I don’t remember my first introduction to Kerouac. Though I was 17 or 18 when I first read On the Road. I continued to read Kerouac during my undergrad years during which time Some of the Dharma was published. By then I was pursuing an undergrad degree in Religion & Culture with a keen interest in Buddhism. In my senior year of my undergrad I wrote a lengthy paper on Kerouac and Buddhism that years later became my first publication.
I left Kerouac behind as I headed to grad school to study Tibetan Buddhism. Even today most Buddhist Studies scholars would scoff at the idea of taking Kerouac’s Buddhism seriously. Fast-forward to a decade later when I found myself tenured and looking for a new (fun) research project. Two years ago I returned to Kerouac. By which point more of his Buddhist writing had been published and his vast archive opened to researchers.
I received a layoff notice in the middle of the project, effective May 14, 2019. I never envisioned my academic career coming full circle in this way. It started with Kerouac and perhaps might end with him. But hopefully I’m wrong!
After over one hundred hours at the NYPL archive and two years of work, I’m happy to say my first publication on this new research on Kerouac and Buddhism is finally out! I hope to share some additional news very soon! In the meantime, here’s a link to the new article “Sad Paradise: Jack Kerouac’s Nostalgic Buddhism.”