Reframing the Golden Age Musical: Methods, Sources, Performance

The forth Biennial StageStruck! Conference
An international conference in honor of Prof. Kim Kowalke, President of the Kurt Weill Foundation.
Convenor: Professor Dominic McHugh, University of Sheffield

The Great American Songbook Foundation at The Center for the Performing Arts, Carmel, IN
12 – 14th May 2021

CALL FOR PAPERS – 1 JULY 2020
See below for more information.

Abstract:

Traditional histories of the American musical tend to revolve around the formation of a canon of Broadway shows written roughly between the 1940s and mid-1960s, with Oklahoma! (1943) and Fiddler on the Roof (1964) often cited as terminal works. Other key works during the period include Kiss Me, Kate (1948), Guys and Dolls (1950), My Fair Lady (1956) and West Side Story (1957). The era encompasses the ends of the careers of figures from the previous generation such as Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and Kurt Weill, the peak of the output of Rodgers and Hammerstein and Lerner and Loewe, and the beginning of the creative influence of Stephen Sondheim and Bock and Harnick.

Yet to what extent is the concept of the Golden Age a useful tool for framing musicals, and how can we better understand these ever-present yet curiously elusive works?

In a conference honoring the career of Kim Kowalke (Professor, Rochester, NY; President of the Kurt Weill Foundation), and marking the seventieth anniversary of the death of Kurt Weill, we take stock of existing scholarship on the Golden Age musical and explore ways forward.

The conference also affords the opportunity to celebrate the richness of the Great American Songbook Foundation’s collections on the musical.

The conference will include a keynote from Kara Gardner, author of Agnes de Mille: Telling Stories in Broadway Dance.

Possible lines of enquiry might include:

  • What is the nature of the Golden Age musical?
  • What are the best tools, approaches and methodologies for analysing and examining the Golden Age musical?
  • When did it start to be conceived of as the Golden Age?
  • What are the benefits and pitfalls of the term?
  • What are the major archival holdings on Golden Age musicals?
  • How can we access the Golden Age musical, especially in the case of works that were not filmed and/or recorded?
  • What was the relationship between Broadway and Hollywood during the Golden Age?
  • How can we strengthen relationships between scholars of different disciplines (e.g. musicology and film studies) and between scholars and performers?
  • What impacts, if any, did the Broadway musical have beyond New York (and beyond America) during the Golden Age?
  • How can we avoid the pull of nostalgia in framing the Golden Age musical

Lodging:

Area hotels and group rate information coming soon.

Attendees are responsible for travel & lodging.

Call for Papers:

Proposals for individual papers (20 minutes + 10 minutes of discussion) or for a 90-minute panel (three papers + discussion) should be emailed to Dominic McHugh at d.mchugh@sheffield.ac.uk by 1 July 2020.

Learn about the Great American Songbook Foundation:

The conference will include a showcase of the Great American Songbook Foundation’s holdings on musical theatre, which include the papers of Meredith Willson and Gus Kahn.

Previous Stagestruck! Conferences have been held at the University of Sheffield (2014, 2016) and at the Great American Songbook Foundation (2018).


‘Putting It Together’: Investigating Sources for Musical Theatre Research

‘Putting It Together’: Investigating Sources for Musical Theatre Research

The University of Sheffield, 10-12 May 2016

Research into the Broadway and Hollywood musical is now well established, with numerous scholarly monographs, journal articles and critical editions providing diverse but excellent methodological models for investigating the genre. With the resurgence of interest in revivals of “forgotten” musicals by companies such as Encores! and the establishment of series of books such as Oxford’s Broadway Legacies, studies of musicals have evolved to incorporate a plethora of materials and outputs, both scholarly and public.

This three-day conference seeks to interrogate the use of sources in research into musical theatre and film, covering interdisciplinary perspectives from musicology, film, theatre, media, information management, criticism and performance.

To find out more, please click here.