“His powerful, beautiful, transformative and unforgettable songs helped to spur righteousness through the heart of the civil rights movement.” (Kennedy, Time, Dec. 2016).
Superlatives abound for Bob Dylan as a poet, song writer and performer and highlight his influence on literature, music and social activism. In commemoration of Dylan being awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize for literature, this event features commentaries on selected pieces and a conversation about the effect of his work in the realm of social justice.
“The Truth Just Twists”: Psychedelic Social Critique in Bob Dylan’s “Gates of Eden”
Using the techniques of literary analysis, this paper explores the mode in which Bob Dylan’s early songs often engage in social critique: a peculiar blend of irony and psychedelia. Taking “The Gates of Eden” (from the 1965 album Bringing It All Back Home) as the central example, this is a close reading of the way the song presents a world whose stark bleakness is only matched by the unspooling richness of the imagery in which it is evoked.
Sarah Gates, Sarah Gates, Ph.D., Craig Professor of English, Chair, Department of English, St. Lawrence University, author of “Songs Are Like Tattoos”: Literary Artistry and Social Critique in Joni Mitchell’s Blue.
Discussant: Mara Sanadi Wagner, Psy.D. Cert. Psya., Core Faculty, Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis, Founding Member, Consortium for Psychoanalysis in Higher Education, Visiting Professor, Massachusetts College of Art and Design.
Just Like a Man? Bob Dylan and the Charge of Misogyny
Eminent literary critic and scholar Christopher Ricks, Fellow of the British Academy, author of Dylan’s Visions of Sin, considers misogyny in human and social contexts and whether Dylan’s song “Just Like a Woman” deserves the accusation.
Dylan, Cambridge, and Political Action: A Fireside Chat with Betsy Siggins
A fireside chat with Betsy Siggins — a founding member of Club 47, where Joan Baez, Eric von Schmidt, Jim Kweskin and others helped to launch the folk revival and where her friend Bob Dylan appeared in un-billed guest spots, at times debuting new songs, in the 1960s. She witnessed firsthand Dylan’s infamous evening concert at Newport 1965 and she witnessed the evolution of the ways Dylan’s songs, lyrics and performances have represented, influenced and intersected with social -justice issues and ideas over time. James O’Brien is a scholar of Dylan’s work, graduating Boston University with a Ph.D. that focuses on the artist’s poems, play scripts and other-than-song writings. He has published on the subject in numerous journals. His dissertation and a documentary film on Dylan’s writings have been included in the official Dylan archives.
Fee: Free for students or $20 for non students.
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