Communication and Culture | Media Genres
C392 | 3001 | Katrina G. Boyd

CMCL-C 392: Media Genres
(Topic: The Hollywood Musical)
Class Number: 3001

Lecture/Discussion: TR, 11:15A to 12:30P, Room TBA
Required Screening: W, 7:00A-10:30P, Room TBA

(Fulfills COAS A&H Requirement)

(A portion of this course is reserved for majors.)

Professor: Katrina G. Boyd
Office: BH 420
Office Hours: Tu 1:30P-3:00P and by appointment
Phone: 6-0405

Prerequisite: CMCL C190 or consent of the instructor

Not only was the musical one of the most popular genres of the
classical Hollywood period, but it also helped define Hollywood
cinema as “entertainment” cinema. Using both lecture and discussion,
this class will examine the Hollywood musical as a genre that, while
positioned as escapist entertainment, still remains a product of
distinct cultural and institutional forces. This class will not
proceed chronologically but will cover a wide range of American
musicals, from Depression-era musicals (Astaire-Rogers, Busby
Berkeley), to MGM's Freed Unit extravaganzas (featuring Astaire,
Kelly, Garland), to folk musicals (such as Fiddler on the Roof), to
rock and roll musicals (like the Beatles' A Hard Day's Night) to the
dark musicals that question/critique entertainment itself (such as
Pennies from Heaven and Cabaret), to postmodern revivals of the
musical (such as Moulin Rouge!). We will also be interested in how
the musical, whose popularity declined sharply in the 1960s,
resurges in children's films and in unexpected song sequences in non-
musical films/television series. Contemporary approaches to the
musical often tie into a camp appreciation of the genre evident in
classical Hollywood musicals, such as The Pirate, as well as later
tongue-in-cheek musicals, such as Grease. Because of their overt
foregrounding of notions of performance and gender, these "camp"
films remind us that this genre as a whole is not only about musical
performance but also about the performance of other social roles
related to gender, class, and race. We will be interested in the
ideological implications of musicals as well as in how these films
function as entertainment. Students will learn to analyze the
musical in formal terms (editing, cinematography, etc.) and to
understand how the genre functions in relation to Hollywood cinema
generally and in relation to social, historical and ideological

In addition to the lecture and the required Wednesday evening
screenings involving the films mentioned above (and others),
students will be expected to keep up with the weekly readings and to
participate actively in class. The final course grade will be based
on two exams, two analytical papers and active
attendance/participation. I do not anticipate giving quizzes in this
class but will do so as necessary to encourage students to keep up
with the material. Feel free to e-mail me if you have questions.