module specification

SJ6078 - The Hollywood Musical (2020/21)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2020/21
Module status DELETED (This module is no longer running)
Module title The Hollywood Musical
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 150
105 hours Guided independent study
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 30%   Critical Analysis (1,200 words)
Coursework 70%   Essay (3,000 words)
Running in 2020/21

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Tuesday Morning

Module summary

This module examines the Hollywood film musical, its historical development and its relationship to American culture and identity. Films will be explored in relation to a variety of generic, structural, stylistic and thematic issues.

Module aims

This module aims to:

• Consider the development of the Hollywood musical as an American film genre

• Examine the significance of issues of style and structure

• Explore the musical’s representation of cultural issues in a variety of contexts

• Examine the ways in which the film musical articulates notions of American identity

• Consider key stars of the genre in relation to issues of race and gender


The module will explore the historical development of the genre from the backstage aggregate form of the Hollywood musical in the 1930s to the height of the integrated musical in the 1940s and 1950s to the mix of forms in the contemporary musical. Ideas of narrative and spectacle will be considered, as well as the significance of stars, styles of performance and the musical’s position in relation to ideas of American entertainment. In addition, a variety of films will be considered in relation to cultural and political topics such as FDR’s New Deal and post-war representations of race and gender.

Learning and teaching

Learning and teaching on the module will be conducted via lectures, seminars, screenings, blended learning and students’ guided independent study. Students will be expected to enhance their learning in scheduled classes through guided research. Student development weeks will provide students with the opportunity for primary research and for individual feedback in tutorials with tutors to develop planning and research for their assignments. The developing assessment strategy provides opportunities for personal development as students are able to reflect on and develop their learning and skills of critical analysis in conjunction with tutor feedback in preparation for their final essays.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

• Demonstrate a strong understanding of the historical development of the Hollywood film musical

• Conduct close analysis of musical performances in Hollywood film

• Demonstrate a strong understanding of and the ability to critically analyse the Hollywood film musical in relation to issues of style and structure

• Analyse examples of the Hollywood musical in relation to issues of race, gender and national identity

Assessment strategy

The module’s strategy of assessment both promotes developmental learning and research and enables students to demonstrate key skills and engagement with module content. The first assignment provides the opportunity for students to demonstrate key skills in the discrete critical analysis of musical performance. Formal feedback will be provided on this assignment. Through the final assignment, students will have the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of a variety of structural and thematic issues explored in the module, as well as utilizing feedback from their first assignment, to examine in depth a topic through their final essay.


Rick Altman (ed.), Genre: The Musical (London and New York: Routledge, 1981).

Bruce Babington and Peter William Evans, Blue Skies and Silver Linings: Aspects of the Hollywood Musical (Manchester and Dover, NH: Manchester University Press, 1985).

Andrew Bergman, We’re in the Money: Depression America and Its Films (Chicago: I.R. Dee, 1992).

Steven Cohan, Incongruous Entertainment: Camp, Cultural Value, and the MGM Musical (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005).

Steven Cohan (ed.), Hollywood Musicals, The Film Reader (London and New York: Routledge, 2001).

Jane Feuer, The Hollywood Musical (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1993).

Arthur Knight, Disintegrating the Musical: Black Performance and American Musical Film (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002).

Joe McElhaney (ed.), Vincente Minnelli: The Art of Entertainment (Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 2009).

Martin Rubin, Showstoppers: Busby Berkeley and the Tradition of Spectacle (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993).

Susan Smith, The Musical: Race, Gender and Performance (London and New York: Wallflower, 2005).