Bob Dylan’s America (MSON) (History/Social Science OR Literature Elective; US)

Fall; Grades 11–12
Prerequisite: Previous or concurrent enrollment in English 10 and US History or Accelerated US History or equivalent
Taught by: University School of Nashville
May be taken as a history and social science elective or as a literature elective

Arguably the most influential, important, and closely scrutinized American artist of the past six decades, Bob Dylan is as difficult to define as the nation that produced him. Connecting his work to contemporary theories of cultural memory, this course looks at the ways in which Dylan, both in his music and his cultivation of various public personae, maps the contours of the national imagination and explores the prevailing attitudes of class, race, gender, and place in American culture.

Proceeding chronologically and using Dylan’s masterworks and subsequent official “bootleg” recordings as touchstones, students will consider a variety of texts, including poetry, fiction, and cultural history; biography and autobiography; and popular and documentary film, including Greil Marcus’s The Old, Weird America: The World of Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes (2001), Murray Lerner’s Festival (1967), D. A. Pennebaker’s Don't Look Back (1967), Martin Scorsese’s No Direction Home (2005), and Rolling Thunder Review: A Bob Dylan Story (2015).  Access to a music streaming service such as Spotify or Apple Music is required; access to video streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime is strongly recommended.


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