In Tune With The Times: Social History and Satire in Musicals

Ref: C2338070

This course concentrates on a range of musicals and operettas, some well known, others not so much, to examine aspects of social history from the early part of the 19th century through to the present day. We will also look at works that satirised contemporary society, sometimes during times of considerable political tension. Among other things, we will examine life in France in the 19th century through Les Misérables, Orpheus in the Underworld and Phantom of the Opera; racial tension in America in Show Boat, South Pacific and West Side Story; the rise of the Nazis in Germany and Austria through the Threepenny Opera, Cabaret and the Sound of Music; Depression-Era film musicals from the US and the UK; the notorious Hollywood Production Code and how it affected musicals; and the "Swinging Sixties" and the so-called sexual revolution as revealed in pop musicals from the era. We will also look what today's blockbusters can tell us about our own times.

Course aim

To look at the history behind musicals and operettas – the political, cultural and social issues that form the basis of the plots, and also their historical contexts.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Identify some musicals that focus on racial tensions
  • Determine why some musicals remain controversial, or have become more controversial over time
  • Describe "landmark" musicals that are considered to have broken new ground in style, content and message
  • Outline examples of satirical targets in musicals and operettas

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • Group discussion will be encouraged

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • The tutor will invite comments and observations and will give feedback

What else do I need to know?

  • Some means of taking notes

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here

Download full Course information sheet

In Tune With The Times: Social History and Satire in Musicals

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You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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