Thursday, July 16, 2009


A couple years ago, Colleen Sheehy and others organized a major conference on the life and works of Bob Dylan, sponsored by the University of Minnesota in conjunciton with a traveling exhibit on Dylan that was on display in the university's gallery. Now Sheehy has co-edited with Thomas Swiss this new book, Highway 61 Revisited: Bob Dylan's Road from Minnesota to the World. The press describes this volume as "the first cultural and historical geography of [Dylan's] dramatic rise, storied career, and unmatched iconic status." The editors' project is to map "the terrain of Bob Dylan's music in the world."

A large ambition, granted, and the scope of the contributors and topics is equally far-reaching. You will find here such established Dylan scholars as C.P. Lee (writing on the British reception of Dylan), Greil Marcu (on Dylan's home town) and poet Anne Waldman (who went on the road with the Rolling Thunder Review, and writes here on Dylan and the Beats). Other contributions include a chapter from Gayle Wald and Daphne Brooks on women's covers of Dylan songs, Mick Cochrane on Theme Time Radio, Thomas Crow on Dylan and Warhol, Alessandro Carrera and Mikiko Tachi on Dylan's recpetion in Italy and Japan respectively, Robert Reginio on minstrelsy and the cultural economy of race in late Dylan, Kevin Dettmar on Dylan in the classroom, and many others. This is by no means simply a record of the previous conference. My own chapter, for instance, is an entirely different paper from the one I presented in Minneapolis. (That presentation, on Dylan and video, will have to reappear in a different form that will make sense to readers who don't have access to all the videos I referenced.) "Crow Jane Approximately" is an essay in which I sketch out Dylan's lyric engagement with race, making connections to such conteporaries as Amiri Baraka.

Click here for the Minnesota page for this book. Highway 61 Revisited is available through Amazon as well.

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