New Approaches to Bob Dylan

deadline for submissions: 
March 1, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
University of Southern Denmark
contact email: 

Bob Dylan's songs have been the subject of countless close readings and interpretations. Philological research has identified many of the literary sources for Dylan’s lyrics. His songs have been studied in relation to the ballad tradition, romanticism, modernism, and postmodernism. Dylan’s revisionary approaches to what it means to be a poet have also been widely discussed. Drawing on the occasion of Dylan’s recent Nobel Prize, this conference seeks to open up new avenues and different approaches to his songs.

We are especially interested in the following topics:

Attachment and Attunement

The various uses of Dylan’s songs by fans and academics. How and why are fans attuned to Dylan’s lyrics? Do the attachments of Dylan fans differ from those of Dylan scholars? What are the various ties that connect Dylan to literature and the literary universe?

Recognition and the Social Dimensions of Song

Have the social dimensions of Dylan’s songs changed over time? Do his songs help listeners to recognize aspects of their experiences? Is Dylan the poet of the precariat?Have Dylan’s songs and artistic practices helped to change conceptions of what it means to be a poet and how a poet acts?


Questions of Method: Beyond Close Reading and Literary History?

Do we need to move beyond close reading and traditional literary and cultural history to get a better grasp of Dylan’s significance as a poet? How helpful are new approaches such as actor-network-theory, affect studies, or related fields?


The conference is hosted by the SDU research project “Uses of Literature: The Social Dimensions of Literature.” More information about the aims and methods of the research project can be found at

 Abstracts (max 500 words) should be submitted by March 1 2018 to Professor Anne-Marie Mai, University of Southern Denmark, Travel expenses to Denmark will be covered for those whose abstracts are accepted.