Campus Life

Stockton community celebrates the life and work of Bob Dylan

Written by Victoria Orlowski for The Argo

A poster from Dylan’s 1961 New York performance. Photo courtesy of Victoria Orlowski.

On April 12, Professor John O’Hara and students from his course titled “Bob Dylan” hosted a festival at the Campus Center Coffeehouse. The festival was a creative collaboration between students that celebrated the life and work of Bob Dylan and consisted of live performances and table displays of the students’ creative work and research. Attendees could also view artifacts from Bob Dylan’s life, such as notes displaying handwritten song lyrics and a copy of the poster advertising his first New York Concert.

Performances consisted of covers of Bob Dylan songs by students, faculty, and alumni. One of these performances was by first-year studies professor Lauren Fonseca, who played on the keyboard and sang “All Along the Watchtower.” When asked about the inspiration behind the festival, O’Hara commented, “This event is a celebration of Bob Dylan’s words and music, but it is also a framework for student learning. For example, business marketing students run media campaigns to advertise the show, art students work on poster and t-shirt designs, a computer science student writes a program for searchable Dylan lyrics, etc., and we also organize an exhibition based on student independent research. Everyone does creative work since it is an A-arts class.”

When asked about their role in the festival, student Olivia Kriviacs responded, “I mostly did work to connect Bob Dylan’s work with modern poetry and literature.” She also commented, “The most interesting part honestly was how it all came together. It came together in a bit of a surprise. I didn’t know if we would be able to do it.”

A Royal Royalite portable typewriter on display. Photo courtesy of Victoria Orlowski.

When Francesca Tattoli was asked the same question, she answered, “My role was organization and the little table activities. So, on every table, there was a word search and a crossword. All the artifacts I organized on the tables. I also helped set up everything in the morning.” She continued, “I also contributed my artifact which was a 1984 vintage Bob Dylan European tour shirt. My whole experience with this class was so new. I had never heard of Bob Dylan before so it was really interesting to get to know him and what he did and what he stood for.”

South Jersey also has a special connection to Bob Dylan. O’Hara explained that “In 1965, when he went from playing folk music to electric (or rock) music, it was very controversial. Those genre borders were incompatible and rarely if ever crossed. Bob Dylan was looking for a group to back his planned 1966 first electric tour, and it was suggested that he check out The Hawks, who were playing a gig in Somers Point called Tony Mart’s. Dylan went to see them there, and they joined together and toured together. The Hawks changed their name to The Band (Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson), and went on to have numerous hits such as ‘The Weight’, ‘Ophelia’, ‘Up on Cripple Creek’, and more. So it all started in Somers Point.”

The Bob Dylan class is a GAH course for any student who is wanting to learn more about Bob Dylan as well as obtain an A attribute.