Caryl Flinn joined the University of Michigan in January 2012 and enjoys teaching film studies in her new department, where she is delighted to work with so many outstanding undergraduate and graduate students. Before coming to Ann Arbor, Prof. Flinn taught at the Universities of Toronto (Graduate Centre for the Study of Drama), Florida (Dept of English), and Arizona (Depts of Gender and Women's Studies; Media Arts). Her PhD is from the University of Iowa.
Professor Flinn has been at the forefront of the small but exciting field of film music, and is one of its foundational scholars bringing feminist and cultural theory into the field. Since the publication of her essay "The 'Problem' of Femininity in Theories of Film Music" she has continued to explore the different functions of film music and is especially interested in its social ideological functions over different historical periods. Flinn has pursued this focus in books on Hollywood studio cinema, where music was typically used to nostalgic, and often gendered ends, and in the postwar "New German Cinema" where music enjoyed an exciting, active role in exploring the country's difficult relationship with its past and contemporary quest for identity. Since then, Prof Flinn has also published a biography of Broadway belter Ethel Merman. She has been invited to give talks on her research in Vienna, London, Melbourne, and across the US and Canada.
Professor Flinn has also been interested in the concepts of kitsch and camp. She has written about them in relation to queer directors such as U. Ottinger, R. v. Praunheim, M. Treut, and the late Werner Schroeter in her German monograph, and has questioned camp's supposed relationship to decay and aging bodies in her article, "The Deaths of Camp." Here at SAC, she introduced a graduate seminar on "Camp, Kitsch, and Sexualities in Media Culture" and is currently writing an essay on kitsch for publication).
Flinn is currently completing a book for the British Film Institute's "Film Classics" series on THE SOUND OF MUSIC; an essay on the same film's robust afterlife is coming out soon with Oxford University Press. Prof Flinn is also writing essays for Cambridge University on film musicals, and a piece on music in the work of W. Schroeter. Her next book project explores the different emotional fantasies that Hollywood film musicals offer and demand. In this study, which combines historical reception studies, marketing campaigns with textual considerations, she investigates the emotional appeals musicals actually ask of audiences, and asks whose fantasies are targeted, whose are "corrected," and whose are let down or left out? Musicals have often been considered highly escapist, but even in their escapism there is much to be gleaned.
Recent Courses Taught
Classic Film Theory
Critical Theory and Cultural Media Studies
Camp and Kitsch