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Alessandro Carrera is Moores Professor of Italian Studies and World Cultures and Literatures at the University of Houston, Texas. He has published extensively in the fields of Continental Philosophy, Italian and Comparative Literature, Art, Cinema, and Music (classical and popular). He is the author of La voce di Bob Dylan (Milan: Feltrinelli, 2001, 2011, 2021) and three other short books on Dylan. He has translated the songs and prose of Bob Dylan into Italian, all published by Feltrinelli: Chronicles Vol. 1 (2005), Tarantula (2007), Lyrics in various annotated editions, the most recent in three volumes: Lyrics 1961-1968, Lyrics 1969-1982, Lyrics 1983-2020 (published in 2021). 

Sarah Gates is the Craig Professor of English at St. Lawrence University, where she teaches British literature of all periods, poetry, and songwriting.  She has published on Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Tennyson, Joni Mitchell, and most recently, Louise Erdrich.  She is also a musician with the local indie-rock band Bee Children.

Michael Gray is an independent scholar who pioneered the serious study of Dylan’s work with Song & Dance Man: The Art of Bob Dylan, 1972. His books include the massively updated Song & Dance Man III(1999), The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia(2006), Hand Me My Travelin’ Shoes: In Search Of Blind Willie McTell (2007), and Outtakes On Bob Dylan: Selected Writings 1967-2021. He has delivered guest lectures in Europe and North America, including at Stanford, California and Bath Literature Festival. His website is www.michaelgray.net

Timothy Hampton is professor of Comparative Literature and French at the University of California, Berkeley, where he also directs the Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities. He has written widely on literature and culture, across several languages and centuries.  He is the author of Bob Dylan: How the Songs Work (Zone Books, 2019). A recent article is “Bob Dylan in the Country: Rock Domesticity and Pastoral Song” (Representations, 152, fall 2020). A new study, Cheerfulness: A Literary and Cultural History will be published in 2022 by Zone Books.  He writes about literature, music, and education at www.timothyhampton.org.

John Hughes‘s writings on Dylan include Invisible Now: Bob Dylan in the 1960s (Taylor & Francis, 2013). He is Professor of Nineteenth-Century Literature at the University of Gloucestershire and has published widely on nineteenth and twentieth-century literature and philosophy, particularly Thomas Hardy and William Wordsworth. 

Jeffrey S. Lamp is Professor of New Testament and Instructor of Environmental Science at Oral Roberts University, Tulsa, Oklahoma. His primary research and publishing interests are in the field of ecotheology. He has authored five books and co-edited one. He was a translator and editor for the Modern English Version of the Bible (Passio/Charisma House). He is a frequent presenter at academic conferences, has published articles in several journals, dictionaries, and volumes of collected essays, and is the editor of Spiritus: ORU Journal of Theology.

Michele Ulisse Lipparini, born in Milano where he’s based, is an independent scholar who started listening to Bob Dylan in 1988 at age 16. Digging into Dylan’s songs pushed him into learning English, which led him to work as a translator and eventually to collaborate for a few years with Delfina Vezzoli, Italian translator of Don DeLillo’s masterpiece Underworld. In addition to completing Vezzoli’s translation of John Edgar Wideman’s Brothers and Keepers, Lipparini has translated graphic novels and published articles about Bob Dylan in magazines such as Isis, Buscadero and on various websites, and contributed consistently to Olof Bjorner’s website, www.bjorner.com. He also held a conference about the Nobel Laureate as part of the Sant’Arcangelo di Romagna Poetry Festival in 2015. He has attended 170 Bob Dylan concerts all over the world.

Anne Marie Mai is professor of literature and a chair of DIAS at The University of Southern Denmark. She has published more than 200 articles, book chapters and monographs. She nominated Bob Dylan for the Nobel Prize, which he won in 2016. She has published Bob Dylan. The Poet (University Press of Southern Denmark, 2018, German translation will be published 2021), she edited the anthology New Approaches to Bob Dylan (University Press of Southern Denmark, 2019) and contributed to The World of Bob Dylan (ed. Sean Latham, Cambridge University Press, 2021).

Andrew Muir current commitments include teaching language and literature at The Leys School, Cambridge, UK and delivering Shakespeare and Dylan talks at a variety of conferences. Dylan publications: Razor’s Edge (2001), One More Night (21013), Troubadour (2003). An examination of historical and contemporary outdoor Shakespeare performances: Shakespeare in Cambridge followed, in 2015. This led to a comparative study, Bob Dylan and William Shakespeare: The True Performing of It, (2nd edition 2021).

Jacqueline Osherow is the author of eight collections of poetry, most recently My Lookalike at the Krishna Temple (LSU Press, 2019). She’s received grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEA, the Ingram Merrill Foundation and the Witter Bynner Prize. Her poems have appeared in many magazines, journals and anthologies, including The New Yorker, The Paris Review, American Poetry Review, the Wadsworth Anthology of Poetry, Best American Poetry, The Norton Anthology of Jewish American Literature, The Penguin Book of the Sonnet, Twentieth Century American Poetry, and The Making of a Poem. She’s Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Utah. 

Allesandro Portelli has taught American Literature in the universities of Rome “La Sapienza” and Siena. He has served as advisor on democratic historical memory to the Mayor of Rome and founded the Circolo Gianni Bosio for the critical study and historical presence of people’s culture, folk music, and oral history. He is the author of many books on literature, popular culture, working-class history, including The Order Has Been Carried OutThey Say in Harlan Dean County; The Death of Luigi Trastulli. Form and Meaning in Oral History.

Christopher Rollason: M.A. in English, Trinity College, Cambridge. Doctorate in English, University of York. Author of numerous published articles, lectures and conference papers on Bob Dylan. Attended international Dylan conferences held in Caen (France), 2005 and Tulsa (Oklahoma), 2019.

Jim Salvucci, since receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto, has served as an English professor, dean, and vice president at several institutions of higher education. For many years he taught an advanced course in Bob Dylan studies, and he continues to blog, present, and publish on Bob Dylan. Currently he lives in Newburgh, NY, and serves as a management consultant to nonprofits and other mission-driven organizations. He can be found online at jimsalvucci.com.

John H. Serembus, PhD., is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Widener University. In his forty-plus years in the classroom, he has taught a wide variety of courses, but mainly those in Logic (both formal and informal), Critical Thinking, Ethics, and Values.

David Thurmaier is Associate Professor of Music Theory and Chair of the Music Studies Division at the University of Missouri – Kansas City Conservatory. His research focuses on the music of Charles Ives, as well as the Beatles. He has published book chapters on George Harrison’s connections to popular music, John Lennon’s political music, and has a forthcoming chapter on Paul McCartney’s use of pastiche. In 2019, he presented a paper examining the musical relationship between Harrison and Bob Dylan at the “World of Bob Dylan” conference in Tulsa. He also co-hosts two podcasts: “I’ve Got a Beatles Podcast,” and “Hearing the Pulitzers.”

FORUM CONTRIBUTION BY John Hughes, University of Gloucestershire

If “nostalgia is death,” as Bob Dylan famously asserted, then how do we commemorate his 80th birthday? Any member of the commentariat, however humble, is aware of the responsibility at moments like this to offer some assessment of Dylan’s impact and lasting significance, mapping the man or his work onto some cultural, artistic, socio-political, historical, musicological, or literary critical context . . . Yet such assessments can also seem partial, or wrong-headed. They might help us remember, but they don’t capture what we need to celebrate. Equally unhelpful, the inner fan might feel embarrassed by a contrary impulse, simply to mumble words of gratitude. The comedy, of course, is that both responses are pure anathema to Dylan himself, who is famously allergic both a) to being lauded as the voice of his generation, and b) to fans’ eager desires for the-moment-they-have-waited-for-all-their-lives, ambushing the Nobel Laureate outside his hotel in Copenhagen, Chicago, or Cardiff.

My guiding thread here is to meditate on these things by emphasizing the kinds of forgetting that have always been internal to Dylan’s art. If Dylan is worthy of celebration it is perhaps because — arguably like all truly historical or creative figures — he changed his times, his art, and his audience by refusing to accept any of them, and by making us forget ourselves in the process. In his famous and evocative January 1988 speech inducting Dylan into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Bruce Springsteen talked of how as a teenager he was both “thrilled and scared” by Dylan’s voice, as he first heard “Like a Rolling Stone” on WMCA on his mother’s car radio. And most of Dylan’s admirers will have some similar story, telling of that moment, song, friend, or incident which suddenly put them on the wavelength of this music. For such listeners, like young Bruce, or like Dylan at Newport, or Miss Lonely, one loses oneself to reappear, in ways that mix loss and renewal, even exhilaration and peril. Those who respond like young Bruce did may never be the same person again, with his excitement at that “snare shot that sounded like somebody had kicked open the door to your mind” (Hedin, ed., 202). However, one needs also to acknowledge the intractable divisiveness that has always been part of the package, and to remember that no amount of commentary is going to convince Bruce’s mother that Dylan can sing, any more than one can argue Irving Welsh into believing the singer deserves the Nobel Prize. 

Biographically speaking, it is unnecessary here to reiterate Dylan’s own talent for self-forgetting, which has famously and successively defined his life as a series of wiped slates ever since he left Hibbing. Whether or not nostalgia is death, certainly a very extensive kind of creative forgetting has been life for Dylan himself, in so far as this self-styled “mathematical singer,” has always begun with subtraction and multiplication, deducting the self from its social conditions, in an emancipating embrace of self-uncertainty that finds ever new ways of contesting social fictions of identity, and of gauging the complexities of private experience. In the 1960s, when Dylan first took possession of his artistic empire, his songs appeared time and again to be staking out some utterly new ground zero from which to voice new beginnings. The magic of his compact with the listeners was paradoxically to be totally oblivious of them, but while sweeping them up by an audacious insurgency in which he was equally utterly forgetful of himself. The songs’ air of coming “as if out of nowhere,” in Greil Marcus’s terms, involved their drawing the listener into the slipstream of a voice that sought to sweep past the existing state of things, as it expanded into the vacuum of all that was yet to be invented in the turbulent politics, art, and audience of his time. Such extraordinary alignments of historical and artistic opportunity as took place in the 1960s are no more repeatable than youth itself, but one can still be amazed at the sheer mesmerizing inspiration of Dylan’s art in those times, and at its own capacity for self-difference. Over and again, his voice took down the old world to announce or imply new ones, imperiously coming through the air waves to summon his audience in utterly unforeseen and divergent ways: now voicing apocalyptic vision and reckoning (“A Hard Rain ‘s a-Gonna Fall”), now inaugural proclamation (“The Times They Are A-Changin’”), now emancipating vituperation (“Positively 4th Street”), now the irresistible coursings of desire (“I Want You”). . .

Undoubtedly, in recent years Dylan’s voice and the songs have lost this abandon, this imperious sway and reach, and his art has become narrower. In compensation, one might argue that the songs go deeper. The voice is cured and steeped in a lifetime’s accumulated craft and experience, and albums like Tempest, or Rough and Rowdy Ways sound out our fallen world and mortality with a compelling authority. The pendulum of self-forgetting still swings in these songs, if more locally, in the artful disjunctions at play within phrases, or a line, or pair of lines. Often on these two later albums, for example, this will take the form of a distinctive bait-and-switch technique that dislocates register, perspective, and tone by another small turn of the kaleidoscope. Within this narrower compass, though, the songs weave their effects of humor, beauty, and revelation, mixing up comedy and darkness, tradition and originality, the demotic and the profound. This artfulness of late Dylan is perhaps yet to be fully described, but at this juncture it is enough to express gratitude that it is yet another dimension to his immense and manifold achievement: as his work continues to provoke us to live and progress, by teaching us first to forget.