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Great American Songbook Foundation

Stagestruck! 2024: Nostalgia and the Hollywood Musical

Other // May 15 - May 17 ET

Stagestruck! 2024: Nostalgia and the Hollywood Musical

WED MAY 15 thru FRI MAY 17, 2024

An international conference at the Great American Songbook Foundation, Carmel, Indiana, May 15 - 17, 2024.



Dominic Broomfield-McHugh (University of Sheffield)


Keynote speakers

Maya Cantu (Bennington College)

Desirée Garcia (Dartmouth College)

Hannah Lewis (University of Texas at Austin)

Julianne Lindberg (University of Nevada, Reno)

Respondent: Mia Mask (Vassar College)



Key Hollywood musicals from the 1930s, 40s and 50s have become staples of family life in America, with each generation introducing the next to Singin' in the RainWhite Christmas, Swing Time, and so on. These and other movies are referenced in more recent movies such as Moulin Rouge! and particularly La La Land, drawing on a strong feeling of American nostalgia that keeps the artistry and creativity of these films alive in the twenty-first century. Yet these older films also reflect the times in which they were made, foregrounding the representation of race, gender, disability and sexuality in ways that are sometimes significantly at odds with contemporary values. What are the implications of new films paying homage uncritically to an earlier period of film that excludes or stigmatises certain communities? Is nostalgia positive or pejorative?


Possible lines of enquiry might include:


  • Nostalgia as a creative force in the Hollywood musical
  • The politics of nostalgia in the Hollywood musical
  • Nostalgia as a commercial tool in the Hollywood musical
  • Conflicts of past and present in individual movies
  • What are the benefits and pitfalls of nostalgia in Hollywood musicals?
  • Is the Hollywood musical ever not nostalgic?
  • How can we strengthen relationships between scholars of different disciplines (e.g. musicology and film studies) in addressing these questions?
  • What are the major archival holdings that might help address this topic?
  • Stars and directors who are particularly implicated in narratives of nostalgia and the musical
  • Aspects of the genre that particularly exploit or rework ideas of nostalgia in the musical


Additional details

The conference will include a showcase of the Great American Songbook Foundation’s holdings on musicals, which include the collections of Meredith Willson, Liza Minnelli and Gus Kahn. It will take place alongside a mini festival of the Hollywood musical at the Songbook Foundation, including several screenings, a book signing, and a special concert by Michael Feinstein at the Center for the Performing Arts.


Previous Stagestruck! Conferences have been held at the University of Sheffield (2014, 2016), at the Great American Songbook Foundation (2018) and online (2021). View panel discussions and conference program from the 2021 conference.


Call for Papers

The Call for Papers for this conference closed May 12, 2023. Please contact if you have any questions about your submission.