IntroSems quarters and schedules subject to change--check back often. Go to Re-Approaching Stanford for weekly updates on Academic Year 2020-21.
Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students
Performing America: The Broadway Musical
The Broadway musical has remained in constant dialogue with American culture at large for the last 100 years. Since the beginning, the popular musical theater centered around Broadway and Times Square merged influences from European operetta, African-American ragtime and jazz, patriotic marches, "Tin Pan Alley," vaudeville, and many immigrant traditions. This seminar looks at how the themes, characters, stories, and above all the songs of the Broadway musical continue to reflect ideas of American identity and negotiate themes of race, class, gender roles, and sexual identity in playful but meaningful ways. Intersections with blues and jazz, the movies, genres of rock and pop, and contemporary media are also essential to this story.
We will look at representative songs and “song types” (Ballads, Anthems, Torch Songs, List Songs, etc.) from popular and influential shows ranging from Showboat, Guys and Dolls, South Pacific, West Side Story and A Chorus Line to Wicked, Hairspray, Book of Mormon, Hamilton, and Dear Evan Hansen. How has the role of songwriters changed since the days of Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, or Rodgers and Hammerstein now that the roles of director, choreographer, producer, marketing and media have assumed new prominence? What has been the impact of the European "mega-musical," Disney musicals, representations of musical theater on television (High School Musical, Glee, Smash)? How do television (Zoë’s Extraordinary Playlist) and new media (YouTube and TikTok) affect the way musicals are made and seen today? What has happened to Broadway and musical theater at large during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how might that change it going forward?
While instruction remains online through Spring 2021 we will experiment with ways of creating and sharing performances and other content remotely.