Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Marcy Chvasta, Ph.D.


Music, Popular culture, Celebrity, Rock 'n' roll, Identity


The purpose of this study is to explore the role of the documentary film in the relationship between the artist and the fan; specifically how Bob Dylan fans use the documentary films Dont Look Back, directed by D.A. Pennebaker, and No Direction Home, directed by Martin Scorsese. Dylan, Pennebaker, and Scorsese are three important figures in American popular culture, and these are the two most prominent films about Dylan. These films discuss relatively the same time period, yet delineate two different versions of Dylan's identity. Dont Look Back, released in 1967, documents Dylan's 1965 tour of England. Because of Pennebaker's rhetorical placement and treatment of particular scenes, Dylan often comes across as mean and spiteful, lashing out at reporters and those around him. Scorsese's 2005 film combines archival footage with contemporary interviews to create a different picture of Dylan--- a picture of an artist who was mistreated and misinterpreted by the folk community, his fans, and the press. By conducting interviews with passionate Dylan fans, I concluded that these films demonstrate the rhetorical presentation of identity. Fans use the images found in these films to construct their identity of Dylan. The documentary film is unable to fully capture one's identity, but, as these films show, can only rhetorically construct the celebrity persona.