Bob Dylan's Poetics: How the Songs Work
The 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature recognized Bob Dylan as a major modern artist, elevating his work beyond the world of popular music. In Bob Dylan's Poetics (Zone, 2019), Timothy Hampton (Comparative Literature and French; Townsend Center director) focuses on the details and nuances of Dylan's songs, showing how they work as artistic statements designed to create meaning and elicit emotion. Approaching Dylan not as a pop hero, but as an artist and a maker of songs, Hampton explores Dylan’s interplay of music and lyric, his innovative use of musical form, his complex manipulation of poetic diction, and his dialogues with other artists. Locating Dylan in the long history of artistic modernism, Hampton offers both a nuanced engagement with the work of a major artist and a meditation on the contribution of song at times of political and social change.
Hampton is joined by Robert Kaufman (Comparative Literature). After a brief discussion of the book, they open the floor for discussion.