It's been a rough semester for me, as many of my friends and acquaintances are aware. I have been thinking seriously of taking a leave from graduate school to do more important political work. I have been thinking seriously about not leaving graduate school, but pursuing a different career path, a very undefined one that can best be described as "not a professor." I have been thinking seriously about curling up in a ball on the couch and sobbing for the rest of my life. I have been thinking many thinks.
And then today I started working on my lecture for the History of Rock class. My lecture on rock musicals. My lecture that has absolutely no curricular guidelines and is entirely up to me in every detail. And I love it. Love it, love it, love it.
I get to write my own narrative of rock musicals! I get to make categories and pick shows that are important enough to include, and find funny pictures on the internet to stick into my PowerPoint presentation. I get to learn how to use PowerPoint, which I have apparently been able to avoid for the last 25 years.
Here's my scheme so far:
1960s: Roots of the Rock Musical, touching on Bye Bye Birdie and (briefly) Hair. I get to mostly ignore Hair because an adorable student is putting together a website for extra credit and is dealing with it there.
1970s: Black Popular Music on the Great White Way: Gospel and Soul Musicals, Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope, The Wiz, and Working, getting to ignore Grease and Jesus Christ Superstar because of the website.
1980s: Isn't it Queer? Camp Musicals (not sure about that designation yet), Dreamgirls, Little Shop of Horrors, and Chess
1990s: [Insert clever title], Tommy, Capeman and Hedwig, skipping Rent because of the website.
2000s: Jukeboxes on stage, probably talking about Mamma Mia!, Movin' Out and Jersey Boys.
Epilogue: Whither rock musicals? Spring Awakening, In the Heights, Passing Strange, and just maybe this.
Why does this excite me? It's a total rewrite of the recent history of the musical, emphasizing the people of color and queer contributions, not just the standard white Jew narrative. Yes, "gays are into musicals" is not a new story, I know, but queer is very different from gay, something I probably won't have time to get into in the lecture, but something that I need to emphasize in my choices. Plus I get to trash some popular shows, like Spring Awakening, and praise the golden voice of Lynne Thigpen.
I'm thinking that maybe this is a good job for me. We'll see how things go on Monday.