This interdisciplinary course invites students on a journey through the chronology of the United States’ political origins and musical creations through the lens of Black Studies. Drawing on methods and theories from Black Studies, dramaturgy, and musicology, the class critically examines the US’ foundational myths, social struggles, and cultural values as portrayed in classic and contemporary musicals.
Theatre, like all art, both reflects and reproduces society. Musicals are a sort of collective ‘diary’, made up of stories we as a society tell about ourselves. Examining how the story of America is told on stage – and how marginalised groups are depicted – encourages us to reconsider several fundamental claims about the United States. Too, different musical stylings have been used throughout history to reinforce certain themes; tracing America’s history as told through Broadway shows thus involves tracing musical histories as well.
“America, the Musical” will be taught primarily through seminar discussion in response to weekly theory reading and scene viewing. Students will also be encouraged to attend West End shows; site visits and guest speakers will make use of London’s creative scene.
This course is cross-listed and may also be registered under CRS 300.3
Department: Music History
Semesters: Fall, Spring