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The Psychedelic ’60s: Literary Tradition and Social Change
THE SUMMER OF 1967, with its “Love-Ins,” “Be-ins,” and “Flower Power,” came to be known as “The Summer of Love,” and was one of the seminal moments of our generation. Over thirty years later, we who came of age during the turbulent decade of the sixties are dismayed to realize that, to the young adults of today, those years are now ancient history.
The “Psychedelic Sixties” broke the rules in every conceivable way from music to fashion (or lack of it), to manners and mores. Boundaries were challenged and crossed in literature and art; the government was confronted head-on for its policies in Vietnam; the cause of civil rights was embraced by the young; and mind-expanding drugs were doing just that.
Were the sixties the best of times or the worst of times? Did America evolve as a nation and we as individuals? Are we better for the experience? We who were there have our own answers, but it is the historians who will write the collective answers for posterity. In any case, for better or worse, this dynamic, controversial, exciting time was our youth, our creation, and our legacy, and this exhibition is an attempt to revisit it, share it, and interpret it.
This is the web version of “The Psychedelic ’60s: Literary Tradition and Social Change,” which was on view in the Tracy W. McGregor Room of Alderman Library April through September 1998. The exhibition was curated by George Riser, U.Va. Special Collections; exhibition text was written by George Riser and Stephen Railton, Professor of English, U.Va.
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