On Location 2019: The Broadway Musical: Performing and Mapping Race and Gender on the New York Stage and Street

Jennifer Gallinat

January 8th, 2019

May 20 – June 5, 2019

Professor Todd Decker, Professor, Chair; Music Department

At the center of Manhattan sits Times Square, an entertainment district located at the primary interchange of New York City’s subway system and centered on a cluster of theatres, virtually all built before the stock market crash of 1929. This group of buildings—known together as Broadway theatres—make up a singularly enduring element of the architectural fabric of American popular culture. The musicals staged in these theatres over the last century—and life on the streets surrounding them—have hosted ever changing and stubbornly stereotypical performances of race and gender.

This travel course delves into the history of Times Square, the Broadway theatres, and the Broadway musical—considering the changing nature of street and stage across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and paying close attention to race and gender. Creative interchange with other Manhattan neighborhoods proves essential to the story, and so the course embraces neighborhoods such as Harlem, the African American district uptown that was created in large part by the development of Times Square, and downtown areas, such as Greenwich Village and the Lower East Side, which fostered upstart and ethnic music and theatre.

This sixteen-day On Location travel course includes two weeks in Manhattan.

This course offers a unique and immersive form of location-based cultural study that draws upon multiple disciplinary models and methods, and includes many sites in New York City. We will go on guided group and solo walking tours, visit theaters and archives, pursue independent research, meet local experts and theatre professionals, and go to at least four Broadway musicals. Coursework will combine digital research and research tools with group and independent archival research in New York City libraries.

This course will be of particular interest to students in Performing Arts, Music, Urban Studies, History, African and African American Studies, and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies—all of which fall under the broad umbrella of American Culture Studies.

Graduate students and advanced undergraduates are welcome.

For more information, see pages.wustl.edu/onlocation.

key contacts

Todd Decker

Associate Professor, Musicology
Film and Media Studies, Affiliated Faculty
American Culture Studies, Joint Appointment
Performing Arts Department, Faculty Affiliate


Jennifer Gallinat

Administrative Coordinator