2024 Lectures

The Arnold Shaw Popular Music Center Lecture Series is At the Movies!

Event 1
April 16, 5:00 p.m.
Robynn Stilwell (Georgetown University),
Scoring America’s Sense of Self: Music, Ideology, and the Cinematic Western

About the talk
Robynn Stilwell offers a lecture on music and the cinematic western.

Items to be discussed include Killers of the Flower Moon (2023) and The Native Americans (1994). Stilwell will focus on the role of the songs of Sebastian Robertson in these productions.

About the speaker
Robynn J. Stilwell is Associate Professor at Georgetown University. Her research focuses on the interaction of music and movement in film, video, television, dance, and sport. Publications include work on Beethoven and cinematic violence, musical form and drama in Jane Austen, psychoanalytic film theory and its implications for music and for female subjects, the boundaries between sound and music in the cinematic soundscape, whiteness and rockabilly, French film musicals, television sitcoms, and exoticism and sound design in The X-Files.

Event 2
April 23, 5:00 p.m.
Frank Lehman (Tufts University),
“Space Operas and Skywalker Symphonies: Listening to Film Music with Open Ears”

Facebook event page

About the talk
Frank Lehman offers a lecture on the music to Star Wars and other cinematic blockbusters.

A long-standing attitude in film theory and criticism is that movie music should remain in the background, that it should be felt but unheard. But with more than a century’s worth of great music written for cinema, this bias is worth reevaluating. Movie soundtracks, film nights at the Hollywood Bowl, and especially the recent popularity of live-to-picture performances–what musicologist Brooke McCorkle tellingly calls “concert movies”–all suggest one thing: audiences are hungry to hear film music not as some suppressed adjunct to a movie, but on its own terms, as music. In this talk, Professor Lehman will walk through his own experience in consuming film music in this unusual way, and sketch a new model for film music appreciation: cine-symphonic listening. With the grand space opera cycle of Star Wars as his focus, he explores some of the benefits and challenges of this music-first mode of hearing. I look at some of John Williams’s scoring from both the best of the saga (the “Battle of Hoth” from Empire Strikes Back) and the worst (the love story from Attack of the Clones). But while his argument will involve attending closely to musical form and thematic development, one does not need any musicological training to have a rich and satisfying experience of a film score: all you need to do is listen to the movies with open ears.

About the lecturer:
Frank Lehman is an Associate Professor of Music at Tufts University, and holds degrees from Brown University and Harvard University. His research has explored a range of styles and repertoires, from Schubert to ambient music, with a special emphasis on music and the moving image. Lehman’s work has been featured in a number of media outlets, including The Washington PostThe Boston GlobeThe New YorkerThe Chronicle of Higher Education, NPR, and too many podcasts to count. His books include Hollywood Harmony: Musical Wonder and the Sound of Cinema (Oxford University Press, 2018) and (as editor) Studying the Score: Music Analysis and Film (Routledge, 2024).


2023 Lecture

The Arnold Shaw Popular Music Center
Lecture Series

The Possibility Machine:
Music and Myth in Las Vegas
(University of Illinois Press, 2023)

A panel discussion by

Jake Johnson, Assistant Professor of Musicology, University of Oklahoma
Joanna Dee Das, Associate Professor of Dance, Washington University, St. Louis
Brian F. Wright, Assistant Professor of Music History, University of North Texas

November 17, 2023
5:00 p.m.
Harmon Auxiliary Building, UNLV, Room 110
1325 E. Harmon Avenue
Las Vegas, NV 89119

Free and open to the public. Parking free in front of H.A.B.

The Arnold Shaw Popular Music Research Center at UNLV hosts authors featured in this collection of essays. The book examines how music-making and soundscapes shape our city. Treating topics ranging from Cher to Cirque du Soleil, the contributors delve into how music and musicians factored in the early development of Vegas’s image; the role of local communities of musicians and Strip mainstays in sustaining tensions between belief and disbelief; the ways aging showroom stars provide a sense of timelessness that inoculates visitors against the outside world; the link connecting fantasies of sexual prowess and democracy with the musical values of Liberace and others; and the echoes and energy generated by the idea of Las Vegas as it travels across the country.


All lectures will be held on Wednesdays at 5:30 in the Alta Ham Fine Arts Building (HFA), Room 147, on UNLV’s campus.

Click on the links below for more information.

October 12, 2022, 5:30 p.m.

Damani Phillips (University of Iowa) — Lost Soul: Issues in Teaching Ethnically Derived Arts in Academia

October 26, 2022, 5:30 p.m.

Julia Simon (UC Davis) — Debt and the Blues: Sharecropping, Tenancy, and House Contract Sales

February 1, 2023

Marié Abe (Boston University) — Sounding Space and Sociality in Contemporary Japan

March 1, 2023

Julie Hubbert (University of South Carolina) — Barbra Streisand, 2nd Wave Feminism, and New Hollywood Film

Spring 2022 SERIES
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April 11, 2022, 7:00 p.m.
Christopher Washburne (Columbia University) — “Latin Jazz: The Other Jazz”

May 3, 5:00 p.m.
Robert Fink (UCLA) — “Playlist Culture and the Art of Transition”

2020 Series
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