Friday, June 3: Rich with Possibility - The TU Institute for Bob Dylan Studies
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Friday, June 3: Rich with Possibility


When Bob Dylan first arrived in New York in 1961, he came “out of the wilderness and just naturally fell in with the Beat scene, the bohemian, Be Bop crowd….It had just as big an impact on me as Elvis.”  The Beats and Elvis seem an unlikely combination, but we can here in Dylan’s description the roots of his restless and relentlessly inventive art. He may have been singing folk songs and dressing like Woody Guthrie, but in the clubs, coffee houses, and bars of Greenwich Village, he absorbed Beat energies: the fury of Ginsberg, the wild stories of Kerouac, and generative surrealism of Burroughs. He claimed that On the Road “changed my life” and later told Ginsberg that Kerouac’s writing “spoke [my] own American language.”

We hear this language develop and mutate across Dylan’s early music, from the visions that trouble “A Hard Rains A-Gonna Fall” to the anger of “The Times They Are A’Changin’” and the sheer strangeness of the phrases in Tarantula that propelled Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde.  Understanding Dylan’s early work thus means coming to terms with the Beats themselves, and this first day of the symposium will explore their art, vision, and legacy.  It will then finish with a reading and talk by a special guest poet, whose art expanded the Beat vision and who joined with Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue and appeared in Renaldo and Clara.  The day will end with a concert marking International Jazz Day on Guthrie Green, just outside the conference venue.


Rich with Possibility

All times listed are Central Daylight Time (UTC/GMT -5:00 hours)

8:00am              Registration and Breakfast

8:30am              Welcome Remarks by Sean Latham

8:45am             Keynote Address: Dylan, Guthrie, and Kerouac

Douglas Brinkley, Rice University

“Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie and the Beat Zeitgeist”

9:45am              Break

10:00am           Panel: Writing On the Road

Ryan Slesinger, Oklahoma State University

“From Scroll to Sensation: On the Road and its Revisions”

Jean-Christophe Cloutier, University of Pennsylvania

“Prelude to the Scroll: The Bilingual Labors of Jean-Louis ‘Jack’ Kerouac”

11:00am            Break

11:30am           Keynote Address: Gender, Sexuality, and the Beats

Regina Weinreich, Journalist and Scholar

“Orgasms Against the Empire: Thoughts on Outlaw Culture”

12:30pm            Lunch Break

1:30pm             Panel: Searching for a Vision

Nina Goss, Fordham University

“Only Passing Through: Bob Dylan’s poetic journey from jeremiad to micro-allegory, 1965-1967”

Ronna Johnson, Tufts University

“Sexual Politics, Beat Poetics: Rants, Visions, Telepathic Shocks”

2:30pm              Break

3:00pm             Panel: The Black Beats

William Harris, University of Kansas

“Amiri Baraka and the Beats”

Grant Jenkins, University of Tulsa

“Black Beats, Beats as Black: the Special Case of Stephen Jonas”

4:00pm              Break

4:30pm             Keynote: Reading and Conversation with Anne Waldman

“The Long Road: ‘Wild Selfbelieving Individuality'”

6:00pm             International Jazz Day Concert on Guthrie Green

NOTE The first Friday of every month, Tulsa hosts an art crawl downtown. First Friday draws thousands of people to the Arts District and features local vendors, live shows, gallery exhibits, and later business hours. Since the symposium’s inaugural day falls on June’s First Friday, please be aware that restaurant wait times, seating availability, parking, and business access in the Arts District will reflect this influx of activity.