The winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature may not be featured in American High School curriculum, however, he is featured in Kerala’s Class 10 State Syllabus English Textbook - “class turn your page to the great American poet, Bob Dylan.”
Kerala always manages to surprise us with a level of progress that is unparalleled across the nation: promoting transgender rights, advocating for sustainable environmental programs, and even making sure that God’s Own Country is still serving up hot beef curry. True progress, in its very essence, is unrelenting. And the latest blessing to be borne from Kerala’s ‘good foot forward’ agenda is the teaching of Bob Dylan’s poetry.
To some it may seem a little strange that Bob Dylan’s lyrics would be selected for an English class textbook, but his addition to the section on poetry is the furthest thing from a publicity stunt - his words have deeply impacted multiple generations across the globe. Much of his work helped propel the American Civil Rights Movement, his songs morphing into anthems against the unrighteous. And for all of you who need high brow reaffirmation of his talent, Bob Dylan’s poetry has been featured in a myriad of scholarly articles and university courses extending from many highly regarded educational institutions, including several Ivy League universities.
Instructor Kevin Barents, who teaches a course titled “Bob Dylan: Music and Words” at Boston University, explained to The Washington Post that “the accretion of detail and breadth of subject and emotion in his work as a whole is as staggering as that of Homer or Shakespeare.” If the aim of a textbook is to teach poetry that kids will be interested in dissecting and interpreting, then Dylan may stand a better chance of stimulating such thought compared to Shakespeare.
Dylan’s fame shares strong ties with the literary world, especially his album John Wesley Harding. Much of the album is in iambic pentameter and his lyrics are powerful and mysterious. As Barent’s furthers his argument, he possets Dylan’s spectrum of influence heavily extended into the literary world. “He’s been an important link between some of the great poets behind him, like Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot, and in turn he’s been an inspiration and subject for poets like Paul Muldoon and [Allen] Ginsberg.”
Moreover, The Washington Post wrote “Cambridge University Press published The Cambridge Companion to Bob Dylan, placing the musician in the company of Baudelaire, Edith Wharton, Ernest Hemingway, and other literary giants.”
And Dylan’s academic relevance is not merely anchored to literary studies. His work is present in several cultural classes as well as legal studies. The Washington and Lee Law Review puts forward that Bob Dylan is “the most-cited songwriter in both judicial opinions and law-journal articles.”
These young teenagers in Kerala are getting a head start on Bob Dylan material that is being taught in Dartmouth University! When Bruce Springsteen inducted Bob Dylan into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 he stated, “Bob freed your mind the way Elvis freed your body.”
All we can say is preach. We’re stoked Bob Dylan’s poetry is being taught in India at the high school level, and we know ‘The Bard’ himself would be proud of his addition to this year’s edition of Kerala’s Class Ten English Textbooks.
“Gonna change my way of thinking, make myself a different set of rules. Gonna put my good foot forward and stop being influenced by fools.”
Feature Image Source The Rolling Stone.
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