By Wade Hollingshaus
Two weeks ago, I departed on a road trip with my wife and children. We left from our home near Brigham Young University (BYU-Provo, Utah)—where I’m an associate professor in the Theatre and Media Arts department—and headed south to the Grand Canyon, and then on to Phoenix. (It just wasn’t hot enough in Utah in June.) With a ten-hour drive each direction, one’s thoughts have ample space to wander, especially in the desert. Mine kept circling around Bob Dylan, the Grand Canyon, Saul Bellow, and Existentialism—I mean, why not?
As a teenager, I went to high school in Mission Viejo, California, then did an undergraduate degree in Theatre Education at BYU. After teaching Drama and English for a couple of years at a junior high school, I decided that I needed to continue my studies in graduate school. My wife and I moved to Seattle, and I did a Masters degree in Scandinavian Studies at the University of Washington, where I specialized in Finnish-language literature and studied Nordic theatre and film more generally. Then we moved to Minneapolis, where I did a PhD in Theatre History/Theory/Criticism, with a focus in historiography and performance studies. I kept up with my Finnish-language interests, but most of my research and my dissertation centered on popular music as performance. So it may not be surprising that in the Summer of 2015, seven years after completing the dissertation, I often thought of Bob Dylan as I traveled south through the U.S.-American West.