Bob Dylan’s song part of Jamia’s literature course long before Nobel
American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize in literature has sparked off a global debate whether songs can be considered literature but students at New Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia have been studying one of his songs for some time now.Bob Dylan Updated: Oct 14, 2016 14:42 IST
American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize in literature has sparked off a global debate whether songs can be considered literature but students at New Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia have been studying one of his songs for some time now.
The central university introduced Dylan’s ‘Blowin’ in the wind’ in its MA English programme in 2011 as part of the poetry paper. It is a compulsory paper for those studying English literature.
While introducing the semester system at the post-graduate level, Jamia added his poem as part of the poetry course when a number of other courses were also restructured.
According to a teacher from the English department, around 40 students have been studying the course that is taught in the third semester of the MA English programme. Other poets that are taught along with Dylan include Robert Browning, Ted Hughes and Dylan Thomas among others.
“It is interesting to teach Bob Dyan as students respond favourably to the paper. In his lyrics, Dylan has been articulate about unrealised expectations of humankind,” Mukesh Ranjan, a professor with the department of English, said.
As part of choice based credit system, students from other disciplines can also opt for the department’s course next year.
“We are hoping that more students will opt for this course next year when it will be offered again. He is a legendary singer and has produced great literature. The Nobel prize has created a tremendous amount of excitement,” a teacher from the department said.
The composition of the English course moved beyond the 60s and stressed on popular culture and contemporary writers. Apart from Dylan, Nelson Mandela’s biography Freedom and Martin Luther King’s (Jr) “I have a dream” speech were also made part of the 20th-century non-fiction prose paper.
Kolkata’s Jadavpur University also incorporated three of his classic songs as part of its undergraduate syllabus in 2003.
Dylan won the Nobel for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition” and according to academy’s permanent secretary, Sara Danius, a “great majority” on the 18-member panel voted for him.
Danius said while Dylan performs his poetry in the form of songs, that’s no different from the ancient Greeks, whose works were often performed to music.