THEATRE ARTS 126

POPULAR ENTERTAINMENTS: ORIGINS AND FORMS

TOPICS FOR WRITING ASSIGNMENTS

The following are some examples of the kind of questions you might address in your writing assignments:

A. Preliminary Readings and Early Origins

B. Environmental Entertainments: Carnival, Side Show, Amusement Park

C. Dime Museum, Medicine Show, Circus, Wild West
  • 1. Drawing on A.H. Saxon's article on Barnum's American Museum, discuss the various kinds of "entertainment” offered in the Lecture Room.

  • 2. According to McNamara (in Step Right Up), describe the predecessors of American medicine showmen.

  • 3. With Truzzi or other circus sources as authorities, select one important aspect of American circus's development and write a well-developed, one-paragraph essay.

  • 4. Some experts see Cody's extravaganza as a many-layered vehicle for conveying history, romantic fantasies, and political ideologies. Drawing on your readings on the Wild West, expand on this thesis in an essay of a paragraph or two.

D. Variety Entertainment: Minstrel Show and Music Hall

These are only suggestions; find your own approach to these and other readings assigned (or bring in other materials you find or encounter from other sources).

Illustration: Magic Show, Kassner Theater. Collection of DBW

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