Since the publication of “The Problem of Femininity in Film Music” twenty years ago, Caryl Flinn’s work has been at the forefront of the small but vibrant field of film music. Her work has been especially useful to scholars interested in music’s connection to gender, sexuality, and its ideological functions. Her first book Strains of Utopia explored that connection by examining film music of the studio era; in The New German Cinema Flinn examined a variety of models music used in films of that era as they tackled questions of national and other forms of human and political identity.
More recently Flinn has turned to musicals, a genre she’s long loved. She wrote a biography of Broadway singer Ethel Merman, Brass Diva, and has been excited by how many people love the singer – and the book! Flinn is now writing a short manuscript on The Sound of Music for the British Film Institute and has enjoyed giving talks on the movie’s afterlife, on yodelling, and on the dubbing of Christopher Plummer.
In addition to these interests, Flinn writes (and teaches) on camp and kitsch, and is especially interested in the notions of “value” and debasement attached to these forms, whether wittingly or by those hostile to the terms. She is also starting a project on affect theory in connection to film musicals to look at questions long tied to these shows: how do musicals extract the emotional responses they do? When do musicals work as sites of hope and of emotional expression? How do they manipulate those same things, and deny certain people access to those fantasies? How do publicity and gossip contribute to that process? What any more, is a musical in fact?
Since 2012, Caryl Flinn has been teaching at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She loves being in the Midwest and is enjoying getting to know the outstanding students there as well as her new colleagues in the Department of Screen Arts and Cultures and across the University. While happy with the size of her human family, she’s eager to expand her canine one and to find a Belgian Malinois in need of a good new home.
Current Research Interests:
*affect and musicals
*The Sound of Music
*kitsch and questions of value and good taste