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TU Institute for Bob Dylan Studies announced

The University of Tulsa is pleased to announce the creation of a broadly interdisciplinary research center based on the TU campus and dedicated to exploring the work, life and legacy of Bob Dylan. TU faculty members Brian Hosmer, the H.G. Barnard Professor of Western American History, and Sean Latham, the Pauline McFarlin Walter Endowed Chair of English, will lead the new initiative.

“From pop culture historians to social scientists, the academic world clearly is excited to study Bob Dylan, his work and his influence,” said TU President Gerard P. Clancy. “An interdisciplinary institute devoted to the Nobel laureate and housed within a national university should bring increased prominence to The Bob Dylan Archive and the Tulsa community. It also will generate new findings and amplify the scope of Dylan’s legacy for generations.”

The TU Institute for Bob Dylan Studies will offer a diverse array of public programming and draw upon the university’s status as the stewards of The Bob Dylan Archive to:

  • foster world-class scholarship
  • attract students and faculty into the collection
  • engage with Tulsa’s rich musical culture, and
  • gain international recognition of the university as a leader in the arts and humanities.

Plans include conferences, listening parties, digital initiatives and scholarly publications that focus both on Dylan and the study of popular music more generally.

“This institute is a natural fit for TU, which hosted the inaugural Woody Guthrie Centennial Symposium and Concert in 2012 and a third anniversary symposium in 2016, as well as other programs for students, faculty and the general public,” said Hosmer, who has organized many of the events. “Dylan himself referenced Tulsa and the Woody Guthrie Center and Archive as a primary reason for relocating his treasures to TU’s Helmerich Center for American Research.”

Hosmer and Latham have begun reaching out to local and national partners to develop joint programming that links The Bob Dylan Archive, a Bob Dylan Center to be located in downtown Tulsa, and related exhibits to campus initiatives such as Cultures of the Americas and the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities as well as other cultural resources (e.g. Woody Guthrie Center, OK POP and the Tulsa Folk Alliance).

“Dylan is a modern genius who transformed forever our ideas about music, poetry and the role of art in our lives,” Latham said. “He invented modern rock music, revitalized Nashville’s sound, launched the roots music revolution and taught us that these popular forms can be every bit as rich and transformative as the novels of James Joyce or the plays of Shakespeare.”

Among many initiatives to be developed over time, the TU Institute for Bob Dylan Studies will sponsor academic symposia as well as programs for the general public, student fellowships, institutes for teachers, community-based initiatives and original research in the archive.

“The TU Institute for Bob Dylan Studies promises to be a huge windfall for popular music research,” said rock music scholar Kevin Dettmar, the W.M. Keck Professor of English at Pomona College. “The breadth and depth of the holdings are stunning: a whole new era of Dylan scholarship is about to begin. Dylan’s tiny spiral-bound notebooks and the typescripts of songs and books promise to provide an unparalleled glimpse into the creative process of one of the twentieth century’s most fecund imaginations.”

The Bob Dylan Archive is a unique treasure, and along with the planned Bob Dylan Center located in the downtown Tulsa Arts District, TU’s newest institute will draw international attention from scholars and students as well as from a much larger public interested in the work of one of America’s most original artists.