Bob Dylan and American Poetry

deadline for submissions: 
October 25, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
ALA Symposium: "American Poetry"
contact email: 

Call For Papers

Bob Dylan and American Poetry


American Literature Association Symposium

“American Poetry”

February 20-22, 2020

Washington, DC


This CFP seeks to assemble a session at the 2020 ALA Symposium “American Poetry” on the question, broadly construed, of the place of Bob Dylan’s body of work in the history of American poetry. The question has been an open and complicated one since at least Robert Lowell’s well-known remark about Dylan “leaning on the crutch of his guitar,” and it has indeed caught further wind with Dylan’s Nobel Prize and the recent increase in scholarly interest in his work. Against Lowell, of course, one might cite Andrew Motion and Lavinia Greenlaw. But what is Dylan’s place when we talk about – that is, when we teach, write, anthologize, appreciate, theorize – American poetry? The session welcomes proposals that explore any aspect of this question, including but not limited to the possible topics listed below.


-- the question of method, or the benefits and drawbacks of reading (or editing) Dylan’s lyrics as we would read (or edit) poetry


-- Dylan and American poetry, or the extent to which his work engages a discernibly American tradition in poetry


-- Dylan’s reading of or personal connection to specific American poets


-- Dylan’s late work and contemporary American poetry now.


-- Close readings of individual songs, especially those that also contextualize Dylan in one or more currents of American poetry: the Beats, confessional poetry, the New York School, speculative poetics, or others


-- Dylan, language, form: matters of rhyme, metaphor, style, et cetera.


-- Dylan’s American contexts by decade, era, or historical moment


Please email 300-word proposals to Matthew C. Borushko at Please include a brief vita, and please also indicate your openness (or not) to various session format possibilities, ranging from a traditional slate of three 20-minute papers to a roundtable session with brief remarks from and then discussion by the panelists. Proposals should be received by October 25th.