Module QXE-3088:
Bob Dylan

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Prof Steven Price

Overall aims and purpose

  1. To use the controversy surrounding the award of the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature to explore problems surrounding definitions of literature.
  2. To provide a detailed overview of Bob Dylan’s songwriting, live performances, studio recordings, and other writings.
  3. To examine critical issues in interdisciplinarity, including problems surrounding the designation of song lyrics as literature, the relationship between biography and critical analysis, and the exploration of Dylan’s songs via other disciplines such as literature, painting, and film.
  4. To explain critical distinctions between modernist, mass, folk, and popular cultures, relating these to the reception of Dylan’s work.
  5. To historicise the different phases of Dylan’s career within social and cultural developments in the United States, from the mid-1950s onwards.
  6. To assess the effects of different modes of dissemination of the recorded work in the transition from analogue to digital reproduction.

Course content

SEMINARS Material to be studied in seminars will include: Critical distinctions between modernist, mass, and popular cultures; 'Folk music' and Dylan's early career; Rock music and Dylan's transition to electric performance; The relationship between biography and critical analysis; Dylan and literature; Textual analysis of the song lyric; Dylan and the visual arts; The transition from analogue to digital reproduction and dissemination; Bootleg culture.

Assessment Criteria

good

Typically, work graded B- to B+ (or 60 to 69) will show many of the following qualities: • Discusses ideas adeptly • Most of the arguments about a specific field are well-aired • Displays knowledge of the subject in question; the answer is relevant • Shows analytical and clear thought • Gives evidence of relevant reading • Shows accuracy in expression with mastery over language. • A few minor errors here and there. • Signs of creative thought deserve a higher position within the class • In creative work: shows signs of originality, having understood the requirements of the medium • Plans of well-balanced and full answers, despite some gaps

excellent

Typically, work graded A- to A** (or 70 to 100) will show many of the following qualities:

• Discusses ideas with confidence and precision • Demonstrates maturity and sophistication • Displays deep knowledge of the subject in question; the answer is totally relevant • Shows independent, analytical and clear thought • Gives evidence of substantial and relevant reading • Shows great accuracy in expression, displaying total mastery over all aspects of the language • Shows occasional signs of brilliance and originality of thought • In creative work: displays considerable originality • Command over medium; may have potential for publication/production

threshold

Typically, work graded D- to D+ (or 40 to 49) will show many of the following qualities: • Unsure and lacking in confidence when discussing ideas • Referring to the subject in question in a superficial manner • Making an effort to provide fairly balanced answers • Some points in the argument irrelevant to the topic • Little evidence of background reading • Some uncertainty over language and syntax • Strengths and weaknesses fairly balanced; occasionally clumsy and unimaginative • In creative work: superficial • Not succeeding in mastering the requirements of the medium

Learning outcomes

  1. An understanding of some critical questions surrounding definitions of literature.

  2. An understanding of the relationship between technological change and the production and consumption of contemporary music.

  3. An awareness of the critical issues surrounding interdisciplinary studies;

  4. An understanding of the historical contexts of American popular culture since 1955;

  5. Knowledge of, and an ability to analyse critically, the studio recordings, live performances, and writings of Bob Dylan;

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Essay 1 50
Essay 2 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
Seminar

One two-hour seminar, per week, for 11 weeks (22 hours)

22
Private study 178

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Awareness of how different social and cultural contexts affect the nature of language and meaning (English Benchmark Statement 2.1; 2.2; 3.1.3; 3.1.7; 3.1.11; 3.2.8).
  • Command of a broad range of vocabulary and an appropriate critical terminology (English Benchmark Statement 3.1.9; 3.2.6).
  • Broad knowledge of literature and the distinctive characters of texts written in the principal literary genres of fiction, poetry and drama, and of other kinds of writing and communication (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.1; 3.1.1; 3.1.2).
  • Critical Skills in the close reading, description, reasoning and analysis and the ability to acquire substantial quantities of complex information of diverse kinds in a structured and systematic way involving the use of the distinctive interpretative skills of the subject (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.2; 1.3.6; 1.3.9; 2.1; 2.3; 3.2.1; 3.3.1; 3.3.3; 3.3.5; 3.3.8; 3.3.12; 3.3.13).
  • Information technology and time management and organization skills, as shown by the ability to plan and present conclusions effectively (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.9; 3.3.14; 3.3.15).
  • Rhetorical skills of effective communication and argument, both oral and written (English Benchmark Statement 2.3; 3.1.10; 3.2.5; 3.3.1; 3.3.6).
  • The ability to work with and in relationship to others through the presentation of ideas and information and the collective negotiation of solutions (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.9; 3.3.10).
  • Sensitivity to generic conventions and to the shaping effects upon communication of circumstances, authorship, textual production and intended audience (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.8; 2.3.; 3.1.2; 3.2.3).
  • The capacity for independent thought and judgement; the ability to articulate knowledge and understanding of texts, concepts and theories and to interrogate and apply a variety of theoretical positions and weigh the importance of alternative perspectives (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.9; 2.1; 2.3; 3.1.10; 3.2.2; 3.3.1; 3.3.7; 3.3.11).
  • Responsiveness to the central role of language in the creation of meaning and a sensitivity to the affective power of language (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.5; 1.3.8; 3.1.5; 3.1.11; 3.2.4).
  • The ability to comprehend and develop intricate concepts in an open-ended way which involves an understanding of purpose and consequences (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.6; 3.3.9).
  • Understanding of how cultural norms and assumptions influence questions of judgement (English Benchmark Statement 2.1; 2.2; 3.1.6; 3.1.7; 3.2.9).
  • Comprehension of the complex nature of languages, and an awareness of the relevant research by which they may be better understood (English Benchmark Statement 3.2.10).
  • Recognition of the multi-faceted nature of literature, and of its complex relationship to other media or disciplines and forms of knowledge (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.7; 2.1; 2.2; 2.4; 2.5; 3.1.8; 3.1.12).
  • Critical Skills in the close reading, description, reasoning and analysis of texts (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.6; 1.3.9; 2.1; 2.3; 3.2.1; 3.3.1; 3.2.1; 3.3.8; 3.3.12).
  • Competence in the planning and execution of essays, presentations and other writing and project work (English Benchmark Statement 3.3.6).
  • Conceptual skills developed by demonstration and discussion. (English Benchmark Statement 3.2.2; 3.3.14; 3.3.17; 3.3.18; 3.3.19).
  • Study skills in researching concepts and contexts by directed reading. (English Benchmark Statement 3.3.22; 3.3.23).
  • The ability to express ideas clearly in discussion and in organised written form. (English Benchmark Statement 3.2.5; 3.2.7; 3.3.11; 3.3.15; 3.3.16; 3.3.21; 3.3.24).
  • The ability to analyse texts, using appropriate critical terminology. ( English Benchmark Statement 3.1.8; 3.2.1; 3.2.6; 3.3.12).
  • The ability to situate texts in intertextual debate and as responses to and interventions in contemporary culture. (English Benchmark Statement 3.1.7; 3.1.10; 3.1.11; 3.2.3; 3.2.8).
  • Competence in the planning and execution of essays, presentations and other writing and project work; bibliographic skills, including accurate citation of sources and consistent use of conventions in the presentation of scholarly work and the ability to engage in processes of drafting and redrafting texts to achieve clarity of expression and an appropriate style; making use, as appropriate, of a problem-solving approach (English Benchmark Statement 3.2.7; 3.3.4; 3.3.6; Communication, Media, Film and Cultural Studies benchmark 6.1.7).
  • Broad knowledge of a range of texts, genres, aesthetic forms and cultural practices, and the ability to produce close analysis of these and of the uses and implications of these approaches; an understanding of particular media forms and genres, and the way in which they organize understandings, meanings and affects (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.1; 3.1.1; 3.1.2; Communication, Media, Film and Cultural Studies benchmarks 4.1.5; 8.2.5).
  • Ability to articulate knowledge and understanding of texts, concepts and theories relating to English studies.
  • Bibliographic skills appropriate to the discipline, including accurate citation of sources and consistent use of conventions in the presentation of scholarly work.
  • Knowledge of a wide range of canonical English texts, providing a confident understanding of literary traditions as well as the confidence to experiment and challenge conventions when writing creatively. (English Benchmark Statement 3.1).
  • The ability to synthesize information from various sources, choosing and applying appropriate concepts and methods (English Benchmark Statement 3.3).
  • Ability to formulate and solve problems, anticipate and accommodate change, and work within contexts of ambiguity, uncertainty and unfamiliarity (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.3).
  • Ability to engage in processes of drafting and redrafting texts to achieve clarity of expression and an appropriate style. (English Benchmark Statement 3.3; NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2).
  • Ability to gather information, analyse, interpret and discuss different viewpoints (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.3).
  • Information technology (IT) skills broadly understood and the ability to access, work with and evaluate electronic resources (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.3).

Resources

Resource implications for students

Purchase of an inexpensive range of CDs

Reading list

Greil Marcus, Like a Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads . London: Faber, 2005 ML420.D98 M37 2005 Colin Irwin, Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited. New York: Billboard Books, 2008. ML420.D98 I78 2008b Sid Griffin, Million Dollar Bash: Bob Dylan, the Band, and The Basement Tapes. London: Jawbone, 2007 ML420.D98 G75 2007

Influences and adaptation Clinton Heylin, Dylan's Daemon Lover: The Tangled Tale of a 450-Year Old Pop Ballad. London: Helter Skelter, 1999. ML420.D98 H50 1999 Todd Harvey, The Formative Dylan: Transmission and Stylistic Influences, 1961-1963. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, c2001 ML420.D98 H37 2001 Larry David Smith, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and American Song. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2002 ML400 .S657 2002

Biographies and author studies Clinton Heylin, Bob Dylan: Behind the Shades, Take Two. London: Penguin, 2001 ML420.D98 H49 2001 Keith Negus, Bob Dylan. ML420.D98 N43 2008 Robert Shelton, No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan. New York: Da Capo Press, 1997 ML420.D98 S5 1997 Howard Sounes, Down the Highway: the Life of Bob Dylan. London: Doubleday, 2001 ML420.D98 S58 2001

Anthologies and essay collections Derek Barker (ed), ISIS: a Bob Dylan Anthology. London: Helter Skelter, 2004 ML420.D98 I84 2004 Derek Barker (ed), Bob Dylan Anthology volume 2: 20 years of ISIS . New Malden: Chrome Dreams, 2005 ML420.D98 I85 2005 Carl Benson, The Bob Dylan Companion: Four Decades of Commentary. New York: Schirmer, 1998 ML420.D98 B57 1998

Studies of Dylan as a performing artist Andrew Muir, The Razor's Edge: Bob Dylan and the Never-Ending Tour. London: Helter Skelter Pub., 2001 ML420.D98 M86 2001 Paul Williams, Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, 1960-1973: The Early Years. London: Omnibus, 2004 ML420.D98 W56 2004 Paul Williams, Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, 1974-1986, The Middle Years. London: Omnibus, 2004 ML420.D98 W55 2004 Paul Williams, Bob Dylan: Watching the River Flow: Observations on His Art-In-Progress, 1966-1995 / by Paul Williams London: Omnibus, 1996  ML420.D98 W56 1996

Literary-critical studies Stephen Scobie, Alias Bob Dylan Revisited. Calgary: Red Deer Press, c2003 ML420.D98 S36 2004 Neil Corcoran (ed), Do You, Mr Jones?: Bob Dylan with the Poets and Professors. London: Chatto & Windus, 2002 PS3554.Y56 Z632 2002 Christopher Ricks, Dylan's Visions of Sin. London: Viking, 2003 ML420.D98 R53 2003 Michael Gray, Song & Dance Man III: the art of Bob Dylan. London: Continuum, 2000 ML420.D98 G7 2000 Michael J. Gilmour, Tangled up in the Bible: Bob Dylan & Scripture. New York: Continuum, 2004  ML420.D98 G552 2004

Cultural studies C.P. Lee, Like The Night: Bob Dylan and the Road to the Manchester Free Trade Hall. London: Helter Skelter, 1998 ML420.D98 L44 1998 Lee Marshall, Bob Dylan: The Never Ending Star. Cambridge: Polity, 2007 ML420.D98 M168 2007 Mike Marqusee, Chimes of Freedom: The Politics of Bob Dylan's Art. New York: New Press, 2003 ML420.D98 M166 2003 Wilfrid Mellers, A Darker Shade Of Pale: A Backdrop To Bob Dylan. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985 ML420.D98 M4 1985 Peter Doggett, There’s a Riot Going On: Revolutionaries, Rock Stars and the Rise and Fall of ’60s Counter-Culture. Edinburgh: Canongate, 2008  D842 .D86 2008 [some very helpful contextual material]

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: