Bob Dylan

the politics of influence


  • Gary Browning Oxford Brookes University



Jacques Derrida, Bob Dylan, T. S. Eliot, folk music, Michel Foucault, Woody Guthrie, influence, Eric Lott, Dave Van Ronk, theft, identity


To talk of the influences on or the influence of Bob Dylan is to talk of what is manifestly significant. However, the notion of influence is controversial. Dylan himself appreciates its complexities. He has admitted his influences and praised past figures, and yet he has fashioned an identity of the ever-changing individualist who resists labelling. In this article, theorists of influence are reviewed so as to appraise how influence might be taken. Subsequently Dylan’s unacknowledged use of others’ material and the impact of musical traditions and popular movements on his work are reviewed. Influence is seen to be a key to opening up the complex identities within Dylan’s work.

Author Biography

Gary Browning, Oxford Brookes University

Gary Browning is Professor of Politics at Oxford Brookes University. He is the author of many books including Lyotard and the End of Grand Narratives and Global Theory From Kant to Hardt and Negri. He is the co-editor of The Political Art of Bob Dylan and Dialogues with Contemporary Political Theorists.


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How to Cite

Browning, G. (2014). Bob Dylan: the politics of influence. Popular Music History, 8(2), 222–239.