"It Was Good Enough for Grandma, But It Ain't Good Enough for Us!" Women and the Nation in Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg's Bloomer Girl (1944)
England, Sarah Jean
Warfield, Patrick R
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The Broadway musical Bloomer Girl (1944) with score by composer Harold Arlen (1905-1986) and lyricist E.Y. Harburg (1896-1981) was the first book musical to follow in the footsteps of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! The obvious parallels between Oklahoma! and Bloomer Girl led critics and scholars to compare the musicals at the expense of overlooking the contributions the latter made to the genre. This thesis moves Bloomer Girl out from the shadow cast by Oklahoma! and situates it within a richer historical context. It begins with a brief history of Bloomer Girl. It then focuses specifically on both the dramatic and musical representation of women in the work. Using a comparative methodology, this study examines how the women in Bloomer Girl deviate from the model for the Golden Age musical to create a controversial political commentary about the United States in the World War II era.