Date of Award

Summer 8-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


War and Society

First Advisor

Dr. Jeffrey Koerber

Second Advisor

Dr. Charissa J. Threat

Third Advisor

Dr. Jessica Sternfeld


Musical theater has historically been a venue for Americans to come to terms with our past and present on both a national and an individual level as it stages and restages war mythology on the Broadway Stage. As the nation has won, lost, and abandoned foreign conflicts, the connotation, remembrance, and commemoration of war in American memory has shifted from romanticizing former conflicts to renegotiating their memory. Thus, this project examines how twentieth-century war memory is represented in the American musical, starting in the 1940s and continuing up to the present day. To do so, the phenomenon will be examined through case studies of three representative musicals across three thematic periods: the 1940s–1950s through the lens of South Pacific, the 1960s–1990s with Miss Saigon, and 2000s to the present day through Allegiance. Subsequently, as these musicals center on war in the Asia Pacific, this project examines their construction of the Asian and Pacific Islander “Other” and how it both measures war mythology and has shifted over time.

As America has gone and returned from war, how those wars were experienced and subsequently remembered has changed national attitudes. Thus, war-based musicals have reacted to these attitudes and made strides towards more inclusive and objective portrayals of wartime and postwar experiences. By examining musicals in relation to representing war and shifts of opinion towards American war-making, this thesis illustrates how war mythology and the Asian and Pacific Islander “Other” has been negotiated and renegotiated on Broadway to highlight the significance of this intersection in musical theatre and war and society studies at large.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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