Children, Childhood, and Musical Theater: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Children, Childhood, and Musical Theater

1st Edition

Edited by Donelle Ruwe, James Leve


280 pages

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Hardback: 9781472475336
pub: 2020-02-17
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Bringing together scholars from musicology, literature, childhood studies, and theater, this volume examines the ways in which children's musicals tap into adult nostalgia for childhood while appealing to the needs and consumer potential of the child. The contributors take up a wide range of musicals, including works inspired by the books of children's authors such as Roald Dahl, P.L. Travers, and Francis Hodgson Burnett; created by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lionel Bart, and other leading lights of musical theater; or conceived for a cast made up entirely of children. The collection examines musicals that propagate or complicate normative attitudes regarding what childhood is or should be. It also considers the child performer in movie musicals as well as in professional and amateur stage musicals. This far-ranging collection highlights the special place that musical theater occupies in the imaginations and lives of children as well as adults. The collection comes at a time of increased importance of musical theater in the lives of children and young adults.

Table of Contents

1. Children, Childhood, and Musical Theater: an Introduction

James Leve and Donelle Ruwe

2. Beginning with Do Re Mi: Childhood and The Sound of Music

Ryan Bunch

3. Walt Disney, Dr. Benjamin Spock, and the Gospel of Ideal Childrearing: Creating Superlative Nuclear Families in Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and Bedknobs and Broomsticks

William A. Everett

4. Saving Mr. [Blank]: Rescuing the Father through Song in Children’s and Family Musicals

Raymond Knapp

5. Dickensian Discourses: Giving a (Singing) Voice to the Child-Hero in Oliver! and Copperfield

Marc Napolitano

6. Ghetto Chic: Utopianism and the Authentic Child in The Me Nobody Knows (1970)

Donelle Ruwe

7. Little Girls, Big Voices: Annie

James Leve

8. Urchins, Unite: Newsies as an Antidote to Annie

Marah Gubar

9. Agency, Power, and the Inner Child: The "Revolting Children" of Matilda the Musical

Helen Freshwater

10. Children’s Musicals for Educational and Community Settings

Lauren Acton

11. Broadway Junior

Stacy Wolf

Bibliography of Scholarly Sources

About the Editors

James Leve is a Professor of Musicology at Northern Arizona University.

Donelle Ruwe is Professor and Chair of English at Northern Arizona University.

About the Series

Studies in Childhood, 1700 to the Present

Studies in Childhood, 1700 to the Present

This series recognizes and supports innovative work on the child and on literature for children and adolescents that informs teaching and engages with current and emerging debates in the field. Proposals are welcome for interdisciplinary and comparative studies by humanities scholars working in a variety of fields, including literature; book history, periodicals history, and print culture and the sociology of texts; theater, film, musicology, and performance studies; history, including the history of education; gender studies; art history and visual culture; cultural studies; and religion.

Topics might include, among other possibilities, how concepts and representations of the child have changed in response to adult concerns; postcolonial and transnational perspectives; "domestic imperialism" and the acculturation of the young within and across class and ethnic lines; the commercialization of childhood and children's bodies; views of young people as consumers and/or originators of culture; the child and religious discourse; children's and adolescents' self-representations; and adults' recollections of childhood.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Children's Literature