2023-2024 Catalog

FYS 7 What’s the (Subject) Matter with Musicals?

Broadway musicals are paradoxical. For all their quality, popularity, and variety, musicals have been historically disparaged as escapist entertainment: romantic and/or comedic romps that are, for the most part, thematically light and spectacle-oriented. And then Hamilton, right? Not so fast. Singing and dancing theater artists have dramatized hard-hitting social dynamics throughout the history of the form. This course will explore the development of the distinctly “political” stage musical. Offerings will track its rise throughout the 20th century (in shows such as Showboat, Cradle Will Rock and Hair), to contemporary productions that tackle a variety of issues through a decidedly intersectional lens (like Caroline, Or Change and Passing Strange). Our inquiries will also address representation and access. For all of the evolution of the genre, musicals are out of reach for many, on stage and off. How can an essentially elite art form have meaningful resonance and impact? Open only to first year frosh.


4 units