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Title: Dylan, Lennon, Marx and God : protest, history, spirituality in two influential songwriters
Author: Stewart, Jonathan David
ISNI:       0000 0004 7431 3069
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2018
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Bob Dylan and John Lennon are two of the most important songwriters in popular music’s canon. This is the first theorised analysis of their cultural correlations. Rather than a chronological work it is organised according to key themes. Beginning with an introduction to Eloise Knapp Hay’s (1984) concept of dual biography it reviews Dylan’s and Lennon’s known interactions. It then reorients Serge R. Denisoff’s functional analysis of protest music (1983) towards the distinctive epistemology of Dylan’s and Lennon’s 1960s anti-war songs. When combined with Eyerman and Jamison’s notion of the “movement artist” (1998), this provides a powerful new explanation for their divergent approach to the campaign for peace. Dylan’s and Lennon’s awareness of the past did much to define their respective worldviews. Here, this work adapts Fredric Jameson’s (1981) three-tiered approach to historicity and is structured around individual artefacts or utterances, class discourse, and underlying modes of production. It compares Dylan’s and Lennon’s direct and stylistic references to the nineteenth century, their contrasting attitude to class and collective interests, and their sensitivity to underlying cultural and economic change. Jameson’s criteria provide a new critical framework for exploring Dylan’s and Lennon’s relationship to their individual historical contexts – such as the influence of North American transcendentalism, or the ongoing legacy of the British Empire – and their response to emergent multinational capitalism and postmodern culture. The final chapter, comparing Dylan’s and Lennon’s spirituality, moves from the broad sweep of modes of production to the pre-history of human evolutionary psychology. Using J. Anderson Thomson and Claire Aukofer’s (2011) meta-analysis of the cognitive science of belief, it considers the mind-body dualism, hyperactive agency attribution, evolved moral systems and promiscuous teleology evident in Dylan’s and Lennon’s cognitive faith mechanisms. This section offers an important and original perspective on their song lyrics and other texts, and reveals significant similarities in their approach to metaphysical and existential issues. It is the first work to employ such methods in the analysis of Dylan’s and Lennon’s output. The conclusion draws together the strands of protest, history and consciousness running through each chapter, and proposes innovative directions for further interdisciplinary research in popular music studies.
Supervisor: Stras, Laurie ; Fisher, Andrew Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available