Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Musical clues to the truth about female sleuths

Date:
September 25, 2012
Source:
University of Huddersfield
Summary:
By analyzing the soundtracks of 1940s film noir thrillers, a musicologist can track changing attitudes to women -- moving away from the classic femme fatale and love interest to the independent female sleuth and action heroine.

By analysing the soundtracks of 1940s film noir thrillers, musicologist Dr Catherine Haworth, of the University of Huddersfield, can track changing attitudes to women -- moving away from the classic femme fatale and love interest to the independent female sleuth and action heroine.

The film noir genre of the 1940s is mostly celebrated for its stark imagery of mean streets and luridly-lit boulevards. But for a researcher at the University of Huddersfield, the soundtrack is just as revealing as the visuals.

In particular, the music that provides a backdrop to crime thrillers of the period provides a great deal of information about attitudes towards women as they became less passive and more likely to play an active role when there was a mystery to be solved. The female sleuths and cops that are familiar to modern film and TV audiences can be traced to the 1940s, argues Dr Catherine Haworth.

A musician by training, she conducted doctoral research into the soundtracks of RKO Radio Pictures of the 1940s and what they revealed about female characters and broader visions of women in society.

Stereotypes such as exotic music to accompany a femme fatale, commenting on her sexuality and morality, were still common. But a new picture began to emerge...

"My research shows that things were a bit more flexible than we thought," said Dr Haworth. "There were lots of negative, stereotypical processes, but women frequently display more agency than we have previously allowed for. Music can emphasise or act out elements of character construction and it can demonstrate a broadening out of the roles that we tend to associate with female characters."

Dr Haworth's latest article -- which will appear in leading journal "Music & Letters" -- deals with female characters in 1940s movies who turn detective. Case studies include "Two O'Clock Courage," with Anne Rutherford, "Deadline at Dawn," starring Susan Hayward, and "The Big Steal" with Jane Greer and Robert Mitchum.

"Music highlights the women's role as detective as well as their role as a love interest. The way the soundtrack interacts with other elements of narrative emphasises these women as suspenseful and influential characters as well as their more cliched positioning as wives or girlfriends," said Dr Haworth.

A Research Fellow at the University of Huddersfield, she is a member of its Centre for the Study of Music, Gender and Identity. With the Centre's Director, Dr Lisa Colton, she is co-organiser of an international conference taking part at the University (October 6-7) named "Gender, Musical Creativity and Age."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Huddersfield. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Huddersfield. "Musical clues to the truth about female sleuths." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120925091542.htm>.
University of Huddersfield. (2012, September 25). Musical clues to the truth about female sleuths. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120925091542.htm
University of Huddersfield. "Musical clues to the truth about female sleuths." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120925091542.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) — A new study found couples who had at least 150 guests at their weddings were more likely to report being happy in their marriages. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) — Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) — Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids' Drawings At Age 4 Linked To Intelligence At Age 14

Kids' Drawings At Age 4 Linked To Intelligence At Age 14

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) — A study by King's College London says there's a link between how well kids draw at age 4 and how intelligent they are later in life. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins