Spring 2013 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions
Description of Course:
For more than thirty years the musical was perhaps Hollywood's most popular and profitable adult genre. Its utopianism and sexual energy are still useful to art and popular culture (e.g., in music videos, variety and reality television shows such as American Idol or Dancing with the Stars, and in recent films such as the High School Musical [2006-2008] and Step Up [2006-2012] franchises). This course will explore the rise and fall and rise of the film musical from its beginnings in 1927 through the present day, primarily in the U.S. but with attention paid to the films of Europe and Asia (especially Bollywood) as well. We will consider the musical as a set of myths, as an industrial product, and as an art form, investigating its historical development and how it interacted with other film genres and other kinds of theatrical performances and entertainment industries; its narrative structure and formal features; its modes of performance; and the meanings it produced for its audiences. We will trace the various ways in which the musical represented race and ethnicity, class, and sexual difference at certain points in its history, and how scholarship on the film musical has profitably been applied to other genres such as pornography and horror. After an introduction to genre and study of the history of the film musical, each week will be devoted to a specific topic or issue. Brief screenings of relevant material will augment our discussions, and from time to time entire films will be screened during class meetings (the running time of many musicals is barely more than an hour).
Rick Altman, The American Film Musical (1987), ISBN 025320514X.
Steven Cohan, ed., Hollywood Musicals: The Film Reader (2002), ISBN 041523560X.
Bill Marshall and Robynn Stilwell, eds., Musicals: Hollywood and Beyond (2000); e-book available free online through UTD's library catalogue.
There will be a few additional reserve readings (RR) that will be posted to eLearning and electronic reserve. STUDENTS ARE URGED TO BUY USED COPIES OF THE TEXTBOOKS; there should be plenty of them.
Full-length films are assigned weekly for viewing before the regular class session; these films are required texts as well. All will be on reserve at McDermott Library, but should also be available in a number of other venues that you might choose to employ such as NetFlix.
Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:
Midterm and final exams, two papers (4-5 pages each).