Review of International American Studies; Hemispheric American Studies, North American Studies, US Studies, Canadian Studies, Transatlantic studies, Transpacific studies, Latin American Studies, Chicano/Chicana Studies, Native American Studies, First Nations Studies, Literary Studies, American Literature, American Culture, International American Studies Association, Learned journal, academic journal, University of Silesia Press

The Times They Are A-Changin’

Paweł Jędrzejko


The article, whose central premise is to address the ellusive issue of the Zeitgeist of the "long 1968," revolves around the appeal of the singer-songwriter activism and the international, cross-cultural popularity of protest songs that defy political borders and linguistic divides. The argument opens with reference to Bob Dylan's famous song "The Times They Are A-Changing," whose evergreen topicality resulted not only in the emergence of its numerous official and unofficial covers and reinterpretations, but also generated translations into all major languages of the world, and which has provided inspiration to engaged artists, whose present-day remakes serve as a medium of criticism of the unjust mechanisms of power affecting contemporary societies. The "spirit of the 1968," which evades clear-cut definitions attempted by cultural historians and sociologists, seems to lend itself to capturing in terms of what Beate Kutschke dubs "mental" criteria, perhaps best comprehended in the analysis of the emotional reactions to simple messages of exhortative poetry or simple protest songs, which appeal to the shared frustrations of self-organized, grassroot movements and offer them both the sense of purpose and a glimpse of hope. In this sense, the Zeitgeist of '68 is similar to that of revolutionary Romanticism that united the young engaged intellectuals on both sides of the Atlantic, and whose messages reverberate in the activist songwriters' work until today. As such, the essay provides the keynote to the whole issue, which explores some of the transnational legacies of "1969."


1968; transformations; revolution; protests; Prague Spring; Civil Rights Movement; Black Power Movement; Mai'68; the long 1968; Bob Dylan; singer-songwriter; activism

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Published : 2019-12-23

JędrzejkoP. (2019). The Times They Are A-Changin’. Review of International American Studies, 12(2), 5-24.

Paweł Jędrzejko
Institute of Literary Studies, Faculty of Humanities, University of Silesia in Katowice  Poland

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