Multitudes: Teaching Bob Dylan

deadline for submissions: 
March 31, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Brady Harrison/University of Montana

Call for Papers:

Multitudes:  Teaching Bob Dylan


I.  A Moment


Bob Dylan, we might say, is having a moment.  Already a legend, sixties icon, author of one of the greatest catalog of songs in American popular music, and tireless live performer whose career has spanned over fifty years, Dylan, over the last few years, has perhaps achieved a transcendent position in American letters and culture.  In 2016, for example, Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature and the George Kaiser Family Foundation acquired a treasure trove of the singer-songwriter’s notebooks and manuscripts; in 2019, Martin Scorsese, who had already produced a documentary about Dylan, 2005’s No Direction Home, released Rolling Thunder Review:  A Bob Dylan Story, a demi-documentary (replete with comic and appropriately Dylanesque evasions, distortions, and fabrications) about the musician’s anarchic 1975 tour; and, in 2020, the performer sold his songwriting catalog for over 300 million dollars.  Add to all of this that he has become the subject of a stream of scholarly and popular books, and we could argue that interest in Dylan has never been greater.


This interest has also led, not surprisingly, to courses on Dylan at numerous colleges and universities across the U.S. (and beyond).  The moment, then, is right for an anthology focused on teaching the astonishing breadth of Dylan’s music and life.  Given Dylan’s prominence and the unabated and widespread attention to his work and life, we believe that more and more courses on Dylan (and courses on American popular music that include Dylan) will be developed and offered over the coming years:  this volume will play, we hope, a vital role in the creation and content of these courses.



II.  Multitudes


As anyone writing on Dylan must ask themselves, given the breadth of Dylan’s fifty-year plus career and the numerous creative guises the singer-songwriter has assumed, which of the myriad Bob Dylans do you wish to learn about?  Dylan the folk musician? If so, which one: the young folk singer who seemed to come from nowhere with a commanding mastery of the craft of songwriting, who took Greenwich Village by storm in the early 1960s, or the folk singer archivist-cum-revivalist of the early 1990s recordings, As Good as I Been to You and World Gone Wrong? Do you write about Bob Dylan the rock star? Again, which one:  the leather-clad rocker who shocked and scandalized audiences at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival by going “electric”; or the no less polarizing gospel rocker of Slow Train Coming (1979), yet one more unexpected emergence in what was already an extended series of aesthetic and philosophic turnabouts and reversals?  This collection, drawing on the best pedagogical practices and the latest scholarship in Dylan Studies, will seek to offer clear and practical strategies for guiding students through the rich complexity of an American master’s diverse, ever-shifting life and body of work.



III.  Possible Topics


Our proposed book project seeks to assemble a collection of original contributions of approximately 5000 words which offer strategies for teaching the life and work of Bob Dylan.  The editors welcome proposals of 250-500 words that offer both experienced teachers and instructors new to Dylan Studies course plans, workable classroom activities and approaches, and assignments.  We invite proposals from teacher-scholars at all stages of their careers and from institutions ranging from research universities to community colleges.  We especially welcome a variety of critical and pedagogical approaches to Dylan’s oeuvre and multitudes.


Possible topics include, but are not limited to, approaches to teaching:


The Many Dylans

Dylan and the 60s

Dylan as folk artist

Dylan as poet

Dylan goes electric (and then country, and, still later, Sinatra)

Dylan, Americana, and “the old, weird America”

Dylan, Judaism, and Christianity

Dylan and the late trilogy

The late phase Dylan (Rough and Rowdy Ways and “Murder Most Foul”)

Dylan as cultural icon

Dylan as visual artist and sculptor


If you are interested in proposing a chapter, please email your abstract to the emails below.  Your proposal should outline your working thesis and offer some detail regarding the pedagogical and methodological frameworks you will be drawing on.  Please note that we will not include previously published articles in this collection.


Finally, if you have questions or concerns, pleases feel free to contact the editors in advance of the submission deadline.



IV.  Working Timeline


March 31, 2022:          Proposals Due

April 30, 2022:            Notification of Acceptance/Rejection of Proposals (Please note that acceptance of your proposal does not guarantee your chapter’s inclusion in the collection.)

September 15, 2022:   Completed First Drafts Due

November 15, 2022:   Replies to First Drafts

March 1, 2023:            Revised Drafts Due (for submission of ms. to the press)



Barry J. Faulk


Department of English

Florida State University



Brady Harrison


Department of English

University of Montana