A volume of original essays, written by contributors from British and American universities, which explores the development of this vibrant American form - from its early-20th-century origins to some more recent productions. Some of the essays provide historical sketches of the musical, while others concentrate on such well-known examples as "Porgy and Bess" and "West Side Story". Among the topics discussed are Scandinavian stereotypes in early musicals, and the relationship between the genre and American business. The composers examined include Cole Porter and Stephen Sondheim. While they adopt varying approaches to their material, the contributors are united by their awareness of the centrality of the musical to modern American culture.
Robert Lawson-Peebles is Senior Lecturer in the School of English and American Studies, University of Exeter. His research field is transatlantic cultural relations, from pre-Columbian times until the present. He has published three books including American environmental history: a monograph, Landscape and Written Expression in Revolutionary America (1988), and two collections of original essays co-edited with Professor Mick Gidley (now of Leeds University), Downloads of American Landscapes (1989) and Modern American Landscapes (1995). He has also published essays on, amongst others, George Washington, Susannah Rowson, James Fenimore Cooper, Henry George, and William Carlos Williams. His interests include American performance arts, and he has published an introductory essay on the subject, an article on the impact of the Second World War on Hollywood versions of English novels, and an edited collection of original essays, Approaches to the American Musical (1996). He is currently working on an account of the impact of American culture on Britain between 1900 and 1968.