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IDS 101: Who is Bob Dylan?: Using the Library

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Mark O. Hatfield Library Building

Course Description

 Bob Dylan is the only popular recording artist to win the Nobel Prize for Literature and is quite possibly the United States’ most revered living songwriter. Across a 60-year career, he has written over 600 songs, released 39 studio albums (among dozens of other releases), played nearly 4,000 concerts, and continues to tour at the current age of 81. Dylan’s music is popular, selling more than 125 million albums. His music has also been influential, with musicians around the world citing him as an inspiration for their own work. Cover versions of his songs have been recorded by artists as varied as Nina Simone, Jimi Hendrix, Adele, Los Lobos, Stevie Wonder, Cat Power, Sonic Youth, Johnny Cash, Weyes Blood, Antony & the Johnsons, Ministry, the Roots, Nico, and Caetano Veloso. Despite (or perhaps because of) decades in the public eye, Dylan remains an intensely private person, an enigma, a subject who intentionally throws interviewers and fans off his track, and a creator and constant manipulator of a slippery, mercurial persona that likely contains both truth and fiction. We will focus primarily on Dylan’s creative products, both lyrics and recordings, to pose questions about him both as a creative artist and as a person. Along the way, we will investigate how he has drawn on his own influences to author an astonishing array of songs that span many genres. We will draw upon a multitude of sources to deepen our understanding, including biographies, a psychobiography, literary and other scholarly appraisals of Dylan’s creative work, music criticism, documentaries and movies, interviews of both Dylan and his close associates, and his memoirs and other writings. Finally, we will apply theories and frameworks from personality psychology to form a deeper conception of him as an individual.

Humanities and Fine Arts Librarian

What Librarians Can Do for You

You can set up an individual research consultation with a subject librarian for research help. Here are a few other things that we can do for you:

  • Show you the best places to begin your research.
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  • Help you cite information correctly (e.g. APA style).
  • Judge the quality & reliability of information.
  • Teach you how to use information ethically (e.g. avoiding plagiarism).
  • Determine whether something is peer-reviewed.

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Willamette University

Willamette University Libraries

Mark O. Hatfield Library
900 State Street.
Salem Oregon 97301
Pacific Northwest College of Art Library
511 NW Broadway.
Portland Oregon 97209