Shakespeare in the Alley

about the moderator


Dr. William E. King, Moderator

Bill King's interest in Bob Dylan began in 1966 when a colleague in the English Department at Memphis State University sat him down and forced him to listen to Bringing It All Back Home. A few years later he was nearing the completion of his Ph.D. in English, lacking only the final hurdle: the dissertation. He was finding academic life hard to take seriously in the face of the Vietnam War, the assassination of M. L. King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, the bombing of Cambodia. He was one of the English Collective which led the UNC boycott of classes which succeeded to such an extent that the faculty voted to end the semester early and give grades based on work to date.


Somehow his dissertation topic, "Human Suffering in the Poetry of William Wordsworth," did not seem "relevant." That was the catch phrase of the era. So he joked one day over coffee with other teaching assistants, "I ought to write my dissertation on Dylan. That's about all I'm keeping up with these days." One of his fellow students, Jack Hicks, said, "Yes, you should." And so the joke became reality. He finished "The Artist in the Marketplace," an extended analysis of Dylan's lyrics as poetry in 1975.

The first prototype of this radio show was aired on WETS-FM out of the University of East Tennessee in 1979. The second was written as part of a class on Bob Dylan as a poet at Western State Colorado University College of Colorado. The show was written, narrated, and produced by Dr. King.

Bill King now lives with his wife, Barbara, just outside Seattle, enjoying the beautiful Puget Sound area. His children are spread out all over the western United States. He muses on Dylan's line, "Have a lota kids call me Pa, that must be what it's all about."

back to top
© Shakespeare in the Alley, 2004. All Rights Reserved.
Website by Juliana Harrisking