In Tune with the Times - History and Satire in Musicals

Ref: C2343907

This is a history course based on some of the best-known musicals and operettas. Writers of these works often dealt with complex social, political and historical issues while providing an entertaining show with great songs. Show Boat, described as the first true musical, is set in the southern states of America under conditions of systematic discrimination against the black population after the abolition of slavery; racial tensions also feature in West Side Story and South Pacific. The politics and society of Paris in the 19th century form the background to Les Misérables, Orpheus in the Underworld, and others; the economic difficulties of Germany and Austria in the 1920s and 30s, the nationalist backlash against perceived decadence, and the rise of the Nazis are depicted in Cabaret and the Sound of Music. Also included in the course are the strange censorship of the Hollywood Production Code; the Swinging Sixties in pop musicals; and how musicals have changed in recent years.

Course aim

This course aims to show how musicals and operettas reflect the historical context in which they are written and often contain important political and social commentary, sometimes satirically presented.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • You will need your own personal email address so that you’re able to login to the WEA’s digital learning platform: WEA Canvas. You will need to be able to understand how to follow URL links to pages on the internet. If you want to understand more about Canvas please visit: http://bit.ly/WEAonline
  • You will need to be able to follow links to join our WEA live video learning platform: WEA Zoom. If you’d like to understand more about our video learning platform, Zoom please visit: http://bit.ly/WEAonline and http://bit.ly/ZoomSpec
  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

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

  • Give three examples of musicals that reflect problems in society at the time they were written
  • Illustrate how the personal backgrounds of composers and lyricists have affected choice of subject matter
  • Assess the effect of the Hollywood Production Code on the quality of film musicals produced in the period of its operation
  • Identify some changes in Parisian society in the 19th century that are reflected in musicals and operettas

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas will be used to provide resources or to support lessons, enable assessment, provide learner feedback and for other activities for individuals away from the course. If you want to understand more about our digital learning platform please visit: http://bit.ly/WEAonline
  • 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
  • The WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas, will be used to provide resources or to support lessons and for other activities for individuals away from the course. If you want to understand more about our digital learning platform please visit: http://bit.ly/WEAonline

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor

What else do I need to know?

  • What you need: You will need an internet connection, speakers, a microphone and a webcam so that you can use our video learning platform, Zoom. If you’d like to understand more Zoom please visit: http://bit.ly/ZoomSpec
  • You will need a personal email address to join the WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas so that you can receive resources, record your progress and achievement and to work with others and share ideas. If you want to understand more about our digital learning platform please visit: http://bit.ly/WEAonline
  • Some method 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 http://www.wea.org.uk/learn-wea/what-can-i-do-next

Download full course information sheet

In Tune with the Times - History and Satire in Musicals

Enrolment Conditions

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2020
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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