American Studies

Emma Silver - The Way America Tells Its Stories

After graduation, Emma moved to Washington D.C. and currently works on Capitol Hill as a Staff Assistant for Congressman Brad Sherman (CA-30).

Area of Concentration Courses

English 130C – American Literature, 1865-1900
Comparative Literature 156AC – Fiction and the Culture of the Americas
English 166 – Special Topics
Political Science 106A- American Politics: Campaign Strategy – Media
Political Science 116J - Special Topics in Political Theory
Sociology 163 - Popular Culture


Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Just Sing: World War II in Musicals and the American Attempt to Decipher Wartime Trauma and Sexual Anxieties

Recognizing that Americans have long harbored an obsession with World War II, Emma’s honors thesis questions why Americans have repeatedly taken to Broadway to parse their feelings on the subject. Highlighting how musical theater has acted as a vehicle for Americans to engage in a communal processing of the events of World War II, Emma argues that this processing is achieved primarily through a progression of queer G.I. performance and other generalized sexual anxieties that serve to reflect the changing values and focuses within American culture. To support this assertion, she analyzes three Broadway musicals that are narratively anchored in World War II: This is the Army (1942), South Pacific (1949), and Bandstand (2017). Each presents a vital look into Americans’ attempts to project and reconcile their feelings about World War II at different time periods: during the all-encompassing patriotism of the war, within the repression of the postwar era, and finally in the increasing social tolerance of the modern day.

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