According to the publisher’s website, Music in American Life “demonstrates the symbiotic relationship between this art form and our society. Entries include singers, composers, lyricists, songs, musical genres, places, instruments, technologies, music in films, music in political realms, and music shows on television.”
In 1976, Distinguished Teaching Professor of English Gene Stelzig completed his contribution to a collection of academic essays on Bob Dylan, then watched for the publication of the volume, edited by Patrick Morrow, by the Popular Press.
The Popular Press reneged on the signed agreement and the volume never appeared. “Bob Dylan’s Career as a Blakean Visionary and Romantic,” Stelzig’s essay, thus began its career as bootleg scholarship, quietly circulated among fans and students of Dylan’s work. The essay was quoted several times in Robert Shelton’s biographical study No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan (1986), though misidentified there as an unpublished dissertation.
Since, over the years, Stelzig has happily provided a copy of his essay to anyone who’s requested one, it would probably be more accurate to characterize his work as “privately transmitted open-access scholarship.” In any case, thanks to the Open SUNY Textbook Program, in which Geneseo’s Milne Library has played a leading role, the essay is at long last publicly available open-access scholarship, free for the downloading on the Milne Library website or available in a handsome, print-on-demand edition from Amazon.
“I’m delighted to participate as an open-access author and to have the essay available to anyone who wants to see it, either in print or online,” said Stelzig for SUNY Geneseo’s press release. “The piece has led a sort of underground life for decades in the wake of Robert Shelton listing it in the bibliography of his biography of Dylan, so I’m delighted that Milne Library is making it available and easily accessible to anyone.”
Dante Thomas, SUNY Geneseo Professor Emeritus of English, died at his home in Geneseo last Thursday, surrounded by family. He was 91.
Those of us who arrived in the English department before the early 1990’s knew Dante as an insatiable reader and book-collector with an encyclopedic knowledge of the world’s literatures and a special passion for discovering great writers ignored or forgotten by the majority of scholars.
Dante shared not only his passion for books but the books themselves, taking special delight in finding attractive editions tied to various colleagues’ interests, and simply giving them away. My own shelves include a number of volumes by Dickens, Conrad, and others that turned up at different times in my mailbox with a friendly note from Dante, or that he stopped by my office to deliver, together with an amusing or illuminating literary anecdote or two that I had never heard before.
Dante was a talented photographer, and after his retirement, with characteristic generosity, he offered to take individual portraits of the entire department. For many years these portraits lined the wall outside the main department office in Welles; they finally came down only because time hadn’t been as kind to his subjects as it had been to his art.
Soft-spoken, unassuming, gentle, and generous, Dante was a much-loved teacher and a wonderful colleague. His passing is a great loss.
There will be calling hours Friday, November 8, 2013 from 4-7 PM at the Rector-Hicks Funeral Home, 111 Main St. in Geneseo. The interment will be at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Geneseo.
In lieu of flowers, Dante’s family asks that memorials be made in the form of book donations to Goodwill, 4119 Lakeville Rd. in Geneseo or Literacy Volunteers of America – Livingston County, 27 Lackawanna Ave., Mount Morris, NY 14510.