DFG HfM Weimar Voice and Singing in
Popular Music in the U.S.A. (1900–1960)


Susan Smith, University of Sunderland

‘When You Wish Upon a Star‘.

An Analysis of the Singing Voice in Disney’s Films of the Classical Era


While the Disney studio has been the subject of considerable academic attention in recent years, prompting numerous critiques of its ideological world-view among media and cultural studies scholars in particular, much of this work has focused on the films’ visual animation style and narrative elements. The role played by the musical aspects to Disney’s movies has been much neglected, by contrast, despite the studio’s prolific contribution to American popular song throughout the course of its history. This paper seeks to redress this neglect by focusing on the role played by the singing voice in Disney’s films and its cultural significance in terms of race, gender and class especially. In doing so, it will cover a number of notable films from the classical era, including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Bambi and Dumbo.

Dr. Susan Smith has long-standing interests in voice/performance, stardom and the Hollywood musical. She is the author of Elizabeth Taylor (2012), Voices in Film (2007), The Musical: Race, Gender and Performance (2005), and Hitchcock: Suspense, Humour and Tone (2000). She co-edits the BFI/Palgrave’s Film Stars series, was co-editor of a Screen dossier on ‘Child Performance‘ (in 2012) and has contributed to a number of edited collections, including a chapter on ‘The Animated Film Musical‘ for The Oxford Handbook of the American Musical: Stage and Screen (2011).

last update: 20.10.2014