WGST 248
The Tale of Carmen, 1845-now Fall 2009
Division II Writing Skills
Cross-listed WGST 248 / MUS 246
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

The story of the gypsy femme fatale Carmen has endured for over 150 years. In Western culture she exemplifies the seductive, exotic, independent and forbidden female who drives an upstanding man to a life of crime and finally murder. This course explores a broad array of treatments of this archetypal narrative, starting with Prosper Mérimée’s 1845 novella on which Bizet based his beloved 1875 opera Carmen. We will consider various staged and film versions of the opera itself, including Francesco Rosi’s stunning 1984 movie, and discuss various other film transformations of the story, from DeMille’s 1915 silent film through Hammerstein’s 1954 all-black musical Carmen Jones, to the MTV version A Hip Hopera of 2004. Comic approaches will also be assessed, from Charlie Chaplin’s Carmen Burlesque of 1915 through Spike Jones’ 1952 Carmen Murdered! and The Naked Carmen of 1970. We will analyze re-castings of Bizet’s famous score in instrumental music since 1875, and explore remarkable dance interpretations ranging from Carlos Saura’s 1983 flamenco version through David Bourne’s choreography in his 2001 gay reading called The Car Man. Our ultimate purpose will be to probe the ways in which this powerful narrative and the music it inspired have lent themselves to multifaceted textual and musical constructions of individual and group identities, encompassing gender and sexuality, “Otherness,” nationality, ethnicity, and class.
The Class: Format: tutorial; after initial group meetings to discuss Mérimée's novella and Bizet's music, students will meet with the instructor in pairs for one hour each week
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 1564
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: each student will write a 5- to 6-page essay every other week (five in all), and provide peer reviews in alternate weeks; evaluation will be based on the quality of written work, discussions, and oral presentation
Prerequisites: none; ability to read music useful but not necessary
Enrollment Preferences: sophomores and juniors
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills
Notes: meets Division 1 requirement if registration is under MUS; meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under WGST
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
WGST 248 Division I MUS 246 Division I

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