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The Arts and Popular Culture: Bob Dylan

ENGL 117.301
Thursday 1:30–4:30

This course will focus on the songs of Bob Dylan as a source of creative inspiration. The course will, in part, take its shape based on the interests of the students who enroll in it: while Dylan obsessives—you know who you are—are, of course, welcome, if you are new to Dylan, curious about how an iconic musician might inspire your own creative output, your curiosity, adventurousness, and willingness to take a deep dive into his work is all that is required. We will listen to and discuss Dylan songs, watch documentaries about him, explore his influence across the arts, and meet critics and artists who have engaged him and his work in meaningful ways. To that degree, the course will be more impressionistic than strictly schematic—that is, we will follow various threads in his work as they emerge and our fascination suggests. The goal is for us to achieve an understanding of Dylan that is as visceral as it is intellectual. The class will do some analytic writing about him, but students who are so inclined will be encouraged to pursue their own creative work—which is to say that, in consultation with the instructor, fiction, songs, poems, plays, paintings or videos inspired by Bob Dylan’s work will be acceptable projects to complete the course’s requirements. You will be allowed a good deal of freedom in charting your own independent course, in other words, as appropriate to our subject and the gift his work has given to us all. 


Student who have previously taken ENGL 117.301 shoud also be able to take this course in the spring term file.