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Bob Dylan and American Memory

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Thursday, May 25, 2023 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET
Code: 1H0768
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Documentary film poster for Don’t Look Back, 1967 

"'Twas a dark day in Dallas, November '63," begins Bob Dylan's most recent magnum opus, the song "Murder Most Foul." Timothy Hampton, a professor of comparative literature at the University of California at Berkeley, explores Dylan as a writer about history, his deep interest in historical themes, and how his songs ask us to think about the way the past is remembered and shaped by art. 

From his earliest days as a songwriter, Bob Dylan presented himself as a witness to American history. He attracted attention for his songs about dispossessed workers and racial injustice. As his work has unfolded, though, he increasingly asked not only what we know (or don’t know) about our past, but how we know it—how our art forms construct a common culture and memory.    

These themes have become increasingly important in his work since the beginning of the current century, as Dylan digs into the substance of American song and uncovers layers of social meaning inside some of our best-known melodies. Hampton peeks under the hood of some of Dylan's most famous songs to explore the singer's preoccupation with history and memory. He shows that, for all of Dylan's early interest in social change, his songs create a shared culture that is, these days, perhaps more important than ever before.

Book Promotion Opportunity

Please use code HAM30, to receive 30% off copies of Bob Dylan: How the Songs Work by Timothy Hampton (courtesy of Princeton University Press).

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