Subject Area



Major: Art History and American Studies
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Deborah Johnson, Art and Art History

Allen Ginsberg began producing provocative poetry in 1955 when he first devoted his life to writing. There was even a court case in 1957 to decide whether or not his most famous piece, Howl, should be banned for its content. All of this press made Ginsberg a famous poet; however, he also had what he called an “amateur hobby,” his photography.

In the same way he wrote, Ginsberg photographed the world around him: members of the Beat Movement, his friends, lovers, etc. Most of the photos he took were candid and he even acknowledged that he believed that people who are well known for one creative talent are taken more seriously in another. However, Ginsberg was a precocious participant in the Street Photography movement that emerged at mid-century. Along with pioneers like Robert Frank, Ginsberg showed the world photos of the common man and woman and the city he lived in without idealization.

In my thesis, I explore the relationship between Ginsberg’s poetry and photographs, that is, how the language of his poetry is reflected, if at all, in what he photographs. By using a discreet number of poems and photographs by Ginsberg, I hope to show these connections as well as how, even unintentionally, Ginsberg can be acknowledged as a significant Street Photographer. Finally, I will examine how his captioning of the photographs allows for one to view Ginsberg’s work holistically, using both words and images to emphasize the connections between what he writes and what he photographs.


Providence College



Start Date

4-22-2020 12:00 AM






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