Songwriter Bob Dylan to be discussed in next Geek Speak lecture at BHSU

Dr. Justin Tremel will address the controversial award of the 2016 Noble Prize in Literature to Bob Dylan in the next Geek Speak lecture Thursday, Feb. 9 at 4 p.m. in Jonas Hall 110 on the BHSU campus.

The next Black Hills State University Geek Speak lecture will offer a new view of Bob Dylan's accomplishments which include an Oscar, a Pulitzer, a few doctoral degrees, and most notably, the controversial 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Justin Tremel, Ph.D., presents "Mathematical Music: Bob Dylan's Extra-Lyrical Artistry" Thursday, Feb. 9 at 4 p.m. in Jonas Hall 110 on the BHSU campus.

Tremel has been studying Bob Dylan academically for a number of years and Dylan was a primary focus of both his master's thesis and doctoral dissertation.  

"Dylan was the first American to win the Nobel Prize Award since 1993, and so many felt there were a number of American authors that were much more deserving of the award, while others felt the award should have gone to a deserving writer from the developing world, a group which remains woefully underrepresented among Nobel laureates," says Tremel.

The primary controversy with the 2016 Noble Prize, according to Tremel, involved numerous publications categorizing Dylan as "the first musician to win the award."  

"Many objected that while Dylan may be a consummate songwriter, he is categorically not a writer, and what he writes does not qualify as literature," added Tremel.

"Dylan is much more than a brilliant lyricist, he is also a lauded poet, a critic, an actor, a screenwriter, a New York Times bestselling author, a consummate performer and most importantly a cultural figure who in redefining the genres he worked in and reshaped the literary tradition in a way that no one has quite done before or since," says Tremel.

Tremel hopes that people attending his lecture will get a sense of how controversy has followed Dylan's career from the very start. He also hopes people will come away with a sense of the richness and diversity of Dylan's artistic and literary achievement.

The Geek Speak lecture series, sponsored by the BHSU University Honors program, features academic discussion and topics not normally discussed in the traditional classroom. The goal of the weekly lectures is to expose students to diversity within the disciplines.

For more information, contact Dr. Courtney Huse Wika, director of the University Honors Program and assistant professor of English, at 605-642-6918 or email

In addition to the on-campus presentations, some Geek Speaks will also be presented at the Jacket Zone store in downtown Spearfish.

The following on-campus Geek Speak presentations, which are held Thursdays at 4 p.m. in Jonas Hall, room 110, are scheduled for this semester:
  • Feb. 16, "Who is the Reluctant Celebrity? -Crazy Horse, Korczak Ziolkowski, Chief Henry Standing Bear, or a University and Medical Training Center" by Dr. Jeffrey Wehrung, assistant professor of management.
  • *Bonus Pre-Speak! "Who is the Reluctant Celebrity" will also be hosted at the Jacket Zone at 1:30 p.m. at 617 Main Street and again at 4:00 p.m. in Jonas 110 on the BHSU Spearfish campus.  Contact the Jacket Zone at 717-5801.
  • Feb. 23, "Truly Revolution? The Haitian Revolution and its Legacy" by Dr. Jason Daniels, assistant professor of history
  • March 16, "Advocating for the Protection of Native Women Through Theatrical, Spoken Word and Slam Poetry Performances" by Dr. Nikki Dragone, assistant professor of English
  • March 23, "Learn Abstract Mathematics By DOING Something" by Dr. Dan May, assistant professor of mathematics
  • March 30, "Bad Bureaucrats? The Future of Whistleblowing in a Post-Snowden World" by BHSU alum and Ph.D. student Cody Drolc
  • April 6: "From Blake to the Beatles and Beyond: The Legacy of Romanticism" by Dr. Martin Fashbaugh, assistant professor of English
  • April 20 "Metapatterns" by Dr. Liz Fayer, instructor/coordinator Project SECOND, and Dr. Joanna Jones, former BHSU professor
  • April 27, "Madness in Popular Culture: The 'Insanity' of Women, by Dr. Laura Colmenero-Chilberg, professor of sociology