Hollywood musicals are often presumed to be mere entertainment, in which spectacle takes the place of developing an intricate narrative or engaging with serious social issues. This course will come to the defense of the musical, engaging with scholarship on the genre to explore what stories it tells, how the device of the musical number facilitates storytelling in innovative ways, and its complex social impact. The course will track the story of the Hollywood musical chronologically, beginning with the development of the genre on the West End and Broadway stages in the late 19th and early 20th century; proceeding to the heyday of the musical film after the arrival of film sound; experimentation with the genre in international art cinema; and concluding with two new, arguably competing trends in musical filmmaking: the socially conscious musical and the nostalgic musical. Throughout the semester, we will explore the nature and significance of this genre's appeal for women and queer men and why the musical has been the frontline of Hollywood's imperfect effort to sensitively address the consequences of racial difference.
Wiet, Victoria, "ENG 392A The Hollywood Musical Wiet Fall 2023" (2023). Course Syllabi. 8, Scholarly and Creative Work from DePauw University.