A variable topics course focusing on themes, movements or genres across several periods of American literature. Previous topics include Sea Stories, American Gothic, Bod Dylan and the '60s and Utopia.
ENGL 366 Topics in American/US Literature:
Bob Dylan and the Culture of the Sixties
T/TH 2:30- 3:50
Instructor: Scott Derrick
It’s difficult to overestimate the historical importance of the changes the cultural chaos of the sixties produce in US life, including second wave feminism; gay rights movements; civil rights protests; the black power movement; urban riots; the environmental movement; Vietnam; assassinations; the moon landing (allegedly); drug use; Manson and Whitman; campus protests; paranoia, hope, and cynicism. In many ways, the sixties throw us into the present.
To a significant degree, sixties culture is fueled by an intensity of generational rebellion never seen before or since, and its preferred mode of expression, other than protesting itself, was music, which even in relatively mainstream forms takes on an expressive seriousness, often shattering the structure of the traditional pop song of the forties and fifties in the process.
Our central figure will be Bob Dylan (who recently won a Nobel Prize “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition).” The sixties also demonstrate, however, the limits of anyone’s claim to representative status. We will look at a variety of other music as well; look at movies and videos such as Spike Lee’s recent BlackkKlansman; and read some of the period’s prose, such as Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, or Kesey’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Students will write two short papers and produce a longer final paper or project. Participation will be important.