Like a Rolling Stone???

By Polina Kuznetsova

Bob Dylan is undoubtedly one of the most influential figures in the history of popular music. Many of his songs, such as Blowin’ in the Wind, became representations of his strong political statement and influenced hundreds of young people of the USA in the times of Vietnam War and Cold War conflicts. Through his music he promoted anti-war philosophy and civil rights activism.

This month the whole world was shocked by the announcement of the rock legend as the new Nobel Prize Laureate for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”. Dylan is the first real musician to ever get the Nobel Prize for Literature. He is also the first American to get the prize since Toni Morrison. The other candidates of 2016 are not to be revealed to the publici for at least 50 years after the announcement has been made.

The news has received controversial reactions within the masses. Some people happily supported the decision of the committee, while the others disagreed with it. But everyone has had the same puzzling question in their heads: Why? Why Dylan? Why him, a musician, while there are plenty of talented and influential writers all over the world? The “whys” have been many, and keep adding up.

This is no the first time Dylan received literary appreciations. In 2008, The Pulitzer Prize jury awarded him a special citation for “his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power”.

The day the Nobel result was announced, the whole Twitter was burning with both disappointment and excitement. Reactions among the writers were mixed in feelings. Irvine Welsh tweeted: “I’m a Dylan fan, but this is an ill-conceived nostalgia award wrenched from the rancid prostates of senile, gibbering hippies”. In contrast, Stephen King described his reaction as “ecstatic”.

The members of the committee, meanwhile, are confident about their decision. As Sara Danius, a member of Swedish Academy, said: “Mr. Dylan’s work spans the entire English-language tradition, from high to low, from black to white.”

“Homer and Sappho wrote poetic texts that were meant to be listened to,” Ms. Danius said. “It’s the same way with Bob Dylan.” Indeed, Dylan had an immense power over his audience, because he chose music as the carrier of his message. Starting from his early folk years to his rebellious rock period, he influenced the crowds with his lyrics and the music, united together in an impenetrable bond. He knew that in order to become a “prophet” for the young minds, he needed to arrange his message in a way that would engage the public even more than before. That is why in 1965 the artist decided to leave folk and go electric. With his first electrified song Like a Rolling Stone the fans got wild, reckless and rebellious, which was a perfect way for his political philosophy to be absorbed and took as a new cult.

So, does Bob Dylan really deserve the prize? Are his achievements in popular music not enough for him to be handed an award of such an importance? We don’t know, but after all we are not part of the prestigious Nobel Prize jury, so why even doubt their choice. Dylan famously said in his song The Times They Are A Changing (1964),Don’t criticize what you don’t understand.”

John Cabot University’s Master of Arts in Art History is a stand-alone MA. Structured as an American model MA, it covers specialties across the chronological spectrum with the related methodologies. Future students are not required to know already what their field of specialization will be, they are free to explore and discover. The program leads students to think outside the box, to develop a critical way of thinking and approach to the subject, thus preparing the students to apply for PhD.  

What makes JCU Art History MA different from other MAs is the centrality given to Rome. The city is densely layered with art from all historical periods: living in Rome means being fully immersed in art. MA students will have the opportunity to take full advantage of what the city has to offer, directly experiencing objects and documentary evidence. The richness of Roman libraries with their extensive documentation spanning across history will play a key role in the MA experience. Students will learn how to deal with primary sources such as records, manuscripts, archival documents, letters and commission payments. They will have the possibility to access collections and institution areas generally closed to the public: among the strengths of the program is its active international Faculty, deeply rooted in Rome’s art scene.  

The program lasts three semesters and is articulated in three stages: a first year (Foundation Year), a Summer Term and a Thesis Semester. It is based on intensive reading and research. During the first year, students will attend research seminars focusing on specific topics, on which they will do research, and methodological foundation courses. Great emphasis is put on languages: students will need to prove they meet the language requirements in either Italian, French or German.

In the Summer Term students will take the Master’s Exam and will have the opportunity to do apprenticeships as assistants to professors or research assistants and even internships with institutions in and outside Rome. In order to receive their MA Degree, students are expected to write a thesis. The last semester will be entirely dedicated to the thesis: prominent scholars and guest speakers from other institutions and outside Rome will hold seminars and public lectures. The program rewards the outstanding candidates with merit- based fellowships and there will be the possibility to enroll both as a full time and a part time student. The MA is not thought only for Art History graduates: it is open to applicants from different backgrounds whose interests stretch to other fields as well. After all

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