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Students will engage with scholars attending Colgate symposium focusing on film musicals

By Natalie Sportelli '15 on April 3, 2013
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A body in motion stays in motion, at least until it is given a new stage direction.

The idea of performers in motion is one of the themes to be explored by 11 scholars from a spectrum of academic focuses who will convene at Colgate April 4-6 for an interdisciplinary symposium dedicated to “The Performing Body in the Hollywood Film Musical.”

The symposium’s schedule features film screenings, keynote speeches, panels, and roundtable discussions dedicated to examining interdisciplinary methodologies and approaches to studying the moving body in the film musical.

“We will pay particular attention to the ways in which the film musical employs the performing bodies of the cast and crew to reflect and shape political, cultural, and artistic ideologies at various moments,” said Mary Simonson, professor of women’s studies and film and media studies, who is coordinating this unique symposium.

Scholars with backgrounds in film studies, musicology, dance studies, English and composition literature, and theater will come from as far as the University of Zurich and as close as Syracuse University to join the conversation.The three keynote speakers, Adrienne McLean of University of Texas-Dallas, Caryl Flinn of the University of Michigan, and Steven Cohan of Syracuse University, will focus on aspects of the film musical, including masculinity and the body in motion.

Working closely with Simonson, students in her seminar course The Film Musical are acting as the symposium’s producers and stage crew for the three-day event, as well as taking part in the discussion sessions.

“My students are very involved with the planning and execution of the conference,” said Simonson. “They have been responsible for designing posters, creating programs, and they will be working throughout the symposium by videotaping, providing technical support, and transportation.”

“The symposium has a real link to the curriculum,” says Simonson. This semester, her students studied articles and books written by the scholars who are attending the conference and discussed the movies — The Court Jester and The Sound of Music — that will be screened, preparing them to be active in the conversation.

“It is going to be exciting to put names to faces, because it is so rare to read class materials and actually get to talk with the writers you study,” said Carlie Lindower ’14.

The symposium, sponsored by the Colgate Arts Council and Film & Media Studies Program, is free and open to the public, though organizers ask that you register in advance.

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