Reflection: Amy Kurzweil

If Bob Dylan (via Professor Greil Marcus) taught me anything, it is that what we create is more powerful than who we are. What we create becomes who we are, or at least how we are remembered. This fall, I had the pleasure of serving as a TA for Greil’s class, “Old Weird America: Folk Music and Democratic Speech.”  The course exposed my class of 24 curious undergraduates to murderous folk ballads, dense music scholarship, and post-modern novels, among other engaging, shocking, and, at times, obscure artistic outputs. For the “Muse Project,” students were to find a character from Bob Dylan’s Chronicles and create a piece in their own art form that artistically emulated their chosen figure. Music students composed songs in the style of Lead Belly and The Carter Family. Fashion students designed clothing lines and accessories for Bobby Vee and Mike Seeger. One student built a guitar for Woody Guthrie out of broken plates, and another, taking the assignment into her own hands, created an iPhone app that staticized all the references to all the characters in Dylan’s memoir. My “Muse Project,” the illustration included here, is not nearly as quirky or creative as the art of my students, but it communicates the kind of “folk philosophy” I took away from Greil’s class: how we change, manipulate, and edit what we are given may be more valuable than anything else. This is why I love teaching. My instruction doesn’t matter nearly as much as what my students are empowered to do with it.

dylan hands_final copy


Amy Kurzweil completed her MFA in Fiction at The New School in 2013.  She is currently working on a graphic novel.  Check out her website at

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