Date of Award/Publication


Document Type

Undergraduate Project

First Supervisor

Dr. Stephen Brauer

Second Supervisor

Dr. Mark Rice


In lieu of an abstract, here is the paper's first paragraph:

In Tom Wolfe’s 1968 book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Wolfe follows author Ken Kesey and his group the Merry Pranksters as they develop as an American counterculture in the mid to late 1960’s. In a key moment of the book, Kesey is asked to participate and give a speech at an anti-Vietnam War rally at Berkeley in 1965. He shows up, but instead of joining the political movement he shuns it, saying, “you know, you’re not gonna stop this war with this rally, by marching… That’s what they do... They hold rallies and they march… Ten thousand years, and this is the game they play to do it… holding rallies and having marches… and that’s the same game you’re playing… their game” [italics in the original] (Wolfe 222). Kesey rose to prominence after the publication of his first novel as the spiritual chief and leader of the Merry Pranksters and one of the early leading voices of the subsequent “hippie generation.” Kesey and his group set out to explore the limits of consciousness and freedom by creating a countercultural movement based in drug use and non-conformity. Their ideology was to resist all ideologies, even without realizing the impossibility of such a task.


Thesis completed for the English Honors Program.