Professor of Department of Film, Television, and Media; Affiliate Professor in Comparative Literature and Women's and Gender Studies
Prof. Caryl Flinn joined the University of Michigan in 2012. She is at the forefront of the small but vibrant field of film music, and is one of its foundational scholars who brought feminist and cultural theory into the field. Since the publication of her essay "The 'Problem' of Femininity in Theories of Film Music” she’s continued to explore how film music works and is especially interested in its social and ideological functions across historical eras and regions. Strains of Utopia, her first book, examined this in relation to the Hollywood’s studio era, in which music was frequently used to nostalgic, often gendered ends; In The New German Cinema, she examined music’s role in postwar New German Cinema as directors posed questions about Germany's relationship with its past and its quest for renewed identities. Professor Flinn has also published a biography on Broadway legend Ethel Merman (Brass Diva), and a monograph on the beloved musical, The Sound of Music. In December 2023, University of Michigan Press will be releasing her Alan Rudolph’s Trouble in Mind: Tampering with Myths. Her current project (written with Dana Polan) is a book on the 1960s sitcom “The Patty Duke Show” to be published by Oxford University Press.
Anthologies across the US and Europe have published Flinn’s essays on film music, musicals; her work on Kitsch and camp include pieces on the late Werner Schroeter and her classic, "The Deaths of Camp,” which challenges ways that camp has been linked to decay and aging bodies.
Flinn has given lectures on her work in Vienna, London, Melbourne, the Netherlands, the UK, Finland, as well as across North America. Her New German Cinema book was supported by a substantial SSHRC research fellowships (Canada), and several small DAAD grants from Germany. While researching her book on Ethel Merman, Flinn was Scholar in Residence at the Museum of the City of New York, where the singer's extensive scrapbook collection is held.