Fall 2017 (un)common arts and reads

Please use the UF Schedule of Courses to find times, places, and other course information.

These courses are discussion oriented, seminar courses centered on a performance or exhibit (arts) or a book (reads).

(un)common arts courses

Course Title Crd Sect Instructor Syllabus
IDH3931 From Page to Stage:
Adapting the Modern Musical
1   Pufahl, Jeffrey From Page to Stage: Adapting the Modern Musical 
IDH3931 Becoming A Woman in the Age of Enlightenment  1   Hyde, Melissa
Kroen, Sheryl
Becoming a Woman in the Age of Enlightenment 
IDH3931 Performing Arts Backstage: A Look Behind the Curtain 1   Cox, Matt Performing Arts Backstage: A Look Behind the Curtain 
IDH3931 The Roots of American Music:
Keb Mo’ and Taj Mahal Play the Blues 
1   Kellerman,Edmund Roots of American Music 
IDH3931 Storytelling through Music 1   Sims, Miranda Storytelling through Music 

From Page to Stage: Adapting the Modern Musical

The course will include a performance of RENT on either Tuesday or Wednesday October 4 or 5.

What makes a musical sparkle? Is it the music or the book? Or is it a mystical combination of both? A song can be great, but if it doesn’t tell a good story, will the audience be moved? Where do musical theatre writers find their stories and why are so many musicals based on plays and novels? In this course students will explore a selection of musicals based on plays and novels that are significant to the musical theatre genre, and, through analysis and discussion develop an understanding of the process of how plays are made and how musicals are adapted from sources.

Students will form small groups and prepare a presentation for the class on a selected musical/source play combination. This presentation will contrast and compare the two works of theatre with a focus on what elements were retained in both versions and what elements were not. Students will submit a written analysis of both shows and present their findings to the class using visual aids (visual plot comparison chart), video clips, and other creative methods. Presentations will be 30 minutes in length and will be followed by 20 minutes of class discussion.

Students will be required to attend a performance of Rent on October 5/16, 8pm, at the Phillips Center as part of the class.

Presentations will address the following:

• Discuss the historical significance of both works including: performance history, box office success, length of run, impact on the genre, etc. and discuss the similarities and differences of both works.
• Chart out the plot of the source play and corresponding musical and compare. What is the structure of each work? Does the structure fit an existing model?
• Discuss the theme and main idea of both works. Discuss the thematic similarities and differences in each work. How was the theme manipulated in the musical version to strengthen the thematic relevance?
• Discuss the setting (location, era, etc.) of each work. How is the setting different from play to musical? Era? Location? What liberties did the musical take? How does changing the elements of era and setting change the delivery of the main idea? Why do you think this is the case?
• What material (scenes, subplots, etc.) from the play was left out of the musical? What was added? What material from the play was turned into song? Why?
• Prepare a detailed character analysis of the main characters in the play and the characters in the musical. What characters were changed? What characters remained the same? Were characters added? Why?

Becoming A Woman in the Age of Enlightenment

This course is designed to run in conjunction with a major exhibition of eighteenth-century French art, guest curated for the Harn by UF art history professor, Melissa Hyde. Like the exhibition, the class is entitled Becoming a Woman in the Age of Enlightenment. It will explore themes that in the eighteenth century circulated around the so-called Woman Question, which was essentially an ongoing quarrel about the nature and social role of women (or rather, Woman, as a category). The Woman Question was at the heart of some of the most pressing cultural, philosophical, political, and social debates of the great intellectual movement known as the Enlightenment. A central theme for this class is how these debates shaped the representations and experiences of women of different classes and conditions. Our focus will be on visual representations, as well as period writing of and by women.

This course will further students’ understanding of a fascinating and formative moment in the history of Europe and beyond, but it will also offer opportunities to understand how the past can help us to think about the present. For although the circumstances and the specifics have changed, the woman question remains a pressing one that can still provoke contentious debates, as the recent presidential election and its aftermath so readily attest. Pay equity, reproductive rights, gender-discrimination, violence against women, work-family balance (recall the media frenzy in 2013 when a pregnant Marissa Mayer became CEO of Yahoo!), the “plight” of the Alpha-female, and the devaluation of the stay-at-home mom, are but a few of the “women’s issues” that are still hotly contested in the media, in cultural production of all kinds, in politics, and in public and private life. Is our world seeing “the end of men and the rise of women”—as Hanna Rosin claimed in her book of that title? Or is it either still a man’s world in which women simply need to “lean in” to succeed (Sheryl Sandberg’s thesis) or a world in which “women still can’t have it all” (as Anne-Marie Slaughter asserted in her much discussed Atlantic Monthly essay)? That these kinds of questions are still very much with us today gives this course particular relevance as it explores the Woman Question in the period often seen as that in which our modern notions of, for example, marriage, the family, childhood, and adolescence were being formed.

Taught by two specialists in the period (along with Hyde, Sheryl Kroen, Dept. of History), it will be a fundamentally interdisciplinary course that centers around short weekly readings and discussions, but will include guest speakers. There will be several field trips to the Harn over the course of the semester. As an additional way to explore issues and concepts in the course, students will attend a one woman play at the Performing Arts Center about Mozart’s sister, who was herself a musical prodigy, composer and keyboard virtuoso, but whose work and story have been all but lost to history. In addition to readings and participation in class discussions, each student will be expected to do a 15 minute presentation, either in the form of a gallery talk about a particular theme or set of works in the exhibition; or a conference-style presentation on some appropriate theme or issue.

Performing Arts Backstage: A Look Behind the Curtain

University of Florida Performing Arts brings performances to UF from all over the U.S. and all around the world. We’ll go behind the scenes to learn how it all happens: how the performances are produced and created; how the artists are contracted and presented at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts; how things work backstage. We’ll explore the business and craft behind the art.

University of Florida Performing Arts will present a performance series at UF of more than forty performances and artists during the upcoming 20172018 season. Each performance draws on the work of artists, producers, agents, designers, artisans, managers, and technicians, among many others. Their coordinated work creates new performances and brings those performances to cities around the U.S. on national tours. Focusing on three performances during the fall semester – Keb Mo and Taj Mahal, Kinky Boots, and DakhaBrakha – we’ll explore each artist’s work and some differences among arts genres, while also going backstage at the Phillips Center to see and experience how the work unfolds behind the scenes.

Students will use “The Production Manager’s Toolkit”, by Cary Gillett and Jay Sheehan, as a general resource and guide, supplemented with material accessible online.

The Roots of American Music

Keb Mo’ and Taj Mahal Play the Blues

The primary purpose of this course is to explore the roots of American music. Blues, country blues, be bop and funk were all contributing factors to not just the musical fabric of our country, but also the social fabric of our culture. By appealing to a variety of people, blues was instrumental in breaking down racial barriers especially in the deeply segregated South.

Your grade is by contract, i.e. you contract for the grade you are working for through the matrix below. Every week, students will contribute to an online discussion and receive credit for attendance and input. Attendance will be three required at three concerts: Barry Sides Sings the Blues, Little Jake and the Soul Searchers, and Keb Mo’ and Taj Mahal.



Word count


  • Value









Discussion for A

Discussion for B+

Discussion for B

Discussion for C+

Discussion for C

Discussion for D+

Discussion for D







Every other week.[1] Must present at least two times.


A= 270

B+ =250

B   =240

C+ =220

C   =210

D+ =190

D   =180


Attendance & participation






Missed Discussion












[1] Please check the elearning site deadlines. Plus, the instructor reserves the right to change the deadlines accordingly.

Storytelling through Music

Moscow State Symphony Orchestra November 16, 2017, 7:30pm Phillips Center for Performing Arts

Storytelling has been used throughout history as a way of sharing information and inspiring others. This course will explore the tradition of storytelling through instrumental music. Using a variety of musical techniques, composers have depicted heroic and villainous characters, beautiful landscapes and scenes, and wondrous events. In this class, we will study the story behind some of these pieces and how composers were able to convey each story using only instrumental music.

At the end of the term, students will present on a tone poem or other musical work that tells a story. Presentations will include background on the composer’s life, their musical education and influences, and listening examples from the chosen piece, as well as discussion of the musical devices employed throughout the piece to portray the story. Students will also be required to attend the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra performance on November 16, 2017.