15-17 May 2024, Sheffield
Call for Papers
Great American Songbook Foundation, Carmel, Indiana in collaboration with The University of Sheffield
Convenor: Dominic Broomfield-McHugh (University of Sheffield)
Keynote speakers: Maya Cantu (Bennington College), Desirée Garcia (Dartmouth College), Hannah Lewis (University of Texas at Austin), Julianne Lindberg (University of Nevada, Reno).
Respondent: Mia Mask (Vassar College)
Key Hollywood musicals from the 1930s, '40s and '50s have become staples of family life in America, with each generation introducing the next to Singin' in the Rain, White Christmas, Swing Time, and so on. These and other movies are referenced in more recent movies such as Moulin Rouge! and particularly La La Land, drawing on a strong feeling of American nostalgia that keeps the artistry and creativity of these films alive in the twenty-first century.
Yet these older films also reflect the times in which they were made, foregrounding the representation of race, gender, disability and sexuality in ways that are sometimes significantly at odds with contemporary values.
What are the implications of new films paying homage uncritically to an
earlier period of film that excludes or stigmatises certain communities? Is nostalgia positive or pejorative?
Possible lines of enquiry might include:
- Nostalgia as a creative force in the Hollywood musical
- The politics of nostalgia in the Hollywood musical
- Nostalgia as a commercial tool in the Hollywood musical
- Conflicts of past and present in individual movies
- What are the benefits and pitfalls of nostalgia in Hollywood musicals?
- Is the Hollywood musical ever not nostalgic?
- How can we strengthen relationships between scholars of different
disciplines (e.g. musicology and film studies) in addressing these
- What are the major archival holdings that might help address this
- Stars and directors who are particularly implicated in narratives of
nostalgia and the musical
- Aspects of the genre that particularly exploit or rework ideas of
nostalgia in the musical
Proposals for individual papers (20 minutes + 10 minutes of discussion) or for a 90-minute panel (three papers + discussion) should be submitted through the form on the conference website by 30 April 2023
Although this will focus around a large in-person event, hybrid participation is also welcomed for those for whom in-person events are a barrier for any reason. The organisers are also committed to supporting attendance for those for whom costs are prohibitive. We especially encourage and support participation from students and those from minoritised communities; we welcome comments and questions, in confidence, to do all we can to make participation comfortable for all. Please email with any questions, suggestions or concerns.
The conference will include a showcase of the Great American Songbook Foundation’s holdings on musicals, which include the collections of Meredith Willson, Liza Minnelli and Gus Kahn. It will take place alongside a mini festival of the Hollywood musical at the Songbook Foundation, including several screenings, a book signing, and a special concert by Michael Feinstein at the Center for the Performing Arts.
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Dimanche 26 Mars, 2023