Shifting Function of Popular Art in the 2020's

By: Nathan Hurwitz  

At one time popular art forms like the musical theater reflected and commented on the societies within which they existed. In an age of "fake news" and "alternative realities," where it would seem there is no objective reality, popular art seems unable or unwilling to reflect or comment on the society within which it exists. In a world where reality is subjective, popular arts seem relegated to "preaching to the choir," to speaking out only to audiences who already hold their perspective. This paper examines how popular art functions for its audience in a world that seems to have no set reality, in which it attempts to confirm rather than inform or illuminate.

Musical, Theatre, Artform, Function, Post-Reality
The Arts in Social, Political, and Community Life
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Nathan Hurwitz

Associate Professor, Theatre and Dance

Dr. Hurwitz received his BFA from New York University, his MA from Northwestern University, and his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. Having taught at NYU, the University of Pittsburgh, Point Park University, H.B. Studios, and Syracuse University, he is currently an Associate Professor at Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ, USA. He currently has three books in publication: "A History of the American Musical Theatre: No Business Like It" (Routledge), "Songwriters of the American Musical Theatre: A Style Guide for Singers" (Routledge), and "Musicals: The Definitive Illustrated Story (contributing author - DK/Penguin Books). He has also published and presented a great many articles and papers at conferences from Brisbane to Barcelona many of which can be found at