Sad Poems from Transatlantic Exiles: Robert Frank, the Rolling Stones, and the Search for Authenticity in Postwar American Culture

This thesis explores the working relationship shared between photographer Robert Frank and rock and roll band the Rolling Stones. Through a comparative analysis of Frank’s The Americans (1958) and the Stones’ Exile on Main St. (1972), the thesis examines their mutual interests in locating authenticity within American cultural practices and identities during the “Long Sixties” period. Both parties provided critical commentaries in their respective works about American culture influenced by their European, or “outsider,” perspectives. At first glance, the relationship between the two parties is minimal: Frank contributed the photograph used for the Stones’ album cover and followed the band on their 1972 North American tour to produce a documentary film, Cocksucker Blues. While the extent of their direct collaboration remains nominal, both Frank and the Stones acted as exiles and extracted themes based upon societal problems facing Americans. Frank traveled across the U.S. as a Jewish immigrant documenting American life during the conformist and Cold War-minded 1950s. The Stones also became exiles after the disaster at the 1969 Altamont Free Concert and thus confronted in the 1970s the increasing normalcy of the hedonistic tendencies which emerged from the counterculture movement. Through historical contextualization combined with visual and lyrical analysis, I argue Frank and the Stones, respectively, encountered many of the same conformist tendencies which plagued American culture at the beginning and end of the Long Sixties and simultaneously threatened the existence of marginalized groups on the fringes of society. This thesis directly challenges our understanding of the Long Sixties by exploring critical commentaries about the U.S. from the perspectives of foreign visitors.



Work Title Sad Poems from Transatlantic Exiles: Robert Frank, the Rolling Stones, and the Search for Authenticity in Postwar American Culture
Penn State
  1. Jeremy S. Boorum
  1. Robert Frank; The Rolling Stones; The Americans; Exile on Main St.; photography; music; authenticity; Cold War; 1960s
License CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives)
Work Type Masters Thesis
Publication Date December 10, 2020
  1. American Studies
  1. English
Geographic Area
  1. United States
Deposited December 10, 2020




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    • American Studies
    • English
    Geographic Area
    • United States
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