Movies and Music: National and Transnational Approaches (18 - 20 September 2014, Nijmegen, Netherlands)

Movies and Music: National and Transnational Approaches
20th SERCIA Conference
Radboud University, Nijmegen, Netherlands
18 - 20 September 2014 (Thursday to Saturday)

Call for Papers
The global appeal of films in the digital age is not only driven by impressive visuals but also by music. We not only watch a film: the soundtrack plays a crucial role in shaping our perception of what is shown on the screen. Music represents perhaps the most neglected paradigmatic medium, in spite of being a powerful influence on how films are understood and are able to cross national, cultural, and ethnic boundaries. Musicians, composers, sound designers, directors, producers, and distributors function as influential cultural mediators (in the sense of Stephen Greenblatt) who are constitutive in shaping regional, subnational and national identities. Thus, the theme Movies and Music raises broader issues in transnational studies, film studies, media studies, and studies in performance culture. The conference will bring together international scholars from diverse disciplines offering a discursive platform for the collaboration between film studies, cultural studies, American studies, musicology, ethnomusicology, performance culture, sound design, and media studies. We hope to decode the nexus between movies and music from historical, theoretical, and analytical perspectives. The conference will also tie in with the 70th anniversary of Operation Market Garden to liberate Europe from the Nazi occupation. Special focus will be placed on A Bridge Too Far (1977) in terms of music, sounds, multilingualism, as well as national and transnational forms of representation/reception. This part of the conference, reflecting the fact that key scenes of A Bridge Too Far were shot in Nijmegen, will be accompanied by a special screening and an exhibition entitled Movies, Memory, and Operation Market Garden.
Despite the centrality of our theme to film, media, and entertainment culture, the influences of music, sound effects, and language on the visual often remain on the fringes of academic investigations. Indeed, we do not yet have an established analytical language in order to understand the complex interplay of hearing and seeing a film. The conference Movies and Music explores, maps, and critically evaluates the creative interplay between sights, sounds, and synaesthesia, a phenomenon linked to the ability of seeing sounds, hearing colors, and associating colours, spaces, and emotions with sounds.
The conference will also explore many other issues. We especially encourage proposals on themes/areas such as:
  • music in silent film, the early sound era, New Hollywood, non-Hollywood narrative film, IMAX
  • music in film genres such as the western, (neo-)noir, horror, sci-fi, animation film
  • Broadway musicals, music bio-pics, dance movies
  • transcultural strategies in the use of film music and transnational composers (from Max Steiner to Hans Zimmer)
  • technical aspects such as surround sound, sensurround, 3-D audio
  • musical styles in movies from late romanticism via avant-garde to popular music
  • the use of pre-existing music, synthesizers, and sampling in film
  • music and film in performance culture, music in character and action scenes
  • collaborations between directors and composers, directors as composers (e.g. Charlie Chaplin, John Carpenter, and others -- including, for comparative purposes, Sergio Leone, Tom Tykwer, etc.)
  • movies and music outside the multiplex, e.g. video games, museums, concerts, events, etc.
  • recent developments in transgressive performance culture (e.g. Josephine Machon)
  • film music and emotions, impacts on the brain, aesthetic and psychological responses
  • connections of painting, music, and art with case studies ranging from Walter Ruttmann's experimental work in international modernism via Walt Disney (e.g. Fantasia, 1940) to contemporary avant-garde work in digital media
  • while SERCIA is dedicated to the study of English-speaking cinema, paper proposals comparing music in English-speaking cinema to that in non-English-speaking cinema are welcome

Please send proposals for and individual papers to
Frank Mehring (fmehring@gmail.com) and Melvyn Stokes (melvynstokes@hotmail.com)

Proposals should be 200-300 words including a short biography and contact details. (You do not need to be a member of SERCIA to submit a proposal but you will have to be a member to give a paper - the current subscription is 30 euros, 15 for concessions.)

March 1, 2014

Frank Mehring (Head of American Studies, Radboud University) and Melvyn Stokes (University College London, President of SERCIA)

Program and updates: