Course Instructor Days Times Room


This course is about the relationship of popular song lyrics and poetry.  The main focus will be the lyrics of Bob Dylan. We will discuss his lyrics on their own terms and in relation to the work of such poets as Shakespeare, Keats, Blake, Whitman, Ginsberg, and others. We will look more briefly at songs by such individuals as Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Lou Reed, Gil Scott Heron, and others.  We will consider whether song lyrics are, whether they can be, poetry, of how they can use poetic conventions, and how they may draw from literary sources.  Student presentations and student-led discussions will be an important part of the course.  Readings will include, obviously, the lyrics of songwriters as well as works by poets and other writers and commentary by literary, musical, and cultural critics. Texts will be announced, but they will definitely include Why Bob Dylan Matters, by Richard F. Thomas, and 100 Songs, by Bob Dylan. Students will need a way to listen to the songs considered in the course, either through CDs or a streaming music service such as Apple Music, Amazon Music, or Spotify.