- 1. Oral histories; taped interviews with popular entertainers. The
project would include the submission of a taped interview of some
length and a transcript (typed) with commentary.
- 2. A detailed study of a particular entertainer or a form not given
adequate coverage during the semester.
- 3. If there is time and/or space, mini-performances of specific
forms might be attempted: Medicine show, vaudeville turns, burlesque
routines, music hall songs, etc. This assignment would include a 15-20
minute performance plus a typed script with historical commentary
and an annotated bibliography of sources used. It should be a performance
as accurate as possible. (I have a group of some 150 skits from vaudeville,
most never seen--from Library of Congress collection)
- 4. Paper on performative aspects of a specific form, other than
mainstream or legitimate, during a particular era in a specific country
(such as cabaret in France or Germany).
- 5. Paper on performance techniques and the performance methods of
some other major form.
- 6. A study of a more contemporary form of popular entertainment,
e.g., rock concerts, professional wrestling, roller derby, etc.
- 7. Paper on the cultural or social importance of one or several
forms of entertainment.
- 8. Some aspect of popular theatre might be treated, e.g., minor
theatres in London, East End melodrama, rural theatre, Gilbert and
Sullivan, American musical theatre (early), etc.
- 9. Theatre utilizing water or fireworks might be studied.
- 10. A study of popular entertainment as ritual or its mythic implications.
- 11. A study of popular entertainment and the modern avant-garde
- 12. The art of popular entertainment: posters, serious art, artists,
specicialists, etc. (see, for example, Ritter's book in bibliography
- 13. The music of popular entertainment, circus, burlesque, vaudeville,
- 14. Local studies of a specific form, theatre, or area of popular
entertainment (e.g., the dime museum in Providence, Vaudeville in
Syracuse, Pleasure Gardens in Rhode Island, etc.).
- 15. Study of joke books, song books, and the like, in the Harris
- 16. Popular entertainment for various ethnic groups in the U.S.
- 17. Technical aspects of popular entertainment production (such
as a study of patents for amusement park rides).
- 18. Popular entertainment and the audience.
- 19. Comprehensive history of stage magic or other aspect of magic
using the H. Adrian Smith Collection of Conjuring Books and Magicana
in the John Hay Library.
- 20. Optical entertainment before the motion picture.
- 21. A detailed study of black revues in the 1920s or the Chitlin
- 22. A study of classical forms of popular entertainment (Greek mimes,
Roman mimes, minstrel tradition, etc.).
- 23. The treatment of popular entertainment in literary sources,
i.e., novels, plays, etc. (e.g., the following works of fiction: Gary
Jennings' Spangle [19th c. circus], Larry McMurtry's
Buffalo Girls [Buffalo Bill, Wild West, etc.], Robertson
Davies' World of Wonders [magician, popular theatre,
etc.], E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime or World's
Fair, William Gresham's Nightmare Alley
[carnival]). For a partial list of fictional sources, see Linda Sarver
and Tom Markus, A Novel Approach to Theatre: From Adams to
Zola (Scarecrow Press, 1997). See 25 below.
- 24. Film versions of P.E. forms (there have been a plethora of films
built around entertainment forms).
- 25. A detailed comparative study of a form of entertainment and
its depiction in fiction or drama (e.g., Buffalo Bill and Kopit's
Indians and Altman's film version; Sugar Babies
or This was Burlesque , etc.).
- 26. Early films as popular entertainment.
- 27. A paper defining popular entertainment versus folk entertainment
and supporting said definition with examples, etc.
- 28. Folk art in popular entertainment: carousel figures, banners,
show fronts, etc.
- 29. A Post-modern interpretation of a standard form of popular entertainment
(or the application of a contemporary methodology or theory, e.g.,
semiotics, structuralism, etc.)
- 30. An aspect of American civilization as reflected in popular entertainment.
- 31. The recent recession has had a noticeable impact on theme parks
and other entertainment venues, suggesting the likely value in studying
popular entertainment from an economic/social vantage point.
- 32. Gender studies, the body as a site of exploitation, and similar
contemporary approaches to various phenomena open up ideas for the
study of such entertainment forms as burlesque and the striptease,