Did Thomas Jefferson Own a Gun? William Burroughs and the American Agrarian Link

By Chad Weidner.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

William Burroughs is commonly known for his anti-government ramblings in Naked Lunch and Junkie. The superficial view is that these novels describe rampant drug use and homosexual promiscuity. It is hardly surprising that his work shocked (and still shocks) America. When we look a little deeper, though, we can find evidence of profound political strains threading throughout his work. Was Burroughs an anarchist? A libertarian? A true American? Burroughs' oeuvre is now complete, and it is appropriate to reflect on the sum of his work. I will attempt to demonstrate a codified political ideology in The Place of Dead Roads within a theoretical model that includes elements of classical Marxism, anarchy, and Jeffersonian agrarianism. Can parallels between the politics of seemingly antipatriotic Burroughs and the original patriot Jefferson be found? What might such a revelation tell us about the work of Kerouac and Ginsberg? I will suggest that American agronomy is a useful concept to examine American letters.

Keywords: Marx, Anarchy, Ecocriticism, Literary Theory, Jefferson, Agronomy, Agrarian Theory, Beat Generation, William Burroughs

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp.77-82. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 501.521KB).

Chad Weidner

Lecturer in English, Academic Core Department, The Roosevelt Academy, Middelburg, Netherlands

CHAD WEIDNER has dual American and Belgian nationalities. He has a profound appreciation of the prairie. Nearly every summer he can be seen driving a rental car somewhere on a dirt road in Nebraska in the United States. One of his grandfathers was a sharecropper, the other a pinball jockey. He has had a number of poems and short pieces published across the United States and Canada, with the Camel Press and in the Chaffin Journal, Enigma, Green's Magazine, Illya's Honey, the Plains Song Review, Poetry Motel, San Diego Writers' Monthly, the Salt Fork Review, Wavelength, and elsewhere. Chad has an MA in English from the University of Nebraska — Kearney (USA)and a BA in English from the University of Nebraska (USA). A Flemish Community Fellow, he has done postgraduate work in Germanic Languages and Literature at Ghent University (Belgium). His PhD project explores the politics of agrarianism, anarchy, and libertarianism as they relate to William Burroughs' Naked Lunch. He is a tenure-track lecturer in English in the Academic Core Department at the Roosevelt Academy (the Netherlands), an international honors college of Utrecht University. He previously taught in the English MA program at Bremen University (Germany). As a Teaching Assistant at the University of Nebraska Kearney, he taught composition in the English Department. He has received a number of awards, including the Flemish Community Fellowship. He has also been named an Honorary Fellow of the Belgian — American Educational Foundation. He spent a year in residence at Bayreuth University (Germany) as recipient of a visiting scholar's fellowship. Chad was also awarded an honorary commission as an Admiral in the Nebraska Navy by then Governor Kerry. Chad is interested in reading and thinking about writing. He often contemplates the place of artifacts in American culture, and enjoys camping in the American wilderness.

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