In the Heights and the American Folk Musical

Rick Altman argues that the American folk musical offers an idealized portrait of America and American life. Similarly, in her introduction to In the Heights, producer Jill Thurman suggests that In the Heights shares with many musicals a depiction of the search for the “American dream” and “home” (x). These statements lead to such questions as—what does “American” mean? How does In the Heights represent American life and the experiences and struggles of the characters and community depicted in the musical? What do their dreams and struggles tell us about American life? And how can their identities, dreams, and struggles be represented through performance (dance, song, etc.)? In your 4-5 page essay, make an argument about how In the Heights fulfills (and/or differs from) Altman’s definition of the American folk musical.?

Use of Primary Sources (the play; the documentary)

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Your essay should provide description and analysis of specific scenes, songs, or moments in the play OR documentary to support your claims.
You should cite page numbers from the play if you use quotations, but you don’t need to use timecode for the documentary.

Use of Secondary Sources (essays, articles, etc)

Your essay should draw on one or more ideas from Altman, Dyer, and/or Negron-Muntaner
Your essay should use at least ONE quotation from Altman, Dyer, and /or Negron-Muntaner.

Format your essay in MLA style and make sure to correctly cite your sources, including quotations and paraphrasing. See last two pages of Syllabus for general tips about writing and papers.

Citation info:

Altman, Rick. “The Folk Musical.” The American Film Musical. Indiana University Press, 1988, pp. 272-327.

Dyer, Richard. “I seem to find the happiness I seek’: Heterosexuality and Dance in the American Musical.” Dance, Gender and Culture, edited by Helen Thomas. Palgrave Macmillan, 1993, pp. 49-65.

In the Heights: Chasing Broadway Dreams. Directed by Paul Bozymowski, Radical Media and Thirteen Productions for WNET, 2009.

Miranda, Lin-Manuel, and Quiara Alegría Hudes. In the Heights. Williamson Music, 2008.

Negron-Muntaner, Frances. “Feeling Pretty: West Side Story and Puerto Rican Identity Discourses.” Social Text, vol 18, no. 2 (Summer 2000), pp. 83-106.

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