Jake Johnson

It was either George Bernard Shaw or Oscar Wilde who first said that America and England were divided by a common language. To challenge the inevitability of a similarly entrenched incompatibility within music studies, we organized a symposium to consider one of scholarship's persistent examples of separation by a common language—that of popular music and musical theater. Popular music studies embraces a tremendously large and dynamic variety of musical styles, over the years producing more and more specialized journals and conferences, as well as dedicated degree programs both within and increasingly outside of music departments.1 Studies in musical theater, like studies in popular music broadly, are likewise on the rise, if only more recently.

Yet for reasons that have not sufficiently been explored, musicals and those who study them have become accustomed to a place on the fringes of almost every scholarly conversation, left to puzzle over...

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