You are here

English Offering Summer Course on Bob Dylan

Celebrating his Nobel Prize with "The Literary Bob Dylan"
October 24, 2016
In celebration of Bob Dylan's being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, the University of Minnesota English Department will offer a special section of ENGL 3061 (Literature and Music) focused on "The Literary Bob Dylan" in Summer Session 2017 (June 12-August 4).
The course will be offered Monday/Wednesday from 4:40-8 pm and will be taught by Katelin Krieg, a PhD candidate in English and winner of a 2016-17 Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, awarded to the University's most accomplished PhD candidates. Her advisor is Professor Andrew Elfenbein.
The course will explore the music of Bob Dylan, one of the most critically acclaimed and culturally influential musicians of modern times. Dylan, who was born Bob Zimmerman in Duluth and grew up in Hibbing, took his stage name from the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas and has regularly named poets (such as Rimbaud and Verlaine) as some of his greatest influences, alongside other folk musicians (Woody Guthrie, in particular). This course will examine Dylan's literary influences and his influence on literature (Ginsberg, Joyce Carol Oates, Hunter S. Thompson) as well as question the dividing line between music and poetry.
Students will pay special attention to Dylan's wide variety of formal strategies (the epigram, the couplet, balladry, surrealism, etc.) and their relation to poetic history in hopes of discovering new contexts for a musician who is continually reinventing himself. At the same time, they will consider the tensions these forms and their histories created in Dylan's musical career (manifest, for example, in the "going electric" controversy at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival). Students will also situate Dylan's music, particularly his early work, in its historical and political context in order to consider, for example, strategies for cultivating empathy/sympathy through language and poetic form in the context of the Civil Rights movement ("Only a Pawn in Their Game," "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll") and to question the possibilities for a poetics of protest in the context of the Vietnam War ("A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," "Masters of War").
Texts will include Studio A: The Bob Dylan Reader, Chronicles (Dylan's memoirs), Dylan's music and liner notes, as well as works by Rimbaud, Verlaine, Ginsberg, Oates, Thompson, Dylan Thomas, Robert Burns, Walt Whitman, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Paul Muldoon, and William Gay, among others. In order to allow students to trace Dylan's living legacy and critically examine the poetics of current folk music, the class will also attend a local concert, scheduling and cost permitting.
Katelin Krieg will also be offering a public lecture on Dylan from a literary perspective in early February 2017 (exact date forthcoming).