The TU Institute for Bob Dylan Studies draws upon a Tulsa’s rich musical and creative history. Along with the Woody Guthrie Center and OKPOP, the Institute marks Tulsa as a destination for the study and appreciation of America’s musical traditions. It is also a natural fit for TU, which hosted the inaugural Woody Guthrie Centennial Symposium and Concert in 2012, a third anniversary symposium (2016), as well as other programs for students, faculty, and the general public. Dylan himself referenced Tulsa and the Woody Guthrie Center and Archives as a primary reason for relocating his rich archives in the Helmerich Center for American Research.
I’ve spent much of my career focused on the work of James Joyce, the novelist whose creativity and impact is rivaled only by Shakespeare. I see in Bob Dylan a similar kind of figure—a genius who has transformed forever our ideas about music, poetry, and the role of art in our lives. Dylan 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 or Joyce or the plays of Shakespeare. An archive like this is a world treasure, and our new institute will help scholars, students, writers, and fans better understand how and why Dylan’s music is so important.