellion" breeds narratives of the Beat Generation and of womanhood during containment and also suggests a theory of gendered space that disrupts traditional public/masculine and private/feminine paradigms.