'I Celebrate Myself, and Sing Myself’ : Insight into Bob Dylan’s chameleonic-like masculinity. Writings and songs, 1962 – 1970

Martinez, Sara and Baker, Brian (2020) 'I Celebrate Myself, and Sing Myself’ : Insight into Bob Dylan’s chameleonic-like masculinity. Writings and songs, 1962 – 1970. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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Bob Dylan has been mostly addressed from the perspective of his controversial relationship with politics, religion, and literature. Very few critics have focused on Bob Dylan’s masculinity and performativity, and so this thesis fills what is an evident gap in a seemingly crowded critical field. The thesis investigates the historical, social, and political factors that shaped the construction of Dylan’s masculinity and its importance in popular culture, drawing upon key critics and their corresponding works in order to analyze the way in which Dylan’s rebellion, fragmentation, and mystery were key features that destabilized the hegemonic models of performativity that prevailed during the Cold War. Between 1962 and 1970, Bob Dylan released ten studio albums that allowed him to display seven different sides of himself as an outsider and folk apprentice in Bob Dylan (1962), spokesman of his generation in The Freewheelin’ (1963), a prophet in The Times They Are A-Changin’ (1964), experimental artist in Bringing It All Back Home (1965), a man of action in Highway 61’ Revisited (1965), and as a rebellious, individualist performer in Blonde on Blonde (1966). Through Dylan’s shifting away from previous ‘spokesman of a generation’ through rebellious performer to a mature, bucolic ‘persona seems a drift towards conservatism and withdrawal from political engagement, what I call his ‘state of becoming’ allowed him to regenerate at personal and professional levels throughout the decade, even after his 1966 motorcycle crash. Dylan’s refusal to be the ‘voice of his generation’ is taken as evidence of his self-determination and ongoing refusal, but also of a dynamic relationship between audience and performer/ performance that changes over time. In analyzing Dylan’s albums, song lyrics, filmed performances and acting roles, and his experiments with art and literature, the thesis offers a different perspective on Dylan’s relationship to post-war masculinities.

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Thesis (PhD)
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25 Aug 2020 13:50
Last Modified:
16 Jul 2024 05:51