Ronald Cohen: Bob Dylan & American Folk Music

Selected date

Thursday January 10

Selected time

6:30 PM  –  8:00 PM


Folk music scholar and historian Ronald Cohen places Bob Dylan in the context of the folk music of the 1950s and 1960s and examines the culture from which he emerged in this program held in conjunction with AWM's special exhibit: Bob Dylan: Electric. 

Ronald Cohen was born in Los Angeles in 1940, and in the mid-1950s his brother discovered folk music, bringing home records by the Weavers, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and similar folk artists of the time. This started Cohen on the road to loving and collecting folk music. In the 1980s he began research on the folk music revival, resulting in RAINBOW QUEST.

Cohen received his PhD in American History from the University of Minnesota and is  Emeritus Professor of History, Indiana University Northwest. He is the author, co-author, or editor of numerous studies, including: “Wasn’t That a Time!”: Firsthand Accounts of the Folk Music Revival (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1995); (Co-produced with Dave Samuelson), Songs for Political Action: Folk Music, Topical Songs and the American Left, 1926-1954 (10 CD box with 212 page illustrated book, Bear Family Records BCD 15720, 1996); Agnes “Sis” Cunninghm and Gordon Friesen, Red Dust and Broadsides: A Joint Autobiography (Amherst: Univ. of Massachusetts Press,1999); (Co-produced with Dave Samuelson), Goodnight Irene: The Weavers, 1949-1953 (4 CD box with illustrated book, Bear Family Records, 2000); (Co-produced with Jeff Place), The Best of Broadside: 1962-1988: Anthems of the American Underground From the Pages of Broadside Magazine (5 CD box with illustrated book, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2000); Rainbow Quest: The Folk Music Revival and American Society, 1940-1970 (Amherst: Univ. of Massachusetts Press,  2002); Alan Lomax: Selected Writings, 1934-1997 (N.Y.: Routledge, 2003); Selling Folk Music: An Illustrated History, 1900-1970 (Jackson: Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2017); Folk Music: The Basics (N.Y.: Routledge, 2006); A History of Folk Music Festivals in the Unites States: Feasts of Musical Celebration  (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2008); Chicago Folk: Images of the Sixties Music Scene: The Photographs of Raeburn Flerlage (Toronto: ECW Press, 2009); Work and Sing: A History of Occupational and Labor Union Songs in the United States(Crockett, CA: Carquinez Press/Fund for Labor Culture and History, 2010; distributed by the University of Illinois Press); Alan Lomax, Assistant in Charge: The Library of Congress Letters, 1935-1945 (Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2011); The Pete Seeger Reader (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015); Woody Guthrie: Writing America’s Songs (N.Y.: Routledge, 2012); Study War No More: A History of Peace Songs in the United States (Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, 2014, distributed by Routledge); Roots of the Revival: American and British Folk Music in the 1950s (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2014); Folk City: New York and the American Folk Music Revival (N.Y.: Oxford University Press, 2015); Depression Folk: Grassroots Music and Left-Wing Politics in 1930s America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2016)