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Members of public are invited to a virtual book launch event.

The University of Chester’s Department of Music, Media and Performance has arranged an online event to celebrate a series of book publications within the Department. There is also a guest talk from an external speaker, exploring the significance of the soundtrack music in the Star Wars films.

The event is taking place on Wednesday, April 29 between 2.30pm and 5pm on Microsoft Teams and members of the public are welcome to join in. Attendees need to register on Eventbrite at least 24 hours in advance here.

It been organised by Dr Mark Duffett, Reader in Media and Cultural Studies at the University. Since 1999, Mark has published widely on Elvis and music fandom. Mark explains how the launch event came about: “My colleague Dr Shelley Piasecka had the idea of doing a collective book launch as we had several new books in the Department with similar release dates. I had already scheduled a guest talk for the day, so we thought we would combine both things. Remote working meant that we could organise it as a public event online.”

The full list of speakers at the event are:

2.30 pm Dr Katie Barnett, Programme Leader for the BA (Combined) Film Studies, and author of Fathers on Film (Bloomsbury). Fathers on Film explores the role of fathers in 1990s Hollywood films. Narratives of redemptive fatherhood featured prominently in some of the decade's most popular films like Kindergarten Cop (1990), Mrs Doubtfire (1993), Jurassic Park (1993) and The Lion King (1994). Interpreting such films through the lens of feminist and queer theory, along with masculinity studies and psychoanalysis, Katie Barnett offers an insightful and interdisciplinary discussion of cinematic fathers.

2.50pm Dr Mark Duffett, Reader in Media and Cultural Studies, and author of Elvis: Roots, Image, Comeback, Phenomenon  (Equinox Publishing). Elvis interprets the image and music of Elvis Presley to reveal how they have evolved to construct a particularly appealing and powerful myth. Following broad contours of Presley’s rollercoaster career, the book uses a range of analytical frames to challenge established perspectives on an icon. It shows that the controversy around Elvis has effectively tested how far a concern for social equality could be articulated through the marketplace, and ultimately challenged how popular music itself should be assessed.

3.10pm Dr Simon Morrison, Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader, Music Journalism, and author of Dancefloor-Driven Literature (Bloomsbury). Almost as soon as 'club culture' took hold - during the UK's Second Summer of Love in 1988 - its sociopolitical impact became clear, with journalists, filmmakers and authors all keen to use this cultural context as source material for their texts. Simon’s book conceives of a new literary genre to accommodate these stories born of the dancefloor - 'dancefloor-driven literature'. Using interviews with Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting (1994), alongside other dancefloor-driven authors Nicholas Blincoe and Jeff Noon as case studies, the book analyses how writers draw on electronic dance music in their fictions. It explores how such authors write about something so subterranean as the nightclub scene, and analyses what specific literary techniques they deploy to write lucidly and fluidly.

3.30pm Dr Simon Gwyn Roberts, Senior Lecturer in Journalism, and author of From the Welsh Border to the World: Travels in Minority Languages (University of Chester Press). Language extinction on an enormous scale has been occurring for over a century and has sped up dramatically in the last two decades. Simon’s book revolves around travels through the world’s most linguistically diverse regions, taking a comparative approach to the contemporary status of minority languages in the post-web world. The work is underpinned by Wales, with reflections on its place in the modern world and the status and significance of the Welsh language. This is partly a case study of how a language can thrive in relation to the global dominance of English.

4.00pm Guest talk: ‘The Empire Needs You!: Star Wars and its soundtrack(s)’ by Dr Leslie McMurtry, Lecturer in Radio Studies at the University of Salford. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, George Lucas wanted to make a film called The Radioland Murders. What got made instead was Star Wars (or A New Hope, if you prefer). The Star Wars franchise is now the second highest-grossing film franchise worldwide and one of the most talked about on social media.  Nevertheless, analysis of its soundtrack has been underplayed, with the music of John Williams receiving a disproportionate amount of attention.This talk will examine all the elements of the soundtrack throughout the films and in other incarnations (TV series, games) and illuminate the clear connection between Star Wars and radio, particularly the radio dramatisations made for NPR (National Public Radio) between 1981 and 1996.  As Lucas recognised that sound was over 50 per cent of the movie experience, Dr McMurtry will argue that there would be no Star Wars without its soundtrack.


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