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McKelvey School of Engineering

Brown School

Department of Music Lecture: Lisa Pollock Mumme & Tad Biggs

Friday, March 24, 2023 | 3:00 PM

Music Classroom Building, 102
Music Classrooms Bldg, Clayton, MO 63105, USA

Lisa Pollock Mumme, PhD student in musicology, Washington University in St. Louis

“Death on the Road: Music and the Deaths of Women in the Mad Max Film Franchise”

Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) became the Mad Max franchise's first woman road warrior in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). Many hailed the development as a feminist shift in a historically masculine-dominated franchise, but others interpreted the change as an empty gesture. Specific study of the music that accompanies the deaths of women in action films provides insight into women's subjectivities in a genre notorious for suppressing them. How are women's deaths treated differently in terms of music across the Mad Max franchise's thirty-six-year-long run? This talk engages feminist analysis in close readings of sound and image in the music that accompanies the deaths of feminine characters in Mad Max (1979), The Road Warrior (1981), and Mad Max: Fury Road (2015).


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Speaker Information

Lisa Pollock Mumme studies gender and sexuality in music. She primarily works on film music, particularly the science fiction and horror genres. Her master’s thesis at the University of Iowa, “Not Things: Gender and Music in the Mad Max Franchise,” combined music, film, and feminist scholarship to analyze the gendered score of a masculine-dominated dystopian franchise. In her PhD work at Washington University in St. Louis, Lisa concentrates on gender and sexuality in horror film music. Lisa has published her work on Mexican soprano Ángela Peralta (1845-1883) in The Opera Journal.

Tad Biggs, PhD student in musicology, Washington University in St. Louis

“‘The Fat Man’s Dance was not only beautiful and exhilarating; it was glorious’: Music, Dance, and Humor in the Fat Men’s Association of New York City”

In 1867 Frederick Nash composed Fat Man’s Polka Redowa, a light and humorous musical number, commissioned by the Fat Men’s Association of New York City. The occasion was the fourth annual Fat Men’s Association Ball. A tremendous hit, the event involved music, dance, and a giant feast –– a grand spectacle for an enthusiastic audience. In examining this artifact of an historically situated subculture, Biggs demonstrates that the Fat Man’s Polka Redowa helped to sonically structure a humorous spectacle of fat male bodies in graceful dance, relying on an historical set of attitudes about fatness quite different from today.

Tad Biggs is a PhD student in Musicology and a Lynn Cooper Harvey Fellow in American Culture Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. His research interests include concert and popular music of the United States, archival work, music and fat studies, and aesthetics. Prior to attending Washington University in St. Louis, Tad completed his Master of Music degree at the University of Arizona, where he was selected as the distinguished master’s candidate for his master’s thesis “Julia Perry’s Stabat Mater, Black Cultural History, and the Lynching of Christ.”

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