Jump to accessibility statement Skip to content

Dr Susan Smith


Home / About / Academic staff profiles / Media / Susan Smith

Reader in Film Studies

As someone who is passionate about teaching and researching film, I’ve always enjoyed a commitment to curriculum innovation, the importance of a research active curriculum and the benefits of sharing my research interests with those of students and fellow academics.

Teaching and supervision

Since joining the department in 1998, I've undertaken a  substantial amount of curriculum development aimed at widening the film studies syllabus in ways that introduce students to the rich diversity of cinema. During my time at the University, I've introduced a new suite of core modules on film history, theory and criticism together with a range of specialist options - from Asian Cinema through to Animation and Film Music. I've also taught widely on other film and media modules within the department, especially those relating to Hollywood and British Cinema. I currently teach extensively on the following modules which I also lead:

  • History of Cinema
  • The Animated Film
  • American Film and Society
  • Film and Feeling: Music, Performance, Genre
  • Hitchcock

My modules contribute to the BA (Hons) Film and Media, BA (Hons) Digital Film Production and other Media-related degrees, including those in Combined Honours.

As well as expanding the film studies curriculum, I'm committed to introducing new methods of teaching and learning. In recent years, for example, I've pioneered the audiovisual or digital essay as a form of research-informed teaching and student assessment at the University and this is something I'm keen to develop. 

Along with regular undergraduate and MA dissertation supervision, I've successfully supervised PhD and MPhil projects on a range of topics and I'm presently Director of Studies for PhDs on Pixar animation and Dreamworks animation. I would be interested in supervising future postgraduate research that connects with one or more of my specialisms.

Research interests for potential research students

    • Animation (including major studios such as Disney and Pixar; the animated musical; stardom and performance in animation)
    • Children's film and literature
    • Cinema and the natural world/animals in film
    • Stardom and performance (including the child actor/child star; the ageing star; voice and musical performance/performers)
    • Career of Elizabeth Taylor (actor, star, celebrity and humanitarian)
    • Musical genre
    • Thriller genre
    • Hitchcock's film and television career¿
    • Emotion and affect in film
    • Tone and point of view in cinema
    • Film Authorship
    • Moments in film
    • Audiovisual essay/Videographic film criticism
    • Film and theatre
    • Adaptations (stage to screen, screen to stage, novel to film)¿¿

Research

My research explores the many subtle and intricate ways in which we are invited to engage emotionally and intellectually with films, addressing areas central to our viewing and listening experience. In the case of Hitchcock's films, for example, I focus on suspense and humour as aspects vital to the complex tonal ¿fabric and overall significance of that directors' work while in my study of the American Film musical, I examine the realm of performance (most notably, song and dance) as an immensely rich yet neglected site of meaning and pleasure. This interest in performance extends to other areas most notably the field of stardom, and this includes an in-depth analysis of Elizabeth Taylor's acting career - an aspect to this star's cultural significance and appeal that has often been overshadowed by her wider celebrity. My work on Taylor argues for the importance of her early film roles in shaping her star identity and this interest in child performance is something I have pursued in other ways as well, most notably through the Child Actors/Child Stars conference that I co-organised in 2011 and the Child Performance dossier that I co-edited for Screen in 2012.

Another facet to my work on stardom and performance concerns the role played by voice and, in addition to the aforementioned areas, I've written on this in relation to masculinity, adolescence, traumatic memory recall animation and the children's film. Much of my research is currently focused on animation and I'm interested in exploring how my established specialisms intersect with this field. In 2015, I co-organised the Toy Story at 20 conference and I've recently co-edited a Toy Story book collection for Bloomsbury. I also co-edit the BFI's Film Stars series (published by Palgrave Macmillan) and my Elizabeth Taylor study formed part of the initial launch of this major venture in summer 2012.¿

I've received numerous invitations to present parts of my research at conferences, workshops, festivals and other events throughout the world. My book The Musical: Race, Gender and Performance (2005) was selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic title of 2006 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) awarded me a Research Leave grant to complete my BFI study, Elizabeth Taylor (2012).

 


Publications

Number of items: 39.

Article

Smith, Susan and Summers, Sam (2017) 'Enter Bugs Bunny: Matador and Star in Bully for Bugs'. Revista de Estudios Taurinos, 41. ISSN 1134-4970

Smith, Susan (2012) '"Get off your asses for these old broads!": Elizabeth Taylor, Television and the Comeback Movie'. Celebrity Studies, 3 (1). pp. 25-36. ISSN 1939-2397 (print); 1939-2400 (online)

Smith, Susan and Lawrence, Michael (2012) 'Child Performance Dossier: Introduction'. Screen, 53 (4). pp. 436-439. ISSN 0036-9543

Smith, Susan (2007) Vocal Sincerity, Liminality and Bonding in The Railway Children. Literature/Film Quarterly, 35 (3). pp. 198-213. ISSN 00904260

Smith, Susan (2007) 'Singing Outside the Frame: The Female Voice-off in Gigi'. CineAction (72). ISSN 0826-9866

Smith, Susan (2005) Metropolis: Restoration, Re-evaluation. CineAction, 66. pp. 12-23. ISSN 08269866

Smith, Susan (1999) 'The Spatial World of Hitchcock's Films: The Point-of-View Shot, the Camera and Intrarealism'. CineAction (50). ISSN 0826-9866

Smith, Susan (1998) 'Hitchcock's Cameo in Lifeboat'. The MacGuffin. ISSN 1527-2346

Smith, Susan 'There's More Than One George Bailey!: the sharing of character between child actor and adult star in It's a Wonderful Life'. Screen, 53 (4). pp. 440-446. ISSN 0036-9543

Book Section

Smith, Susan (2019) Brigadoon and its transition to M-G-M musical: adapting a stage show for star dancers. In: The Oxford Handbook of Musical Theatre Adaptations. Oxford. ISBN 9780190469993

Smith, Susan (2018) Toy Stories Through Song: Pixar, Randy Newman and the Sublimated Film Musical. In: Toy Story: How Pixar Reinvented the Animated Feature. Bloomsbury, pp. 105-126. ISBN 9781501324918

Smith, Susan, Brown, Noel and Summers, Sam (2018) Introduction. In: Toy Story: How Pixar Reinvented the Animated Feature. Bloomsbury, pp. 1-6. ISBN 9781501324918

Smith, Susan (2015) 'Taylor, Dame Elizabeth Rosemond (1932-2011)'. In: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Smith, Susan (2013) '"Get off your asses for these old broads!": Elizabeth Taylor, ageing and the television comeback movie'. In: Female Celebrity and Ageing: Back in the Spotlight. Routledge, London. (In Press)

Smith, Susan (2012) '"The shock of each moment, of still being alive": Vocal Sensations in Boom!'. In: Electrified Voices: Medial, Socio-Historical and Cultural Aspects of Voice Transfer. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Gottingen, Germany. ISBN 9783847100249

Smith, Susan (2011) The Animated Film Musical. In: The Oxford Handbook of the American Musical. Oxford Handbooks in Music . Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 167-178. ISBN 9780195385946

Smith, Susan (2010) Opening up The Secret Garden (Agnieszka Holland, 1993). In: Film Moments: Criticism, History, Theory. British Film Institute/ Palgrave Macmillan, London, pp. 49-52. ISBN 9781844573356

Smith, Susan (2005) 'Disruption, Destruction, Denial: Hitchcock as Saboteur'. In: Terrorism, Media, Liberation. Rutgers University Press, New Jersey and London. ISBN 978-0-8135-3607-1

Smith, Susan (1999) 'Disruption, Destruction, Denial: Hitchcock as Saboteur'. In: Alfred Hitchcock: Centenary Essays. British Film Institute, London. ISBN 0851707351

Conference or Workshop Item

Smith, Susan (2016) ‘Dancing raindrops and a singing teapot: Disney’s love affair with the musical’, “CG symphonies: the modern animated film soundtrack through the lens of three key studios”. In: Music for Audio-Visual Media II Conference, 20-22 Jun 2016, University of Leeds. (Unpublished)

Smith, Susan (2015) 'Disney, Broadway and the Contemporary Animated Film Musical'. In: 27th Society for Animation Studies annual conference: Beyond the Frame, 13-16 Jul 2015, Canterbury Christ Church University. (Unpublished)

Smith, Susan (2015) 'Elizabeth Taylor and the video essay: a case study'. In: The Audio-Visual/ Video Essay in Teaching and Research Symposium, 19 May 2015, University of East Anglia. (Unpublished)

Smith, Susan (2015) 'The Musical Landscape of Frozen'. In: Symfrozium, 12 May 2015, University of East Anglia. (Unpublished)

Smith, Susan (2014) '"Come on, Baggy, get with the beat!" Exploring song and dance in Disney musicals'. In: Discussing Disney, 3-4 Sep 2014, University of Hull. (Unpublished)

Smith, Susan (2014) ‘When You Wish Upon a Star‘. An Analysis of the Singing Voice in Disney’s Films of the Classical Era. In: Voice and Singing in Popular Music in the U.S.A. (1900–1960), 6-7 June 2014, Liszt School of Music, Weimar, Germany. (Unpublished)

Smith, Susan and Shingler, Martin (2013) Co-chair (with Martin Shingler) of a panel on the BFI Film Stars series. In: Revisiting Star Studies: International Conference, 12-13 Jun 2013, Newcastle University. (Unpublished)

Smith, Susan (2013) 'Writing Elizabeth Taylor', "Developing the BFI Film Stars Series panel. In: Revisiting Star Studies: International Conference, 12-13 Jun 2013, Newcastle University. (Unpublished)

Smith, Susan (2013) 'Palettes of emotion: texture and range in Elizabeth Taylor's performances'. In: Research Seminar, Invited Speaker, 24 Apr 2013, University of Salford, Manchester. (Unpublished)

Smith, Susan (2012) '"The Child in Hitchcock", Hitchcock and Film Authorship: Cinema, Culture, Collaboration'. In: SCMS (Society for Cinema and Media Studies) Annual Conference, 21-25 Mar 2012, Boston, MA, USA. (Unpublished)

Smith, Susan (2010) Traumatic Memory and the Female Voice. In: 15th International SERCIA Conference on "Memory in/of English-speaking Cinema", 8-10 September 2010, University of Franche-Comte, Besancon, France.

Smith, Susan and Taylor, Elizabeth (2010) Elizabeth Taylor and the Art of Compassion. In: 50th International Screen Studies Conference, 2 Jul 2010, Glasgow University.

Smith, Susan (2010) Elizabeth Taylor, Animals and the Articulation of Child Star Identity in National Velvet (1944). In: Children’s Film and Literature: A One Day Conference, 1 March 2010, Centre for Adaptations, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK.

Smith, Susan (2008) 'Elizabeth Taylor: From Child to Adult Star'. In: 2008 Joint Conference of the National Popular Culture and American Culture Associations, 19 – 22 Mar 2008, San Francisco Marriott, USA.

Book

Brown, Noel, Smith, Susan and Summers, Sam (2018) Toy Story: How Pixar Reinvented the Animated Feature. Bloomsbury. ISBN 9781501324918

Smith, Susan (2012) Elizabeth Taylor. Film Stars . Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9781844574865

Smith, Susan (2012) Elizabeth Taylor Film Stars book. Film Stars . British Film Institute/ Palgrave, London. ISBN 9780230574632

Smith, Susan (2007) Voices in Film. Columbia University Press, pp. 159-238. ISBN 9781905674060

Smith, Susan (2005) The Musical: Race, Gender and Performance. Columbia University Press. ISBN 1904764371

Smith, Susan (2000) Hitchcock: Suspense, Humour and Tone. British Film Institute/ Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0851707807

This list was generated on Thu Jun 4 00:26:14 2020 BST.
  • Animation (including major studios such as Disney and Pixar; the animated musical; stardom and performance in animation)
  • Children's film and literature
  • Cinema and the natural world/animals in film
  • Stardom and performance (including the child actor/child star; the ageing star; voice and musical performance/performers)
  • The career of Elizabeth Taylor (actor, star, celebrity and humanitarian)
  • Musical genre
  • Thriller genre
  • Hitchcock's film and television career¿
  • Emotion and affect in film
  • Tone and point of view in cinema
  • Authorship in film
  • Moments in film
  • Audiovisual essay/Videographic/Digital film criticism
  • Film and theatre
  • Adaptations (stage to screen, screen to stage, novel to film)¿¿

As Research Student Manager, I chair the annual reviews for PhD students within our department and sit on relevant committees at faculty and university level. Prior to assuming this role, I have (at various points) coordinated the Research Seminar series for CRMCS, led the MA Film and Cultural Studies programme and acted as Subject Leader for the Film Studies area. I've also undertaken peer reviews for several publishers journals and external funding bodies and examined postgraduate coursework and/or theses at a number of institutions in the UK (eg University of Oxford, Trinity College Dublin, Warwick, Roehampton).

In addition to my role as Research Student Manager, I'm Associate Director of the Centre for Research in Media and Cultural Studies.

Last updated 21 April 2020