Movies and Methods: The Judy Garland Seminar (FILMEDIA 290, FILMEDIA 490)

Bukatman, S. (PI)
Section Number
Acting and performance have been prominent in cinema throughout the medium's history, but have received relatively little attention in film studies. Performance provides a compellingly different way of engaging with a film. The Judy Garland Seminar proposes, first, that we attend to the centrality of performance in film, and, second, that the work Garland produced across three decades demonstrates not only a coherence and consistency, but also a variety and richness, that merits close examination. Judy Garland was one of the most accomplished performers of her time, her seeming naturalism a function of her fierce discipline. Her career straddled multiple media: film, recording, live performance and television. From childhood, her life was lived in the public eye and her personal travails were as well known as the characters she incarnated on screen - in fact, her biography informs some of her later film roles. Garland's work in this period occurs primarily in two genres: musical comedy and melodrama (and what we can call the melodramatic musical). Some of her best films were directed by two of the foremost studio directors - Vincente Minnelli and George Cukor - intersections of star, genre, and director will inform the seminar, as will explorations of Garland's work on television and the concert stage. The seminar will begin with an overview of the writing around film acting and the star text while considering some of Judy's earlier film appearances. Classes will be divided between critical engagement with assigned readings and close readings of Judy Garland performances. The screening list will be supplemented with ample clips from other films, and earlier work will be compared to later performances wherever useful. Both a mainstream star and a gay cult icon, Garland's persona was read differently by different audiences, so the seminar will also consider the reception of Judy Garland and her significance then and now.
Academic Career
Letter (ABCD/NP)
Course Tags
Literature, Culture, and the Arts
Academic Year
Section Days
Start Time
6:30 PM
End Time
9:20 PM
McMurtry Art Building 350