CfP: Things Have Changed: Twenty-First-Century Dylan, December 6th, Arras

Things Have Changed: Twenty-First-Century Dylan

International Conference at Artois University, Arras, France
Thursday 6th-Friday 7th December 2018

Guest of Honour: Professor Sir Christopher Ricks

Ever since the early 1960s, Bob Dylan has never ceased to evolve. Hiscreativity remains as powerful as ever in the twenty-first century. Hencethe international symposium “Things have changed: Twenty-First-CenturyDylan” will focus primarily on contemporary Dylan. A theorization can bemade based on the work of Edward Saïd or Theodor Adorno (see Essays onMusic, 1993, quoted by Saïd). Said asserts that the late style of the artist is marked by “intransigence, difficulty, and unresolved contradictions” (E. Saïd, On Late Style: Music and Literature Against the Grain, New York: Pantheon Books, 2006, 7).

Taking an interdisciplinary approach, the conference intends to examine the work of an artist who from the beginning of the twenty-first century has shown an inexhaustible fertility: Dylan has published an autobiography (Chronicles Vol. 1, Simon & Schuster, 2004);released four albums of original songs (Love and Theft [2001], Modern Times [2006], Together through Life [2009], Tempest [2012]); eight exhibitions of paintings, acrylics and sculptures have been assembled, along with catalogues remarkable for the texts written by Dylan to accompany his visual art. One would add the question of the reception of the work, also very varied, by the general public, universities, popular music critics, literary critics (Christopher Ricks above all) … Moreover, in 2009, in answer to a journalist’s question about the possibility of Dylan’s winning the Nobel Prize, the artist himself acknowledged that the “category” to which his work belongs is debatable. In fact, the Nobel Prize and the honours bestowed upon Dylan should not overshadow the marginal status of the singer-songwriter. The necessary debate about the literary nature of his musical production, a debate that began early in Dylan’s career, was again highlighted by the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature. Are the lyrics of his songs poetry? Oral poetry? Poetry on the page (the Permanent Secretary of the Nobel Prize Committeesaid: “the words of his songs can be read and should be read”)? Literature (intertextual allusiveness, etc)? Thus, the colloquium may be the opportunity for a broader reflection on the definition of genres and the legitimization of “authors”. Papers may deal with the topics discussed above, as well as any aspect of Dylan’s work in the twenty-first century:

  • the autobiography Chronicles Volume I;
  • The Ricks, Nemrow and Nemrow edition of the Lyrics (Simon & Schuster,2014);
  • critical works devoted to the artist, especially Christopher Ricks,Dylan’s Visions of Sin (2002);
  • paintings, pictures and sculptures, exhibitions, catalogues and textswritten by the artist for catalogues;
  • videos, films made about Dylan or that include his music (e.g. My Own Love Song directed by O. Dahan, 2010);
  • albums or individual songs, renditions of Dylan’s own material or songs of others, the texts of the songs and / or the music and the arrangements;
  • tours, concerts, performances and on-stage persona(e) and attitude,choice of songs, musical arrangements, vocal delivery;
  • interviews and speeches;
  • the Nobel Prize for Literature 2016; the reception of the contemporary work;
  • recent translations of Dylan’s texts

Conference co-organised by Laurence Estanove (Université Paris Descartes), Adrian Grafe (Université d’Artois: research group Textes et Cultures EA 4028/Translittéraires), Claire Hélie (Université de Lille: EA 4074/CECILLE), Andrew McKeown (Université de Poitiers: EA 3816 FoReLL).

Papers may be in English or French. For June 30, 2018, with a decision in July 2018, please send a title and summary of your proposed presentation (200 words; presentation time 20’), along with some brief bio-bibliographic info to the following address: dylancongressartois2018(at)gmail.com

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